Today was an action-packed class, with lots of engagement from my students. We were learning about brainstorming with candy and about the speaking and listening process. It was a perfect way to spend a full moon Friday the 13th together!
The class had two distinct sections today, starting with our first Speaking Workshop. On Monday, I assigned several articles and poems for the students to read, all of which revolved around the question: should you follow your passion or not? They had all week to read them and were instructed to come to class with notes and quotes that they could use as reference during their small group discussions.
Before the discussion began, I asked the students to write a reflection on what they thought about the topic. After, they added to their response, using some of the ideas that were brought up by their classmates. Then, after they had time to write, I told them to re-read it and underline and revise any tired words and weak words – something they worked on yesterday.
I like to begin with small group discussions at the beginning of the year, so students who are timid about speaking their ideas can build their speaking skills in a less intimidating situation. And today, the first day of our workshop, we just focused on them discussing the ideas. Next week we will start practicing specific skills like eye contact.
(You can read more about how I run speaking workshop here).
After their discussion, we switched over to one of my favourite writing activities. We review the rules of brainstorming and then I group students and tell them to pick a recorder. Then I hand out a sour key to each student and tell them not to touch it (I put a napkin on one of their desks and place the candies on it).
Next, I tell them that the exercise has three parts and they have to pay attention to my instructions.
To sweeten the task, literarily, I tell them that one group will get the rest of the candy. And then we begin. First, they brainstorm what the candy looks like. I encourage them to be as descriptive as possible. After about ninety seconds, I tell them they can pick the key up and feel it. They brainstorm words and phrases to describe how it feels in their hands, and then, finally, they can put it in their mouth. At this point I tell them to describe not only how it tastes, but how it feels in their mouths.
Once this process is over, I instruct them to work together to create a descriptive paragraph that captures the essence of the candy – but then I add in a twist. Each group gets one of these perspective cards, and they need to write their paragraph from the point of view of the person on the card (you can grab them here).
As you can guess, because there is a pile of candy at stake, the competition was fierce! They wrote for about five-ten minutes and then each group read their description to the class – and each group guessed what was on their card. Finally, they voted for their favourite, and the victor was crowned.
I said earlier that it’s a favourite assignment. Why is that? Well, first of all, it’s fun and it gets the kids to engage in the process of descriptive writing. It also teaches them about the power of brainstorming – when we finish, I always ask them if I had help up the candy and asked you to describe it, would you have gotten as much information as you did during the brainstorming process? Of course, they say that they would not. At this point, I push the importance of the pre-writing process, one that we will use time and again throughout the semester.
Next week, we’ll be taking a closer look at the literary elements of setting and point of view – and getting closer to writing a personal narrative.
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~ Would you like to read about my other lessons this week? Click here for lesson one, here for lesson two, here for lesson three, and here for lesson four.