Tuesday, November 4, 2008

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.


No comments: