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Voice lesson plans


Days 1 and 2: Identifying Strong Voice in Picture Books

Step 1: Explain to students that writing is more interesting and fun to read is when it has what is called voice: personality, color, and emotion.

Step 2: Ask students to tell you what they think it means for writing to have voice.

Step 3: Make a list of the characteristics of writing that indicate strong voice. I tell my students, "You know writing has voice if

  • It shows the writer's personality
  • It sounds different from everyone else's
  • It contains feelings and emotions
  • The words come to life
  • It comes from the heart

Step 4: Emphasize the idea that words can be used to capture strong emotion. Tell the class that you will be reading aloud a story that you believe has "lots of voice." Explain that there are many emotions that are captured in the story, which you want the students to listen for as you read the book.

Step 5: Pass out half-sheets of paper with the names of different emotions that are captured in the story. As you read, ask students to hold up their assigned emotion as you read if they hear it expressed in the story. You can even use this Web site with clip art of free "mood faces" to create "moods on a stick" that students can hold up when they hear a specific mood or emotion in the story.

Step 6: Read the story aloud, pausing at times to talk about why students have held up different emotions and what part of the story captured the emotion. (I read aloud The Memory String by Eve Bunting for this activity, but you can use any other story that has strong voice and emotion.)

Step 7: Follow up the read-aloud with a discussion about why this story had such strong voice and how the author achieved this. Make sure that your students understand that adding emotion is one way to add more voice to a story.

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