|Days 1 and 2: Identifying
Strong Voice in Picture Books [Use a variety
from your school's library- Gather these in advance.]
- Ask students
to tell you what they think it means for writing to have
voice. Record these on the board or use chart paper. At the
end compliment students for guessing some of the
characteristics of good voice.
- Explain to
students that writing is much more exciting to read when the
author took time to put sensory images in their writing and
used emotions that are unique to themselves. This is known as
having a strong voice in writing. Voice is often thought of as
the writer's personality shining through.
- Review the
list of the characteristics of writing that the students
found. Compare their list to the one below [have this
underneath or write it on the board now] Tell them this is the
list that that characterizes a strong voice in writing. Ask
them to write the list in their notebooks.
- You know a
piece of writing has a strong voice if:
- It shows
the writer's personality
- It sounds
different from everyone else's
- It contains
feelings and emotions
- It contains
- The words
come to life
- It comes
from the heart
- Explain that
words can be used to capture strong emotion. Tell them that
you will read a picture book aloud and find the authors voice
together as a group and then they will work with a partner to
find the author's voice in a picture book. It is up to them to
to find the emotions the author captured in the story.
strong voice by reading aloud a picture book with strong
voice: Example Langston Hughes.
- Ask students
to stick their hand in the air as soon as they hear the
author's voice come through. Encourage them to look at their
characteristics as they listen.
- Stop when a
student sticks their hand up and ask what part they thought
showed the author's voice best. Do this for all hands that go
up. Discuss pros and cons about each passage chosen by the
student as showing voice. Make sure to refer to the list of
- Follow up the
read-aloud with a discussion of how the author achieved making
the story have strong emotions. What were the verbs used? What
sensory images did the authors use? Make sure they understand
that by adding emotions to writing the author adds more voice
to his/her writing.
students get together with a partner [pre-selected] and to
choose a picture book.
name that emotion reproducible
worksheet and use a highlighter to mark the emotions that the
author used in the book.
look through the book for example of sensory images and write
Finally use the
emotion words above and have
each partnership put a sticky note on one of the pages and
label it with the emotion they feel is captured by the words
on that page. After all students have finished reading, ask
each group to read aloud the page that they marked and share
the captured emotion with the class.
After Activity:Day 3
- Students now
understand how authors use emotion to add voice to their
writing. It's time for your students to try it out for
themselves! Pass out a
Voice Cards Reproducible
to each student. Make sure that students do not show the
emotion on their Voice Card to their classmates. (Take a Voice
Card for yourself as well so that you can model the activity
for your students.)
- Tell students
that they have been assigned an emotion that they will need to
portray through writing. Look at your own card and model for
your students how to complete the activity. Follow the steps
- Peek at
your card without showing it to your class. (You may want
to choose your word ahead of time so that you can pre-plan
- Write a
short paragraph in which you reveal your assigned emotion.
Tell students that the word on their card CANNOT be used
in the paragraph. Students must reveal the emotion solely
through the thoughts, words, or actions of the characters
or narrator in their short stories.
your paragraph in front of the class. For example, if you
have the word NERVOUS, you might write:
hands were so sweaty I could barely hold the microphone
in my hand. Butterflies were bouncing off the walls of
my stomach, and my knees were shaking. As the announcer
called my name, I watched the curtain slowly rise to
reveal the hundreds of people in the audience. I was
blinded by the brightness of a spotlight shining down on
me. "You can do this," I whispered to myself.
reading your paragraph to your class, have students guess
the emotion that you were trying to reveal through your
writing. You may need to do a couple of examples to make
sure that students understand the task. It's also
important that you show that this is not a synonym
exercise. The goal is NOT to replace the emotion word with
cognates. Instead, the goal is to show that emotion
through thoughts and actions.
- Send students
back to their desks with their Voice Card. In their Writer's
Notebook or on notebook paper, have them write their own
paragraph to reveal the emotion they have been assigned.
- Once all
students are finished, have students read their paragraphs
aloud to the class and ask their classmates to guess the
emotion. (You could use the Mood Faces from the lesson on
Day 1 for this activity.)
up the sharing with a discussion that relates this activity to
voice. Explain to students that expressing emotion in writing
is one way to add more voice to a story.
After Activity: Day 4
- Now that
students understand how to improve their writing by adding
more voice to their stories or essays, they will revisit an
entry in their
Territories (or any piece of writing that they
have already published) to find places where they can add more
voice, emotion, or point of view.
- Using sticky
notes, students will find places where they can add more
emotion to a scene, add more exciting dialogue, or add a
character's actions to reveal a certain attitude or mood.
(I have my students use sticky notes because there is not
usually room to write in an existing story. The sticky notes
can be placed in the story where the emotions will be
- Give students
an entire writing period (or two) to make improvements to
their existing piece of writing. Tell them that they will be
sharing it with a group of peers tomorrow in class who will be
looking for examples of strong voice in their piece of
After Activity: Day 5
Ask students to get out their Name That Emotion (PDF)
Explain to students that they will meet in small groups
where they will listen to fellow authors in the class read aloud
their improved stories. While listening to their classmates
read their stories aloud, students will underline or highlight
the emotions on the Name That Emotion (PDF) worksheet that they
feel the author has clearly revealed in his or her writing.
After each author reads his or her story, the other
students in the group should share the emotions they heard and
refer to the specific words in the author's story that made the
emotions so clear.
End this sharing
time with a group meeting where you challenge your students to
continue using emotions to add voice to their writing from this