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The NNWP celebrates its Consultants who've created websites about teaching and writing:


Corbett's
Always Write
Website
(Grades K-12)



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Start to Learn
Website

(Kindergarten)



Holly's
Making Mathematicians
Website

(Grades K-12)



Brian's
Learning is Messy
Blog

(Grades 4-6)



Dena's
Write in the Middle
Website

(Grades 6-8)

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Writing Traits: Teaching the Skills of Voice
teacher-created resources and lessons...all focused on skills that make up the trait of voice

A modest request from WritingFix: If you appreciate the resources at this website, consider saying "thank you" to the Northern Nevada Writing Project--sponsors of WritingFix--by visiting their Publication Page and ordering any of their wonderful print guides, like their 196-page resource, the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language print guide (pictured at right). Some of the Going Deep with 6 Trait Language guide's resources can be freely accessed below on this page, but the guide features many, many more trait-friendly ideas, lessons, and resources that can only be found in the printed version. All proceeds from guide sales help this website grow.

Each year, the NNWP offers inservice courses designed to help teachers make new and exciting connections with the six traits of writing. The goal of these professional development experiences is to help educators see the value of using traits as their classroom language during writing instruction. When both teachers and students "own" the language of traits enough to discuss them throughout the writing process, writing improves dramatically, and learners can "go deep" as they discover their personal strengths and struggles that come with the process of writing.

Voice is just one of the six writing traits. In Nevada, it is one of the four traits that is assessed on the fifth grade state writing test. Voice is a complex trait that should be discussed, explored, and further developed every year that students learn to write in school; both kindergartners and high school seniors can be taught to think about developmentally appropriate skills that are associated with organization. This page contains voice lessons and resources that we consider appropriate for sharing with third graders and up. If you are working with primary writers and the six traits, be sure to visit WritingFix's 6 Traits and Primary Writing Homepage.

Voice Topics and Sub-Skills Explored on this Page

WritingFix's 6-Trait Poster Set
WritingFix's Voice Post-Its

A Free Poster Resource for your Classroom
Voice is represented by the color yellow on our poster set.

The author’s VOICE—a.k.a. you!—should be present in every piece of writing you make. Sometimes your presence needs to be strong, but sometimes it should be kept subtle. How will you ensure that your reader recognizes this as your writing?
  • Click here to open and print WritingFix's seven-page poster set, inspired by the "Building a House" metaphor created by NNWP consultants Dena Harrison, Corbett Harrison, Mary Dunton, Nancy Thomas, and Vivian Olds.

WritingFix offers a free template of Voice Post-It sized notes. These can either be printed on yellow colored paper and cut out and stapled to students' drafts, or you can--if you dare--attempt to print them on real 3 x 3 Post-It Notes.

  • Click here to open/print a sheet of six voice revision post-its.
  • Click here to visit WritingFix's Post-It homepage, where you can find instruction on printing our post-its on actual Post-It notes.

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Building a 6-Trait Mentor Text library for your classroom or your school's library?
"Mentor Text" Suggestions for the Trait of Voice
(Click here to access WritingFix's entire bibliography of cited picture books and chapter books.)

Voice"mentor texts" that are focused on during the NNWP's annual
6-Trait Inservice Classes for Teachers:
(Visit our 6-Trait Homepage to learn more about our inservice class.)

Each year, the NNWP sponsors a variety of inservice classes and workshops that focus on helping teachers make 6 traits the language of their classrooms during writing instruction. A variety of presenters share K-12 classroom ideas with each workshop's audience, and--as teachers are wont to do--the participants madly write down the names of mentor texts shared by the presenters.

Here is a mentor text shared by our presenters that our participants are always happy they have written down the title for:

Shared during our Persuasive Writing Across the Curriculum Inservice Class for Teachers, this book celebrates teaching voice and persuasive skills to students through fun and engaging lessons.

Check out Why We Must Run With Scissors: Voice Lesson in Persuasive Writing at Amazon.com.

Have a favorite book not mentioned on this page for teaching voice? Send us the title at webmaster@writingfix.com.

