Disclaimer: Lest you think I am this brilliant, I am not. I did not create the beagle assignment below. It is from DownWrite Funny: Using students' love of the ridiculous to teach serious writing skills by Randy Larson. In fact, I took a perfectly good lesson about a beagle and messed it up entirely.
Today I intended to briefly review purpose in writing with a short lesson. The assignment was...
"Pretend you are a beagle and you are writing an ad for the 'Date Me' page of the Beagle Bugle."
Say it a few times in your head. Do you see where this is going? Yes, I did. I stumbled mightily with the words beagle and bugle. I ended up telling the students that they were a bagel and they wanted to date a bugle and then that they were a beagle and they were advertising in a bagel.
This is the moment where it can all go down in flames in the wink of an eye (Am I mixing metaphors again? I do that.) So what does a caped teacher do when she has a loud mouth that messes it all up? She remembers not to take herself too seriously, takes a deep breath, gives a dazzling smile, and goes with it...
"Well, yes. I suppose it could just as easily be a bagel or a beagle. Or a bugle--the snack food kind of bugle I think. That would be good. How about we write an ad for a bagel? What would a bagel look for in a date?"
Surprisingly little silence ensued, and the ideas began to flow:
"It would be toasted."
"You could have cream cheese with it."
"Or peanut butter."
"I don't like bagels."
"It would probably be willing to date a danish."
"Or an apple turnover."
"If it is a blueberry bagel, it might like the cinnamon raisin bagel."
I encouraged, cringed, and added some of my own ideas.
Then they set to work creating their own ads. In the end, they all chose to write ads for the beagle (not the bagel or the bugle).
The message? Oddly, I choose to point out that they thought a bagel would date a danish or an apple turnover. What a great idea! I love that they were not only open to the shift in the plan and the shift in reality, but they made sure the bagel was an accepting bagel who would date all sorts of breakfast pastries. Now THAT's a win.