Authentic Lessons for 21st Century Learning

Slay the Slang!

Summarizing Informational Texts

Susan McHale, Margaret Salesky | Published: May 27th, 2022 by K20 Center

  • Grade Level Grade Level 7th, 8th
  • Subject Subject English/Language Arts
  • Course Course Composition, Creative Writing
  • Time Frame Time Frame 2 class period(s)
  • Duration More 100 minutes


Students will implement a close reading strategy to annotate and summarize an informational text about Generation Z slang. Students will use context clues to infer the meaning of slang words. With the knowledge gained from the text reading, students will create their own Gen Z dictionary of definitions.  This lesson includes optional modifications for distance learning. Resources for use in Google Classroom are included. While this lesson is currently aligned only to 8th grade standards, it would be appropriate to teach in grades 7 through 8, adjusting standards as needed.

Essential Question(s)

How can I make meaning when I read? What strategies can I use?  How does each generation use slang to express themselves?



Students look at past generational slang and try to predict its meaning. Students give examples of their own generation's slang.


Students further try to define the generational slang using context clues.


Students use a close reading strategy, CUS and Discuss, to identify the main idea (with supporting details) from an informational text. They summarize and paraphrase what they read.


Students create two words for a modern dictionary of Generation Z terms and present their words, definitions, and sentence examples to the class.


The informational text graphic organizer and the group presentation of their slang terms will serve as assessments of this lesson.


  • Teacher slides for the lesson

  • "Slang Terms Through the Decades" teacher resource handout

  • Generation Z article, "He's the Cool One": Teacher Creates Gen Z Dictionary of Slang"

  • Informational text graphic organizer


Display slide three showing the essential questions for this lesson. Read the questions aloud and tell students that by the end of the lesson, we will have a better idea of what slang is as we read and summarize an article.

Tell students that to begin our lesson we are going to discuss "slang" words. Show slide four which provides a dictionary definition of slang. Read the definition aloud. Continue to slide five and discuss how the word "stan" is used in these sentences. Ask students to respond to the question on slide five, "How is the slang word 'stan' used in these sentences?" Answer: Stan is used a noun and a verb respectively in these sentences to mean that Amber is a very big fan of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Slide six displays the dictionary definition of the word, "stan" from Merriam-Webster's online dictionary. You may want to explain to students that even some slang words are included in the dictionary if they become used widely.

Use an Elbow Partner strategy and the prompt, "What are some other examples of slang that you know?" to get students to identify more examples of slang. Call on pairs to share their examples and assist the class through the discussion and sharing of ideas.

The following activity should take about 10 minutes. Display slide seven and lead a Chain Notes strategy by reading aloud the directions aloud on this slide. Distribute each prepared notebook paper to a different student or to the first student in each row of desks. Students are to take a turn writing their definition of the slang on the notebook paper, then pass it to another student in the class or down the rows. When all students have written a guess on at least one of the notebook papers, they should return the paper to the student who started the chain note. (The notes will be read aloud a little later in the lesson.)


Using Context Clues: Rather than telling students the definitions of these slang words, they will use context clues to infer their meaning by reading them in sentences. Display slide eight which shows a sentence using the slang term "boffo." Read the sentence aloud. Ask students if the sentence provides any clues to the meaning of the term. Ask for volunteers to take a guess based upon the sentence. After one or two guesses, share the meaning of boffo with the students, using the teacher resource handout for the answer. Ask the student who has the chain note answers for the word boffo to stand up and read the student answers, checking to see if anyone guessed the meaning correctly.

Display slide nine and read aloud the example sentence for "cheesed." Again, ask for volunteers to guess what the slang might mean as it is used in this sentence. What clues can students find in this sentence that give meaning to the term? After a few guesses, share the meaning of cheesed with the students using the teacher resource handout for the answer. Ask the student who had the chain note for cheesed to read aloud all the guesses to see if anyone was able to infer the correct meaning before the discussion.

Move through the next four slides and continue in this manner with each slang term, using the example sentence to provide context clues. Remind students that each generation has its own slang terms. Tell them that, "Today, we will discuss the slang terms of your generation, 'Generation Z.'


Pass out the informational text PDF about Generation Z titled, "'He's the Cool One:' Teacher Creates Gen Z Dictionary of Slang" (found in attachments). A link to the article from Newsela can also be found in the resources at the end of this lesson.

Tell students that they will be reading this article using the Cus and Discuss reading strategy.

On slide 14, go over the reading strategy of Cus and Discuss with students, asking them to read the article and interpret it using this strategy as they read. Allow time for the article to be read and annotated (approximately 25 to 35 minutes).

After students have read the article and implemented the CUS and Discuss strategy individually, move students into assigned groups of three. Pass out the informational text graphic organizer (attached), one per group. Have all group members place their name on the graphic organizer. From their individual annotations, groups are to discuss and complete the graphic organizer together. Groups should come to a consensus and then determine three main ideas from the article. For each main idea, there should be at least one supporting detail. Finally, groups should write a summary of the text together in their own words, using 25 words or less. These directions are displayed on slide 15.

If time permits, have groups share out their summary.


Next, tell groups that they will create two Generation Z slang terms of their own. Display slide 15 as an example. Tell students that each slang term should have a definition and an example using the word in a sentence.

Once groups have an idea for their slang terms and definitions, they can "pitch" these ideas to another group and receive feedback. If time permits, groups can present one of their slang definitions to the class.


The informational text graphic organizer and the two Gen Z slang terms will serve as assessments of this lesson.