Voice "mentor texts" cited in the NNWP's
Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Guide:
(Click here to learn how to order this popular resource from the NNWP.)

For more mentor text suggestions for voice, be sure to check out the posted lessons below!

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Voice Sub-Skill #1: Imitating Real World Voices
Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on just one of voice's sub-skill: imitating real world voices . A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.
Two Picture Book-Inspired Imitation Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Real-World "Mentor Text" Imitation Lessons

Lesson title:
"Just the Facts, Ma'am..."

inspired by
The Web Files
by Margie Palatini

Lesson title:
Fairy Tale Tabloids

inspired by
Fairytale News
by Colin and Jacqui Hawkins

Lesson title:
Emotional Recipes & Cookbook

inspired by
any printed recipe
or cookbook

 

Lesson title:
Inventing Stories for Favorite Clothes

inspired by
passages from any
J. Peterman clothing catalogue

Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.
Capturing Other Real World Voices

Can you sound like a real game show announcer?

The Who Doesn't Want to Be A Millionaire? Writing Activity

Can you sound like a real smear campaign advertisement?

The Wacky Smear Campaign
Writing Activity
Can you sound like a talk show host and those being interviewed?

The Put Fairy Tale Characters on Oprah! Writing Activity

Can you sound like a real lost and found advertisement?

The Unusual Lost and Found Ad
Writing Activity

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Real World Voice
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Sandy Martin, a New Jersey middle school teacher, shared the following thoughts with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Comparison & Contrast Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"I am always on the look out for 'mentor texts' that just sound like real kids talking. Voice is such a hard concept to explain to young writers, and when I say 'Put your personality and your self into this piece of writing,' most of my kids don't have a clue how to do that. So in my mentor text library, I have two favorite books that I think show my students what real-kid-voice sounds like in a piece of writing.

"For my girls, I have them analyze voice in passages from Amelia's Notebook. Author Marissa Moss has done such a fabulous job of capturing a young girl's voice and spirit in her entire series, and my girl students totally identify with Amelia. She sounds so real when she talks right to her audience. Plus, the book inspires my girls to want to start decorating their classroom journals, which is never a bad thing.

"For my boys, I can think of no better example of a genuine-sounding voice than Jack Gantos' Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key. The boy narrating this story has so much character, and he speaks to my boys in a way that appeals to their sense of humor. When I ask them to 'put themselves' in their writing after hearing from this chapter book, they understand exactly what I mean.

"I am always on the look-out for more real-voice mentor texts. I hope others will post their favorite titles too!"

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Voice Sub-Skill #2: Different Perspectives and Different Voices

Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one type of tool that helps students understand voice better: writing from different perspectives. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book Lessons Focused on Perspective
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Chapter Book Lessons Focused on Perspective
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Giving Voice to Opposites

inspired by
I am the Dog. I am the Cat
by Donald Hall

Two different pespectives discuss the same things in a piece of writing.

Lesson title:
A Pet's Adventure Story

inspired by
Good Boy, Fergus!
by David Shannon

Writing an original story from the perspective of a pet.

Lesson title:
Historical Journal Entries

inspired by
Pedro's Journal
by Pam Conrad

Writing about a historical event from a fictional character's perspective

 

Lesson title:
Giving Credit Where it Might Be Due

inspired by
Ben and Me
by Robert Lawson

Writing about history from the point of view of an animal.


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Lessons where Students Write Poems for Two Voices


The Poem for Two Voices Write-up
from the NNWP's Going Deep with Comparison/Contrast Guide


Dr. Jekyll's Two-Voice Poem

a lesson featured at our Literature as Mentor Text Lesson Collection

Mob's Voice vs. Hero's Voice

a lesson featured at our Literature as Mentor Text Lesson Collection

Compare these two Perspective Prompts

Writing From a Fictional Character's Perspective


My Adidas

a lesson featured at our iPods Across the Curriculum collectiion

A Day As Your Shoes

a prompt featured at our Left-brained Writing Prompt collection

So Much Depends Upon...

a lesson featured at our Chapter Books as Mentor Texts collection

A Character's Decalogue

a lesson featured at our Chapter Books as Mentor Texts collection

Ideas Shared from Teachers Who Use WritingFix: Different Perspectives
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Stacy Dibble, a Minnesota teacher, shared this creative essay "frame" with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare & Contrast Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"Hello!

