What Do You Have To Say?

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SWBAT differentiate between realistic and unrealistic dialogue, and practice dialogue rules.

Big Idea

What do you have to say for yourself? In this lesson, students will observe unrealistic versus realistic dialogue in short story. They will also attempt to write dialogue using the grammar rules.

Independent Reading/Conferring/Homework Check-In

20 minutes

Whenever possible, I begin my lessons with silent, independent reading. During this time, I actively monitor their reading progress by checking their out-of-class reading logs and engaging in reading conferences that cover a variety of topics.


To find ways to enact this section, please see my strategy folder.

Note Taking: Dialogue & Annotating Rules

10 minutes

Today our mini-lesson is centered around understanding how to write effective dialogue. Before we write, we must notice dialogue in a text. Dialogue is complicated and there are weird, erratic rules that go along with understanding it. I explain that the first key to writing dialogue is making it sound realistic.

First we define dialogue: Dialogue is characters speaking to one another in a narrative. In order to make it realistic, we want to think about the way people interact and speak to one another in real life.

Notes on Dialogue

Annotated Dialogue Tags

Noticing Dialogue: Read Aloud & Independent Reading

20 minutes

I read aloud from the story, Thirteen and a Half, which is part of the collection of short stories called Thirteen: Collection of short stories. This story has very realistic dialogue, with many dramatic pauses and popular vernaculer. This is a great way to display realistic dialogue.

Before I begin, I ask kids to raise their hand when they see or hear any realistic dialogue. First, I begin reading aloud. It is key that during this read aloud, I place the text under the document camera to project it in front of the entire class. It is important for kids to notice the way dialogue is written and to be given the visual clues. In the first two paragraphs of this story, there is no actual dialogue, although there is mention of a conversation between two girls. This is a great opportunity to ask if the kids see any dialogue, and to stress the if there are no quotation marks, then there is no dialogue.

Here is now we Notice Realistic Dialogue.

After we read aloud and notice dialogue within the story, we do a little practice writing our own.

I put a scenario on the board:

I have kids come up with a piece of "unrealistic" dialogue to go with that scenario, as well as a piece of realistic dialogue.

For example: Two girls talking in the bathroom (school appropriate):

Dialogue Notes with Unrealistic vs. Realistic Example

Finally, students end by searching for realistic dialogue in their independent reading to record.