Skip to main content

A Writing Lesson on Voice

Today I did a writing lesson on voice with my students. Each of the members of my Professional Learning Community (PLC) decided to choose a trait from the 6 +1 Traits of Writing and teach a lesson as a way to become more familiar with the traits. I chose voice because I find that while it is the easiest of all the traits to identify it is the hardest to teach.

The lesson I used came from the Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory (NWREL) NWREL is the developer of the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing. Although I am very familiar with the 6 traits and have used them with my students and in my work with teachers over the years, I do not rely on the 6 rubrics to determine my writing program. At the same time, I find that the language of the 6 traits can help children assess their writing and those of their classmates. Of course, it's not necessary to use this particular language but it is important to develop terminology with your students so that when you talk about the hallmarks of a good piece of writing the children know what you're talking about. Then, they can begin to identify these in their own and others' writing.

In this lesson, called Adding Voice, the children listened to a short passage about a child's experience rafting during a family vacation. The story could be said to have no voice. The children and I looked at the voice rubric so that they would know what criteria we would be using to assess this piece of writing. We agreed that a piece of writing that takes the audience into consideration and has a purpose - a reason for being written - would have voice. Also, a story with lots of details means that the writer is willing to take a risk to reveal himself. This, we said, is also important. Then, the children worked with a partner to add voice to this voiceless piece of writing. As the children worked I walked around and talked to them about their stories. I found that most of the pieces lacked enough details to make the story come alive for the reader.

I am planning to do this lesson again with another piece of writing, or perhaps even with the same one, but this time we'll work together to add voice to the story. I want to continue working with the children to help them develop their voices. Part of me wonders whether they're ready to take this leap. I wonder if I could have done a similar lesson at the beginning of the school year? Probably not. Timing is critical.

I was excited that the children were engaged during our whole group discussion and when they were working with their partners. This activity went well because there was a clear focus and easy to follow directions. I think the children learned some important things about how writing that can sound flat and boring can be revived so that it has more voice.
Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mini Lessons

Sometimes, I plan too many teaching points for one lesson. For example, instead of focusing on one strategy that students need in order to become more proficient readers and writers, I try to teach several strategies at the same time. 

Sometimes, I stretch out a teaching point beyond the 10- or 12-minute time limit I've given myself because I worry that my mini lesson wasn't enough or my students won't have understood what I intended to teach. So, sometimes, I beat the lesson to a pulp one too many times, or forget to have the kids practice the lesson before they go off to read or write. (Asking students to practice a lesson after you teach it, with you right there to observe and help guide students through the process, is very effective. Try not to skip this step!)  

Here's an example of a mini lesson that lasted less than 10 minutes and resulted in better learning.

My students are in the second round of historical fiction book clubs. In a couple of weeks, we will start …

A Confession

I have a confession to make.

I want to write a book. 
A professional book. 
I think I have a lot to say. 
I think others could benefit from my experience.
After all, I have been an educator for over 30 years.

But, what could I possibly say that hasn't been said before?
What new knowledge could I add to the table?
Who would even bother to read what I have to say?

These are questions borne of fear.
Fear of not being good enough.
Fear of not being able to complete such a daunting project. 
(At least, that's what it feels like to me right now.)
Fear that I won't make time.
Fear that I'll run out of time.

But, over the last couple of days, I've gotten some encouraging words of support from the Innovative Teaching Academy - 
#ITA17 Facebook group. 

You can do it!Write for yourself.
But the message that is propelling me forward is this one: 
It doesn't matter how many times something has been said...each time someone else says it, new people hear it...and that's where you make the d…


Today's post is short and sweet because I just got back from a night of playing Bunko with friends. 

I share some questions I'm grappling with in my classroom. 

No answers. 

Just questions.

(1) What purpose do math stations serve in my classroom?

(2) How can I continue to engage writers without overwhelming them or me?

(3) How can I determine if my tangled readers are learning to be better readers from the books they choose to read?

(4) How can I strike a balance between student choice and making sure my students learn what they need to learn at any given time?

(5) Am I demanding too much from my students?

As I find responses and solutions to these issues, I will post some ideas on my blog.

Any thoughts are more than welcomed!