Making Curriculum Pop

QUESTION: Teaching Dialogue w/ for 8th grade Urban and ELL students?

I am thinking about doing a mini-lesson with My thought process is that my 8th grade students could use an alternative approach to learning how to use dialogue in their narratives. They arereallystruggling with the idea of dialogue enhancing the story. Not only does it further our understanding of characters, but it enables the students to present facts of a story that they may otherwise struggle with. There is also a feature on the website that allows you to hear a computer generated voice read your words aloud. My urban kids and ESL students might benefit from hearing how someone might read their writing. I am hoping it would improve grammar and punctuation. Thoughts?

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I do a Web 2.0 unit w/ 6th graders every year called TEXPERTS TAKE OVER!, and one of the Web 2.0 apps the kids will be assigned this year is going to be goanimate. I haven't used it in the past but really look forward to using it this year. I think they'll really enjoy working out how to use the features, and your point about hearing their words read aloud is a good one. Though we may advise them to read their work aloud, it just doesn't always happen, but w/ something like this, they will be listening extra hard! I definitely recommend the use of Web 2.0 to get across concepts like dialogue--you're on an excellent track here!! Go for it!!

Steven -

I teach ESL and use when teaching punctuation, especially commas and complete sentences. First, I make a movie with no punctuation to illustrate how the computer won't pause unless told to do so with punctuation. After that, I show them how it can be done correctly. I have used this for a few years in a row now and have found great success with it. And the students love making the movies and sharing them. I am sure goanimate will work similarily.

I have also used graphic novels to teach dialog punctuation (many other languages don't use quotation marks - Spanish, for example, only uses paragraph changes to notate dialog). I ask students to re-tell a part of a graphic novel using traditional text. It forces them to use inference to decide on feelings and verbs to describe actions. It also forces them to use dialog punctuation whenever there is a dialog or thought bubble. And when they get to writing their own stories, it is really easy to hark back to "would that be in a dialog bubble?" when thinking when to use dialog punctuation.

I think your idea of using goanimate will be great! Best of luck!

P.S. - Thank Ryan for helping me figure out where to post this! Sorry to clutter up the board.

thanks for the tip about GoAnimate!  I think I'll try it.  

I wanted to share that I've also used Xtranormal for ELL kids.  The projects weren't perfect, but the process was rich.  Here are our notes:

Also check out this other ELL/Tech project for more ideas:

Cool ideas. Thanks for sharing! The retelling of the video is particularly exciting.

Steven, How about having the students write the dialogue first, as though they were writing a one act play.  This means all the action must take place in a very short time and limited place...a single hour, day, or week in a limited space because people seldom stay in one place for very long.

Let them know that the dialogue should both advance the plot and reveal character personality and motivation. (You may use other vocabulary with which your students are more familiar.

Then, have them go back and fill in the setting and interim narrations.

This order will remind students that they need to change paragraphs when the change speakers, just as they alternated lines when when wrote their plays.  This also will remind them to indicate how the words should be spoken as they add the narration and punctuation.



Dear Steven,

I hope, too, that in your efforts to help students use dialogue in their narratives you'll have them try out where they can create their own comic strip stories online, and print and email them.   In addition to offering 128 characters with different emotions to choose from, they'll find talk and thought balloons in which they can write their text, and in so doing, improving their writing skills as they move their stories along.  MakeBeliefsComix is a free educational resource which is used in more than 180 countries to encourage literacy, reading and the learning of English.


Bill Zimmerman




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