October 24, 2009

Stolen Dialogue

I was trying to think of a fun way to do a dialogue lesson with my alt ed creative writing class. I came across Janis Cramer's Collaborating to Write Dialogue.

I steal lesson ideas from various places online all the time, but usually I have to tweak them quite a bit. Not this time!

This lesson, as the author admits, is the result of years of tweaking. Been there, done that! (I sometimes feel sorry the students I had in my early years of teaching!) Her tweaking worked perfectly with my students, and the only thing I did differently was breaking the whole process up into numbered steps so students go work somewhat independently--not to mention smaller task means the students freak out less. (Of course, some students worked much faster than others...)

This activity took most students several days. For us, it went something like this:
Day 1--introduced assignment and students brainstorm to create characters
Day 2--created dialogue between their characters
Day 3--added details and tags
Day 4--finished composing and rewrite final dialogue on paper in correct format

I can't believe how engaged the students were as they created their characters and wrote the dialogue. The part where they had to incorporate details to make tags confused a few students, but in the end, not only did students have a dialogue, they had a short story--or a slice-of-life story.

And, they were quite impressed with their wonderful writing skills! I highly recommend this to any secondary teachers out there who are looking for a good way to get students to write dialogue.

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