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Transcript of Teaching Soapstone
The voice that tells the story.
Before authors begin to write, they must decide whose voice is going to be heard. Whether this voice belongs to a fictional character or to the writers themselves, effective writers determine how to insert and develop those attributes of the speaker that will influence the perceived meaning of the piece.
The time and the place of the piece; the context that prompted the writing.
All writers are influence by the
: an environment of ideas, attitudes, and emotions that swirl around a broad issue. Then there is the
: an event or situation that catches the writer's attention and triggers a response.
The reason behind the text.
Writers need to consider the purpose of the text in order to develop the thesis or the argument and its logic. They ask themselves, "What do I want my audience to think or do as a result of reading my text?"
The central topic.
Subject is often the larger context of the text and is usually related to occasion and speaker.
The attitude of the author.
The spoken word can convey the speaker's attitutde and thus help to impart meaning through tone of voice.
With the written word, it is tone that extends meaning beyond the literal, and authors must convey this tone in their:
diction (word choice)
syntax (sentence construction)
imagery (metaphors, similes, and other figurative language).
More on Tone
Tone is the author’s attitude toward a subject. While journalistic writing should usually have a tone of distance and objectivity, all other writing can have various tones.
Tone is not an action. It is an attitude.
Want an example? Try saying, “Come here, Bilbo” using different tones:
-Commanding or bossy
If we were to read a description of a first date that included words and phrases like “dreaded” and “my buddies forced me to go on the date”, we could assume that the writer didn’t really want to go on the date and was not looking forward to it based on word choice. And that’s the thing with tone—it is not always explained or expressed directly. That’s why readers must “read between the lines” to feel the author’s attitude and identify the tone.
It is important not to confuse tone with mood. Tone is the author or speaker’s attitude toward the subject. Mood is the emotion the author wanted the readers to feel while reading about the subject. Tone influences the story’s atmosphere and the reader’s mood. For example, an author writes a horror story using a serious and sinister tone. That tone helps create a scary atmosphere that makes the readers nervous and frightened while reading.
Can you identify the tone in these commercials?
Now let's try some literary examples...
There are worse things than finding your wife and child dead. You can watch the world do it. You can watch your wife get old and bored. You can watch your kids discover everything in the world you've tried to save them from. Drugs, divorce, conformity, disease. All the nice clean books, music, television. Distraction.
, Chuck Palahniuk
A maid cleans.
A crew cuts the lawn.
Even the groceries get delivered.
Jordan’s dad is home, for once,
But he barely lifts his head
From his laptop to meet me.
Flicker in surprise,
But he slams
His attention back to his work
And coughs to dismiss me.
Reaching for Sun
, Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
Just two weeks before, I had found out she knew my name and now I was loopy with love. I was floating. I floated up the white light that washed my sheets and slept on the moon. In school I was a yellow balloon, smiling and lazy, floating above the classrooms. I felt a faint tug on my string. Far below, Kevin was calling, “You’re in love, dude!” I merely smiled and rolled over and drifted dreamily out a window.
, Jerry Spinelli
An individual or group to whom the speaker is speaking
Keeping your audience in mind while you write can help you make good decisions about what material to include, how to organize your ideas, and how best to support your argument. To further illustrate the importance of audience, imagine you’re close to the end of your first semester away in college and you’re writing about your experience in an email to your grandma? What details and stories might you include? What might you leave out? Now imagine that you’re writing on the same topic, but your audience is your best friend. Chances are, those emails are going to be very different. When it comes to persuasive rhetoric, identifying the audience is especially important because the speaker needs to use targeted language, appeals, and devices in order to move to take action and bring about change.
Some questions to ask yourself when identifying audience:
Why are these people listening to the speaker? What are they looking for?
What tone will be most effective in conveying the speaker’s message?
SOAPSTone is a strategy that...
helps break down and "unpack" documents
helps assess POV and bias
Let's take a look at audience, purpose, and tone in these commercials...
Questions to ask yourself
when evaluating the Speaker
While reading the text, ask yourself this major question: WHO IS SPEAKING?
Don't confuse the author with the speaker. They are two different voices; sometimes two different perosnas. For example,
is a reporter for the
, but the
is a man trying to influence readers to steer of a new product.
Ask yourself: What's the point of a speaker? Why do we care who is speaking? How does it influence the text? How does it influence the reader?
Who is speaking to the reader? Is it the president? A fashion guru? A lawmaker?
Questions to ask yourself
when evaluating Occasion
While reading, it's important to determine WHAT EVENT INFLUENCED THE TEXT.
Why do we write? Why does it matter? Do we just write about anything and everything, or are we influenced to write?
Ask yourself: Why is this person writing this text now? What major event or occurrence inspired this piece of writing?
Are they writing in response to a new law? An ongoing war? A celebrity mishap? A major world crisis?
The group of readers to whom this piece is directed
Before authors begin to write, they must determine who the audience is that they intend to address. It may be one person or a specific group. This choice will affect how and why authors write a particular text.
Why do we read nonfiction?
Sixty percent of texts on tests are nonfiction selections.
The number of adults engaged in reading literature--defined as novels, short stories, plays, and poetry--was 46.7% in 2002, down from 54% in 1992 and 56.9% in 1982
1993-2003: The number of titles published increased 58% while fiction readers declined 14%.
Tips for Reading Nonfiction
Read multiple times
Remember that creating mental pictures is limited, but reading to gather facts is key
A question about a nonfiction text usually has a right or wrong answer
To get the most from your reading, you must take notes!
Slow down and pay attention to nonfiction conventions: bold or italicized words, charts, and graphs, illustrations or photographs, headings, and subheadings.
Okay, so how do we take notes for nonfiction?
Questions to ask yourself when evaluating purpose
While reading the text, it is necessary to understand the PURPOSE OF THE TEXT.
Ask yourself: What's the purpose of the writing? What is it intended to do? What is the speaker hoping to achieve? Is there a goal?
Are they trying to influence consumers to buy a certain product? Vote for a specific politician? Save their money by investing? Send their kids to private school?
Questions to ask yourself
when evaluating subject...
While reading the text, determine the SUBJECT OF THE TEXT
Ask yourself: What is this piece of writing about? What topic(s) does it concern? Why does it matter?
Are they writing about the war in Iraq? A new law that just passed? A hot, new celebrity?