Teaching “tone” in the middle school

What is tone?  Tone is the mood the author is creating using details in writing.  This can often be a struggle skill to teach to reluctant readers.  After a few years of teaching tone, I just finished my most successful year yet.  This lesson was completed with middle school students, but could be used for upper elementary as well.tone tntn

First, I taught the definition of tone.  I gave the students some text excerpts and we highlighted key words that would contribute to determining a piece’s tone.  I know.  Same old.  Same old.

This year I got creative.  I tried a new creative writing technique to help students write and determine their own tone.  I called it the “Squiggle Stop” method.

I created these task cards with character traits and characters.  Also, I created setting description and setting lists.  Then, I laminated each sheet and made one set for each student.  The students would then place their finger on the task card, shut their eyes, and squiggle their finger around until I said “Stop”.  Whatever word they landed on, that would be used on the worksheet for their creative writing piece.

For example, if they chose “creative” for character trait, “ice cream man” for character, “joyful” for setting description and “hotel room” for setting they have a “creative ice cream man who lives in a joyful hotel room.”  So, your student’s example could be:

–There once was a creative ice cream man.  He lived a joyful hotel room.  Well, this ice cream man was so creative, he started making all types of crazy ice cream flavors.  He stayed in his joyful hotel room just laughing and laughing creating his flavors: Turkey Dinner, 2% Milk, Steak and Eggs, Tossed Salad, just to name a few.  As new guests checked into his joyful hotel each day, he’d stand outside his room giving away free samples of his creative ice cream flavors.  However, once the manager realized this was occurring, the creative ice cream man was asked to leave.  Reluctantly, he left his joyful hotel room and moved into his creative ice cream truck.  You can see him now driving the city, selling his creative ice cream!

Therefore, this piece would have a humorous tone!

The “Squiggle Stop” worksheets can be used for so many other activities.  This is just a fun way to incorporate some interactive learning into a traditionally more boring lesson about tone.  I hope you can use some of these suggestions.  For more middle school ideas, please visit my TpT store:

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