ABC For Learning

I have been thinking for the last few days (sad, I know, during vacation time) about how I want to conclude the first semester with my Sophomores. We will be reading The Princess Bride during the final two weeks of the semester before finals begin, so I wanted one more writing assignment to finish off the first half of the class.

Now, I have decided. We will compose an ABC paper. “What is an ABC paper?” you may ask. Well, it is a 26 sentence paper with each sentence beginning with a different letter of the alphabet. The first sentence begins with the letter ‘A’ and the second sentence begins with the letter ‘B’ and the third begins with a ‘C’ and so on. Since we will be reading a parody of the fairy tale story, I think I’ll have the students retell a fairy tale of their choosing.

But, there’s a catch. The 26 sentences have to be perfect! That’s right: no grammar errors, no punctuation errors, no misspellings, no word usage errors, etc. The paper will be worth 100 points or zero points. In a sense this will be the final exam for writing in the class (and the rest of the final will be the vocabulary, literary terms, and the rest of the course content), and I’ll allow the students to rewrite as many times as they want until the day before the final.

I will split my final two weeks of classes into two parts: the first half will be for discussing The Princess Bride, and the second half will be writing and editing time for the ABC paper. I will help students as well without telling the students answers. When I help edit the students’ papers, I will simply put a check beside the lines where I see an error, and the kids have to figure out the error and make the necessary corrections. I will mark the first three errors I see and then hand the paper back to the student, so he/she can make the corrections and ensure the errors do not repeat. I think this will be a good practice for the students, and this group is extremely driven to locate every error, essentially making everything perfect. Here’s the opportunity for perfection.

What I like about the ABC paper is that the students have to become creative. Varying sentence structures must be used, new words are learned, past vocabulary words are used, the writing is entertaining, and the students can’t just shrug off simple errors for the loss of a few points. I think they’ll appreciate the challenge and rise to it.

5 thoughts on “ABC For Learning

  1. drpezz Post author

    Borrow away, Ms. Teacher!

    Mister Teacher, my students are often very surprised how snarky the book is when compared with the sweetness of the film. I love this part of teaching the novel. The first activity I do with the kids is I break the kids into two groups, one on each white board, and have one group write down everything they know about the author (Goldman) while the other group writes down everything they know about Morgenstern. After they finish, I cross out everything that isn’t true; usually only one or two items remain, and I have to guide the students to Goldman’s purpose with the introduction. It’s great!

  2. Little Swallow

    “I have been thinking for the last few days (sad, I know, during vacation time)…”

    Vacation time and days off are when I have my best ideas, so by all means, think away!

    Neat idea, too! Varying sentence beginnings is tough, I remember having this problem a lot myself when in high school, and this sounds like a fun way to work at it.

  3. Pingback: Upcoming in January « The Doc Is In

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