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Choosing the Best Verb: An Active and Passive Voice Minilesson
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Lesson Plan Type||Minilesson|
|Estimated Time||50 minutes|
For most students, speech and informal writing flows naturally. When it comes to more formal writing, however, students frequently choose passive voice constructions because to them, the verbs sound more academic or more formal. This minilesson explores verb choice in a variety of online resources then encourages students to draw conclusions about verb use. They then explore the pieces they are writing, check for active and passive voice, and make necessary revisions.
Active and Passive Voice: This resource from Purdue's OWL site, provides information about using active and passive voice in your writing, as well as examples of each.
Grammar comes naturally as humans acquire language. When it comes time to write a formal paper, however, a student writer's concern for formal, "proper" language can result in stilted, awkward constructions. As Brock Haussamen et al. explain in Grammar Alive! A Guide for Teachers, "it is not language itself that is the crucial issue here; it is people, and the match between the language they use and the circumstances they find themselves in. Language is 'correct' or 'incorrect' depending on the circumstances. For adults as well as children, speaking in formal Edited Written English when you are joking around with your family is as out of place as writing a job application that includes instant messaging abbreviations" (11).
Inviting writers to discover the relationship between the actor (or subject) and the action (or predicate) in passive and active voice can provide students with more details on how the constructions work, better enabling students to choose the best language for their writing situation.