Lesson Plan

Dialogue That Matters

Teaching dialogue is often easier said (pun!) then done. This lesson will guide students to create important dialogue in their narratives that helps develop the main character and his/her relationships with minor characters.
Stephanie S.
Classroom teacher
Oak Ridge Elementary School
Sacramento, CA
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My Grades 3, 4
My Subjects English Language Arts, Math, Science, Social Studies, Arts

Students will be able to...

-identify dialogue's purpose in mentor texts

-use brainstorming strategies to create dialogue for their own main characters.

-practice using dialogue in authentic conversation that can be included in their narratives.  

-evalulate if the dialogue created shows the character's appropriate response to situations presented in the narrative.  

English Language Arts
Grades 3 - 5
All Notes
Teacher Notes
Student Notes

1 Hook

Activity: Reading

While most of my students are familar with dialogue within their reading, many struggled to add it into their own writing.  This mentor text will help students connect with what exactly dialogue is within a narrative and its purpose.  

1.  Draw a speech bubble on the whiteboard and have students discuss what it is & where they have seen it before.

2.  Read aloud One Cool Friend by Toni Busseo and ask student to notice the use of speech bubbles to help us understand what Elliot & his father say to each other.  

3.  Using page 2-3, discuss how the speech bubble points to the character speeking.  Discuss how the author also directed the reader to know who is talking by the use of dialogue tags (his father said, but he only said).  


Student Instructions



1.  Most students are able to discuss the use of speech bubbles in comic books, drawings, and some cartoon shows.  

2. Throughout the read aloud, students often stop to discuss the dialogue with their neighbors.  

3.  Student will add the term dialogue & tag to thier Writers' Notebook.  

2 Direct Instruction

1.  Now that students are familar with the terms dialogue and tag, discuss how the conversations between Eliott and his father were intentionally created by Toni Buzzeo to :

-develop the characters & have them come alive

-to create the confusing but funny relationship between the characters in the story. 

-entertain the readers!

2.  Explain that writers don't just create dialogue to be a ping-pong game between charcters talking.  But instead it is planned & intential.  

3.  Show the TedEd lesson from Nadia Kalman, Three Anti-Social Skills to Improve Your Writing.  While watching, have students keep a look out for the 3 things writers can do to improve dialogue.  

4. Before moving onto Guided Practice, I clarify any confusions of the three ways we can create dialogue in our narratives.

5.   I also have two students model with their posture & facial expressions a situation that might occur in their narratives.  As a class, we predict and discuss what the possible dialogue might be.  I use this activity as a checking for understanding on what dialgue is and how needs to be real to the character and situation.  

Student Instructions




3.   Students will identify the three tips presented by Nadia Kalman while watching this video clip.  1.  Eavesdrop 2.  Pretend Imaginary People are Real 3.  Mutter to Yourself.  

3 Guided Practice

Free, Paid

1.  Using a Padlet Wall I've created with two children in the sandbox, I guide students through creating a conversation that would make sense for the characters & situation.

*Any photo that is appropriate for your class and students can easily be uploaded to a padlet wall.

2.  I model for the class what could be a dialogue for both the girl and boy in the photo.  I ask students what this dialogue tells the reader about both the characters and the situation.  

3.  I then invite student groups to create another conversation that might be possible for these characters and the setting.  (This is again a quick checking for understanding that shows me which students are closing in on the objective and which ones I will need to conference with later on in Writers' Workshop.) 

Student Instructions




2.  Students will discuss in small groups what they know about the situation now as well as if the characters would really say their dialogue in this manner.  

2b.  Students will then revise my dialogue to be more realistic and also add the dialogue tags need so the reader is aware of who is speaking.  

3.  Using the ipads at the table, small groups of students  add to our padlet wall of possible dialogue.  

4 Independent Practice

1.  Explain that during Independent Work time of Writers' Workshop, students can either use Padlet or Educreation Interactive Whiteboard to brainstorm and plan dialogue for their narrative pieces. (my class had already developed a main character and plot plan using Somebody-Wanted-Because-But-So graphic organizers and Character Profile tools in previous lessons)  

2.  Explain how students can use safesearchkids.com to search for an image that demonstrates a situation between characters is their story.  Model quickly how to copy and paste the image into the Padlet Wall and then post possible dialogues between the characters.

3.  For students wanting to just sketch their characters & situation, have them build a new 'lesson' on Educreations Interactive Whiteboard.  Students can then either type, write, or audio record the conversations they brainstorm for this sitation.  

4. For any students I noticed having trouble with our Guided Practice, I will conference with them and perhaps have them rewatch the TedEd Lesson video with me pausing along the way to address their confusions.  

Student Instructions

Students break off into working either with Padlet or Interactive Whiteboards to help bring their characters to life through authentic dialogue.  

My lower literacy and ELL students often choose to use the audio recording on Interactive Whiteboard first then then type in their ideas afterward. 

This portion of the lesson is meant to simply be the brainstorm of meaningful dialogue that will then be added to their narrative drafts at a later Writers' Workshop session.  

5 Wrap Up

To wrap up and share our work, I will have a few students AirPlay their ipads up to our AppleTV .  They will give us only limited background knowledge of the characters' name and the setting.  Then they will read the possible conversation they created today. 

Audience Members will provide feedback using the following frames:

-I know now that your main character is _________.

-I think his/her relationship with the other character is _____.

-I can tell that the situation is _________.  

Student Instructions

Students that are selected are to share their work to the class by choosing their most effected dialogues created today.

They will take the feedback given to them by the class and adjust their work as needed to either give more insight to the characters or situation.