Out of Sequence: Organization and Transition Exercise

Purpose: This activity challenges students to order paragraphs logically and create smooth transition sentences, teaching them to effectively organize their ideas and effectively transition from one idea to the next.

Description: This exercise asks students to reorder paragraphs and construct transitions using the essay “Tied Together by Haunting” by Teri Bruno, which can be found in Our Own Words: A Students Guide to First Year Composition.

Suggested Time: 30 minutes


  1. Provide each student with a copy of Bruno’s essay out of sequence (copied below). In a computer classroom, this may be done digitally.
  2. Instruct the students to a) read the essay, b) evaluate its overall organization and renumber its paragraphs accordingly, and c) support this re-organization by writing transitional sentences. Tell students to continue one paragraph where another ends, highlighting key ideas, phrases and words from the previous paragraph in order to create a logical progression. Note: Obviously the introduction paragraph (once it has been identified) will not need a transition.
  3. Give the students ample time to complete the exercise. Walk around and answer questions if necessary.
  4. After students have finished, have them volunteer to share their results with the class via projector or doc cam. Compare/contrast results with original out-of-sequence essay. Discuss what changes were made and why.

“Tied Together by Haunting” by Teri Bruno

Paragraph 1, but should be Paragraph ___

While first person perspective is very common in stories because it allows the author to step into the role of one character and give the readers intimate details, the point of view in “Lucky Chow Fun” is essential to lead the readers into the mind and thoughts of the main character, a round and unattractive teenage girl named Lollie. The readers can see the small town of Templeton through Lollie's eyes, and this especially important when the town is hit by a huge event, the discovery that the local restaurant called Lucky Chow Fun was a secretive whorehouse. When Lollie was in the parking lot of the restaurant one night before the event, she almost knocked into one of the many Chinese girls who worked there, simply mumbling and stepping away, not really looking at the girl she had almost trampled because “nobody in Templeton cared to figure out who the girls were” (8). Yet Lollie vividly describes the girls, saying the girls were like “ghosts in white uniforms chopping things, frying things, talking quietly to one another” (9). When she hears on the news the next day that one of the girls died, and this lead to the discovery of the whorehouse, Lollie is shocked and we see the impact that the tragedy has not only on her, but on the town. Her mother’s boyfriend had apparently been one of the names on the list to visit Lucky Chow Fun, and numbers of wives discovered their husbands’ unfaithfulness, leading to a scandal in the town and casting the Chinese girls as the enemies. Though Lollie admits that she forgot about the poor Lucky Chow Fun girls, years later she dreams about “the seven ghosts” and imagines the terrible events that they had to endure. It is important that Groff uses Lollie’s perspective in this story, the perspective of a girl the same age as the girls who were discovered to have been taken from their homes in China and placed into a whorehouse. In this way, the first person perspective serves to take the readers on the journey of a coming-of-age event that greatly impacts Lollie.

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Although second person narration is rare, it is absolutely vital to the story called “Watershed.” Often times, authors may limit their use of this point of view because it is an intimate perspective in which the story tells the reader what to think and feel. Yet this is Groff’s goal in this particular story. Celie, the narrator, recounts the details of her marriage to a specified “you,” who readers discover is her husband. With her profession in the story being a storyteller, it is fitting that Groff chose to use this point of view. As the story continues, Celie reveals that her husband is dead. After Celie starts an argument about how she hates the town and all the people in it, her husband leaves in a rain storm and ends up hydroplaning and crashing his truck into a tree which sticks a branch through his chest. He dies later in the hospital from Hydrocephalus. Groff’s use of the second person point of view turns the reader into the character of the dead husband, which is who Celie is ultimately addressing. She is retelling the tale to him, almost as if by his bedside, hoping he will wake up. Celie asks whether she imagined, “the tightening of your thumb on my palm” (Groff 186). It helps the reader understand Celie’s grief about the loss of her husband and the guilt that she feels. However, when Celie reveals later that “I see you now just leaving rooms I am in,” the reader can see that she is still haunted by the incident (188). By using this perspective, Groff allows the readers to fully grasp the vulnerable and stricken state of Celie, who is intimately recounting their relationship to her dead husband.

