Julianne Beebe , ,
8th Grade ELA : Unit #2 - Literary Analysis: The House on Mango Street : Lesson #1

Voice, Tone, and Mood: What Are These And Why Do They Matter?

Objective: SWBAT complete a set of interactive notes on voice, tone, and mood and apply their knowledge on a graphic organizer to excerpts from four popular songs.
Standards: RL.8.1 RL.8.2 RL.8.6
Subject(s): English / Language Arts
60 minutes
1 Interactive Notes on Voice, Tone, and Mood - 40 minutes

I begin this lesson with a general, whole-group inquiry into what my students already associate with the three terms, voice, tone, and mood, in order to establish a base for how the three are identified in daily life.  I ask my students questions, such as whether or not they can tell what mood their parents are in by the tone of their voices, and whether or not they use their own voices and tones to affect the desired results of a situation.  After this brief exchange (5-8 min.), I distribute the Interactive Notes and begin the powerpoint on Voice, Tone, Mood.  

As we are working through the powerpoint, I like to call attention to the limited tools of the writer by reminding students that a writer has only the alphabet and punctuation to use in order to create his/her art.  This is in contrast to the performing artist, the musical artist, and the visual artist, who are afforded more tools with which to create their art.  I like to put this in perspective for students in order to invoke a new appreciation for good writing.

When we reach the final portion of the powerpoint/interactive notes, the question that asks why voice, tone, and mood matter in writing, I have students offer their ideas orally.  Then I have each student write out a response on the interactive notes in his/her own words, and have a few share their written sentences aloud.  The best responses will touch upon the ability to determine a writer's meaning and messages through voice, tone, and mood.  

This lesson supports one of my aims as a teacher to not only address the "whats" with my students, but the "hows" and "whys" as well whenever possible.  As the demands of the Common Core Standards require that students perform close readings of complex texts, it is imperative that my students are able to identify how and why a piece of writing is successful as much as it is imperative that they understand what a piece of writing means.

2 Application Using Music - 30 minutes

This is a lot of fun to do with students, and it gives them an opportunity to be fairly accurate with identifying voice, tone, and mood with a medium that has an almost universal appeal before I ask them to apply their knowledge to actual texts (Using Music In The Classroom).  I have selected four songs, two of which are currently very popular, all of which have distinctly different sounds, so that students are able to stretch their application of voice, tone, and mood.  I have listed the songs below, and their YouTube links for teacher use only, in order to preview the songs.  I do NOT recommend showing the videos to students; we listened to the music only, from my iTunes library:

1.  Zebulon, by Rufus Wainwright

2.  Send the Pain Below, by Chevelle

3.  Adorn, by Miguel

4.  We Found Love, by Rihanna

My students complete the appropriate row of the Graphic Organizer as they listen to each song for about a minute to a minute and a half.  After each song sample, I ask them to share their determinations, requiring that they provide one piece of specific evidence from the song to support their claim for voice, before they move on to tone and mood.  This citing of evidence from the source is very much aligned to one of the key shifts in the CSS, and so I use this opportunity, at the beginning of the year, to introduce the practice in order to make it a habit.

In closing, I congratulate students for their thoughtful analysis and inform them that the next step will be for them to apply the same consideration to the written word, where the interaction is quiet, between reader and writer, relying solely on the alphabet and punctuation.

Providing Evidence to Support Claims
Complex Tasks

Using music as a means to ease students into analyzing texts for voice, tone, and mood is definitely a practice I will continue using, both for its potential for high interest as well as for its natural application of the concepts.  While the songs I have chosen worked well and generated the desired responses from my students, there are many other songs that would work as well.

One of the key shifts in the Common Core Standards requires that students develop text-based answers, supporting their claims and interpretations about a text with evidence from the text.  As I caught myself adding the additional task of providing one piece of evidence for student claims of voice, I will most likely revise the graphic organizer to include a spot for evidence, as I need my students to understand how critical it is that they support any and all claims with evidence from the source, which, of course, will ultimately be the texts we read.  This was an oversight on my part when I was developing the graphic organizer that I am glad I caught during the lesson delivery.