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M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 11:41 AM
 

As a reading prep professor,I teach a chapter called Author's Tone, so I was excited to see that we could try to use this discussion forum in connection with how we might actually use it in our own classes.

This week's chapter reading on Tone was especially interesting to me for this reason. However, I do keep in mind that my learners are in an entirely different category compared to the level we are working as they are college-prep students just beginning their college careers. In the end, though, the idea of understanding author's tone is the same. However, in my classes, the students are working from the point of view of the reader mostly, and our lesson on tone considers how to author text with tone that meets the need of the material. Still, there is a major connection here.

In my classes, the lesson is to understand how to identify the tone by language and vocabulary used in the reading passage(s). In our assigned reading for this course, it approaches it in mainly a manner where we are to be the authors of material used for teaching purposes.

Consider these excerpts from our chapter reading on tone, Chapter 6 – Tone: What Does Tone Have to do With It?: from Facilitating Online Learning by George Collison:

"....you're using a text-based medium where tone must be more consciously or deliberately built into one's writing."

"Some tones may fit particularly well with certain voices and critical thinking strategies."

You may also wish to see Chapter 5 – Voice : from Facilitating Online Learning by George Collison-- in this week’s readings to assist with understanding his ideas about voice and critical thinking strategies.

Please consider:

Discussion board etiquette (here) Quality, Timing and Value Added Response Tips (here)

Support and responses:

  • Use your own experiences and limited quotations from the reading or outside sources when responding.
  • Respond to at least three colleagues.

Please respond to the following:

1. What techniques do you use or might you use to remain aware of your tone as your prepare text-based content?

2. Secondly, can you offer an example of tone(s) that fit or do not fit for certain voices or critical thinking strategies based on your knowledge and/or experience?

 
Picture of Donna Evans
Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Donna Evans - Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 5:15 PM
 
Christin you have tossed out two excellent questions.  I'd like to respond to question one.  Tone is difficult to master even for seasoned professional writers. I would like to share that I am often unaware of my tone when I'm angry. I think I'm writing in a calm professional voice, but little subtle and subconscious angry word choices or phrases creep in. Now that I know that about myself, whenever I sense I'm angry, I wait at least half a day to calm down, write the email, and then take the most important step that has often saved me from myself: I give the email to my friend/colleague to proofread for tone.  She was kind enough to agree to help me with this and as a  former professional editor, she catches them all.  Sometimes we need detachment to find the correct tone.  What does the rest of Green Group think?  I can't wait to read your responses and see your questions.
Donna@MD
Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Tuesday, October 16, 2012, 6:32 PM
 
Hi Donna,
Thank you for your response.
I, too, try hard to wait if I know my mood is going to affect my tone, and it is not always easy. I think we could say that text-based communication deserves to be unaffected by personal mood in professional and academic arenas--unless it is with purpose and clear to users.

In addition, I think your idea about asking your friend to proofread was excellent. Another set of eyes new to the content is certainly helpful to identify tone most of the time. The fact that she is an editor is an added benefit because as instructors, not all may have English, writing, or reading as their primary discipline, which means that experience with writing/reading and paying attention to tone may vary.

Christin in FL
Picture of Monica McQuaid
Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Monica McQuaid - Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 10:18 PM
 
Donna-

It's a great idea to have someone proofread your email or note if you have a question on how it might come across to the recipient, That pair of fresh eyes can catch something that you might overlook. A teacher had me read her email yesterday that she was going to send to a parent. We were able to tweak a few lines before sending it out. I also like the idea of waiting half a day when you are angry. Practicing this principle can really keep you from making some bad mistakes.

Monica@GA
Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 12:00 PM
 

Hi Monica,

Thanks for your response.

The outside perspective is good for identifying tone. It is a great method to help. If you do not have someone to proof, how do you try to remain cognizant of your tone when communicating in text?

Christin

Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 2:46 PM
 
Sorry, Monica, I just noticed you offered another method you use: waiting before responding....if you have any others, please share those, too.
Christin in FL
:)
Picture of Monica McQuaid
Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Monica McQuaid - Friday, October 19, 2012, 9:04 PM
 
Christin-
Another thing I do is read the email out loud. Of course, I do this when I am alone! There is something about hearing the words out loud that causes you to double check how your message is coming across.
Monica@GA
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Re: Techniques for monitoring Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Sunday, October 21, 2012, 10:01 AM
 
Hi Monica,
Thanks for the extra method. Reading out loud is an excellent way to listen for tone, and it will probably find any other grammar issues, too. When I taught English and writing classes instead of reading, it was one of our go-to proofreading methods as part of the writing process in class.

Christin in Fl
Picture of Mark Wenta
Re: M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Mark Wenta - Wednesday, October 17, 2012, 8:24 PM
 

I agree strongly that tone is a difficult hurdle in written communication. As a high school teacher, I hate missing a day due to illness because even my most meticulously crafted notes are no substitute for my personal presentation. I use a lot of background narrative to flesh out ideas in person. When I attempt to transfer that to static notes, the effect is typicaly lost, and even simple concepts become more confusing.

I'm in agreement with Donna as to how to handle it: have someone proof it. Of course, this is not always a viable option, but I really have no alternative methods to address it. For me, even composing something and coming back much later to proof it myself does not always catch unintended tone issues. I'm kind of stuck on this one.

Mark from Chippewa Falls

Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Thursday, October 18, 2012, 11:58 AM
 

Hi Mark,

You are so right about how the personal touch of tone can never really truly be replicated in text. I totally get what you say about how your most meticulous notes cannot convey the tone you would in person.

Proofing is great to catch tones that may come through more clearly, such as sarcasm, anger, or rudeness...but not some of the more subtle tones that may be interpreted differently by people or some of the more difficult to use tones: humor, irony, etc.

I think just having the awareness of tone and what it is when communicating in text or presenting lessons in text is a good start to this one.

Christin

Thanks for your response.

Picture of Annie Mae Kingston
Re: M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Annie Mae Kingston - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 4:37 PM
 
Christin, In the past, I have too easily translated my tone into text. I discovered this by having a secretary proof my e-mails. I can sound really "snarky" if I am skeptical or upset with someone. Text can be interpreted in so many ways. What I think perfectly gets my point across may sound offensive to the reader. I have gotten around this by doing what other responders to you have described; waiting for a while before I respond; reading my response several times out loud; and editing closely what I have written.

An example of using two tones that conflict when responding to critical thinking strategies could be to use humor when someone is using reflection to describe a point. How awful it would be to be humorous when your student is seriously sharing reflections about their life that has transformed what they do with passion and emotion that is not funny.
Picture of Jef Halverson
Re: M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Jef Halverson - Saturday, October 20, 2012, 11:34 PM
 

I agree that if you are able to get a prespective from another of your writing that it is a great filter. The other person might better judge tone and understanding better than the one who constructed it.

Jef @ WI

Picture of Christin Hunter
Re: M3 Discussion Forum: Tone in Text
by Christin Hunter - Sunday, October 21, 2012, 9:59 AM
 
Hi Annie, you make some excellent points, especially about how easy it might be to misuse humor in this type of setting. It is definitely something that requires attention, so this has been a good discussion to help keep it in the forefront of my mind while thinking about developing tone for text based communication.

Christin in FL