Smekens Education Solutions, Inc.

Voice

Turn up the Voice in Primary Writing

Turn up the Voice in Primary Writing
Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

For many teachers, voice can be an elusive trait to teach. What is it? How do you teach it? Voice shows how the writer "feels" about the topic. And for young writers, voice can be a powerful ingredient in pictures and early writing. Encouraging them to add feeling to their ideas isn't difficult if... [read more...]


Moody Pumpkin Patch

Moody Pumpkin Patch
Tuesday, September 24th, 2013

Kindergartners in Julia Butz's class each were assigned to write a personal narrative. Before writing, they had to determine how they felt about their topics/memories. As students made faces representing their emotions, Julia snapped a photo of each student. [read more...]


Defining Differences Between Perspective & Point of View

Defining Differences Between Perspective & Point of View
Wednesday, March 13th, 2013

When teachers are talking about voice and attitude, they should be saying perspective rather than point of view. Perspective is all about a person's schema--one's background knowledge and experiences. Point of view impacts how you write the piece (first-person, second-person, third-person). [read more...]


Writing in P.E.

Writing in P.E.
Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Physical education is one of the first content areas required by the CCSS to embed literacy within the course. Embracing these new expectations, high school P.E. teachers from Adams Central (Monroe, IN) assigned their weight-lifting students the following prompt: [read more...]


Teachers Share Their Voice-Filled Lessons

Teachers Share Their Voice-Filled Lessons
Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

One component to targeting voice-filled writing is to hone students' understanding of perspective. Once they understand perspective, consider having them write in first-person point of view to add even more voice to the writing. Several teachers have shared successful strategies [read more...]


Topic Choice = Topic Voice

Topic Choice = Topic Voice
Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

If topic choice equals topic voice, then voice is one thing that could suffer when students write for the state assessment. Standardized testing offers structured topic choice options. So what do we do to help students relate to the prompt? [read more...]


Write About Conventions Characters

Write About Conventions Characters
Friday, February 26th, 2010

The voice in this piece is fabulous! "Period girl stopped a sentence.” This young writer is exactly right! That’s exactly what a period does. Students need to understand the purpose of punctuation marks before they will utilize them accurately, intentionally, and consistently. That [read more...]


Using the Smekens

Using the Smekens' Voice Poster to Teach Word Choice
Monday, December 14th, 2009

Take the face labeled "nervous,” for example. Jordana told students that in their writing, instead of saying the character is nervous, they should use descriptive words to show nervous. She brainstormed with students for actions that [read more...]


Strengthen Student Titles

Strengthen Student Titles
Friday, October 30th, 2009

It seems rather insignificant, but there is great power in teaching young writers about titles. For a kindergartner, the title is the first beginning they write. Eventually, as writers develop, a title becomes the attention grabbing words before [read more...]


Motive Your Writers By Using MySpace

Motivate Your Writers by Using MySpace
Monday, July 6th, 2009

For those of you trying desperately to motivate apathetic students, tap into their enthusiasm for digital technology. Mark Sopko, River Forest Jr/Sr HS teacher (Hobart, IN), asks students to develop mock MySpace pages for different characters in their literature. This [read more...]


Target Perspective with a Letter Swap

Target Perspective with a Letter Swap
Friday, January 9th, 2009

Wilbur Wright (New Castle, IN) fourth grade teachers Josh Richardson and Claudia Jackson are having their students write letters during the study of U.S. History. One class is designated the "colonists”; the other class represents the [read more...]


Where's the Test Lady™?

Where's the Test Lady™?
Monday, October 27th, 2008

The teacher called her Vestibule McFlannerty. Since introducing her as the ISTEP Lady, the students had been referring to her frequently for several days. Then, one day a student confessed he had googled "Vestibule McFlannerty” to find out more about her. [read more...]


Letter Writing Builds a Sense of Audience

Letter Writing Builds a Sense of Audience
Monday, October 27th, 2008

A sense of audience increases the writer’s care-about-it factor. It gives them a more purposeful reason to write. As you notice a change in the seasons, when the autumn leaves drifting quickly to the ground or the first robin of spring [read more...]


A Recipe for Action Verbs

A Recipe for Action Verbs
Wednesday, June 11th, 2008

While reading How to Eat Fried Worms, Sweetser Elementary teacher David Henry had his fourth graders make up recipes for their favorite dishes. In the first draft, they had to approximate the ingredient amounts and the cooking procedures. Then [read more...]


Helping Kids Envision Their Audience

Helping Kids Envision Their Audience
Friday, May 16th, 2008

Students preparing for the writing prompt on any other standardized test need to know that they are writing to humans -- not machines. Explain to students that the scorer reads hundreds of prompt writings from other kids all over the state -- and then she comes to theirs [read more...]


Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be Heard
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Many of you have heard my explanation for the trait of voice—it’s the writer’s attitude about the topic. With that said, I often introduce the trait with a "face” icon; I play off the idea of facial expressions for attitude and mood. [read more...]


Adding Voice to Content-Area Writing

Adding Voice to Content-Area Writing
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Writer voice shouldn’t be absent from content-area or nonfiction writing, although it often is. To encourage a more descriptive and engaging lead from her students, Claudia Jackson shared a writing sample from Ralph Fletcher’s Teaching the Qualities of Writing. [read more...]


Giving the Gift of Words

Giving the Gift of Words
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

In the final days before the holiday break, fourth grade teacher Claudia Jackson led her class in a dynamic activity that not only motivated students to write but also helped them recognize the unique qualities of their classmates. After reading Virginia Fleming's Be Good To Eddie Lee, [read more...]


Anchor Papers with Voice

Anchor Papers with Voice
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Teachers are always asking for strong writing samples and anchor papers to utilize within the classroom. Throughout my travels last month, I collected several pieces from teachers who were excited to share their students’ writing successes. [read more...]


Strategies for Introducing Voice

Strategies for Introducing Voice
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Remember, voice is more than a writer’s personality on paper. It is the attitude the writer has for the topic he is writing about. When first introducing voice in the primary grades, typical words we define this trait with are feelings and emotions. Advance to moods, attitudes, and point of view in upper grades. [read more...]


Idea Stretching Writing Strategies

Idea Stretching Writing Strategies
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

When you need to break up a long writing project with a day or two of isolated writing experiences, you might try one of these strategies:1. Utilize one of Linda Rief’s 100 Quickwrites. This book includes 100 short passages, poems, and stories that each includes follow-up writing topics or prompts. [read more...]


Weaving Strong Word Choice into Morning Routines

Weaving Strong Word Choice into Morning Routines
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Second grade teacher Susan Ealing and Title I/language arts teacher Nancy Johnson targeted word choice and tied it to voice! They realized students were overusing words, but it wasn't in their writing. Part of the morning routine has been for the students to place their name sticks [read more...]


Picture Books to Teach Voice

Picture Books to Teach Voice
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Once your students understand what voice is, help them tap into it within their own writing. Read aloud picture books that would demonstrate different types of voice and then try these follow-up lessons or writing experiments to hone skills. [read more...]


Increasing Writer Voice with Authentic Audiences

Increasing Writer Voice with Authentic Audiences
Thursday, May 15th, 2008

Pen-pal writing isn't all that unusual. Many teachers have older students write to students in younger grades. Or sometimes teachers set up pen pals with students from another school, even in another state. But what about pen-palling with a truck driver? Ever tried that? [read more...]


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