All About Adverbs

Teaching Strategies
School or Organization

TOPIC: Adverbs



What are adverbs and how do we use them?

How do adverbs make our writing more interesting?


§110.15. English Language Arts and Reading

(20)  Oral and Written Conventions/Conventions. Students understand the function of and use the conventions of academic language when speaking and writing. Students continue to apply earlier standards with greater complexity. Students are expected to:

        (A)  use and understand the function of the following parts of speech in the context of reading, writing, and speaking:

                   (iv)  adverbs (e.g., frequency: usually, sometim


We are going to talk about a new part of speech today, but before we do that, I’d like to get a sense of what you know about parts of speech already. Can you name any parts of speech? [time to do this] Ms. Ward told me you might also have some gestures that go along with those parts of speech. Would anyone like to share one of those gestures and the part of speech it goes with? [time for this]

What makes writing interesting? [make a list of these things on the board] Excellent. The part of speech we are going to learn about today is really helpful in making writing [all of the things listed on the board].



We’ve been talking about adverbs in class, and today we are going to explore some of the different ways we can use adverbs to make our writing more interesting. First, can someone remind me what an adverb is? [Take student answers here]. How might you be able to tell if a word is an adverb? [Take student answers here]. Why might we use adverbs in our writing?

After review, have students generate a list of as many adverbs as possible and scribe this list on the board. Depending on where you are in your unit, you might also choose to review what a verb is and generate a list of verbs. Have students select (or you can select for them) a verb that they would like to explore (it should be something that they can do at their seats). Then, together as a class, choose three different adverbs that could reasonably modify the verb you’ve chosen.

In your seats, just with your own body, think about how you might be able to act the idea of [the verb]. I’ll give you a 3-2-1-action, and when you hear the word “action” you can begin acting out the verb. Have students pause, and then ask them, in their own space at their desks, to act out the different adverb-verb combinations. For example, you might use:


How does it look to cook slowly?

How does it look to cook carelessly?

How does it look to cook angrily?

Transition: Great, now that we’ve practiced acting out those phrases with our bodies individually, let’s do it together. Let’s move our desks so we can form a standing circle in the middle of the room.


Round 1: Work with students to develop a definition of what a simple sound and gesture looks like in action. Note that this should be something the students can repeat multiple times comfortably. Ask students to think of a few different sound/motion combinations they could use. Ask for a volunteer to start the machine; this volunteer will step into the center of the circle and begin to make their sound and motion. One by one, facilitator will tap students on the shoulder to join the machine, reminding students to try to connect their sound and motion to the machine that is already running. Once all students have joined the machine, facilitator will turn the machine’s speed up very high and down very low and then push the “off” button.

Note: you could also choose to have half the class create the machine, and ask the reflection questions to the students who were observing how the machine worked.

Reflection Questions:

How could we describe our machine? What could we title it?

Round 2: As a group, choose a verb from the list on the board (or decide on one you would like them to explore that relates to the students’ current writing projects). Ask students to develop a sound/gesture combination for that verb. Build a second machine with the theme for the verb you have chosen (i.e. A cooking machine, a dancing machine).

Round 3: Let students know that you will be adding “adverb buttons” to change the way the machine works together. These adverbs could be pulled from the list students generated, or or decided in the moment depending on what the group needs. Have the students run their machine several different ways using several different adverbs.

Round 4: (if time and interest) Play with a different verb and combination of adverb buttons, generated by the students if possible.


How could you describe our machines? How were they different? What were some things that you had to do to be successful in creating the machine?

How did the adverbs affect our machines? In what ways did they change the ways we were moving our bodies?

What kind of information do adverbs give us? How might using adverbs improve your writing?