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McREL Standards Activity

Playing with Practices that Portray Point of View

Purpose:As a result of this activity, students will 1) understand the effectiveness of techniques used to convey viewpoint, and 2) use these techniques to construct a short dramatic monologue.
Related Standard & Benchmarks:
Language Arts
 Standard 5.Uses the general skills and strategies of the reading process
   Level IV [Grade 9-12]
   Benchmark 4. Understands writing techniques used to influence the reader and accomplish an author’s purpose (e.g., organizational patterns, figures of speech, tone, literary and technical language, formal and informal language, narrative perspective, rhetoric, refinement of key terms)
Language Arts
 Standard 2.Uses the stylistic and rhetorical aspects of writing
   Level IV [Grade 9-12]
   Benchmark 7. Conveys individual voice, tone, and point of view in writing.
Student Product:Dramatic monologues
Material & Resources:This activity asks students to read an excerpt from Studs Terkel’s Working. This selection has been provided at the end of the activity description.
Teacher's Note:No supplementary notes for this activity.
In class, have students read aloud the selection from Studs Terkel’s Working (included at the end of this activity).  Explain that the selection is based upon an interview that Terkel conducted with a boy named Terry Pickens.  Then ask students to answer the following questions:

1. How old do you think Terry is?  What does he look like?  What is his personality like?  What kind of relationships does he have with people?  How do we know?
2. What kind of work does Terry do?  What are his feelings about his job?  How do we know this?

Explain that writers use language, organization, tone, and context to convey viewpoint.  How does Studs Terkel convey the context of this piece?  How does he use language to help readers understand Terry’s point of view?

Divide students into groups of two.  Ask each group to write a short dramatic monologue (10-15 sentences in length) from the viewpoint of one of the following people:

1. A grandmother remembering when she was young
2. A judge sentencing a juvenile shoplifter to community service
3. A ten year-old girl complaining about her baby brother
4. A teenager applying for a job at the local mall
5. A salesperson trying to sell a car

Tell students that their dramatic monologues must use context and language to convey the viewpoint of the person that they are writing about.  Have students read finished monologues aloud to the class.

From Working
Studs Terkel

Terry Pickens

I’ve been having trouble collecting.  I had one woman hid from me once.  I had another woman tell her kid to tell me she wasn’t home.  He says, "Mom, newsboy."  She says (whispers), "Tell him I’m not home."  I could hear it from the door.  I came back in half an hour and she paid me.  She’s not a deadbeat.  They’ll pay you if you get ’em.  Sometimes you have to wait . . .

If I don’t catch ’em at home, I get pretty mad.  That means I gotta come back and come back and come back until I catch ’em.  Go around about nine o’clock at night and seven o’clock in the morning.  This one guy owed me four dollars.  He got real mad at me for comin’ around at ten o’clock.  Why’d I come around so late?  He probably was mad ’cause I caught him home.  But he paid me.  I don’t care whether he gets mad at me, just so I get paid.

I like to have money.  It’s nice to have money once in a while instead of being flat broke all the time.  Most of my friends are usually flat broke.  I spent $150 this summer.  On nothing - candy, cokes, games of pool, games of pinball.  We went to McDonald’s a couple of times.  I just bought anything I wanted.  I wonder where the money went.  I have nothing to show for it.  I’m like a gambler, the more I have, the more I want to spend.  That’s just the way I am.

It’s supposed to be such a great deal.  The guy, when he came over and asked me if I wanted a route, he made it sound so great.  Seven dollars a week for hardly any work at all.  And then you find out the guy told you a bunch of bull.  You mistrust people.  Your mistrust your customers because they don’t pay you sometimes.

Then you get mad at the people at the printing corporation.  You’re supposed to get fifty-seven papers.  They’ll send me forty-seven or else they’ll send me sixty-seven.  Sunday mornings they get mixed up.  Cliff’ll have ten or eleven extras and I’ll be ten or eleven short.  That happens all the time.  The printers, I don’t think they care.  They make all these stupid mistakes at least once a week.  I think they’re half-asleep or something.  I do my job, I don’t see why they can’t do theirs.  I don’t like my job any more than they do.

Sunday morning at three - that’s when I get up.  I stay up later so I’m tired.  But the dark doesn’t bother me.  I run into things sometimes, though.  Somebody’s dog’ll come out and about give you a heart attack.  There’s this one woman, she had two big German shepherds, great big old things, like three or four feet tall.  One of ’em won’t bite you.  He’ll just run up, charging, bark at you, and then he’ll go away.  The other one, I didn’t know she had another one - when it bit me.  This dog came around the bush.  (Imitates barking.)  When I turned around, he was at me.  He bit me right there (indicates scar on leg).  It was bleeding a little.  I gave him a real dirty look.

He ran over to the other neighbor’s lawn and tried to keep me from gettin’ in there.  I walked up and delivered the paper.  I was about ready to beat the thing’s head in or kill it.  Or something with it.  I was so mad.  I called up that woman and she said the dog had all its shots and "I don’t believe he bit you."  I said, "Lady, he bit me."  Her daughter started giving me the third degree.  "What color was the dog?"  "How big was it?"  "Are you sure it was our yard and our dog?"  Then they saw the dogs weren’t in the pen.

First they told me they didn’t think I needed any shots.  Then they said they’d pay for the doctor.  I never went to the doctor.  I wasn’t bleeding a whole lot.  But I told her if I ever see that dog again, she’s gonna have to get her papers from somebody else.  Now they keep the dog penned up and it barks at me and everything.  And I give it a dirty look.