This exercise was
Identify/Generate the principle
Time: 10-15 minutes
I've found this activity to be a simple and effective way to (re)engage students, usually on the day when 'topic strings' have been introduced.
After having introduced focused, chained and mixed topic strings,
and identified them in some examples, I state first that we are
going to write a story with a focused topic string. Picking a student
at random I ask him/her for a first sentence in a story. The next
student must continue the story, preserving the same TOPIC, to
create a FOCUSED TOPIC STRING. As we go I write each sentence on
the board. This proves relatively straightforward.
After five or six sentences, I then repeat the process for a CHAINED
topic string (I sometimes preserve the first sentence of the original
or start completely from scratch). This often produces some odd
results. But by writing the sentences on the board the students
have an opportunity to see where they may have backed themselves
into a corner.
Finally, if there is time, I allow the students to create their
own story using a MIXED topic string. The student first tells me
what the relation
between their sentence and the preceding one is going to be
(FOCUSED or CHAINED), and then gives the sentence.
The activity is simple enough that circulating around the room and making
every student contribute a sentence is a low-anxiety experience.
activity also manages to re-engage students who, by the end
of a class introducing TOPIC STRINGS, may be drifting off a bit.