This Ontario Extend activity states: Create an introductory activity connected to your discipline to get to know your learners. Can you think of some fun and interesting questions for your discipline?

Even as an English teacher, who studied English literature for undergrad, I find it challenging to find fun and engaging activities to get students at the college level interested in English class. I never felt this challenge when I was teaching high school students, though! Perhaps because at the college level I’m not teaching them literature – just reviewing grammar, writing basics and communication fundamentals. So, I began looking online for something fun to help build community in my classroom while introducing my discipline to the students.

I found an activity that includes ‘modernist poetry’ on The Write Practice’s site. Here is how I’d implement it in my class:

  1. First, students get out a blank page and put their name at the top.
  2. Next, the student writes the first word that comes to mind on the first line.
  3. Then, the student will pass their paper one person to the right and that student will write another word.
  4. Then, that student will pass the paper again to the right and the new student will write another random word on the next line. This will continue as many times as needed.
  5. Finally, the students will PLAY with the words to create a modernist poem (gibberish).
    • When doing this part of the exercise, write with the sounds of words in mind, not their meaning. Make up new words. Pay attention to the sounds of words. Try to come up with the most random noun you can. Then, put it next to a list of five verbs. DON’T use punctuation.

Example from The Write Practice:

“Boom story
Simple reason hides
the only response to holiness tears
and I’ll love you I’ll love you
Asparagus dream tell me I’m happy6
Bromate the worn door
Catalyst of evergreen
I’ll sing it all dusk
Thiery weeps
Allspice leaves
Kroner folder brning
Someday I’ll participate in
wishful thinking”

I think this will be a fun activity for students to do in the first class. It is a way to explain to students that words are used for expression, even gibberish. As an extension, I could have them listen to the poem ‘Jabberwocky’ which is a famous gibberish poem. This exercise wouldn’t be to sell them on the importance of English but to get them writing and thinking.

brown rabbit
Photo by Pixabay on

If anyone has another great idea, I’m all ears!!

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