"I have discovered a GREAT book for teaching voice.  It is Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude, written by Kevin O’Malley. In the story, a girl and boy are given the assignment of retelling a favorite fairy tale.  As you can imagine they cannot agree on which fairy tale they like best, so they start to retell their own version of a fairy tale.  The girl starts our telling her version of the fairy tale at which point the boy interrupts because he can’t take her version of the story any longer.  As he continues telling the tale in 'his style,' the girl then interrupts and takes over the telling of the story in 'her style.'  When I’m reading it to my class, I don’t show them the pictures until they can guess who is telling the story--the girl or the boy.  

"The voice in the story is very obvious, but the story is hilarious and has become one of my class favorites!  Usually the class ends up asking to do a similar assignment, so I usually let the girls start retelling a familiar story and then at a certain point hand the story to a boy in class and ask him to write on from there.  The stories are always full of voice!"

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Voice Sub-Skill #3: Conveying Emotion & Passion through Writing
Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on two closely-related voice sub-skills: conveying emotion and passion in written form. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Emotion Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two Song-Inspired Poetry Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Interjected Emotions

inspired by
No, David!
by David Shannon

Writing about a recess or sport activity, using emotional interjections.

Lesson title:
Original Fairy Tale Narrators

inspired by
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs
by Jon Scieszka

Re-writing a fairy tale from an emotional narrator's point-of-view

Lesson title:
With Your Own Two Hands

inspired by
With My Own Two Hands
sung by Ben Harper

Writing a heart-felt poem about one's ability to change the world.

 

Lesson title:
A Call for Change

inspired by
The Times They Are A-Changin’
sung by Bob Dylan

Writing a passionate poem or paragraph about what needs to change in this world..


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

   
           
Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Emotion through Font Choices!
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Jessica Patrick, a teacher from Ontario, Canada, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Going Deep with Compare & Contrast Thinking Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"A wonderful book to use with voice (and just to enjoy because it's so clever!) is Chester, by Canadian award-winning author Melanie Watt.  The story alternates between two distinct voices: the cat, Chester's, and the author, Melanie's. You can begin a great discussion by talking with your class about the differences between the two voices (the tone, mood, content, etc.) and how those two voices reflect very different points of view.   

"Then you can take the discussion further by asking the children for the visual clues that tell them which voice is speaking: the colour, size, and style of the font.  This latter conversation can lead into a media literacy lesson on how font choices can help an author to create voice.  Additional books to demonstrate this include Eliot Jones, Midnight Superhero and Making Grizzle Grow. (All three texts are current nominees for the Ontario Library Association's Blue Spruce Program.)  Students can compare the use of fonts in each of the three books and discuss how those fonts communicate mood and tone.  To explore this concept themselves, you could provide them with a short piece of text on a word processing program (either an excerpt from one of these books or something you have written yourself), and have them create more voice for the piece by changing the font styles, sizes, and colours of particular words and phrases.  Students of all ability levels can enjoy and be successful at this activity, and I was amazed by how much voice my students were able to add to their work."

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Voice Sub-Skill #4: Conveying Mood & Tone through Writing
Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on two of voice's closely-related sub-skills: conveying moods and tones with written words. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.


Place Moods. Seasonal Moods.
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Chapter-Book Inspired Mood/Tone Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
Start with What Isn't There...

inspired by
Caves
by Stephen Kramer

Writing about a setting while establishing a mood for the reader.

Lesson title:
Summertime-inspired Memoirs

inspired by
several renditions of Summertime
from the opera Porgy & Bess

Borrowing mood techniques from music to write about a summertime memory.

Lesson title:
Creating a School Survival Guide

inspired by
Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie
by David Lubar

Creating a school survival guide that shows mood and tone.

