Instructions: Tell students that you are going to do a fun writing activity that reviews the typical steps of an introduction and gets students to consider what separates strong from poor academic writing.
Purpose: To introduce the concept of parallelism.
Preparation: Print out two sets of the sentences below, cutting one up and leaving the other whole as a guide to the sets of sentences.
Activity: Introduce the concept of parallelism by writing on the board: “I like karate, to play tennis, going skiing.” Ask students to discuss what is wrong with the sentence and to find three ways to fix it. (I like karate, tennis, and skiing. / I like to do karate, play tennis, and go skiing. / I like doing karate, playing tennis, and going skiing.) Elicit the concept of parallelism.
The subject of the sentence is what it is all about. Or at least it should be. Should be? How could it be otherwise? Well, “subject” can mean two things: the topic of the sentence and the grammatical subject placed before the verb. The topic, what the sentence is really about, might be buried deep in a sentence beginning with an expletive, an empty subject, as in, “There are three principal reasons that college freshmen can‘t write effective essays.” If we put the topic, “college freshmen,” at the beginning of the sentence to function as the grammatical subject–“College freshmen can’t write effective essays for three principal reasons”–we get a shorter, clearer, more dynamic sentence. Also, sentence built on a storng foundation tend to be more logical, more grammatical correct, and less redundant. Ideally then, the topic and the grammatical subject should be one and the same, as suggested by the double meaning of the word “subject.” With this goal in mind, Michelle Okafo and I created an activity which demonstrates to students the importance and power of sentence focus.
Purpose: To get students to think about logical relationships of connecting words.
Preparation: Print out two sets of the sentences below, cutting one up and leaving the other whole as a guide to the sets of sentences. To make them more durable, you could paste them onto index cards cut in half. Find a chart that shows logical relationships of the three types of connecting words that students can refer to during the activity.
Activity: In class, explain that you have sentences that are cut in half and that students will have to find matches. Show one pair that does not work, then another that you have set aside beforehand that does work. Pass the cards out, then have students look for pairs. You will have to end the activity before all pairs are found.