June 24, 2015

So, Let's Talk Dialogue & Freebie

Summer vacation has turned more into plan everything for next school year. Well I think its like that for every teacher. But, I feel that out of all the summers this has been the most productive one in terms of planning. In that planning mode, I have wanted to add and make changes to my writing units. I started with dialogue because I get so excited teaching this. It has to be one of my favorite things to teach next to every writing unit I have ever taught. Why? well that's easy because writing curriculum are open and not strict unlike some other subjects. I have so much flexibility and my creativity goes wild!

When teaching dialogue, I have noticed many kids have no idea they can do that in their writing. They majority of the time they think they are breaking some writing rule. I am not sure why, but that's the case with my class. I hear them say things like " I didn't know you can write what your characters say", I usually respond with "of course, you can!" For other children dialogue is a natural thing. It flows , it glows it goes with their writing. All they need is some basic guidelines likes where to put the commas and punctuation marks. From those experiences came this mini unit. I was able to reach my little ones that are just new to dialogue and those more experienced with it. 

So how do I use this in my class? Well, that depends on the kids and grade level I'm teaching. Overall, I do this whole group and I reinforce it during small group or conferencing. The kids love it and it just make writing approachable. My end goal for this mini lesson is for the kids to know what dialogue looks likes and what it supposed to be.

The Start

Before this unit we have read and seen many examples of dialogue as readers. I start by reviewing what we already know about dialogue. Then I show them the All About Dialogue Note handout. If its an upper elementary class, I give it to them. If it’s a first or second grade class, I use it as a cheat sheet for me. We make an anchor chart at the end of every mini lesson. I have noticed that my younger kids are still learning the concept of what notes are. Some of them get overwhelm, so anchor charts have worked well with them. Remember its all about that differentiated instruction, that where the magic really starts! 

The Meat & Potatoes  

Next, we do a quick write on the carpet. The little ones share their big ideas and what they want their characters to say. I show them my quick write after. I noticed some kids just copy everything you do and when is their turn they have don't have the slightest idea where to start.  I usually let them share with their partners or pick one or two before sharing mines. This naturally leads to a conversation about how dialogue can advance the story or reel in the reader. I try not to expand on this much because that's another lesson for another day. Mini lesson work best when you keep the actual mini lesson short, straight to the point and there is only one objective. 

Their Turn 

Last, I send them off  back to their writing post with their quick write. There are times where they are working on other writing pieces, I  tell them to put this at the side for a moment and come back to it after. Depending on the group, the type of paper where they are going to expand their quick write changes. some kids gravitated towards certain format, other kids would write in any paper. I only pick the type of paper for certain kids. Others I know they will make the right choice for them.

From here they expand on the quick write and turned it into a dialogue. There’s no predetermined topic or theme the kids need to stick with. My main goal is for them to have a strategy to apply when they are writing.  During conferencing times, I make an emphasis of how I visualized the characters talking to each other. I have found this strategy to be beneficial for the kids that don’t know where to add dialogue.  

Wrapping It Up 

We end the activity with the little ones sharing their dialogue within their small groups. I don't called them back to the carpet because I want the transition to be quick and fast. I loose them when there's to much movement! During the sharing time, I run into those little problems that seem like no bid deal until they become chaotic. For example, there's always someone that wants to share with a friend that sits way in the other side of the room. Well here is my solution, I tell them that they can do this with their actual writing piece right before it get publish. They nod look at you and then they just replied "OK". After their sharing, which takes a couple of minutes. I show them my end product and add it to the anchor chart. Here is one writing sample. 

Our quick write at this time get stapled to the writing notebook. We then place the anchor chart in a good spot in the classroom for about two weeks. Then it comes down. Before bringing it down I take a picture of it and place it in a binder with all of the other anchor charts. I have a lot of kids that at times forget how to do certain thing so I always point to the binder. It also saves me from doing a lot of talking and focusing more on individually conferences. 

Well that's a wrap! Snag this freebie in my store by clicking the picture below. Let me know how it went with your class, I love to hear feedback and stories. 

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