Using Voice in Writing Effectively Lesson Plan

Lesson Plan: Maintaining Personal Voice in Writing


After teaching students how to write for an audience and with a purpose and how to effectively evaluate point of view, I felt good about myself once again. I called my mom and told her what a smart son she had. Then I realized my students had no idea how to effectively maintain a personal voice while writing. In shock, I called my mom, advised her to give me up for adoption, and cancelled the appointment with my time management adviser. I was too busy.

I had work to do. I had to teach my student’s not to turn in dozens of bland assignments. Here’s what I came up with.


ELA Common Core Standards

Teaching writing for purpose and audience satisfies the following common core standards.  If you’re not a teacher, skip this section.

  • W.9-10.5  Develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on addressing what is most significant for a specific purpose and audience. (Editing for conventions should demonstrate command of L.9-10.1-3.)
  • L.9-10.5  Demonstrate understanding of figurative language, word relationships, and nuances in word meanings.
  • L.9-10.5a  Interpret figures of speech (e.g., euphemism, oxymoron) in context and analyze their role in the text.
  • L.9-10.5b  Analyze nuances in the meaning of words with similar denotations.

Explain Voice in Writing

When I began teaching, I had no idea how to teach voice. I wasn’t even sure what it was. I asked several colleagues “How do you teach voice in writing?” I’ll summarize their answers: “Voice, you either have it or you don’t. You can’t really teach it.” Translation: “I don’t know what it is either.”

Here’s what I teach now

  • Each writer has a distinct personality.
  • Each writer has passions, opinions, prejudices, and information.
  • Words should capture the writer’s personality.
  • Writers with strong voice capture the reader’s attention with individuality, liveliness, and energy.
  • Strong voice makes the writer’s purpose clear.
  • Strong voice helps readers experience the emotions of the writer and understand the writer’s ideas.
  • Careful word choice, punctuation, paragraphing, and style help strengthen a writer’s voice.

Voice in Writing Lesson Plan Procedures

This voice in writing lesson plan will have your students writing masterpieces in a little under a century.

  • Show students two sample passages. You can find two of your own or use some of mine as examples: Memorable Moments from the 2007 NBA Finals and Reflections: What I Should Have Known About Essay Writing.
  • Read the first sample passage and ask the following questions: Does the author convey his or her voice? How does the reader know? What can be inferred about the author of this piece
  • Write the student responses on the board
  • Read the second passage and ask the same questions.
  • Discuss how these two passages, written by the same brilliant author, have two distinct voices with two different purposes: the first to entertain; the second to inform or persuade.

Revision Exercise

Use this lesson plan for helping students revise their essay.

  • Instruct students to read their draft (rough or final).
  • Ask: Who is your intended audience? What voice would be most effective?
  • Discuss that when you determine the most appropriate voice for your purpose, write with that voice.
  • Remind students that knowing the audience is the key to finding your voice.
  • If using this assignment for revision, have students read their rough draft and change sentences, words, or phrases that do not convey their chosen voice.
  • Divide students in to groups of 3-4.
  • Instruct each student to read his or her draft to the group.
  • Listeners should identify passages that should be changed.
  • Instruct students to work individually on revision.
  • After revising, instruct students to reconvene and read their final draft.
  • Each group should choose the best revision and share it with the class.

Focus Your Writing Lesson Plans

Focus makes writing clear and coherent.

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