Writing Lesson of the Month Network

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Title: "Neat People Vs. Sloppy People"
Author: Suzanne Britt

In this essay, Britt uses both lighthearted and satiric humor to show that the difference between neat and sloppy people is, at its core, a moral issue. She deftly defies the conventional belief that being neat is the more desireable of the two opposing traits; showing why sloppiness is the more humane way to behave.

Students could defend what they see as a common misunderstanding about two opposing traits, or misunderstanding about anything in general--some sort of public perception about music, a public figure, or even their own behavior. In this activity, they would learn about bias and the impact it can have on an audience, using detail and examples to illustrate ideas, and creating a theme that would control the idea of their essay.

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Replies to This Discussion

Maybe showing segments from the show, Clean House, would be helpful.
Suggest: I think you could use the poem "When the war is over" by W.S. Merwin to help show students how to take a bias and recreate it using a different perspective. The poem talks about the positive effects of war, which is something that is typically discussed negatively as a concept.

Extend: To further emphasize this idea of satiric humor (or even begin talking about it,) you could have students create an index of their lives. The poem "Index" by Paul Violi is a satire on the life of Sutej Hudney (a fictional artist who is a horrible artist.) In this poem, the index contains an outline of Sutej Hudney's life. Students could choose a person's life and emphasize his/her negative qualities by picking examples that create a bias or they could make an index for their own lives with emphasis on a specific quality.

Clarify: How would you guide students toward creating examples to illustrate their ideas?
I think that the activity that we did in class last week would be a great way to get students thinking about looking at something from various perspectives.
This is a great way to introduce opposing thoughts. In the upper grade levels, the students could have debates about issues that are important to them or lessons that they are learning in their classroom. The teacher could expand upon this to talk about the Revolutionary War.

The teacher could be very creative in the lower grades by having students look at a trait that they possess which others think are annoying. They could defend their behavior which would also build upon their persuasive skills.




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