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Dialogue Project

Project Idea: Allow students the opportunity to write dialog as they tell a story whether personal (narrative) or fiction.

 

Description:  My students come from a culture of oral tradition. They tell stories in groups, one picking up where the other left off. I have seen incredible response when we read books that are written with heavy dialog (plays). I would like to give that opportunity to my students.

1.     Students will begin with a writing marathon encouraging them to think of moments in their life that they felt were important in shaping who they are now. (Students produce the most powerful work when they discuss events that have happened to them or their families. I would encourage this for work on their dialog.)

2.     Students will then take a look at previous books and examples written in dialog. (see resources)

3.     Students will be allowed to work collectively or independently to complete the assignment.

4.     Students will have the opportunity to perform their work using classmates as actors.

 

Resources:

Monster by Walter Dean Myers

Witness by Karen Hesse

To Kill a Mockingbird transcript edition

Selected works of Shakespeare

Writing for Social Change Katherine Bomer

WriteSource 8th Grade Text (mechanical points for writing in dialog)

 

Rationale: For what purpose does a written dialog give to students? I can make a list of standards that the writing meets and I can give academic notes to my principal when he sees the work being done, but I feel that by reading dialog and then writing it students see the value in their own voice, their own story. In Monster for example, many would argue that it promotes violence or “glorifies” the street life. On the contrary, it gives students a look into the justice system that they may never have understood before. It’s political, it’s stereotypical and being with the ‘wrong crowd’ can cause more than lectures from your Mom. Depending on your students (and that is key… do you know your students?) certain “risky” books may be what it takes to get messages across that they may not hear otherwise. Adults preaching to stay out of trouble or watch the crowd your with doesn’t always sink in, but to read an account of the pain and stress jail can cause may send signals to the hardest to reach. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone, it may be what your students need to see and hear.