Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :
Pre-step…before sharing the published model: The teacher will define dialect: Dialect is a regional variety of a language with differences in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. Language spoken by a class or profession; a form of a language spoken by members Dialect is nonstandard spoken language. Anthropological linguists define dialect as the specific form of language used by a community.
A class discussion on stereotypes may be helpful. Stress that just because a character talks with a thick Southern dialect does not mean the character is uneducated, nor does a Hispanic dialect mean the character is in a gang. Using a dialect should not be used as a way to make fun of a character; instead, it should be a way to make a character seem more rich and more real.
Susan Lowell's picture book Cindy Ellen: A Wild Western Cinderella uses great cowboy dialect.
Ann Rinaldi’s Numbering All the Bones is another example to share from: I heered they be here by end of summer. Doan they ‘low womens and childrens? 'Cause I couldn’t always be wif her.
Step one (sharing the published model): Ask your students this essential question: What can you do to make your characters pop on the page?
Get a classroom copy of Flowers for Algernon. Read aloud the first three entries (pages 1-4 in my copy). Discuss together as a class how they would create a character description for Charlie Gordon. Look at what he says and how his thoughts are depicted on the page. What kind of man is he? Make a cluster together as a class.
Tell students they will be dedicating a page in their writers notebooks to correctly-punctuated dialogue sentences from characters who use dialects. They will label this page "Dialects and Dialogue." Throughout the year, as they review dialogue punctuation, they will be adding new sentences to this page, and near the end of the year, they will turn one of their favorite dialect sentences into a dialogue scene.