Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Leave your Tone after the Beep


This is an activity to teach tone.  It connects to teaching writers how to use tone with different audiences and different purposes.

For this activity, you will leave a short voice mail message (see items 1-18 below or make your own following the rules).

The rules are--you are trying to set up a meeting at 9am on Friday with Michael and/or Jennifer Shelby (fictitious couple). You must create a scenario and leave a message with an appropriate tone. Use the comments feature on the VoiceThread video below. Your message should be shorter than 20 seconds or less than 75 words. You have to keep it clean and no 'real' personal information.

You are required to leave an audio message, but feel free to add other comments in text. You cannot leave a message that has been left already (so please listen to all that are there). Here's the link to the full project.


Tone is a difficult concept to teach students even though it is one of the most fundamental aspects of our written and spoken communication. This activity will help students accurately characterize tone as readers and listeners as well as effectively use tone as writers and speakers. One reason tone is difficult to teach is because often students are formally introduced to tone when they are reading a challenging text and getting pushed for comprehension and fluency. This activity introduces tone in a way that connects the concept of tone to everyday situations and invests the students as readers, writers, and speakers of different tones. It can be done as a stand-alone activity or before or during the study of tone in a poem, short story, or novel.

Activity: Reading

All of the messages below are voice mails left for Jennifer and Michael Shelby. All of the messages request the same thing--a meeting for 9pm on Friday.
1) From a boss who wants to see an employee who is chronically late. Michael, We need to meet. I’ll expect you in my office at 9am sharp on Friday morning.

2) From a friend who wants to apologize. Oh, Jennifer. I really need to talk to you. I hope you’ll listen to me. Can we meet? Friday? Around 9 in the morning? I’ll bring the coffee.

3) From a teacher who wants to see the parent of a student who seems troubled lately. Hello, Ms. Shelby. This is Mr. Ross, Johnny’s homeroom teacher. I was hoping we could meet. Your son is doing OK in class, but I was concerned about his mood lately and wanted to talk to you about it. Let me know if we can meet. Is 9am on Friday good for you? You can contact me on my cell 311 555-2368.

4) From an aluminum siding salesman who wants to show a homeowner your product. Hello, Mr Shelby, I’m Ralph Bellabue from Armorall Siding. I’ve got a great new product—perfect for your house, and we’re running a sale this month. I’ll be in your neighborhood, and I’d love to stop by and give you some information that I think you’ll find valuable. Let me know if 9am on Friday is a good time for you. You can contact me at 311 555-2368.

Think about these questions-- How would you describe the tone? How does the tone relate to the purpose and audience? * What words, phrases and punctuation convey the tone? How would you say each of the messages?

Activity: Creating a Message

You too want to set up a meeting at Friday at 9 am with "Jennifer" or "Michael," the fictional couple who we are communicating to. Again, The facts of this message will be the same—meeting, Friday, 9 am—but you must change your tone based on the situation. For this activity you will be leaving a voice mail. You do not have to give all of the information about the meeting on the recording….only enough to set up the meeting. You can make up details such as names and places. Just keep the message to less than 20 seconds/or 75 words. Think of the words, phrases, punctuation when you write and then the vocal inflections when you speak. This all creates your tone. Create a message for a 9 am Friday meeting based on these scenarios:
5) You are a very wealthy adult who wants to surprise your mother and father (Jennifer and Michael) with the gift of a brand new car.

6) You are a police detective who needs to interview a suspect in a major crime.

7) You are a person who crashed into a parked car and now you have to call the owner (this is the right thing to do, and there were witnesses).

9)You are a lawyer with some bad news for your client that you cannot say over the phone.

10) You are a doctor with some great medical news for your patient that you cannot say over the phone.

Creative BONUS

How would…
11) A person in distress leave the message

12) A lonely person leave the message

13) A bitter person leave the message

14) A surprised person leave the message

15) An optimistic person leave the message

16) A person who was infatuated leave the message

17) An abrupt person leave the message

18) An Apprehensive Person leave the message

Again, feel free to make up details such as names, events, and places…but keeping the message under 20 seconds or less than 75 words.

  • Write it

  • Record it (we are using Voicethread please use the comment feature to record your "voice mail") Note--many students can use help with vocabulary to subtly and accurately describe tone and emotions. You might want to discuss and define words that describe emotions and then have them create messages based on them. Several good lists of emotions can be found at Wikipedia

1 comment:

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