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Overall, however, the reader wonders why Groff might have chosen birds as a major theme throughout her collection. As Connie Ogle states in the Miami Herald, “the women in Lauren Groff’s debut story collection exist in varying stages of unrest” (Ogle 1). These women are emotionally trapped and are struggling to break free and fly. Groff uses the birds to convey the point that all women go through experiences in which they must learn lessons and try to overcome challenges given to them.

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Throughout the story, water appears in many of the scenes. “Watershed” starts off with a diver telling a couple a story about how he once went down with a diving buddy, and upon realizing that his partner was falling down into an abyss, the diver saved him because he had never felt a purer love for a human being. Later in the story, however, when the woman is at the funeral for her husband, the diver approaches the woman again and retells the tale. The diver actually doesn’t save the man and just lets him go while he floated in the water suspended alone. In both occurrences, the diver’s story is parallel to the state of the couple. When they were together and in love, the diver saved the man. When the woman was left alone by the tragic death of her husband, the diver too had stood alone. However, as Claire Hopley states in the Washington Post, “his reminders of the people that may never have emerged from its depths are eerie and alarming” (Hopley 1). The revision to the diver’s story is a turning point for Celie. He says that the love was all true, but only after he couldn’t see him anymore, when he was “just staring down into that trench, just suspended there alone” (Groff 190). With the loss of her husband, Celie is alone as well, and the diver’s story is tied to hers not only in the deaths due to water, but also in their realization of the love they have for the people they lost. Groff uses water because of its unruly nature, and it parallels the major and unforeseen events that occur in Celie’s life. John Marshall, a book critic who wrote for the Seattle Post, describes Groff’s thematic specialty as “where her perceptive vision is focused - turns out to be turning-point moments, often for women characters - turning-point moments sometimes not recognized as that until it is too late” (Marshall 1).

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Despite Groff’s varying perspectives on stories and use of themes to help convey her messages, there is one story in particular that weakens her collection. “Fugue” is a story that is very complex and takes time coming together. Groff presents three different sub-stories and then attempts to tie them all together at the end. To the reader, the story stretches out a bit too long, and the readers are in a circle of sub-stories, wondering what the point is. As John Marshall states, “ Groff’s arching ambition for the story results in too many details withheld in hopes of adding mystery, too many characters and their too complex personal stories, too much confusing artifice” (Marshall 1).

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In the small town that the couple lives, it rains constantly. The husband dies because he hydroplaned while driving in his truck and a tree branch smashed through his chest. Ultimately, though, he dies of Hydrocephalus, otherwise known as “water in the brain.” When the woman is driving home during one of her college years, she hears on the radio that an old couple died by jumping into the Niagara Falls together. These themes of water tie into the concluding paragraph and the point of Groff’s story, that “there is no ending, no neatness in this story. There never really is, where water is concerned” (Groff 192). This ending is not necessarily described as a happy one in which the conflict is resolved with a simple solution or the conflict was simply an illusion or a dream. But it is satisfying in the sense that the readers can relate to how Celie has changed and is coping with the unfortunate events that have occurred in her life.

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In “Watershed,” for example, when Celie’s husband says that he wants to build her a house before they get married, he states that “every bird needs her nest” (171). It is this sentence in particular that casts fear and doubt in Celie. As she looks back on this incident as she tells the story, she says that it was her fault she didn’t say what she should have, that she “wasn’t the bird type, or maybe the nest type” (172). It is clear from Celie’s thoughts that she fears being constrained and that she is different from the typical flock of birds. Instead, Celie tends to stray from the flock of birds that is the traditional small town in which she now lives with her new husband.

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In “Delicate Edible Birds,” we also see the character of Bern struggle when she is presented with a delicacy of a tiny bird while eating dinner with her lover, the Mayor of Philadelphia, in France. While everyone else veiled their faces with napkins as they ate the birds, Bern wrapped the bird in a napkin and later dropped the carcass from the hotel balcony, “setting it free, she thought, though it dropped like a lead weight to the ground for some prowling beast to eat” (Groff 288). This occurrence is important because it helps the readers later understand why Bern, who is notorious for having affairs and sleeping with lots of men, refuses to have sex with the Fascist man who is keeping them hostage and will let everyone free if she complies. She too wants to be free, and holds to her choice of not having sex with their captive. Yet as the time nears when the Nazis might come and find them, the men start to urge Bern to comply with the man’s wishes. Bern is the bird, trying to set herself free, but who gets dropped to the ground like the lead weight and has sex with the prowling beast.

