Thursday, November 20, 2014

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

Mentor Texts for Six Traits: Voice

A warm up activity to introduce the trait of voice is to have each child write an emotion on an index card. After collecting the cards, we gather at the rug and kids get to choose an emotion to act out. It just gets them thinking of different ways to convey feelings using voice.  A good mentor text for this activity is: Today I Feel Silly & Other Moods That Make My Day, by Jamie Lee Curtis.

We Are In A Book! by Mo Willems- This is a book about 2 best friends, Gerald and Piggie, who find themselves in a book! They just can’t believe this new adventure and use some great “voice”. The book is composed of back and forth dialogue along with great simple pictures.  Once I read this book to the class, we talk about the different emotions the characters displayed and how the reader knew this. Many respond with things like, because of the speech bubbles, the punctuation-exclamation points, expressions on Gerald and Piggy’s face.  All of these ideas the students generate, I then link back to the trait of “voice” and tell the children that they are going to write their own comic. We brainstorm ways that authors show voice and then the students try to incorporate some aspects of voice into their own comic strips.

Dear Mrs. La Rue:Letters From Obedience School by Mark Teague- This is a great book to teach about using your own voice in letter writing.  After reading the book, we discuss ways in which we could tell how a character was feeling by reading the letters.  I then link this to my own students’ letter writing. I ask them to write a letter to Santa convincing him why they would be the best elf for the job! They have to create an elf character, with a name and a personality and convey all of this in a convincing letter to Santa. The kids love this and it’s amazing what ideas they come up with. I think my favorite line so far from one of my students was, “not only can I become invisible but I am also a trained reindeer tamer.”

Professional Learning Communities

Do you participate in PLC's in your district?

Last year, my colleagues and I wanted to learn how to become better writing teachers.  Our question which we would use to drive our learning was:  How can teachers as writers promote and strengthen writing instruction?  We decided that we would use our own personal writing linked to our students writing process and go from there. Although it made us a bit uneasy to share in front of our colleagues, in the end it made us have empathy towards our students and realize all of the tools writers need to be successful, from the environment to the actual nitty gritty details that writing can demand.

We decided as a group that voice was our hardest trait to teach so we all decided to write a piece about the first day of school. We each chose to write from a different perspective. Some of the perspectives were: bus driver, teacher, student, principal and the school itself. To our surprise this was a pretty fun piece to write and one that we could not only use in our PLC but also with our students.  I’ve found that my students just LOVE when I share my own writing with them, from the brainstorming, to the rough draft, to the final completed piece.

Here was my feeble attempt to write using the voice of a student on the first day of school. 

Voice: Student

I could see the flashing lights approaching in the distance.  The sound of the school bus coming to a stop and the opening of the bus door is one that you never forget.  Ms. Jackie, as we called her, was alright as a bus driver.  She was for lack of a better term, typical.  The bus ride was fine, nothing out of the ordinary.  I climbed up the stairs chose my usual area of the bus to sit and reserved the spot next to me for my best friend, who would be joining us in exactly three more stops. (I thought to myself, I wonder if the other kids I just walked by noticed my new cool coat and backpack?). Things were going well.

Soon we were there. The school smelled, well, like a school should; erasers, Elmer’s glue and old or should I say loved books.  It was just as I had expected.  As I walked down the hall I could see my teacher smiling. I had the nicest teacher in the school this year and to top it all off, ALL of my best friends were in my class. Wow, I thought to myself, could this year get any better?!

I took out my perfectly labeled purple polka dotted sparkly folder, matching journal, crayons, markers, colored pencils and neatly piled them on my desk.

Beep…Beep…Beep! What was that sound? It was then I realized my alarm clock was going off. I was going to be late for the first day of school! My great start to the school year was about to go downhill fast if I didn’t run to catch the bus! Some dream that was!

How do you successfully teach the craft of writing to your students?