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Primingthepump Exercise

Posted by JEAN TOYAMA
Monday, March 02, 2015 9:15 PM


It's hard to write cold. It's unrealistic to have students write, after you say WRITE!

Here are a few short exercises that I think can help. Go to "Teachers' Corner" of "Renshi Poetry". Look on the right side and find "Documents"and down load this. In "Documents" it's called "Short exercises to get the writing started":

PRIMING THE PUMP EXERCISE

Explain to students that this is NO PRESSURE writing, no correction of spelling, grammar etc. Two rules: be anonymous and don't stop writing even if you write, "I can't write, I can't write etc.

Examples of prompts which are concrete enough so students can write something, then imagine further:

1. What makes YOU laugh? What sound makes YOU laugh? What COLOR makes YOU cry? Why?
2. What makes YOU happy? What TASTE makes YOU happy? Why?
3. What is the happiest room in the house? Why?

Making comparisons also helps prime the pump:

1. School is like . . .
2. Home is like . . .
3. My life is like . . .
4. My neck is like . . .
5. My hand is like a . . . It can .. .

Another suggestion:

Tell students to think about something (the teacher should be specific, maybe something that happened in class) and to help the reader see what happened, hear what happened, smell what happened, taste what happened.

Tell the students they can lie but they have to make it believable.

COLLECT PAPERS, MIX THEM UP so the students can remain anonymous.

Glance at the papers and choose a line from each.

While you read OUT LOUD each contribution, comment: "Oh, so interesting," "I like this image", "This hurts." "What a laugh!" etc. ENGAGE the students, make them curious, excite them.

From among that you read out loud choose one and say, "Okay, start all your poems with this line. See where you can take it."

That day or later, discuss the poems with the students, not only the mechanics (spelling, grammar, etc.) but also the images, the metaphors, the similes, etc.

Most importantly discuss the ideas and relate them to life, to being human. This is easy if the poem has a strong emotion or relates a situation, an injustice, a hope. Whatever students write can lead to some contemplation about life. After all, they are writing from their experience.

Have fun and good luck.

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