I worked with 4th and 5th grade teachers in Elgin today. We were reviewing our data from a recent District Assessment. There was a question on said assessment about dialogue. Specifically, where the comma goes in relation to the quotation marks! Oh goodness!
It is in our student expectations that students know how to use dialogue in writing. Our students take a very special test in 4th grade in Texas. It’s called the STAAR and we all know that a student who can use dialogue in writing, and use it well has mad skills as a 4th grade writer. So, we want our students to know how to use it- and correctly. Also of note, our students have questions about editing and revising they have to answer… it is a tough test to say the least.
So it was my job today to think about ideas to support teachers in teaching our students how to use dialogue in writing.
Ummm… has anyone reviewed how to use dialogue lately? This is quite a complicated process in the English language. Once I reviewed it myself (#notjoking) I thought about how I would teach it to students.
The first thing I had to do was break it down for students. The easiest way I could think of was: leaders, followers, and interrupters!
In a leader sentence, dialogue leads a dialogue tag (What’s a dialogue tag? he said, she said, Madelyn shouted etc.)
In a follower sentence, dialogue follows a dialogue tag
In an interrupter sentence, a dialogue tag interrupts the dialogue
I made the following anchor chart…
With students in front of my we would add examples under each type! And with our highlighters, we look at what is important about each example! Where are the capitals? That gets tricky in the interrupter examples! Where are the commas? When is there not a comma because there is ending punctuation? That gets tricky in the leader examples!
Getting kids to notice the differences, see the ways that writers can use dialogue, and to come up with examples is key!
I may give kids a handout like this to glue into their Writer’s Notebooks or to add to their writing folders as a reference.
I could also ask kids to go back and practice or create one example of each kind of sentence in their Writer’s Notebooks! Oh the possibilities!
A second lesson on a second day might have an anchor chart like this one…. dialogue about dialogue!
We’d want to mark it up- highlighting key features in each place where dialogue is used. Then when students are working on using dialogue in their writing, they would have an example of a chart with dialogue in action!
This is hard stuff eh? I am going to need more practice and so will your students. This will make a perfect work station don’t you think? Editing passages with dialogue would be a great idea.
If you have an idea for how students could practice using dialogue in their writing as part of a Writing Work Station or Work on Writing in Daily Five, please share in a comment!
Mrs. S. says
I love the interrupter, leader, and follower idea. I use something similar, except I have always just called them patter 1,2, and 3. 🙂 I have found it important to use the term "narrator" instead of dialogue tag. I make a big fuss with students about calling it the narrator simply because it helps them decide when to actually use quotation marks and when to just let the narrator talk. I learned this the hard way my first year in fourth grade….when a student proceeded to use quotation marks around every single sentence written in first person!! Major fail!!