Wednesday, December 1, 2010
Listening For and Writing with "Voice"
I've been using a couple of Eve Bunting books to expose the students in the 1st/2nd grade class to texts with strong voice. They are learning to identify compelling voice in her picture books by determining the emotions Bunting wanted to impart.
Yesterday, I wrote on the board that 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
I then "read" a book called The Red Balloon. I didn't actually read the words, but told the story in a very dry, emotionless way. I then read the book as Bunting had written it. For example, my rendition of
I let go of the balloon became
I watch it go up and up. I try to shout, but it doesn't come out right. "Help!" I wail. "Mom! My balloon!" My heart's punching inside of me.
Children discussed how much more interesting and compelling Eve Bunting's story was - it definitely had emotion and very strong voice!
Then I read The Memory String. In this story, the protagonist is a little girl struggling with accepting her new stepmother. As I stopped at certain points of the story, the children talked together and then held up little signs with the emotion they felt was being evoked. Often there were multiple emotions, and we talked about how this true in a lot of situations - one can feel happy and excited and maybe a bit anxious all at the same time.
Today, we took off where we left off, remembering the ways that authors can demonstrate strong voice through letting emotions shine through and writing from the heart. We played Emotion Statues - as I called out an emotion, the class had 5 seconds to get into a statue position that represented that emotion. We talked about how our faces were, our shoulders, our hands. My personal favorite was "Horrified!" I wish I could have taken pictures of that!
Then each child picked an emotion stick and wrote a bit of a story that portrayed that emotion. This was done in secret so we could play a guessing game later. The one rule was that they couldn't actually use that word in the story, but that they must reveal the emotion solely through the thoughts, words, or actions in their writing. Some of the children were quite successful at this task, and all enjoyed listening to the others' stories and guessing the emotions!