Word Game


Visual timelines are similar to traditional timelines, but include images or drawings. They are one tool to help students with the sequencing of events. They can be an effective tool for analyzing a piece of text by identifying the arc of a story, charting character development, or tracking specific events over the course of time. Visual timelines can also be helpful to students as a precursor to writing their own stories; they can sequence events or character development over time. They can be paper-based or electronic and include drawings by students or images they pull from online sources.

Learning Strategies 

  • Connecting
Text-Self / Text-Text / Text-World Connections

Lesson Plan Stages 

  • Investigation
  • Launching Into New Content

Content Areas 

  • ELA
  • Math
  • Science
  • Social Studies

Learning Strands 

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Writing

Common Core Instructional Shifts 

  • Academic Vocabulary
  • Building Knowledge in the Discipline


Select three or four words of significance from the text. Assign student groups (similar word grouping and mixed word grouping).

Activity Steps 
  1. Introduce Word Game.

    Introduce the Word Game as a tool for checking understanding of the text through a specific lens. Students could read the same text and if given different words they would have vastly different responses. For example, if students were given a real estate listing that described a house and one student was given the word “buyer” and the other the word “burglar” they would write very different paragraphs about the house. The word that you are given is the lens through which you describe the text.

  2. Distribute the words.

    Words are written on strips of paper and distributed randomly to students or they can be written on the board with designated students’ names next to them. For example, “Family” is for everyone in row 1 or at table 3. This is also an opportunity to differentiate for individual students and to be strategic about what words are given to which students.

  3. Write paragraphs.

    Students will write a paragraph that explains the significance of their word in the text. You may want to model this step with a different word or have an exemplar ready to share prior to having students write their own paragraphs.

  4. Conduct group share-out.

    Students group according to their words. Each student reads his/her paragraph. They will revise their paragraphs based on new learning from their peers.

  5. Conduct mixed group share-out.

    Students regroup so each group has one member with a different word. Each member reads his/her paragraph. Students discuss similarities and differences between the content of their paragraphs.

  6. Reflect.

    · How did writing your paragraph help you better understand the text? · How did listening to other students’ work help expand your thinking? · Provide specific examples.

Downloadable Resources 
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