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Pyramid Writing

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I'm sure others have done this, but I just "invented" it and liked the results. Students are to write 10 sentences on a given topic (we just finished spring break, so that was their topic.) The first sentence has two words, the next sentence has three words, etc. The ninth sentence has 10 words, and I let them write 11 or more for the 10th sentence. The shorter sentences were much harder! Depending on the class size, they then read their results to the group, or were required to share with three people before handing it in.

This took a rather dry assignment and turned it into a puzzle-like challenge. Another interesting result was the careful attention it encouraged them to pay to individual words. "Do articles count as words? Is 'doesn't' one word? 'A lot' is two words, right? So how can I say it as one word?" These are the kinds of questions that came up as they were writing. Some of their solutions were pretty entertaining!

For most classes I didn't grade the result; for the class I graded, I graded it on correct verbs, as that was what I had asked them to focus on. This worked equally well for middle and high school students.

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