Writing Lesson

December 5, 2007

35 Minute Writing Lesson

Lesson Focus: Writing Dialogue

Conceptual Focus: Creative Writing Unit. During this unit students will study and learn various elements of creative writing with the express focus of producing writing within a genre of fiction, such as a play, short story, or screenplay.


* Warm-up activities

* Pair/Trio conversation

* Quick write

* Discussion on definition and types of dialogue

* Small group dialogue writing activities

* Reflection

* Homework


* Write short stories poems and plays (PDE 1.4.8.A)

* Students apply knowledge of language structure to create print and nonprint texts (NCTE 6)

Instructional Materials:

* Handouts

* Note cards with discussion topics on them 


* Students will work as individuals for the initial warm-up activity and quick write.

* Students will work in small groups for the dialogue activities.

* Whole class discussion


1) Begin lesson with a warm-up activity. This activity will involve students standing at

their seats, turning to their right, they will then begin walking around their seats slowly, stretching their arms and pretend yawning. The purpose of this activity is to get them up and moving around to get the blood flowing faster through their bodies. The intent is for their brains to be woken-up and them to be ready to work. (2 min) 

2) Students will do a short dialogue activity. They will be separated into groups of two or three, given a prompt and be told to talk to each other for two minutes. They will be told to listen closely so they get an idea of what it sounds like to be involved in a conversation and what it actually sound like when people talk, meaning their word choices, tone and inflection, use of slang, etc. (2 min) 

3) Students will do a quick write about what they saw and heard during their conversation. (2 min)

4) Short discussion of what dialogue is and what it is used for. The types of dialogue will be discussed. (3 min) 

5) First writing activity. Students will be broken up into groups of two or three and given the “Painting a scene with characters voices” sheet. They will be told to invent a conversation using this as a guide. (8 min)

6) Groups will pass their dialogue to another group, who will then read the dialogues. Students will take notes on what they hear during the reading of their piece. They are looking for differences in what they heard when they wrote it and what they heard when it was read by someone else. A brief reflection on the activity will take place. (3 min)

7) Students will then be broken up into different groups of two or three. They will be given information on werewolves and vampires and told to make a list of ten words, five for each, that they think of when they think about werewolves and vampires. They will then place the words in alphabetical order and create a dialogue using the words in that order. They will be told that when finished they should not have more than ten sentences in their dialogue. (8 min)

8) Students will read their dialogues. (2 min) 

9) Discussion on what students heard. (2 min)

9) Homework will be given. Students will be told to write the alphabet on a sheet of paper and create a dialogue with the first word of each sentence being a letter from the alphabet, from A-Z.

10) Brief reflection on the day’s lesson.


.* Students will be assessed by their level of participation in the group activities. The teacher will observe the groups and gauge each members contribution.

* Homework will be turned in and graded for completeness.

* In-class writings will be turned-in for grade.

Differentiated instruction:

* Group activities

* Talking aloud

* Handouts explaining the concepts of the lesson


* Imaginative Writing: The Elements of Craft by Janet Burroway

* Playwriting: A Practical Guide by Noel Greig

* Student Centered Language Arts, K-12 by James Moffett and Betty Wagner

* Practical Playwriting. A Guide to Writing for the Stage by Leroy Clark

]This lesson will be used during the creative writing unit. Writing good authentic dialogue is a difficult task for any writer and the activities in this lesson are designed to help students overcome any problems they have getting started writing dialogue.

 The unit focus is on creative writing. During the unit many different aspects of writing will be covered. The point of unit is to give students the tools necessary to write plays, short stories, screenplays, memoirs, and poems. 

]Use of this for my lab lesson is kind of iffy. The time used for this may be needed later in the lesson.

At this point I don’t know if it will be either Kim or Jill who is videotaping me lesson. I have tried to find topics that will interest everyone in the class, but my groupings will be different based on if Kim or Jill are in the lesson. I was going to just pick some current event items then I thought of Rob’s lesson and liked the idea of finding topics specific to each student. So I am trying to group everyone based on common interests.

 This activity is a combination of two warm-up activities I found while research my group project for Drama. May be kind of silly for grad students, but the idea os to get students up and moving so they have the idea that they will be doing things during the lesson.

 The level of authenticity when writing dialogue depends on the genre of writing and the intended audience. I want to make creative writing students how important it is to listen to the way people talk, what they say, how they say it, etc. Doing this will make writing dialogue easier and won’t force writers into taking short cuts like the overuse of slang.

 This looks like it will be very brief based on what I am trying to do in the lesson.

 This activity is popular in fiction writing classes. It is based on something Ernest Hemingway wrote or it is an activity that he liked to do. It forces students to focus on using short quick sentences to get as much relevant meaning conveyed to readers in a short amount of time as possible.

 I am having groups read each others work as a beginning exercise in finding voice. Instead of reading what they wrote, they will listen to a voice other than their own read it, so to help them hear or find their own voice in their writings or hear voice. I am assuming when it is being written students will be silently saying to themselves what they are writing. So they will have already heard their voice read it or say it. With more time this will turn into a full day activity with students working independently and all students will have their writings read.

 Giving students prompts is the first step for this activity. The second step will be to come up with their own list of words. I am doing it this way first to make the transition into the activity easier. I am using werewolves and vampires based on a conversation some of us had in Grammar yesterday plus the groups near obsession with chucacabras.

 If a student looks like they are not participating they will not be given a passing grade. I am looking for cooperation and contribution.

 Graded for completeness. I will be looking for one each sentence beginning with the letters of the alphabet, from A- Z.

 Grading is more to see if the student did the work.

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