Writing Diary Entries and Speeches

This lesson is devised by Rachel Sneyd. Rachel is currently completing an undergraduate degree in History and Politics at Trinity College Dublin. She is a keen writer and has just submitted her first teen-fiction novel for publication. This lesson is one of two parts that Rachel won the recent Homework Club innovative teaching competition with.

You need a video clip of  Martin Luther King\’s \”I have a dream\” speech, a video clip of a politician making a speech (I usually use the beginning of Obama\’s election night speech but any clip will work), an extract from “Bridget Jones\’ Diary” by Helen Fielding, an extract from “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank.

This class is an interesting and interactive way to introduce diary and speech writing, both of which come up regularly on the Junior and Leaving Cert. It is also good for showing the difference between formal and informal writing (it doesn’t get much more informal than Bridget Jones!)

Have the class read the Anne Frank extract. Ask if anyone knows where it comes from and the story behind it. Briefly explain the background. This is an extremely poignant extract and shows the value that the diary format can have. It can be about much more than just listing what you ate for breakfast. Note how she addresses the diary as if to a friend “Dear Kitty” which used to be a popular way to start a diary.

Next have them read the Bridget Jones extract. Again ask if they know where it comes from. This extract is a bit of fun and is a perfect example of both informal writing and creating a character. (cigarettes smoked, calories eaten etc-this creates a distinctive character) Ask what do we learn about Bridget? What kind of person is she? Do you like her? Is it OK to create a flawed character?
Have the class practice writing a diary entry. Remind them to keep it informal and not to forget to put the date on the top!
Show the class the MLK speech. Talk with them about the background. See if they can identify what makes it such a great speech, eg. repitition, imagery, a strong hook.
Now show them the politician’s speech. Get them to identify the audience for the speech, the purpose of the speech and any good speech making tricks the politician is using. These can be as simple as making jokes and pausing for effect. Talk with them about tone and the different way you would write a speech as a politician addressing the country (Ladies, gentlemen, people of Ireland thank you for listening to me today) and as a student speaking to an ssembley (Hello everyone, thank you for listening! I promise to be quick so we can all go for lunch early!).

Have them practice writing a speech. Remind them about formal writing and tone. Remind them about talking to their audience!

Results: They should be interested in both forms of writing and have a basic handle on them. They should be able to identify the difference between formal and informal writing.

Note from Naoisé: The reason I like this lesson is that it allows us to develop and engage students in writing with the use of multi-media. The days of the class room just revolving around books are long gone. At The Homework Club ww use YouTube and other internet sources across all the subject areas. Writing just became practical, visual and real for all the students. This is important to make everyone interested but vital to be inclusive for students with learning difficulties.