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An experimental approach to writing

Two writing exercises
  [vote for,

Exercise 1: The class divides into 2-person teams, A and B. Each student A looks at an unfamiliar object and writes a description of it. (All the A’s look at the same object.) The description is then passed to student B, who has not seen the object. Student B draws a picture based entirely on the description. The entire class then compares all the drawings to one another and to the original object, and votes to determine the most accurate drawing. The team producing the best drawing wins a prize. The class then compares the descriptions and analyzes why some descriptions were more successful than others.

Exercise 2: The class divides into 3-person teams. Student A looks at an object and writes a description. Student B reads the description and makes a drawing. Students A and B then view the object and the drawing and consult together to discuss how the description could be improved. They collaborate to produce a revised description. The revised description is then passed to student C, who makes a new drawing. Then the class analyzes the drawings and descriptions as in Exercise 1.

In these exercises, the teacher serves only as a moderator or facilitator of the process and not as an arbiter of what constitutes good writing. The students are encouraged to develop their own criteria, independent of the judgment of the teacher. They also develop an appreciation of the value of teamwork and revision.

Jim Bob of Merriam Park, Feb 23 2010


       I've done a very similar task in a interpersonal communication course. One person looks at a picture which they describe to another person who then draws it. The exercise is repeated where the describer and drawer can: a) ask questions; and b) use body language as well as verbal language.   

       Also, this is common method of teaching people how to 'construe' the claims of a patent.
xaviergisz, Feb 23 2010

       I've done this before. It actually might not lead to better descriptive writing and just encourage Twitter-style descriptions (ex. "Two inches high. Grey.") Also, good writing doesn't always have to describe objects in complete detail. A lot can be left to the reader's imagination. Finally, a drawing would only acknowledge a visual description, ignoring the other four applicable senses. []
DrWorm, Feb 23 2010

       Might work with instructions, as well as descriptions. I recall a robotics exercise: to give instructions which made absolutely no reference to any goal. The other party followed instructions blindly, and it was amazingly (for us, then) hard to get the task performed correctly.
mouseposture, Feb 23 2010

       I'm a copywriter in an ad agency and I'm going to try this out with the creative teams. I'll let you know how it goes.   

       In the scenario with the 3rd person, they would be the client, which is an unfortunate reality in our business.
marklar, Feb 23 2010

       Do you happen to be in the AFROTC?
DIYMatt, Feb 23 2010


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