Sometimes words may seem to mean the same, but a fine shade of difference can make a huge change in how the audience views your content. This lesson helps students learn to edit for word choice, avoiding slanted, biased or loaded language that can sway the audience’s view of a person or situation.
- Students will be able to differentiate between meanings in word pairs journalists may use.
- Students will assess the slant and bias of word choices.
- Students will apply this knowledge to their own writing.
Common Core State Standards
|Use precise language, domain-specific vocabulary, and techniques such as metaphor, simile, and analogy to manage the complexity of the topic.|
|Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience.|
|Resolve issues of complex or contested usage, consulting references (e.g., Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage, Garner’s Modern American Usage, AP Stylebook) as needed.|
|CCSS.ELA-Literacy.L.11-12.5.b||Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.|
Handout: Word meanings (key is included or could be distributed separately)
1. Distribute the Word Meanings handout and have students fill in the answers and indicate why they think their word(s) is/are more neutral.
2. Students can score their own in class or discuss answers in pairs or in the large group.
3. Then, put students in pairs and have them brainstorm about other loaded words – and a corresponding neutral choice that would improve the sentence.
4. List these pairs on a white board or sheet of butcher paper to post in the room as a resource.
For students who struggle with more subtle shades of meanings, the pairs could be already printed on the handout, and they need to choose the less slanted of each pair.