14 Style and Tone Field Trip

Arley Cruthers

Activity Guidelines

Suggested Course Level

Lower or upper level undergraduate course

Activity Purpose

  • Students will explore how specific style, tone and emphasis choices can dramatically change the reaction in the reader.

Materials Required

  • Pen
  • Paper

Activity Instructions

  1. Print off the list of moods and cut them up into pieces so that a single mood is written on each scrap of paper.
  2. Begin by asking students what they would notice in the room if they were bored (example: beige walls, annoying fluorescent lights, ticking clock etc).
  3. Then, ask them what they would notice if they were happy (example: brightly coloured clothing, eager students, coffee).
  4. Tell students that they will be going on a “field trip.” They will each choose a slip of paper with a mood on it.
  5. Then, they will go outside and stand in the same location. (At KPU Surrey, for example, I use the courtyard.)
  6. They will make a list of 10 details that convey their mood.
  7. Then, they will come back to class and write a paragraph that conveys the mood without saying it.
  8. Tell students that they can use details, their sentence rhythm, word choices, etc.
  9. I use the details we came up with in the classroom to orally compose a short example. (“OMG! Everyone is here ready to learn, drinking delicious coffee. I love Harmanjot’s bright shirt and the Powerpoint slide has such a funny cartoon on it” vs “The clock is ticking out the seconds as I slowly slide into my desk. Even coffee can’t wake me up. It’s all beige walls, beige desks, and they can’t even fix the buzzing fluorescent light.”)
  10. I always write my own paragraph and then read it first to encourage students to read their own. Each student will read their paragraph, then the class will try to guess the mood.

Debrief Questions / Activities

  • How were we able to guess the mood without the author telling us?
  • How did you choose details?
  • What strategies did you use to help us guess the mood?
  • What was the hardest part of this activity?
  • What was the most surprising part of this activity?
  • How can we connect this activity to what we just learned about positive emphasis/tone/connotation?

Activity Variations

  • Allow students to select their own mood.

Additional Resources / Supplementary Resources

Tags: negative news messages, persuasive messages, writing mechanics, grammar, style, tone, concision, hands-on, individual, creating a product or document, creative writing, positive emphasis, connotation, sentences


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