 

Lesson title:
Same Setting, Different Moods

inspired by
Lord of the Flies
by William Golding

Exploring a setting by writing about it from different characters' perspectives.


Ideas Shared from Teachers Who Use WritingFix: Feelings and Moods Represented through Artwork!
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Kim Schoonover, a teacher from Georgia, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Reading in the Content Areas Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"Hey there!  I wanted to share a great book for beginning to explain the concept of "voice" to elementary students. Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road? by Tedd Arnold, Harry Bliss, David Catrow, and Marla Fraz is a compilation of answers to this age-old question.  The fun part is that the answers are given and illustrated by 14 children's book illustrators. 

"Each page is so completely different from the others, even though they are answering the same question.  Each illustrator has a different technique--some are cartoonish, like Tedd Arnold, while others are soft and peaceful, like Jerry Pinkney.  As you discuss this with students, you can compare the artwork from the various artists to students' personalities that shine through their words. Each personality is unique and individual, so each story should exemplify this. 

"When I teach the voice trait, I also talk about words making us FEEL something.  As you share Why Did the Chicken Cross the Road, you can also discuss how each page has a different feeling to it.  Some make us laugh, others make us wonder, and others make us feel calm.  Our written words are capable of making people feel these emotions as well. That's voice! Hope you get a chance to check this book out!  You'll laugh out loud!

Ideas Shared from Teachers Who Use WritingFix: Personality through Words
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Jennifer McMurtrey, a teacher from Texas, shared this idea with us. We sent her the NNWP's Secondary Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"I'd had a hard time with my students using voice after a few lessons.  Then I read a book I thought my 5th grade boys would never go for, and they totally got it.  It was a real 'OOOOHHH!' moment for many of my students.

"My favorite (and most effective) book to use with the voice trait to my 5th graders is Fancy Nancy by Jane O'Connor.  Even my 5th grade boys love this book.  When I am finished reading it, we discuss.  The discussion focuses on what Nancy's personality is like and can we guess what things she'd like and dislike.  We discuss the idea that if I wrote a story--or if John, Carrie, or Max wrote a story--would it sound the same?  The kids come up with the unanimous answer of 'NO!'

"Then we talk about how each of us as authors have our own unique voices that need to come out in our writing.  We talk about Fancy Nancy's unique voice adds a lot of interest to the story.  We talk about how there is nothing hum-drum or lifeless about Fancy Nancy and that it definitely leaves us wanting more.  When my students go back to their seats, so many of them 'get' voice for the first time and are no longer afraid of taking risks in their writing because they've seen how effective and writing with voice is after reading this mentor text.

"I hope this is helpful and other teachers could use the idea so that their students can catch on to voice as quickly as mine did this past year.  Writing is an overwhelming subject to teach, but I really love it and want to do all that I can to help my students improve."

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Voice Sub-Skill #5: Persuasive Writing Techniques

Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one voice sub-skill: techniques for persuasive writing. A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.

Check out WritingFix's Persuasive Writing Lesson Collection for even more lessons that focus on figurative language.


Two Picture Book-Inspired Persuasion Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Picture Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)
Two iPod-Inspired Persuasion Lessons
(Check out WritingFix's entire Chapter Book-Inspired Writing Lesson Collection)

Lesson title:
I Wanna Something

inspired by
I Wanna Iguana
by Karen Orloff Kaufman

Writing persuasive letters back and forth between two characters.

 

Lesson title:
Creative Convincing

inspired by
Click, Clack, Moo...Cows That Type
by Doreen Cronin

Writing a persuasive letter from an unusual writer's perspective.

Lesson title:
Where is the Love?

inspired by
Where is the Love?
sung by the Black Eyed Peas

Writing a persuasive argument about an injustice in the world.

 

Lesson title:
This I Believe...Science

inspired by
The This I Believe essays heard on National Public Radio

Writing a persuasive argument about a scientific issue.

Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Teaching Persuasive Writing
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Amy Richards, a Nevada elementary teacher, shared the following ideas with us. We sent her a copy of the NNWP's Elementary Writing Guide as our thanks for her being so willing to give back to our site. Your shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com.

