Meaning-making paragraphs allow students to practice integrating words and concepts authentically and in multiple ways. The structure reinforces the elements of a strong paragraph. Students take ownership of this activity by answering a peer-written question and writing their own sentence; they teach and learn in the process.
- Choose vocabulary words from the central text. From those, select one or more for this activity.
- Direct students to work individually, in pairs or in groups.
- Provide students with a dictionary, glossary or student-friendly definition of the word.
- Have students write paragraphs about their word following these directions:
- Sentence 1: Use the word in context.
- Sentence 2: Do not use the word, but further explain it.
- Sentence 3: Use the word and contrast it to an antonym.
- Sentence 4: Use the word and define it.
- Ask students to check for peer understanding by posing a written question at the end of the paragraph and having their peers use the vocabulary word in a sentence (see sample).
Connection to anti-bias education
Tier Two vocabulary words are highlighted within the central texts. Tier Two words occur in high frequency across a variety of disciplines and are important for comprehension. They offer students a more precise way to describe critical anti-bias concepts using vocabulary such as unjust, inequitable or iniquitous (all Tier Two words).
Sample meaning-making paragraphs:
From 1955-1956, African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama, organized a bus boycott to protest the segregation of public transportation. On December 5, 1955, 90 percent of Montgomery’s black citizens did not ride the buses to school or work. For the black citizens of Montgomery, the boycott was a powerful act of self-respect and showed their disapproval of the unfair Jim Crow laws they had suffered under. By acting together, participants made the bus boycott a historic success. In 1956, the Supreme Court ruled that segregation of public buses is unconstitutional.
High school sample:
From 1955-1956, African Americans in Montgomery, Alabama organized a bus boycott to protest the segregation of public transportation. On December 5, 1955, 90 percent of Montgomery’s black citizens stayed off the buses in a nonviolent show of resistance to racial segregation. For the black citizens of Montgomery, the boycott was a powerful act of self-respect and a rejection of oppressive Jim Crow laws they had suffered under. By acting together and refusing to participate in an unjust system for more than a year, participants made the bus boycott a historic success ending with a 1956 Supreme Court ruling that found segregation of public buses unconstitutional.
- Boycott means:
- _____ To act together by not using, buying or dealing with a business as an expression of protest or disfavor or as a means of coercion.
- _____ To protest racial segregation by appealing to the courts, particularly in the Jim Crow south.
- _____ To make history by working together for something that you believe in.
Sentence using the word boycott: My sister wants our friends and family to boycott the restaurant by our house because it serves veal.