A while back I wanted my students to write more, but I knew I didn’t have the time to assess more. So, like Miniver Cheevy, I “thought, and thought, and thought/ and thought about it…scratched [my] head and kept on thinking…/coughed, and called it fate,/ And kept on drinking.” Ok, not really, but that’s a great poem for allusions and the differences between Romanticism and Realism.
Anyway, I came up with a simple idea: each day in class the students compose a 1-2 paragraph mini-essay after choosing a prompt from a list I created based on what we are reading at the time. We do this for six days, numbering each essay one through six, and then on the seventh day I roll a die to determine which essay I collect. The students have 20 minutes in class to write, and then they are responsible for finalizing each draft that night or on the weekend.
Students who are absent the day I collect the work receive the same treatment; when they walk in the room, I roll the die and the result may not be the same as the rest of the class. That’s just the way chance works is what I tell the students when explaining the process.
The writings (on which the six essays are based) that the students are in the midst of composing are the following:
- “I’m A Fool” by Sherwood Anderson,
- “Soldier’s Home” by Ernest Hemingway,
- “Bernice Bobs Her Hair” by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 1, by F. Scott Fitzgerald,
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 2, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, and
- The Great Gatsby, Chapter 3, by F. Scott Fitzgerald.
P.S. As an introduction to the period, I once again assigned the research displays I blogged about last year.