School Improvement in Maryland

Using the State Curriculum: Reading/ELA, Grade 2

Reading/ELA | Informational | Literary | Writing | Language | Listening | Speaking

Lesson Seeds: The lesson seeds are ideas for the indicator/objective that can be used to build a lesson. Lesson seeds are not meant to be all-inclusive, nor are they substitutes for instruction.

Standard 2.0 Comprehension of Informational Text

Indicator 5. Identify and explain the author's use of language

Objective b. Recognize specific words and punctuation that create tone


Introduce the concept of tone by explaining to students that when an author writes about a topic he/she plans what would be the best way to tell the reader about it. Sometimes authors want to state things in a very formal tone. They present their information in a factual way. Other authors might write about the same topic using an informal tone. They present their information in a friendly, conversational way. When we read something that someone has written we can sometimes tell if they were angry or happy about what they are writing. Often writers write about things in a funny or humorous way. Explain that it is the author's choice of words about the topic and how he punctuates his sentences that helps us notice tone. For example, write the following statements on sentence strips:

I have to go to the doctor. (factual or neutral)

I have to go to the doctor! (excited)

I have to go to the doctor? (angry)

I dread going to the doctor! (resigned)

I love going to the doctor! (cheerful)

Read each sentence aloud using the tone of voice stated in parentheses. Discuss the attitude or tone that the author has about going to the doctor in each case. Discuss how the author's choice of words and punctuation helped us determine the tone. Prepare other sets of sentence strips with strong examples of sentences that represent these same tones. Have students read them aloud using the appropriate tone of voice and stating how the author feels about the subject. This activity could be done in small groups or centers for reinforcement.


Select several informational texts about a subject (big books, books, articles, on-line sources, etc.). Prepare large icons like the ones below and place them on a chalk board or easel. Discuss the terms formal and informal tone as explained in paragraph one. Read aloud two selections (one to fit each tone). After reading both selections place the selections under the correct tone and explain why you chose to categorize them in that way. Then pass out icons for each pair of students. Show an enlarged copy of a text and read at least a portion of the text. Have each pair hold up the icon that best shows the author's tone for this work. Continue with examples, gradually releasing responsibility to the student pairs. Place texts in a center for students to determine informal or formal tone. A list of possible texts about frogs is provided below the icons to get you started.

Source Tone
Red-legged Frog - Yahoo Kids
Frog - Yahoo Kids encyclopedia
Frog Fact Worksheet
Frogs and Toads and Tadpoles, Too by Allan Fowler Formal
DK - Watch Me Grow: Frog Informal
Why Frogs are Wet by Judy Hawes Formal
Red-Eyed Tree Frog by Joy Cowley Informal