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Ain't This Write?

Conducting the Activity

Take what follows as a suggestion.  Feel free to modify it in any way you think appropriate given the group with which you work.

  1. Ask students who have seen or played a game called "What's wrong with this picture?" to raise their hands.
  2. For those who are unfamiliar with it, you can explain that it involves looking at a picture that at first glance appears unremarkable.  However, on closer examination, one finds things that make no sense or that communicate interesting thoughts.  The game is to find these "hidden" items, and to ferret out the meaning of the picture and its contents.
  3. Go on to say that you are going to play a slightly different game: What is wrong with this sentence?  The object is to figure out what the author of the sentence intended, and what needs to be done to it to clarify and transmit that meaning.
  4. Explain that the sentence you are about to put on the board is purportedly from a letter to a welfare office.  After doing so, write the following:
        In accordance with your instructions, I have given birth to twins in the enclosed envelope.
  5. Lead a discussion where your students attempt to "right" the sentence.
  6. Distribute and review copies of the student assignment.
  7. Depending on available time, you can have your students work on the assignment in class or afterwards as an out of class assignment.
  8. After they have finished it, discuss
  1. As a followup, you might want to consider

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original web posting: Thursday, September 10, 1998
last modified: Sunday, November 21, 2004