Teaching Voice in Reading and Writing
Teaching and Understanding VOICE in Reading and Writing
Teaching voice to students can be a daunting task. Voice is not exactly a concrete term that students in middle school understand. Many continue to struggle with it in high school and college. My approach with my middle school students is by teaching through reading as opposed to teaching it in writing. As their reading skills become more analytical I concurrently hold discussions in class. By encouraging my students to discuss their point of view and ensuring them that their opinion really matters they begin to realize they actually have a voice - A RESPECTED voice. In turn, they begin to perfect their expression through dialogue as well as in their respective writing. I have been surprised many times by my stubborn and/or rebellious students. Once they realize I value and respect their opinion they begin to flourish.
Tips for encouraging “oral” voice as an introduction to “written” voice.
Building trust and relationships in your classroom.
First and foremost lay down the rules – everything depends on mutual respect. No one should feel their opinion does not matter. Always praise and encourage your students.
Socratic Seminars - Find an interesting topic for your particular age group. A topic that is borderline controversial will inspire different opinions. Have the group silently read the article. Place half of the class in a circle – this group will take turns discussing the topic. The other half of the class will sit behind another student in the discussion group. They can pass questions or comments in the form of notes to the person in front of them. If someone on the outside group feels strongly enough to speak they can move to an empty seat in the discussion group – they will state their question or comment and then step back out. Once you can bring the discussion to a close have them write a journal entry on the topic. Helpful rules would be; only one speaks at a time, if you disagree do it respectfully and then support your own point of view, if you misunderstand a previous speaker’s opinion ask for clarification, if you agree with another speaker state what you agreed with or liked. Socratic seminars are great for encouraging true discussion, creating respect, analysis of opinions and the development of voice and point of view. Once students learn to orally “voice” and analyze opinions their development of using “voice” in writing will have a more definite foundation.
Understanding Voice in Reading and Writing
So, what IS voice?
Voice should embrace the writer’s point of view while purposely connecting the reader and the writer.
VOICE shows the writer's personality. The writing should display the characteristics of style, personality and opinions that are unique to the writer. It should contain a personal point of view with connections for the reader that you would not find in say an encyclopedia entry. In other words, the writing should not sound like an informative list, but rather personify the writer’s point of view and experiences. The reader should be able to sense the sincerity and honesty of the writer. The writer should be candid and diplomatic while also writing from the heart. In the end, the reader should feel enlightened about the topic while also feeling connected to the writer. The challenge is to use descriptive language while minimizing the use of the words “I” and “You”.
Voice – A Guide for Analysis
- The paper shows the writer's personality.
- The writer has written the paper to be read and understood, not just as an assignment.
- There is a connection between the writer and the reader.
- The paper is honest and sincere; it is written from the heart.
- The language helps the reader "see" what is happening in the writing.
- The reader gets a real sense of the writer’s humor, sadness, happiness, suspense, or excitement from the writing.
- The writer shows his feelings and emotions in the paper and shows interest in the topic while taking the reader into consideration.
Describing the Characteristics of Voice – What the reader should be looking for;
- Sincerity - Shows honesty, from the heart, true interest in the topic
- Candid & Clear - Shares feelings about the topic, speaks directly to the reader
- Descriptive - Uses language that enlightens the topic for the reader. Sensory details are especially useful.
- Purpose - Written to be read and understood, not just “heard”.
- Advocates Point of View - Supports view with facts and experiences.
- Informative - Presents facts and connects them to the reader through personal experiences.
Evaluating voice in your own writing
Many times I ask my students “Does the reader understand and believe your point of view?......you know what you are trying to say, but does the reader?”
Educational hubs by MissOlive include;
- Teaching Tone and Mood
- Happy Idioms
- Angry Idioms
- Vocabulary Development and Context Clues
- Bio-Poems, Transitioning from Reading to Writing
- How to Make Education Videos on a MAC #1
MissOlive's hubs are written and published by,
marisa hammond olivares, copyright 2011
All rights reserved.