As they finish up their literacy autobiographies (the last essay of the semester!), I really wanted them to see a practical example of an essay that uses dialogue to illustrate a point, so on a whim, I ditched the comma lesson planned for today and wanted to have them focus on some elements of good memoir writing, so I told them to get our their McGraw Hill Guide and read over Tanya Barrientos' "Se Habla Español" essay. The one weak link in this plan is we typically don't do a lot with this book, so only two students brought it to class (cue really super sad bwa-bwa-bwaa music). My backup plan was to read the essay aloud and then discuss it together.
I don't know if it's simply because they had to look at the screen and/or listen to my reading of it in order to keep up (since they didn't have books) or if Barrientos' writing is just really good (I happen to think so), but they all seemed very engaged. I heard some students speak up about the essay during class who usually don't, and they were making clear, specific connections to the reading. It was one of those times when you see a really old school method like "read and talk" really work.
Anyway, here's hoping Barrientos' style inspires them to include some vivid dialogue in their essays!