Analyzing Texts For Voice, Tone, And Mood

64 teachers like this lesson
Print Lesson


SWBAT analyze four separate writing passages for voice, tone, and mood, creating a self-generated chart that mirrors the music sample chart from the previous lesson.

Big Idea

Why am I laughing? Why am I crying? Analyzing texts for voice, tone, and mood.

Small-Group Text Analysis

40 minutes

For this lesson, I ask my students to apply the same skills that they used when identifying voice, tone, and mood in the musical samples of the previous lesson to four writing samples that I have selected for their distinct styles. The writing samples should allow students to notice elements such as

  • the use of repetition (Obama)
  • strategically selected diction (Neruda and Millay)
  • the power of accurate verbs (Hosseini)

and how they contribute to developing voice, tone, and mood.  I truly believe in the power of creating opportunities for students to discuss a writer's style with each other, as for some it will be the first time that they have been required to analyze a text at this level.  My goal is to develop this habit with my students early in the year, so that it eventually becomes second nature for them to notice voice, tone, and mood, both as readers and as writers.

I arrange students in groups of four and allow them to discuss their ideas with each other, to encourage discussion around each of the writing samples. At this early point in the year, my groups are arranged by proximity, doubling up table partners for arrangements of four.  As the year progresses, and the relative strengths and weaknesses of my students become more evident, my groupings will become more strategic.

I give my students roughly 20 minutes for this task.  Though each student is responsible for completing the chart in his/her individual classroom spiral notebook, they are allowed to have the same responses as their group members.  Student charts are hand-drawn, mirroring the graphic organizer I gave them for the musical samples.  I remind them to provide specific evidence from the texts to support their claims, echoing the instructions I gave them in the previous lesson as they listened to the musical samples.  

When each group has completed their analysis, we reconvene as a whole group to share and discuss their determinations. 

Introducing Victor T. Monroe

30 minutes

After sharing and discussing voice, tone, and mood in the writing samples, it is now my students' turn to try their hands at developing the same in their own writing.  

I announce to them that we have a new student at our school.  His name is Victor T. Monroe (V=voice, T=tone, M=mood), and today will be his first day in the cafeteria.

I then instruct my students to write a description of Victor's first day in the cafeteria, staying conscience of what voice, tone, and mood they want to develop.  They can choose the POV, though I suggest that third-person might be the most user-friendly.  Their descriptions can be written on the back of their charts, in their spiral notebooks (Victor T. Monroe).  

I give them 12-15 minutes to write as I circulate the room, offering assistance and feedback wherever desired.  We then spend the remainder of the period sharing writing samples aloud (Encouraging Students to Share Written Work Out Loud) and discussing each other's descriptions as a whole group.

Before they leave, I remind them that conscious development of voice, tone, and mood is what all good writers do, and that my goal for them is that not only will they become adept at identifying those elements in a piece of writing, but that they will consider these elements consciously as writers themselves.