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Groff uses the third person omniscient perspective, another fairly rare point of view because the author can give the readers access into any characters’ thoughts and feelings. Though the majority of the story is in the perspective of the woman character, Bern, occasionally the story flips into the perspective of one of the four men. Groff puts us in the mind of all the four men at one point or another in the story. She does this for one reason in particular, which is so the readers can understand the various perspectives on the conflict with Bern. The five characters in the story, four men and one woman, are all journalists, with the exception of one who is a photographer. Set during World War II, the group is following news of the war, and their car breaks down just outside of Paris in front of a fascist man’s house, who demands that Bern have sex with him. When Bern refuses to have sex with him, the fascists man holds them hostage but will let everyone go if she complies. At first, all the men seem to understand. However, as the time draws nearer to when the Nazis will possibly come for them, Groff allows us into their minds and we understand why they start to change their perspective on Bern having sex with the man. While at first the men claimed that “nothing of the sort can happen, of course” and that there was “no question...for the principle of the thing” the men all have different reasons for wanting to be free from the threat of the oncoming Nazis (285). Parnell has a family back home in England, and Lucci has a wife who has disappeared, yet he still wants to live in hopes that she is alive. The men slowly start to believe that Bern, who is notorious for sleeping with numbers of men, should “just do it and get it over with” and when all of them turn their backs on her, she complies, crushed and confused as to what has changed their minds (286). Despite this all-knowing perspective, Groff only goes into the minds of others on a need-to-know basis. As Carolyn See states in a piece on point of view, an author should only go into a character’s mind “if they absolutely need to think or feel something…otherwise, let them alone” (See 151). Without the use of this all-knowing perspective, the readers wouldn’t have the insight into the men’s minds to understand their desperation and reasons why they eventually disregard Bern and all quietly agree that she needs to comply.

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Birds also serve as an important theme in “Lucky Chow Fun.” Lollie’s younger sister, Pot, collects taxidermied birds that are scattered around her bedroom. However, Lollie avoids her room as much as possible because she had “one particular gyrfalcon perched on her dresser that seemed malicious, if not downright evil, ready to scratch at your jugular if you were to saunter innocently by” (3). Though the birds are an escape for Pot, they serve to parallel the girls who work at the whorehouse. Groff does not use real birds, but instead decides that Pot will have a collection of stuffed birds who sit on shelves, quiet, fake, and dead on the inside. In a similar way, Lollie describes the girls at Lucky Chow Fun as ghosts, yet they more so resemble the birds. The girls were always quiet, only speaking softly to each other, and though they were alive, they weren’t really living. Lollie later describes the girls as “wordless, as always” (39). Lollie’s reaction to the birds mirrors the girls. She tends to avoid them. On the outside, they resembled people, like the taxidermied birds resembled live birds, however on the inside, they too were stuffed and mind as well have been sitting on Pot’s shelf.

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In many of the endings, the reader can infer from the various point of views that the characters will still be struggling. In “Watershed,” for example, the last few paragraphs no longer address Celie’s husband but instead focus on her coming to terms with his death. Celie’s husband is still dead, and she must come to the harsh reality that there are things in life that are out of her control. Groff shies away from taking the easy way out in her stories, and prefers to end the stories more realistically. In an ideal world, Bern probably would have held to her morals and not have slept with the Fascist, while Lucky Chow Fun wouldn’t have turned the small town of Templeton into a mass of scandal that broke families apart. However, Groff paints realistic characters by making them not always take the right path, by questioning their morals, and by not coming to a complete realization of who they are. In this way, Groff pulls empathy from her readers, and portrays situations and decisions that people can relate to. Lauren Groff best sums up her idea of happy endings in her first story, “Lucky Chow Fun”: and it is a happy ending, perhaps, in the way that myths and fairy tales have happy endings; only if one forgets the bloody, dark middles, the fifty dismembered girls in the vat, the parents who sent their children into the woods with only a crust of bread. I like to think it’s a happy ending, though it is the middle that haunts me (Groff 39). And though our own personal stories and lives have middles that are haunting, they are the very strings that Groff uses to tie our experiences to her stories, giving us reassurance that we are not alone in our challenges.

