Margin Notes



Whether you call it “word collecting”, “looking for interesting language”, or “word harvesting”, it all boils down to the same thing: you and your students are looking for words, writing those words down somewhere, and then discussing those words.  Collecting words can be done in a myriad of ways, and for a variety of reasons in the classroom.


One reason might be for looking at, and discussing, author’s craft.  This could be modeled through a “Think Aloud”, where you read aloud a text and pause and write down a few words/phrases that you want to think about later. Then, after reading, you discuss what you’re thinking (and students can join in). You can then have students collect words/phrases from their own books.

Here are some things you and your students might notice about words in the books you read:

Words/phrases that are:

  • descriptive
  • setting the mood/tone
  • figurative language
  • rare words (uncommonly used)
  • colloquialisms
  • synonyms/homonyms, etc.
  • alliteration

After students have collected words, you can discuss their meanings and why the author might have chosen that word/phrase:

  • How does it affect the meaning?
  • What other words could the author have used?
  • How would that have changed the story?
  • How can we use that word/phrase in our own writing?

Research has demonstrated that helping students become “word aware” is an important part of vocabulary acquisition. Taking the time to discuss words and frame it as “author’s craft” is another way to expose students to words and their meanings, while also supporting word choice in writing.



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