Teachers for Teachers | Slice of Life: Word Choice
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Slice of Life: Word Choice


Word choice is really important in poetry. It is short. You need to pack a lot into a few words. It really is the essence of the genre. I always have a difficult time explaining this concept to elementary aged readers and writers. I sometimes find myself in a circular conversation that sounds something like:

So these words here … these are the poet using choice? 

Well I think these words are powerful.

Because the poet chose them?

Well yes the poet chose them but it’s the words that are powerful.

So are they powerful because the poet chose them or just powerful?

Sound familiar? Does anyone else face this problem? I want our students to understand that a word can evoke feelings, visual, and auditory images. A word can bring an entire poem together. A word can set the mood. A word placed in combination with other well-chosen words can just say it all.

So I am embarrassed to admit that I have found my perfect mentor text for word choice. I am putting myself on the line to admit the source of this mentor text – I am talking completely, vulnerable here. Let me first say that I spend a lot of time in the car- commuting and carpooling. The radio is on quite often. Some songs are played again and again. Every elementary-aged kid is singing it. Are you ready?

My mama don’t like you and she likes everyone

 Yes this is from Justin Bieber’s song – Love Yourself. Yes I know the title is really a different word (but again word choice). Yes I realize this is not high quality literature, but we all know how he feels about her in a very few words. That is word choice –like it or not. This is what they are listening to – if we can’t beat ‘em –join ‘em and at least let’s get some literary analysis out of it!



  • Avatar
    Lisa Orchard
    Posted at 11:14h, 21 June Reply

    I’ve always lived by the old adage that we can learn something from everyone. Even Justin Beiber. 😉 Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us today.

  • Avatar
    Posted at 11:33h, 21 June Reply

    Again and again I find myself relying on the good old dictionary and thesaurus to assist with word choice. But you got me on this one. Yes, I know that song and you are oh, so right. You know right away how he feels about her with so little words. I chuckle to myself when I hear this song! ~Amy

  • Avatar
    Jennifer Laffin
    Posted at 11:46h, 21 June Reply

    I have heard this line come out of my daughter’s mouth quite a few times recently and I always giggled to myself when I heard it because it speaks volumes without saying much at all. I think that using texts from pop culture is a great way to connect with kids today. It sure will get their attention if they hear a Justin Bieber song in their classroom! (On a side note: Did I hear you were going to be at All Write this week?)

  • Avatar
    Marilyn Yung
    Posted at 14:19h, 21 June Reply

    Awesome sentence. Will use this next year. Thank you for the reminder to keep my ears open to EVERYTHING.

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