Voice in writing is very hard to teach, especially to students who struggle with putting words on paper. Let me explain voice this way. If you were to remove the V and O of VOICE and replace it with an S and a P, you would get the word SPICE!
Spice adds flavor to a meal, just like voice adds quality and depth to an essay.
Think of the introduction of a paper like the appetizer, the body as the meat and vegetables, and the conclusion like the dessert. Each part of the meal needs enough flavor to be enjoyable, whether you're talking about food or reading an essay written by a student!
Let me address how voice is describe by using one state's scoring guide for expository. The rubric for getting the highest score possible on an essay written for STAAR in Texas states:
Development of Ideas
1. "The development of ideas is effective because the writer uses DETAILS AND EXAMPLES THAT ARE SPECIFIC and WELL CHOSEN, adding substance to the essay." (I call this the "Blah versus the Bling" that I teach in my trainings!)
2. "The essay is THOUGHTFUL and ENGAGING."
(By engaging, they mean for the entire essay, not just for a one sentence hook at the beginning.)
3. "The writer may choose to use HIS OR HER UNIQUE EXPERIENCES OR VIEW OF THE WORLD as a basis for writing or to connect ideas in interesting ways."
(What they mean here is that you can teach kids to use THEIR point of view and perspective about what they are writing about, which is the T.O.E.S. types of details I model with lessons in this product....the writer's personal Thoughts, Opinions, Emotions, Senses, and what people might Say)
Use of Language/Conventions
4. "The writer’s WORD CHOICE IS PURPOSEFUL AND PRECISE."
(This means that students will use "word bank words" like the ones I share in a mini-thesaurus from my store called advanced folders, not dead word that are used too often by way too many students.)
5. "The word choice strongly contributes to the quality and clarity of the essay."
(This is where the TELL me how you really feel part of this product comes into play.)
6. "Sentences are purposeful, varied, and well controlled, enhancing the effectiveness of the essay."
(For this part of the rubric, I will refer you to my SHOW me how you really feel section of the product. You can also train your students to incorporate effective dialogue and figurative language, also available when you purchase the advanced folders I mentioned above.)
Why do people often use the popular truism, "Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in his shoes?" I believe it is because inside his shoes are his T.O.E.S. his voice, the way he sees the world.
Since people can’t read our minds, we must share our thoughts
and opinions about things we are writing about in our essays.
I know how I feel about certain issues, but how do YOU feel, and
more importantly, how do you SHOW those feelings by the things
you do? A beach looks a certain way in MY mind, but I don’t know
what YOUR beach looks like. What can you actually see, hear,
smell, or touch there? It’s not always what you say, but how you
say it that shows who you are. This product will help you show your students how to share their point of view and perspective in their writing using the acronym T.O.E.S.
Pages 1-3 Paper Potato Head Activity to check essays for voice
Pages 4-6 What's on Your Mind? writing thoughts of characters
Pages 8-10 That's Your Opinion! sharing opinions during essays
Pages 11-13 In a Word, Let's Roll, Take a Number, Deal with It!
Writing voice using a variety of sentence lengths
Pages 14-16 TELL Me How You Really Feel!
Using various synonyms to write feelings about topics
Pages 17 SHOW Me How You Really Feel!
Teaching student to use actions to SHOW how they
feel about a topic through actual actions in the form
of actual actions as phrases and sentences, and not
Pages 18-22 Where am I? Using the five senses to make the
setting of the story come to love by showing it
Page 23 Burgers and Essay Using Ketchup to help limit
overuse of dialogue in stories
Pages 24-25 Cuh Cuh Comma..... a great activity to help
remember all the punctuation and capitalization
when using dialogue
Page 26-27 SAY It in a Word! showing how to say a lot with
only one or two words
Page 28-33 Shootin' the Breeze Lesson that teaches the
importance of using a variety of said words when
implementing dialogue in a story/personal narrative
Page 34 Practicing dialogue with students from the class
Page 35 Activity using smiley faces to determine how a character is feeling
Page 36-45 Show me how you really feel collages using 9 different emotions
(two samples are shown on the last two preview pages)
Once again, I highly recommend that you also purchase a set of advanced folders either the ones you can download here and print out on your own, or the ones you can order from my website at www.thewriteprescription.com
That product gives you a large list of different examples of figurative language you can use, a reminder of how to incorporate dialogue with correct capitalization and punctuation, and a mini-thesaurus of word choices that can replace worn out overused vocabulary.