11 Worst Words in Essay Writing

When my freshmen strike these words from their literary analysis writing, they (miraculously!) start to sound like young adults.

Want to help improve your students’ writing voices when building lit. analysis essays?
Click here for a free copy of the slides, student handout, and answer key shown in the video.

Teach on, everyone!

27 thoughts on “11 Worst Words in Essay Writing

  1. Kim Kannal says:

    WOW! I have purchased a great deal of your TPT units, so I am already a HUGE fan. I love your Prezis! However, this worst words in essay writing is going to be one of my favorites. It is EXACTLY what my students need. Perfection!

  2. Man oh man, I love your posts. I taught English 7 two years ago and used a few of your resources. Next year I’m back teaching it again (after a year in grade 2 – oh my) so I’m getting ideas already 😉

  3. Oh my gosh, Nadine! From 7th to SECOND GRADE!?!! Save your sanity and come back to us! 😀

  4. How do you encourage students through the revising/editing process?

  5. I posted my comment and then realized my question was vague. I’m talking about when you are wrapping an essay or other writing piece. How do you encourage the revising/editing process at that point?

  6. Laura, how do you always know exactly what my students are struggling with? And then you go and create the best way to help them with it, oh and it’s free?! Thank you for helping this first year (new to secondary) ELA teacher.

  7. Victoria Herrmann says:

    Laura, this is absolutely wonderful (as always)! I’m so excited to bring this into my classes next semester as I 100% agree that these words need to go!

    I think I would also add the word “basically” to my personal list of “no” words. My kids use it after a quote, usually, to explain that “The author is basically saying…” and it drives me NUTS!

    Thank you so much for these awesome resources!

  8. Thanks, everyone, for watching and commenting!

    The only way I’ve been able to get my kids to give their peers meaningful feedback is to heavily model the process and then give a VERY specific, step-by-step process for them to follow. The peer editing tasks vary for each of the writing modes. Hmm…maybe that’s a topic for a future video?

    You are so welcome! I think we all are dealing with the exact same issues facing kids at this level, so it’s super-easy for me to know what problems we’re all needing to solve. Happy to have you in the high school hallway!

    Oh yeah, that’d “basically” bug me tons, too! Feel free to add more words. My list of 11 is just a starting spot, of course!
    🙂 Laura

  9. Great timing – we’re starting a literary analysis next week! ! I just made a notes sheet for my IEP kiddos (all my kiddos in a few classes!) and we’re ready to roll. Thanks!

  10. Fantastic, Jenn! Great minds thinking alike, as usual… 🙂

  11. You’re a good speaker! Great energy and enthusiasm! Thank you for sharing your inspiring passion!

  12. And thank you, swtspontaneous, for watching and for your kind words. I appreciate the note of support! 🙂

  13. Jeni Lannen says:

    This is so awesome! I love your writing videos and tools they are so on the spot and accessible to my students. They are so helpful. Thank you so much for your time and great tools. I would love to see more about your peer editing, that is so tough and how to incorporate quotes even tougher. I am awaiting more of your wisdom! Thanks for all you do to help other teachers.

  14. Thanks so much, Laura! Love the rules and love that you included a sample of sentences for them to use (and an answer key to help as well!). And the fact that it’s free – well, that just feels like Christmas came early! Thanks again!

  15. Great suggestions, Jeni! I’m sure I’ll eventually get around to making more writing videos. For peer editing, that’s definitely a specific skill that needs to be taught (my kids don’t know at first what to look for in those papers) and I rely on a step-by-step checklist for each of our major writing assignments. Sounds like that’d be a great topic for a future video. As for incorporating quotes, I’ve actually already built a pre-assessment, lecture slides, and reference handout on this topic that you might like: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Embedding-Quotations-How-to-Embed-Quotes-Pre-test-Lecture-Reference-Sheet-1391029

    Thanks for watching and commenting. I appreciate it! 🙂

  16. Thank you for compiling and sharing this list of worst words. Once again, you have provided an invaluable resource that I will use. I have a “Randazzo Resources” folder on my desktop and a huge section in my filing cabinet to keep your materials within quick reach. Thank you very much! 🙂

  17. So glad to give you another addition to the file cabinet, Michelle! 😀

  18. Laura,

    I have a question regarding American literature which is a bit off topic from this particular post. When you teach the texts in your American literature class, how long do you normally take to introduce the literary movement in which it was written? Also, do you provide just a cursory overview, or do you go into great depth? I’m wondering since we are thinking of moving away from a chronological to a thematic order, and I’m worried!

    Thanks so much.

  19. Great question, Lydia! I usually take about a half-hour as we start each new unit and present a Prezi-based lecture that covers the highlights of each era in American literature before we begin studying a few short stories, poems, and one longer work that represent the era. I know it’s not in fashion, but I still use a chronological approach because I think there’s a lot of value in helping our students see how we got to where we are today. Once they see the thread that ties all of the writers, artists, philosophers, political movements together, they are better equipped to understand our modern culture/climate. I have those Prezi lectures up in my shop, if helpful: https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:American%20Literature%20Movement%20randazzo

    Thanks for thinking of me! 🙂

  20. I’m a middle school teacher, but I cannot stand the first and second person pronouns. I’m going to hold them to it and just use the excuse that I’m at a private school and technically, my kids are on a ninth grade level. I’m thinking about adding the others by the end of the year.

  21. Sounds good to me, Grace! I’ll back you up on that. 🙂

  22. Staci A Rossell says:

    Laura! This was a fantastic lesson! I taught in the classroom for 11 years, but I’m currently homeschooling my lovely and bright 11th grade daughter. We use SO many of your lessons! We did this lesson the other day on Words to Avoid. We also did another one of your lessons, The Necklace. As I was grading it, I was amazed at the quality of her responses! I commented to her about what a great job she had done and she said, “Well, I tried to avoid using those words.” WOW! Immediate results! You rock, Laura Randazzo. You’ve got a gift, girl.

  23. Thanks, Staci, for this beautiful feedback! It’s so gratifying to know that the materials I use in my traditional classroom are also a good fit for the homeschooling needs of your daughter. Fantastic! Tell her that I’m proud of her – and tell her to KEEP WRITING! 🙂

  24. Laura, I think your comprehensive bundle with vocabulary, bell ringers, grammar and literary terms will be perfect, except I don’t see my students every day. Any ideas on how to accomplish all of this over two days as opposed to three?

  25. Great question, Jillian! A lot of us are on block or alternative schedules, so I know you’re not alone with this question. I would use the three core items (MUG Shots (grammar), lit. terms, and vocab.) in a rotation of three. So, the first time I see the class, we start with MUG Shots. The second class meeting begins with a lit. term. The third class would begin with vocab. The fourth class would begin with the second group of MUG Shots. And so on throughout the semester… You won’t get through as many because you meet less frequently, but your students will still get the benefit of the skill-builders and you’ll be able to launch class efficiently each time. Hope this is a fit for your schedule. Happy planning! 🙂

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