Mood and Tone

Class began the usual way. Students from first/second block took their quiz, and then the WA was for students to write down their vocabulary words for the week.

Foresight – noun – the ability to imagine what is likely to happen in the future

Materialize – verb – to appear out of nowhere

Pertinent – adjective – related to the matter at hand; relevant

Ambiguous – adjective – unclear; open to having more than one meaning; vague

Before we dove into Notebook Thinking, students had a chance to talk about the things they saw showing up again and again during their reading of “Duffy’s Jacket.” Students mentioned things like the scratching, strange noises in general, the idea of loneliness, adults not taking a threat seriously, darkness, etc. All of these were excellent things to mention, and each element adds to the creepy atmosphere in the writing.

After this discussion, I read the ending of “Duffy’s Jacket” to the students. Every year, some students really like the ending, and some students really hate it, so for the writing prompt today, I invited students to rewrite the ending of “Duffy’s Jacket.”

On Friday, students received the A Terrifying Scene assignment and had time to look through it/begin brainstorming, but today they had a chance to ask me questions about it.

A Terrifying Scene UPDATE

Next, students watched two different trailers for the movie The Shining – one was the original and was was a trailer “remix.” The original trailer, of course, has a really creepy feel to it but the remixed trailer is presented as more of a fun, family adventure. Students discussed how the use of different images, music, narrators, etc. made the feeling completely different.

And just like directors can completely change the feeling of a movie by changing these things, authors change the mood of their writing by choosing different words. Students wrote down the following definitions into their notes.

  • Mood: the atmosphere of a literary piece; the feelings and emotions evoked in the reader
  • Tone: the attitude the author has toward his/her subject (informational writing)

Next, they received the handout below.

Mood and Tone Words

I shared with them this example from Boy’s Life, and they talked with their groups about what the mood of the example is and what specific words helped create that mood.

He never ate. Never drank a drop. He stayed in his pen because he could barely walk on his withered leg. I could count his ribs, and through his papery skin you could see their broken edges. When I got home from school in the afternoons, he would look at me, and his tail would wag a few times. I would pet him – though I have to be honest here and say that the feel of his flesh made my skin crawl – then he would stare off into space, and I would be as good as alone until he came back, however long that might be. My buddies said he was sick, that I ought to have him put to sleep. I asked them if they’d like to be put to sleep when they got sick, and that shut them up.

I explained how words like withered, papery, flesh, broken, etc. stood out to me as words that really helped make the passage fee depressing and dark.

In the next few days and when they are writing their own pieces, students will need to pay particular attention to word choice and how it creates atmosphere.

Class ended with students being able to get started on their homework that isn’t due until WEDNESDAY. CLICK HERE FOR THE LINK TO YOUR HOMEWORK.


  1. Read for 25 minutes.
  2. Complete notes for WEDNESDAY by going to this link.