I handed out an index card for everyone in the class. I had them answer the following questions:
- Who is an author you admire?
- What characteristics of that author's writing do you admire?
- If you can, write a quote from that author you find particularly fascinating.
I then had them put those cards away, as I proceeded with the discussion. When the time came, I pulled up this picture:
The students then had to re-write the bear sign, in the voice of their admired author. I then had a few students share their re-writes: I wish I had written them down. I remember Caleb had a Hemingway re-write that was particularly effective.
To add nuance to Elbow's experiment, I asked the students to pass their notecards two students to the left. They then had three minutes to perform another re-write, this time channeling this new author. Unfortunately, we only had time for one student to share. Luckily, it was Brian's re-working of the bear sign in McCarthy's voice.
Update: Sometimes, fate smiles down on those who post late. Last week, McSweeny's posted several re-writes of Walter White's "I'm the one who knocks" speech. Each re-write is from a famous author. I hope you enjoy the Jane Austen version. If you want, present your own re-write of Walt's speech in the comments.
Elbow, Peter. "A Method for Teaching Writing." College English 30.2 (1968): 115-25. PDF file.