"Stephen L. Layne’s story My Brother Dan’s Deliciouscontains the hilarious running monologue of Joseph Demorett II, an elementary student who finds himself alone at home and wondering if there is a monster lurking inside the house waiting to eat him.  He enters, spouting outloud the numerous qualities that his older brother Dan has...which would make him a more delicious treat to eat.  Besides modeling humor effectively, Steven L. Layne shows us a style of writing that sounds like an actual person talking and demonstratres very clever persuasive skills, and students can be easily inspired to write their own persuasive monologues about an imaginary (or real) time they were afraid of something.

"Review the poetic device of personification, where an abstract idea is given human qualities or the characteristics of a living thing. When an abstract or body-less noun (like the wind, like love, like fear, like bad luck) is personified, a writer can address it like it is a living thing. Make a list of interesting abstract nouns that might make interesting personifications. Since Layne chose fear, explore other concepts that--once personified--might be asked to leave a narrator's presence, if the narrator found himself/herself alone with the concept and wanted to persuade it to leave them alone. For example: bad luck, poverty, racism, anger, bad weather, etc.

"Ask students to fold a piece of paper in half--hamburger style! On the left-hand side of the fold, have students write the word 'fear,' and then sketch what they think the monster in My Brother Dan's Delicious looks like. Ask them to label interesting details with arrows and words; for example, they might draw an arrow to the hands and write 'razor-sharp claws.' Encourage great word choice during this. Try to have all students label five or six interesting details about their personified fear sketch. Clothes, accessories, or physical features are the types of things the students should be labeling here.

"After students have sketched the personified fear from the book, tell them they will next be sketching an original personified idea. Have them choose one of the abstract nouns from the class list, write it on the right-hand side of their paper's fold, and sketch their original personification. A person or a creature should be what they sketch...and they should include five or six interesting labels on this side of the paper too. Have students share their sketches. Encourage them to share additional ideas for labels on their friend's pictures. The more labels students have on their pictures, the easier it will be for them to create their persuasive monologues."

There is now a complete lesson for this book posted at WritingFix's Persuasive Writing Homepage.

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Voice Sub-Skill #6: Using Figurative Language to Improve Voice

Each of the six writing traits--voice included--can be broken down into multiple smaller writing skills that--when working together--make-up the bigger trait. Below, find some of our webmaster's favorite resources and lessons that focus specifically on one voice sub-skill: using figurative language effectively . A great writing teacher finds the time to explore as many of each trait's subskills as possible, helping students understand that each trait is built from multiple skills.

Check out WritingFix's Poetry Lesson Collection for even more lessons that focus on figurative language.


Personification
Similes
Metaphors
Imagery

Lesson title:
Death Personified

inspired by
The Book Thief
by Markus Zuska

Writing about an important item after being inspired by personification from a book and a poem.

Lesson title:
Similes that Don't Feel Forced

inspired by
Sam and the Tigers
by Julius Lester

This lesson is undergoing revision. Check back soon!

Lesson title:
What Else is Love?

inspired by
Love is a Battlefield
sung by Pat Benatar

Writing about an interesting and original extended metaphor about the emotion of love.

 

Lesson title:
All the Weird Places You Go

inspired by
Make Lemonade
by Virginia Euwer Wolff

This lesson is undergoing revision. Check back soon!


Click on the lesson titles or the book covers to access the complete lesson at WritingFix.

Ideas Shared from Teacher Users of WritingFix: Figurative Language that Improves Voice
(WritingFix honors those users who share back with our site. Share a favorite activity write-up and earn a free NNWP resource for your classroom.)

Share with us! Earn a free classroom resource! Figurative Language that Improves Voice is a new section we're developing on this voice page. We're looking for a teacher user of WritingFix who is willing to share an activity on figurative language that can be posted here. Please refer to the other voice sections' "Ideas from Teacher Users" to see what we think a high-quality submission sounds like. Shared ideas can be directed to: webmaster@writingfix.com. If we post it here, you'll be able to choose from any of the NNWP Publications for us to send to your classroom.


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