Secondary Lesson Plan: Loaded Words

A. Grade Level:


B. CDE Standards:

9/10 Reading/Language Arts

1.0 Word Analysis, Fluency, and Systematic Vocabulary Development

1.1 Identify and use the literal and figurative meaning of words

1.2 Distinguish between the denotative and connotative meanings of words and interpret the connotative power of words.

C. Concepts Covered

The denotation and connotation of words

How euphemisms are used

How connotations of words change through time

D. Procedure:

Time frame: 20 to 30 minutes; teacher directed, class discussion.

1. Teacher defines the words "denotation" and "connotation." Give specific examples.


smart person

an animal used for food

a greedy person

a person who eats in a sloppy manner

a police officer

show off




rocket scientist

2. Teacher may use the student worksheet on Loaded Words or put it on an overhead transparency to discuss vocabulary dealing with the Japanese American internment. Students decide on a general denotation for each group of words. Then, rank the words from most positive connotation to most negative. The most neutral term would be in the middle.

3. Teacher reviews responses on worksheet with the class and discusses the implications of using these terms. Discuss the idea of "loaded words" and euphemisms. It is important that each student hears and understands the correct definitions at this point in the unit. Teacher should mention the use of the term "non alien" to describe an American citizen.

Note: The closer a word is to describing what an individual believes about himself, the more positive the euphemism becomes. Thus:

I am a "genius"I am a "brilliant conversationalist"
you are a "nerd"you "talk a lot"
he is a "show off"she "never shuts up"

4. Discuss why the term "concentration camp" evokes such controversy.

E. Materials Needed:

1. Worksheet on using denotation, connotation and euphemism.

2. Teacher resource material on terminology.

3. Glossary of Propaganda Terms (included at the end of this lesson)

F. Assessment:

Class discussion of responses.

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Last updated: February 28, 2015

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