Enhance reading comprehension by teaching author's voice in nonfiction texts. Our class wanted to generate an autobiography, but before we did that, we needed to study author's voice when reading complex texts.
*I will eventually be selling the Smartboard presentation as well, it is at work.
Includes: Highly Effective Lesson Plan with common core standards, learning target and look fors, Graphic Organizer, three excerpts of nonfiction pieces including "Gary Soto's The Gymnast" from Reading Street Grade 5 series.
Description of lesson:
This week the class will be introduced to their next writing assignment, crafting an autobiographical sketch. Like every writing unit, Reading Street provides an insert titled, Key Features, which is specifically tailored, in my opinion, as “look fors”, to meet the criteria for their genre of writing for the week.
Key features of an Autobiographical Sketch can be viewed, metaphorically, as a recipe with ingredients. These key features allow the kids to hone in on the unique qualities and details that make genres distinct and exclusive when reading and then writing. An autobiographical sketch describes an experience or perhaps experiences in the author’s life using first-person point of view. An autobiography shows the author’s personality as he or she communicates his or her thoughts and feelings about the experience(s). Hence, revisiting the comparison, in order to “bake” or “cook” an autobiography, writers need to add a dash of their feelings and sprinkle their thoughts onto their blank pages.
Let’s magnify the key features for an autobiography as we compress the myriad of key components into one simple, but powerful and meaningful term, voice. An author’s voice exhibits the three key features of an autobiographical sketch. A writer’s voice is developed through the words the author uses to describe events, reveal his or her thoughts and feelings about the subject rather than just retell. An author’s voice makes writing more interesting to read.
When you read, you can “hear” an author’s voice. Voice is the author’s tone or attitude toward a subject in a text. By looking at the words an author has chosen and how they describe the setting, characters, or plot, you can identify the voice of the author. I must add that I do see author’s voice and tone as an interchangeable literary device.
Our goal is to generate an autobiographical sketch that models Reading Street’s Key Features of an Autobiographical Sketch. However, one absolutely cannot jump off the high diving board without ever learning how to swim. So in this sense, one cannot write an autobiography without the exposure to other autobiographies. I always tell my class, great readers are great writers. As readers we pick up on techniques and styles of other writer’s, study their word choice and evaluate their craft. We need to understand what voice looks like in other autobiographies and texts. We need to analyze how authors’ express their feelings and thoughts towards their own experiences.
At the top of the ladder we have our writing assignment. But, perhaps, the class may figure that we are still planted on the ground, staring up in wonder, asking how do we climb this ladder? Well, we’ve actually have already initiated our ascent. Quite a few rungs have been gripped, and squeezed tightly.
Our class will be reading, They Gymnast, by Gary Soto, an autobiography. Our class has also been exposed to many biographies as well. They understand the difference between both genres. They know what to “look for” when reading an autobiography. We have discussed tone and the author’s word choices as well in fiction and examined author’s claims in persuasive writing and providing details to support that claim. Now, taking our experiences with a healthy diet of other genres, the class will read a few excerpts from an autobiography, possibly a few different autobiographies or texts, and identify the author’s voice, tone, personality, feelings, and thoughts towards an experience(s) and then provide supporting details to further enhance and emphasize that identified voice.