Sentence Imitations for Structure

Today in Composition, we spent some time on one last-minute edit of the first project before it was turned in, and I was interested to note how many typos, dropped and misspelled words were corrected! Hopefully, this kind of attention to detail will improve in later projects; to help ensure that happens, I’ve asked students to keep my commented versions of their essays to turn in with the next project. A new strategy, this “continual portfolio” idea may become a centerpiece in later classes, as it can be useful to ensure that 1.) my hours of commenting don’t go to waste!, and 2.) students can use their past essays as indices of their improvement.

Then, we spent almost the rest of the class on an imitation exercise, using sentences I excerpted from the day’s reading. It took a while, but I think the exercise did what it was supposed to do–encourage students to see the value of acheiving an expertise with the English language. Or, as someone has recently said, in achieving the ability to “make sweet, sweet love to the English language.”

In the last 15 minutes, we went back to the content of the sentences and brainstormed how we could use Miller’s statements about technology and its impact on American culture in the 1920s as lenses on One Week. This portion of class was devoted to setting up the next project, in which students will be writing an analytical essay about a 1920s film that articulates a central theme relevant to the time period. Next class, we’ll do more work with this idea–tying historical context as described in secondary and primary sources to creative analysis of our own. This class is turning out to be a bit of an experiment, but so far I really think it’s working! I wish I could read my students’ minds….

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