Teaching the guidelines for each essay type can be one of the difficult aspects of a writing unit. You have to give the students the information so that they can construct the specific essay you are asking for. Over the years I have used creative assignments to help bridge the lecture information to what it takes to write for my students. Listed below is the essay type with one creative activity I use during the lesson.
Narrative Movie Assignment
The students will rethink their narrative essay as a movie. In doing so, they will produce a “movie” poster, either digitally or old school (crayons, markers). They will create a cool tagline for the movie based off of their thesis statement.
Students will also produce a mini sound track. Students will choose a song for each part of the essay: the introduction, body, and conclusion. The songs should match the tone the students want to have in their essay. The soundtrack will be typed on their poster, it will include song title and artist, plus indicate where the song will be played at during the movie.
Students are free to be creative regarding photo, art, title, and other aspects of the poster.
If the poster is done old school, hang it up in the classroom.
Suggested app to use: PicCollage or any other photo editing app.
This activity is done before or after the lecture covering the guidelines for a process essay.
Using just 1 and 2, I number off the students. Number one writes instructions on how to tie a shoe. The twos write instructions on how to fast dance. I then ask for volunteers to read their instructions to me as I try to follow just what they wrote. I make sure to wear tie shoes on this day. And yes, I play a song with a great beat to dance to… or at least move my arms around like I just don’t care… as instructed.
Compare / Contrast
I use this activity after the lecture over the compare contrast essay. I have the students fold a blank piece of paper in half (landscape or portrait). Then using that fold as an invisible line, they have to draw a full picture but with the two topics on each side of the line. For example, if the students want to write about two friends, their picture has half the face of one friend and the other side is the face of the other friend. The whole picture is a “single” face, but each friend has their features on a side. The rules are the same if the choose an activity like football and basketball. The picture has a court on one side and a field on the other. The fold is the line that separates the topics.
The pictures are kind of crazy, but students enjoy trying to mesh the two topics. It does make them focus on features of each topic.
Classification / Definition
Ode to My Best Friend
To highlight the aspect of defining a topic, I have the students write a sonnet to their best friend. OK, not quite on their own. The students use the site, Sonnet Generator. The site asks the user to add in information about the topic of the sonnet. By going through the process, the students have to think about what the characteristics of a best friend are to them. The sonnet that the site generates is just for fun, but the process helps emphasize what a definition essay is meant to highlight.
Using a regular piece of paper, students cut out a t-shirt. The t-shirt needs to have a slogan based on the students side of a persuasive topic. Students will also need to create a visual interpretation of the topic. The placement of the slogan and picture are up to the student. Students may add other components to the t-shirt, but the goal is to see the topic through the slogan and picture.
Students may also create the t-shirt with a digital design tool.
Share any cool activities you use in your classroom in the comment section.