Topic and Stress
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 15 minutes
Distribute the worksheet below. Ask students to fill it out (alone
or with a partner). Then tally the class' results (this works much
better than calling on individual students; the majority of the
class is likely to get the question right, but you take your chances
with individual students).
Go through the first three pairs, then ask if students are noticing
a pattern: they put more stock in the information that comes at
the end of a sentence. Then do the final two pairs. The fifth is
probably the most applicable to student writing: the focus of the
paper should come at the end of the sentence.
Scroll down for the worksheet and answer key.
Which sentence would you rather hear to describe your new roommate?
a. He's rather strange, but people like him.
b. People like him, but he's rather strange.
2. Which sentence would you rather hear from your boss?
a. You deserve a raise, but times are hard.
b. Times are hard, but you deserve a raise.
3. Which sentence is more likely to sell you lawn fertilizer?
a. Although the blades of grass will brown and die, the roots will
remain alive and capable of regenerating the plant when moisture
b. The roots will remain alive and capable of regenerating the
plant when moisture returns, although the blades of grass will
brown and die.
4. Which sentence is the more riveting start to a murder mystery?
a. When Max returned from the store, he found the body slumped
over the kitchen table.
b. Max found the body slumped over the kitchen table when he returned
from the store.
5. Which sentence is a more effective way to begin a paper about
Dr. Seuss' political cartoons?
a. Though Dr. Seuss' political cartoons are quite radical and not
very well known; most people are more familiar with his children's
b. Most people are familiar with Dr. Seuss' children's books; his
political cartoons, though, are quite radical and not very well