Lesson Plan: Using Imagery in Writing
What’s the most common type of writing in high schools? Bland. It’s time to put an end to mindless submissions!
ELA Common Core Standards
After teaching students how to create lively characters, I felt good about myself until I read their short stories. My lessons teaching imagery had failed. Littered with unimaginative descriptions, their stories made me want to ram a toothpick through my left nostril. Seconds before the tip pierced my brain, a thought came to mind. I pulled out the toothpick, canceled my basketball party, called my wife, and told her I’d be home late.
I had work to do. I had to find out about teaching imagery and create a lesson plan. Here’s what I came up and here are the ELA Common Core Standards covered.
- W.9-10.5 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. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
- W.9-10.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, well-chosen details, and well-structured event sequences.
- L.9-10.5 Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
- L.9-10.5a Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
- L.9-10.5b Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.
Techniques for Using Imagery
A writer must totally involve the reader in order to make the writing enjoyable to read. A writer must appeal to the senses. If a reader can see, smell, taste, or touch what the character experiences, the writing is of high quality.
- Write the following sentence on the board: “The child got mad at the teacher.”
- Ask students the following questions: Does the sentence paint a picture for the reader? Are there details that would appeal to the readers’ senses?
- Write the following suggestions on the board for specific ways students can revise by adding figurative language and imagery:
- Use Alliteration: Stammering a reply and stomping out the door, the young scholar stopped and displayed his middle finger.
- Use a Simile: After seeing the grade, her fist hammered the desk and she shrieked like a lioness having come upon two hyenas eating her cub.
- Use Onomatopoeia: The bang of the door echoed through the hall as Billy left the room after a long detention.
- Use a Metaphor: The football player–a stonebreaker on the field, a stone off it–lamented his ineligibility.
Procedures for Imagery Lesson Plan
Write telling sentences on the board and instruct students to convert them to showing sentences containing figurative language. Feel free to use my examples. Challenge students to not used the italicized words.
- The pizza tasted great.
- The class was boring.
- The football team thinks they are are so cool.
- My teacher is weird.
- The mugger attacked his victim.
Allow 10-15 minutes for students to work and ask them to share what they wrote. For additional fun, make the sharing part of a reading or writing challenge or have students write their sentences on individual white boards.
TIP: Teachers and students often mistake the use of adjectives and adverbs as good description. Excessive use of adjectives and adverbs is the sign of a lazy writer and makes reading unenjoyable. Adjectives and adverbs should be examined closely during revision. The careful revisor will find that most adverbs and adjectives are unnecessary and add little meaning.
*This lesson has been adapted from Susan Geye’s Mini Lessons for Revision, 1997.
Make Writing Come Alive
Tired of reading blandness. These lessons may help.
- Using Imagery
- Create Characters
- Creative Writing Lesson Plan
- Use Sentence Structure to Improve Writing
- Using Sentence Structure Effectively