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Speak Up! Writing a Review
|Grades||9 – 12|
|Activity Time||Two to three hours (can be spread over multiple days)|
- Review Writing Tips
- Online sample reviews or reviews from newspapers and magazines
- ReadWriteThink Printing Press tool (optional)
- Ask teenagers to make a quick list of recent movies and television shows they've seen, books they've read, CDs they've listened to, or restaurants where they've eaten.
- Using this list, ask teens why they went to certain movies or restaurants, watched certain TV shows, bought certain CDs, or read certain books. Ask them to consider where they get their "recommendations" and why they listen to certain recommendations. Encourage stories of recommendations that resulted in both good and bad experiences.
- Follow up on the comments they make by asking them to think about how written reviews in the newspaper, in magazines, or online differ (in style, audience, and influence) from word-of-mouth reviews. For example, what qualifications does a published reviewer have that a regular consumer might not? Or are there occasions when teens would see a movie despite what friends and reviewers have to say about it? Why?
- Ask teens to find two or three reviews that interest them, either online or from magazines or newspapers. Explain that the review might convince them to see/buy the product, or it may have just the opposite effect. Ask them which is the case for each of these reviews and why.
- Using these reviews, help teenagers discover and list the important features of a review. You might begin by asking them what they notice about the reviews. What features or characteristics seem common among the different reviews, such as the kind of language used, the combination of opinion/assessment and evidence/examples, and so forth? After they talk about what they notice, you might share with them the Review Writing Tips handout for an outline of these features.
- Ask teens to recall a book, movie/TV show, CD, or restaurant that they have recently experienced and would like to share their opinion on through writing a review. Suggest that the subjects they choose be something they have strong opinions about - whether positive or negative.
- Before writing, guide the writers to consider the importance of audience. Think back to the reviews they looked at earlier, and ask them to explain where they found the reviews. Who do they think would the likely reader be for each of those sources, and how might the identity of the reader affect what a reviewer chooses to say about a topic? Have teens look for examples where the author of the review seems to be catering to his or her specific audience.
- Suggest that teen writers consider what audience they intend for the reviews, and ask them to think about what kind of knowledge they can assume about the audience as well as what information a particular audience might need, for example, background information on the author, performer, or actor; other works by the same author or performer; and so on.
- Ask teens to begin planning to write their reviews. Remind them to include all the components of a review, to keep in mind the intended audience, and to use a lively, entertaining voice that will keep this audience interested. Encourage them to use prewriting activities such as listing or outlining the points they plan to make. They should be encouraged to keep in mind a review's focus on providing an opinion, but supporting it with specific examples and facts.
- Prompt teens to design a clever rating system, one that goes beyond the traditional 1 - 5 stars and one that has meaning for their subject.
- Have the teen share the review with a friend, asking the peer to suggest revisions to strengthen the review and make it more entertaining. The writer should then make revisions and prepare a final polished review for publication!
- Together create a list of possible publishing opportunities. Some possibilities are
- a group publication to share with each other and friends. (Note: ReadWriteThink Printing Press allows a means for compiling reviews in a reader-friendly format.)
- submissions to print and online publications that seek reviews. (Note: TeenInk publishes reviews written by teenagers on a variety of subjects.)
- submission of reviews of events (movies, concerts, etc.) to the teen's school newspaper.
- contributions to a blog related to the topic of the review.
- a display of book reviews at a local library.
- Amazon.com, iTunes, or Internet Movie Database, as well as websites for many specific movies and television shows.
- Teenagers are always interested in their peers' perceptions of colleges (see the "College Review" section at TeenInk). Teenagers who are making summer college visits could try their hand at writing college reviews and could suggest that their school's guidance department post these reviews during the school year.
- Teenagers who are required to do independent reading might write a review as part of their assignment, with the consent of the teacher.
- Once teen writers have become skilled at writing reviews, they might ask a local newspaper if they could submit work for consideration for a teen column.
The person or group of people that the message of a piece of writing is meant for. Most pieces of writing have more than one audience.
To think both logically and creatively about a topic using different kinds of information. When people think critically, they not only attend to new words and ideas, but they also connect these words and ideas with the things they already know.
A step in the process of writing something when the person who is writing makes changes to words and ideas. Revising can include adding, changing, or removing words and responding to comments from other readers.