After working with students on writing over the years, I've noticed the use of many "blah" and "boring" words. Word choice is one of the areas that is assessed on our state writing test and needs to be addressed when planning writing instruction for students.
To make "word choice" sound a little more exciting, I started using the phrase "Million Dollar Words" which means use words that are beyond "blah" and "boring" to make your writing POP with exciting words and interesting synonyms instead of those boring, blah, and overused words.
I teach students about word choice by introducing and/or reviewing synonyms. Sometimes, it is just a matter of exposing students to new words. So, we have to take time to help expand our student's vocabulary.
One of the lessons I teach is when students look up synonyms for "blah" words such as happy, sad, tired, etc... using www.thesaurus.com. You can also check out a set of student thesaurus books from your school library.
Below is a copy of one of the assignments I had my students complete. They look up each word and write three or more interesting synonyms for each of the words. After the assignment, students can keep this list of "Million Dollar Words" in their writing folder to use as they compose new pieces of writing.
This also ties into a previous post: Put SAID to Bed: A Writing Mini Lesson. There are tons of great ideas for more interesting words to use instead of "said" when writing dialogue.
So, when students start writing, I say, "SHOW ME THE MONEY!" They may not get the movie reference from "Jerry Maguire", but they know I mean to use those "Million Dollar Words" in their writing!