Monday, May 12, 2014

Using Literature to Teach Voice

Teaching students to use voice in their writing can be a challenge. I mean even Carole, the author from The Real Housewives of NYC, claims it took her years to find her voice in writing. I actually found a bit of relief hearing this since I have so much trouble teaching voice to my kids. If an actual author has trouble, of course seven year olds will!

Back in February I came across an amazing book called The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt. It's about a kid named Duncan whose crayons have had enough of him. The crayons felt mistreated and overworked. So each crayon writes Duncan a letter. The author writes in the voice of each crayon. He writes that the red crayon is angry for being overworked during Christmas and Valentine's Day. The orange and yellow crayons are arguing over which of them should be used to color the sun. The white crayon is upset that nobody can see him. The angry letters go on and on. The kids really enjoyed this book. After reading a few pages, I stopped showing them the pictures and let them guess the crayon color that was writing the letter.

So, as usual, the best ideas come without being planned so I decided to stop reading when I came to the pink crayon's letter. I asked the students to write in the voice of a pink crayon, which was disappointing to about half the class, but they had fun anyway. My students' writing was so creative and enjoyable to read. They had so much fun, they wrote a second letter in the voice of a color of their choice. This will definitely be a go-to writing activity each year to teach my students about voice.

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