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Lesson Plan by Lauren Martin M.Ed.

Denotation vs. Connotation

Pixton Lesson Plan on Denotation vs. Connotation

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Featured Layouts

When students complete the activities in this lesson plan, they will use the following comic layout types.

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map
  • Comic Strip
  • Poster

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Pixton Lesson Plan on Denotation vs. Connotation
Pixton Lesson Plan on Denotation vs. Connotation
Pixton Lesson Plan on Denotation vs. Connotation

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Denotation vs. Connotation

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  • Brain
    Brain
  • Chicken
    Chicken
  • Cross
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  • Dinosaur
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  • Fire
    Fire
  • Glass
    Glass
  • Heart
    Heart
  • Pig
    Pig
  • Rock
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  • Snake
    Snake
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Teacher Guide

Denotation vs. Connotation

Step 1Class discussion with students

Getting Started

The word, connotation, is used in two different ways. It is important to explain both uses of the word in order to avoid future confusion. Students should also understand that since connotations are cultural associations, some people may have conflicting opinions about the correct connotation of the word.

  • Connotation is used to describe whether a word has negative, positive or neutral associations: Thin vs. Skinny vs. Scrawny.
  • Connotation is also used to describe a word that has a completely unrelated symbolic meaning: Dark times = Bad times.

Opening Discussion

Explain to students that denotation is another word for the literal, dictionary definition of a word. Connotation is the associated meaning of the word beyond the literal definition. Before introducing the definitions, explain that the word, connotation, is used in two different ways. Students will practice both.

  1. Connotation 1 (emotional charge): Every word has a negative, positive or neutral connotation or association. In this case, understanding connotation enhances understanding of the implied meaning, tone and purpose beyond a word's literal definition.

    • "Youth" = positive connotation (or association); "Juvenile" = negative connotation; "Adolescent" = neutral connotation.
    • "Request" or "Remind" = positive connotation; "Whine" or "Nag" = negative connotation; "Ask" = neutral connotation.
    • "Assertive" = positive; "Bossy" = negative; "Dominant" = neutral.
    • "Senior" = positive; "Old" = negative; "Elderly" = neutral.
  2. Connotation 2 (symbolic meaning): Some words have a secondary, figurative or symbolic association or connotation. In this case, the word takes on a completely new meaning completely unrelated to the literal meaning of the word:

    • Snake: An evil, devious or immoral person.
    • Chicken: A coward.
    • Pig: A vulgar person or slob.
    • Sweet: Cool, awesome or fun.
    • Stepping stone: Used to mean small advancements or achievement en route to achieving a goal.
  3. Denotation: The literal, dictionary definition of a word.
Step 2Pixton comic-making activities
  • Make a Storyboard or Mind Map
    Describe Emotional Connotations

    Complete after opening discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Mind Map
    Describe Symbolic Connotations

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Make a Comic Strip
    Create Connotative Words

    Complete after class discussion.

    View Activity
  • Extension / Modification
    Poster (Extension / Modification)

    Create a poster with three sections. List synonyms with positive, negative and neutral connotations.

  • Extension / Modification
    Mind Map (Extension / Modification)

    In a team challenge, create a mind map to brainstorm as many words as you can that have secondary symbolic connotations.

Step 3Concluding discussion with students

Discuss the following:

  • How might reporters and journalists use words with specific connotations to enhance their purpose or argument?
  • Where do symbolic connotations come from? For example, why do you think so many animal names have symbolic connotations?
  • Do you choose words with different (emotional) connotations depending on your audience or argument? Cite examples.
Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Denotation vs. Connotation 1 Describe Emotional Connotations

Featured Layouts

  • Storyboard
  • Mind Map

Intro

Every word has a negative, positive or neutral connotation or emotional association. In this case, understanding connotation enhances understanding of the implied meaning, tone, and purpose beyond a word's literal definition.

  • Positive Connotation: Youthful, Assertive, Senior, Remind
  • Neutral Connotation: Adolescent, Dominant, Elderly, Ask
  • Negative Connotation: Juvenile, Bossy, Old, Whine

Instructions

Create two Mind Maps or Storyboards (three panels each) to illustrate the emotional connotations of two different synonym groups:

  • Identify the word in the panel title.
  • Write a detailed description of the negative, positive or neutral connotation.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Denotation vs. Connotation 2 Describe Symbolic Connotations

Featured Layouts

  • Mind Map

Intro

Connotation 2 (symbolic meaning): Some words have a secondary, figurative or symbolic association or connotation. In this case, the word takes on a completely new meaning that is completely unrelated to the literal meaning of the word. Examples include:

  • Snake: An evil, devious or immoral person.
  • Chicken: A coward.
  • Pig: A vulgar person or slob.
  • Sweet: Cool, awesome or fun.
  • Stepping Stone: Small advancements or achievement en route to achieving a goal.

Instructions

Create two Mind Maps (two panels each) to illustrate the denotation and symbolic connotations of two different words:

  • Identify the word in the comic title.
  • Write a detailed description of the denotation in Panel 1.
  • Write a detailed description of the connotation in Panel 2.
  • Include an appropriate illustration for each panel.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Print this Activity

Pixton Activity: Denotation vs. Connotation 3 Create Connotative Words

Featured Layouts

  • Comic Strip

Intro

Some words have a secondary, figurative or symbolic association or connotation. In this case, the word takes on a completely new meaning completely unrelated to the literal meaning of the word:

  • Snake: An evil, devious or immoral person.
  • Chicken: A coward.
  • Pig: A vulgar person or slob.
  • Sweet: Cool, awesome or fun.
  • Stepping Stones: Small advancements or achievements en route to achieving a goal.

Instructions

Create a Comic to illustrate symbolic connotations:

  • Bold the connotative word in the comic dialogue.
  • Include appropriate dialogue to depict the connotative meaning of the word.
  • Include appropriate illustrations.

See the rubric for grading guidelines.

Example Comic Strip

Connotative Language by Student

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