Vocabulary Development and Writing: Similarities and Differences: Depth and Breadth of Meaning

This lesson plan provides students an opportunity to explore connotation vs. denotation through related words (i.e. rural vs. backwoods vs. country vs. redneck) and to apply connotation by using words correctly in a sentence.  This lesson includes group work and provides five lists of words.  This resource can be used to help students understand the complexity of language and how word choice affects a passage and tone of a passage. The lesson plan suggests three hours for teaching, but this lesson can be easily modified to be a minilesson, taught in a 45 minute cycle or class.  

Standards & Objectives

Academic standards
CLE 3002.1.2
Employ a variety of strategies and resources to determine the definition, pronunciation, etymology, spelling, and usage of words and phrases
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Learning objectives: 

In this lesson, students will:

  • recognize that words often have similar but different meanings
  • recognize that words with similar meanings (denotation) can convey a
  • positive or negative interpretation (connotation)
  • recognize that words have both depth (degree or intensity) and breadth
  • (application) of meaning
  • demonstrate an understanding of how word selection can impact
  • interpretation of what we are saying 
Essential and guiding questions: 
  • How are these words similar?
  • How are these words different?
  • Which word (s) carries the most positive connotation? Why?
  • Which word(s) carries the most negative connotation?
  • Why?

Lesson Variations

Blooms taxonomy level: