Formal Writing Word Choice Mini Lessons: Revising Cliches with Mature Vocabulary

Grade Levels
7th - 10th
Formats Included
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110 slides; 11 pages
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Tired of reading formal essays that are full of cliches and other informal or elementary word choice? Teach students to avoid them like the plague...HA! This "cliche away" unit contains three weeks of short mini lessons to introduce the concept of cliches, to help students recognize common informal word choice, to guide them toward revising with more mature vocabulary, and to help them extend their learning.

These materials are flexible, so you can use them as bell ringers, writing mini lessons, station activities, or however you choose.


3 Editable PowerPoint presentations, which you can import to Google Slides. Each day...

  • introduce one common cliche or other informal word choice example to students along with two new vocabulary words they could use to revise
  • provide a short passage for students to observe and revise the informal word choice in context...most passages are written in a literary analysis format
  • use the passages provided to teach students how to research and select more mature vocabulary that fits the context and connotation of the cliche

Student notes. Students can take notes as you discuss the cliche of the day. It's simple! They write down alternate, more mature word choice options. Use with ELA folders, binders, or notebooks.

Word Wall templates. Have students draw an association for the word. Choose one...or hang on the class word wall. The definitions on the templates are editable.

Review. On Fridays...or as the last activity each week, students revise a short passage, which contains all of the cliches and informal word choice examples from the week.

Extend. It's just not possible to teach every cliche students will use. The goal is for students to be able to apply their understanding of revising informal word choice to other cliches and elementary wordings. This unit contains a writing extension exercise, which challenges students to revise cliches, idioms, and elementary word choice, applying the practices they learned through the daily mini lessons.

Assessment. Did it stick? Inside the resource, you'll find four different versions of a writing and vocabulary assessment. Various levels of scaffolding provide opportunities to challenge gifted students and modify for those who need it. Students assess an example written response, looking for the informal word choice examples from the unit. Then, they revise. Fully editable!

A cliche or informal expression each day helps to keep the colloquialisms away!

Use this resource however you wish. Although it is designed to last three weeks, you can easily alter the timeline to fit your needs. The intended audience is middle and high school.


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Duplication limited to single classroom use only.

Electronic distribution limited to single classroom use only.

Total Pages
110 slides; 11 pages
Answer Key
Teaching Duration
3 Weeks
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to see state-specific standards (only available in the US).
Establish and maintain a formal style.
Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.
Produce clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization, and style are appropriate to task, purpose, and audience.
Establish and maintain a formal style.
Use precise language and domain-specific vocabulary to inform about or explain the topic.


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