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SOAPSTone for AP Lit

Page history last edited by Jayson Yeagley 11 years ago

Who is the Speaker?
The voice that tells the story. Before students 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, students should determine how to insert and develop those attributes of the speaker that will influence the perceived meaning of the piece. 

What is the Occasion?
The time and the place of the piece; the context that prompted the writing. Writing does not occur in a vacuum. All writers are influenced by the larger occasion: an environment of ideas, attitudes, and emotions that swirl around a broad issue. Then there is the immediate occasion: an event or situation that catches the writer's attention and triggers a response. 

Who is the Audience? 
The group of readers to whom this piece is directed. As they begin to write, students must determine who the audience is that they intend to address. It may be one person or a specific group. This choice of audience will affect how and why students write a particular text. 

What is the Purpose?
The reason behind the text. Students need to consider the purpose of the text in order to develop the thesis or the argument and its logic. They should ask themselves, "What do I want my audience to think or do as a result of reading my text?" 

What is the Subject? 
Students should be able to state the subject in a few words or phrases. This step helps them to focus on the intended task throughout the writing process. 

What is the Tone?
The attitude of the author. The spoken word can convey the speaker's attitude and thus help to impart meaning through tone of voice. With the written word, it is tone that extends meaning beyond the literal, and students must learn to convey this tone in their diction (choice of words), syntax (sentence construction), and imagery (metaphors, similes, and other types of figurative language). The ability to manage tone is one of the best indicators of a sophisticated writer. 

In an effort to introduce this strategy into the classroom, the College Board created a one-day professional development workshop for language arts teachers in grades 6-12. Pre-AP: Strategies in English -- Writing Tactics Using SOAPSTone addresses three types of writing: narrative, persuasive, and analytical, using material in a sequence that reflects the degree of difficulty in thinking and composition associated with each. The general format of this workshop is first to take participants through the same process students would use in analyzing examples of texts by professional writers and then in discovering and discussing the elements peculiar to each type. 

Then, after dissecting each model, students are given a prompt for a composition of their own. Before they begin, however, they must complete a SOAPSTone. The following example -- in essence, simply a slightly blunter and swifter application of the SOAPSTone category descriptions given above -- precedes the persuasive essay assignment: 

Who is the Speaker? 
(Who are you? What details will you reveal? Why is it important that the audience know who you are?) 
What is the Occasion?
(How does your knowledge of the larger occasion and the immediate occasion affect what you are writing about?)
Who is the Audience?
(What are the characteristics of this group? How are they related to you? Why are you addressing them?)
What is the Purpose?
(Explain to yourself what you hope to accomplish by this expression of opinion. How would you like your audience to respond?)
What is the Subject?
(Just a few words. What are you talking about?)
What is the Tone?)
(What attitude[s] do you want your audience to feel? How will your attitude[s] enhance the effectiveness of your piece? Choose a few words or phrases that will reflect a particular attitude.) 

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