"Who's Talking to Whom?": Dialogue in Settings, Characters and Events

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SWBAT...write and accurately punctuate dialogue by writing main ideas for their narrative stories that help the plot progress, reference setting and develop their characters

Big Idea

Dialogue lets our readers believe they are inside our stories hearing and feeling the events as they occur.

Creating the Purpose

10 minutes

I added this lesson to the unit because my students needed more practice with the addition of action tags to their dialogue writing (per their responses on the last activity and newer concept). I have found that teaching one or two lessons on a subject does not build long lasting skills. Rather it takes repeated lessons that build upon each other and have application to different aspects of their writing to give them the deep understanding I'm hoping for.  

Prior to this lesson opening I had already made five poster papers that begin with this same phrase and have placed them on each table group. I also give them markers and have them take out their whiteboards. I post the Replacing "said" and Adding Action Words poster on the board as well to be used as a reference.

I begin the lesson by reading the sentence that is on their posters - "Shhhh! I hear something in the bushes," whispered Tim as he and Matt ......

I ask them to share what they think is happening in this story? I take only a few answers (I want to give some ideas and story lines to my struggling and ELL students to help them when they begin this activity - and I want to build the excitement for their writing) before I stop them.

I share that today we are going to practice what we learned in the prior lesson about replacing "said" and adding action tags for our settings, characters and plots of our stories. They will first review to activate their prior knowledge of these terms (L 5.2), then complete a group activity that builds their skills (SL 5.1) and lastly use what they have learned to write their main idea paragraphs for their own stories (W 5.3).   

Guiding the Learning

15 minutes

Before I open the lesson I project the Dialogue in Setting, Character and Plot sheet but I don't read it to my students yet. I first want to review the parts that make up a good story to activate their prior knowledge because it has been awhile since we have had lessons on these components and I want to spiral them back into their writing focus. This helps them connect the knowledge we are focusing on today (dialogue) with the components of narrative writing to use when they complete their main events story writing at the end of this lesson.

I open the lesson by reviewing what the setting of a story includes: place, time, and environment. We read the passage together and I ask students to identify the setting. I have them share how they know this?

We then review how to describe characters in a story (character traits, physical appearance, moods, age, etc.). I ask them to identify the characters in this dialogue and to describe what they already know about them. I again ask them to share how they know these things about them?

We now review what the plot of the story is and how this dialogue adds to the plot and suspense of the story.  I share that good, descriptive dialogue develops the characters and makes them more believable, reveals information about the different settings of the story and develops the plot as it goes from one event to the next. (W 5.5)

Now the fun part! Students get into their table groups and I explain that they have been given a lead to a story idea. They will work as a group to complete the storyline. One catch! They will each get the opportunity to add on a sentence, but their sentence must involve dialogue and describe the setting, characters and/or plot in the action tags (W 5.3b, W 5.3c). They may use the examples on the board as a reference for their thinking, or the ideas shared at the beginning of the lesson.

They will have 12 minutes to complete it (SL 5.1b, W 5.3b) and the winning story will be chosen by the entire class when they present it to their audience (SL 5.6, SL 5.4). On your mark...get set...go!


Independent Practice

20 minutes

I realize that 15 minutes is not enough time for students to prepare and present in the previous section, but we were cut short on time today and I want to make sure that students have time to apply their learning about dialogue to their own writing in this section. 

Now they need to address their writing plans and add ideas for dialogue to their Slow it Down - Main Idea planning sheets

Students are given their planning sheets and take out their idea charts for their stories. I reread where we are in our class story (this helps them to get back to their original theme and create ideas for their own independent writing). I share that our characters are now ready for the action events of our story. I ask students to think of three sequential events, similar to what they just did with the group story line, that would work next in our class story (W 5.5).

Students take out their whiteboards and plan the next three events (I use whiteboards because of the ease of brainstorming, erasing, adapting and improving that can easily be done on them. It also gives students a way to edit and revise because rereading and rewriting from these often helps them catch mistakes W 5.3, L5.2). These will likely be adapted in their next lesson, but I want them to have some ideas to use to practice the dialogue descriptions we just learned.

I signal the class to stop and walk them through the expectations for the worksheets. I take questions and have very few which either means they will do well and are anxious to get on with their writing, or they are still a bit lost with their story ideas and don't feel able to move on.

I go around and help those who are still thinking of story ideas and those who are having trouble starting. Once I have them all on task, I circulate and assist others where needed. I  remind many not to write too much on their graphic organizers - just their main points and the descriptive words they will use. Then, they can get into more detail when they write their drafts. This helps them manage their time better and teaches them note taking skills they will use in the next years of schooling.   

Closing the Loop

10 minutes

To end today's lesson, I think it's important that students share their work.  I selected some random/ some planned names to show students what writing was being produced during the class today. Note: At times, I pretended to pull at random - to keep all accountable and appreciated - but wanted to make sure to share with the class as examples those students' writing that had strong examples of dialogue (SL 5.4, SL 5.6, RL 5.6).

Here's a video of some examples chosen to share (Spirit Day so the outfits are a bit creative)


I can't wait until our following lesson where the students will have the opportunity to write their completed main idea and climax events!