April 12, 2016

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Teaching Voice, Part Two

Open a children's novel and you'll know by the end of the first page whether the narrator hooks you or not. (For a great example, read the opening of Shiloh.)

Creating a narrative voice is a difficult skill to teach kids. There are elements to consider such as diction, tone, word choice. You could make yourself crazy with character-building worksheets.

When I'm working with school-age kids, jumping right in works better. I do some modeling (my full workshop description is here), the kids choose a photo or art-print featuring a person, and we get writing.

Yesterday, I posted two third grade poems. One was in the voice of Lady Gaga. The other described a girl caught in a fantasy phenomenon.

In honor of Saturday, when a lot of my students play sports, I'm sharing two poems in the voice of professional athletes.

There is a detail about the setting that Joey does not reveal until the end of his poem. Read "The Shot" and see how he times this information to add impact to the storyline.

The Shot
by Joey S.
Grade 3

I am watching if I make the shot or not.
I have a perfect release. I know it will spin a lot.
This shot is for the win for the  NBA championship.
If I make it, my team wins, or if I don't
I will let my team down.
I am terrified. I am not a great three
Point shooter. The crowd is roaring.
They hope I miss the shot in the end.
I make the shot and I silence the crowd.

Chase's poem vividly captures an athlete obsessed with winning. Listen for the rhythm and repeated phrases in this poem. Those elements build the voice of "The Boxer."

The Boxer
by Chase T.
Grade 3

I am warming up for my fight.
I put on my boxing gloves. 10 minutes until the fight.
I will practice and practice. I will not stop.
Two minutes left. I will win this thing. I will
Not back out. I will  not stop.
I will jump rope. I will punch a punching bag.
The fight is now. I will be fighting
The world’s best boxer. He won twenty
Medals in a row.
It is now. I will fight and fight until I
Win. I will  not stop until I win.
Maybe I win or I will lose. It is your
Choice. Do you think I will win or I will lose?
“He wins!”

More portrait poems coming soon, followed by a guest post with my high school intern, Alissa Bennett of St. Paul's School.

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