Students in grades 5 through 10 can be enriched by this lesson that explores how altering tone via careful word choices can alter the reader's experience.
The tone of one’s written words, like spoken words, affects how we communicate with others. The problem with texting and emailing quick notes is that tone is often left up to inserted smiley faces or punctuation (often misused), which hasty readers may overlook or misread; this results in frequent misunderstandings! When we can’t hear tone, or at least interpret it through descriptions and actions, we might read words in ways that do not reflect the writer’s intentions. This lesson calls the young writer's attention to the importance of word choices, to the nuances that move people in different ways. A heightened sense of word power will result, and students will explore that power via exercises to create contrasting scenes using the same dialogue lines to paint word pictures with D.A.D.
This lesson, if used for a writing workshop involving public sharing or collaboration, could work for 2-3 class sessions, depending upon the depth of discussion of shared works.
STUDENTS SHOULD BE ENCOURAGED TO EXPAND THEIR FAVORITE OF THE SHORT SCENES THEY CREATE, AS HOMEWORK. THESE STORIES SHOULD BE REVISED (preferably using Susan Lipson's Editing Checklist--available for download) INTO A FINAL DRAFT FORM. AS AN EXTENSION, THE STORIES CAN THEN BE TRADED WITH PARTNERS, WHO WILL WRITE RESPONSE-TO-LITERATURE ESSAYS BASED ON THE WORK BY THEIR CLASSMATE. (Essays could focus on how tone is conveyed.)