Friday, November 14, 2008

Jeanie Racklif and Exploring Writers

Jeanie works on voice with her students. They work in small groups after sharing a book by Jamie Lee Curtis. They play match games with emotions and use mirrors to check on their facial expressions.

If you have more questions contact Jeanie at:

Tracey Howatt with Second Graders

Using the book, How are you Peeling Today? Tracy helped second graders to identify feelings in the book and then act them out as the other students guessed what feelings were being mimed. This lesson is part of a unit teaching voice - identifying voice, feelings, and then transfering them into their writing. For further information feel free to contact Tracey at:

Jennifer Timberlake and Denise Cloutier with Exploring Writers

Jennifer and Denise share a book with students and then have them write/draw in their journals. Title of the book is: Today I Think I Will Fly by Mo Williams.

Pictures, bold print, and pictures are all highlighted as an option for students to experiment with in their journals.

Students love this experience!

They are highly engaged and focused, seeing themselves as authors:)

If you have any questions you can contact:
Jennifer at:
Denise at:

Kelyy Leclerc Teaching Voice to Exploring Writers

Kelly has her students write a class book based on each child's life. Students illustrate and create voice. Terry begins her unit on voice with appropriate books and songs to demonstrate voice.

If you have any questions, you can contact Terry at:,

Exploring, Emerging, Developing Writers

At the exploring,emerging, and developing stages of writing, voice is the most challenging trait to teach. Students are still learning the basics of writing - letter formation, spelling, print conventions. However, research shows students can begin to understand voice through drawing - as drawing later becomes writing since both are forms of written expression.

Teachers at Jay used drawing in different ways to teach voice through writing by having students:
  • express feelings through use of vivid or varied colors, BIG "letters or letter shapes, or bold, strong lines in picture text or scribbling
  • create pictures/text that express personality, moods or individuality
  • create pictures that seem to show energy, sense of motion, sense of anticipation, or events about to happen; characters with expressive faces or body language that projects strong feelings
  • creates pictures/text that show distinctive personal style, originality
  • creates pictures/text that creates an emotional response in a reader
  • expresses enough personality and/or feelings in pictures/text so that work can be linked to this writer by someone who knows him/her well
taken from: Seeing with New Eyes, Using the 6+1 Traits Model by NWREL

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

First Grade, Lyn Disotto and Terri LeClerc

Lesson Plan

Voice: The unique perspective of the writer is evident in the piece through the use of compelling ideas, engaging language, and revealing details.

Objective: The students will make "word choices" which help to produce "voice" in their writing.

Read Aloud: Miss Spider's Tea Party by David Kirk

Prior to lesson - Orally read the story

  1. Introduce the "magical mirrors" which show three types of emotions.
  2. The students will help to identify the 3 names for the emotions, which are shown on the mirrors. They show a sad, lonely, and happy person.
  3. Students will then draw a word card having one of the 3 emotions written on them. They will illustrate themselves showing that particular emotion.
  4. 3 students will be asked to show their illustrations and their peers will identify which emotion is expressed.
  5. 3 other students will be asked to show their self- portraits and give a sentence sowing a connection using the emotion being protrayed. Stress using "details" with their word choices.
Writing Skill Practice
  1. The students will use their chosen emotion to write a couple of detailed sentences, which show how their "word choice" helps to develop voice in their writings.
  2. 3 students will be asked to share their sentences and students will guess which emotions were expressed through their sentences.

I will observe how the students are interacting throughout the lesson. I will notice the details they use in their self-portraits to express "word choice".

For any questions, you can contact Lyn at: or Terri at:

Voice at Jay Elementary School

Voice is one of the most challenging traits to teach because it is a combination of many traits.

Spandel explains it this way:

Voice is the imprint of the writer on the page. It is the heart, soul, and breath of writing - the spirit and the flavor. More than any other quality, it is voice that speaks to us from the page, that calls us to a favorite chair or hammock and says, "Come with me. Come into the world of the book."

Word choice and fluency are first cousins of voice and indeed enhance voice tremendously. Voice comes, in part, from the words a writer chooses and the way he or she arranges them to create expressive and appealing rhythms. Here are two writers writing about feelings of loneliness -- in very different ways.

Sandra Cisneros, Four Skinny Trees

" Their strength is secret. They send ferocious roots beneath the ground. They grow up and they grow down and grab the tearth between their hairy toes and bite the sky with violent teeth and never quit their anger."

Bill Bryson, travel writer

Do you know what is the most melancholy part of dining alone in your hotel? It's when they come and take away all the other place settings and wineglasses, as if to say, 'Obviously no one will be jooining you tonight, so we'll just whip away all these things and seat you here facing a pillar, and in a minute we'll bring you a very large basket with just one roll in it. Enjoy!'

Voice is many things: personality, passion, engagement with the topic, energy and enthusiasm, and audience snesitivity. Because voice builds a bridge from writer to reader, ti is much more than a fancy accoutrement; it is a tool ensuring that the reader pays attention to the message. Voice comes in many guises and shifts with writer, audience, and purpose. ' All writing has an intended audience, even the telephone book...' (O'Connor, 1999, p. 13). Most of us speak in different voices when we talk with a beloved soulmate on the phone or cheer the local football team on the field. Similarly, our writing voices can (and must) dress to suit the occasion."

Trait Shortie for Voice:

Voice: Fingerprints on the Page

  • Individual, distinctive
  • A "read-aloud" piece
  • Passionate, energetic
  • Speaks to readers
  • Confident, self-assured
  • Writer is present on the page.
Taken from Creating Writers Through 6-Trait Writing by Vicki Spandel

Therefore, lower grade teachers focus on real reader response. This teaches students how to think about their response to the writing and, after articulating it, how to incorporate it into their own writing. This higher level of meta-cognition reinforces and strengthens students' comprehension. Following are a number of excellent lessons taught at Jay at the lower grades for teaching voice.

Thank you Jay.