Defining Verbs for Students

By on April 8, 2012

As teachers, we are always talking about verbs: how to interpret them on a test and how to effectively use them in writing. Recently, I have found a need for additional support when teaching students about verbs. In my classroom, I am always talking about verbs. I believe that the use of strong verbs and concrete nouns are what separate good writing from poor writing. And since verbs are important to all subject areas, I decided to create a few resources that are bound to help everyone. 

Although it is true that our students will need to know 100s of verbs before they graduate high school, I think it is wise to start with a short list of high frequency verbs. Let's focus on an abbreviated list before moving into comprehensive sets of verbs.

To get us started, I have created a few verb lists on the site. You will find "8 Common Verbs for Charting" on the Charting a Text strategy page, "Verbs for 'Says'" on the Academic Summary page, and "Common Prompt Verbs" on the Analyzing a Prompt strategy page. I am most excited about the definitions. I used kid friendly language and definitions that are rhetorical in nature; that is, I provided functional definitions instead of definitions from the dictionary. The words are defined by how they are used in a particular context. For example, the charting verbs are defined in a way that will help students recognize what an author is doing in a text. The verbs for "says" are defined so that students can learn how to select the best verb for what an author says in a text. This project was a lot of fun and very time consuming. Let me know what you think. Ready. Set. Go get those verbs.

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Interpret words and phrases as they are used in a text, including determining technical, connotative, and figurative meanings, and analyze how specific word choices shape meaning or tone.
Gather relevant information from multiple print and digital resources, assess the credibility and accuracy of each source, and integrate the information while avoiding plagiarism.
Demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English grammar and usage when writing or speaking.
Determine or clarify the meaning of unknown and multiple-meaning words and phrases by using context clues, analyzing meaningful word parts, and consulting general and specialized reference materials, as appropriate.
Acquire and use accurately a range of general academic and domain-specific words and phrases sufficient for reading, writing, speaking, and listening at the college and career readiness level; demonstrate independence in gathering vocabulary knowledge when considering a word or phrase important to comprehension or expression.
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