What’s Another Word for That?

Students using a dictionary or thesaurus to look up synonyms has all but become a lost art.

“Why do I need to learn this when I can go to dictionary.com and have it do it for me?”

To encourage students to use a thesaurus, my co-teacher (computer lab instructor) and I developed a lesson using concrete poetry. Although, we taught this lesson in April for National Poetry Month, it can be adapted for any time of the year.

Students utilized the website Tagxedo as a format for their poetry. They chose a shape and were instructed to brainstorm ten adjectives or phrases to describe their shape.

Some were basic.


Some were more thoughtful.

Chess Piece

Some took a bit of brain power to figure out the meaning.


Some were fantastic!

Abe Lincoln

Throughout the lesson, students were encouraged to use a thesaurus or dictionary to find words that would best describe their shape. Many students were reluctant to reach for one, but inevitably, they would pick one up eager to replace “breakable” with “fragile.”


After students had completed their poem, they were able to adjust the word cloud format and font; however, they could not adjust to outline the shape or change the shape itself. After printing, students were able to illustrate their poetry, which really gave it life!

Bigfoot   150501_0002    150501_0001


They took so much pride in the finished product, they requested to display the poems on their lockers.


We use Tagxedo for lessons on digital citizenship, also. Students use the footprint shape to create their digital footprint by using words and phrases that describe good digital citizenship.

For additional poetry examples and to see how the lesson was scaffolded for younger grades, read about it here!


Author: Ashley Cooksey

Library Media Specialist in Arkansas. Self-proclaimed geek. Lover of nature and music. Always learning.

Categories: Blog Topics, Student Engagement/ Teaching Models

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