Using a Thesaurus is one way to help your students expand their vocabulary and strengthen their writing. If you don't have enough copies of Roget's lying around don't worry. MS Word includes a thesaurus that can be easy to use if you know a shortcut.
Your student is composing a story and decides that his choice of words is too simple. He runs to the bookshelf, grabs a well thumbed copy of a thesaurus, thumbs through and finds the word he wants to replace to make his story sound better.
He happily rushes back to his seat with a new word to use ... but he has lost his train of thought. If he knew a simple keyboard shortcut he could have kept writing.
Open a Word document and begin typing; as I did above. To replace a word, first select the word. One way to do that is to double click the word. Depress and hold the Shift key and then tap the F7 key one time.
On your screen you will see a tall narrow column of words similar to the one to the left of this text. The selected word is displayed in the small box at the top of this column and possible replacements are displayed in the longer list
The list shown to the left contains two main suggestions as replacement of the word Happy; content or lucky. Below each of those words are variations of those two which could be selected to replace happy on my document.
Put your cursor over the word you want to select and you will see a small blue box [outlined in red on the image to the left]. Click on the blue box (not the word to the left of the box) and you are given three choices. Click on Insert to select a word to replace the one in your document. Click on Copy to copy the word, but not replace anything in your document. Click on Look Up to see other possible replacement words.
If you click on the listed word, rather than clicking on the blue box, you will replace the word in the top box. [image to the right] In my example cheerful replaced happy and other possible replacements were listed.
As with all useful tools, the tool can be used incorrectly. You wouldn't use a circular saw to slice a bagel or a hammer to open a jar of pickles. Observe your students as they use the Theasurus and make sure that they don't use this tool for obscuration. Yeah, I don't talk that way either! Encourage your students to enrich their vocabulary, but not to use big words just for the sake of using big words.