For this unit, we have been reading "The Whipping Boy" while focusing on comprehension strategies. We have now finished up teaching the comprehension strategies (we will still use them as we read of course) and we are going to address formal vs. informal language. This novel is perfect for that! There are many great examples of both formal and informal language throughout the text.
To being the lesson I will ask the students to imagine that I am going in to a job interview. I am greeted by the interviews as they introduce themselves. I decide to greet them with a friendly, "Watsup Dudes!!! How's it goin' man?!" Would I make a good impression? Do you think I would get the job? Why or why not? This will lead up into a discussion where the students can analyze when formal language is appropriate and when informal language is appropriate.
After a brief class discussion, (They will be working in groups later to decide appropriate situations where formal or informal language are appropriate.) I will read chapters four and five to the students. (We have already read these chapters, I just want them to hear the great examples of informal and formal language.) After reading, I will have the students identify the formal and informal language within those chapters.
Fleischman, S. (2003). The Whipping Boy. New York, NY : Greenwillow Books
Now that the students have experience with formal and informal language, I will challenge them with a group task. The task is to brainstorm as many situations where formal and informal language are appropriate as they can. I have included a form in the resources that they can fill in as they generate ideas.
After the groups have listed as many situations as the can come up with, a spokesperson from each group will share their ideas with the class.
My students will now apply what they have learned about formal and informal language as they read chapters nineteen and twenty in "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman. Students will identify examples of both formal and informal text as they read.
After the student have had a chance to finish the book (wahoo!), they will share in a group discussion at their tables, examples of informal and formal text they found while reading. They may also go back in the text to prior chapters to find examples of formal and informal text.
To wrap up the lesson, we will establish as a class when informal and formal language is appropriate in the classroom. The core standard gives an example of this: small group discussion (informal); presenting ideas (formal).