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Ever since I was young, whenever I cracked open a book or sat in front of the television watching a movie, I always wished for a happy ending. Anxiously, I would sit squeezing my fingers together, hoping the prince would save the princess, the animals would find their way back home, and the hero would conquer the villain. However, happy endings are rarely realistic and hardly convey the true resolutions to life’s messy conflicts. In Lauren Groff’s Delicate Edible Birds, the author employs several methods of delivering perspective, while threading a constant theme throughout her stories in order to evoke empathy in the readers without simply supplying a happy ending. ­­­­­

Works Cited

Groff, Lauren. Delicate Edible Birds. New York: Hyperion, 2009.

Hopley, Claire. "Tales of Tough Women." 22 Feb. 2009. LexisNexis. 10 Nov. 2009.

Marshall, John. "Short Story Collection's Dazzling Variety Spans Decades and Continents." 02 Feb. 2009. LexisNexis. 10 Nov. 2009.

Ogle, Connie. "Female Characters Discover Hardships and Joys of Life." 01 Feb. 2009. LexisNexis. 10 Nov. 2009 .

See, Carolyn. Making a Literary Life. New York: Random House, 2002. Print.

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“AC/DC? No, AB/BC!” Arrangement for Transition and Emphasis

Purpose: This brief editorial exercise shows students how transitions are created through arrangement and how arrangement can be used to emphasize points. Since this exercise is based on arranging pieces, its best used when pieces are available—a paper’s paragraphs, a paragraph’s sentences, or even audio tracks. Students will practice arranging those pieces, “bonding” them to create transitions and emphasis. Completing this exercise provides practice with close-editing skills and teaches students to attend to arrangement.

Description: This exercise requires, at minimum, paper and pencil for the student and a chalkboard for the instructor. Students will either bring a brief writing sample to class or write a short piece when class begins. The instructor will then explain the idea of “bonding” two units of text (paragraphs, sentences, etc.) by overlapping the content located in one’s ending and the other’s beginning. Students will then practice this concept by rearranging their writing sample in a similar manner.

Suggested Time:

  1. 40 minutes (if sample is provided by instructor or is brought to class by students)
  2. 50 minutes (if writing sample is written in class)
  3. Two 20-minute periods over two days if the revision section is assigned as homework


  1. Either assign students to bring a sample to class or begin class by having them write a short piece—minimum of 2 paragraphs with a total of at least 10 sentences. This minimum is necessary for students to practice arrangement of sentences as well as arrangement of paragraphs in a single session.
  2. The instructor will explain the concept of “AB/BC” organization: Each sentence has two parts: the beginning content (A) and the end content (B). Like notation for a poem’s rhyme schemes, new content can be labeled with a new letter (A is B. C is not D.) with repeated content using the same letter (A is B. B is not C). To create emphasis and clear transition between the first sentence (1) and its following sentence (2), there should be some overlap and repeats in the content that ends the first sentence and begins the second. For example, in the following sample section the words “sentence” and “focus” repeat, emphasizing those words while at the same time creating transitions between the sentences: The strongest part of a paragraph (1A) is at the end of the paragraph’s first sentence (1B). That sentence (2B) will set up the paragraphs' focus (2C). Focus (3C) is especially important when...
  3. To visual this point, the instructor may show the students a short video clip and discuss how directors will often use the same cues when making large leaps. For example, towards the end of Cast Away, Tom Hank’s character (1A) lays on his raft while a ship passes before him. He cries out his love’s name: “Lilly!” (1B) and the audience hears the ship’s rhythmic siren (1C). The scene then cuts to a kitchen, Close up on a phone. It’s ringing with a rhythm and pitch similar to the siren’s (1C). The camera pans back. There’s Lilly (1B). She answers the phone.
  4. After the lecture on AB/BC arrangement, the students should be given 15 minutes to rearrange their writing sample’s sentences, rewriting sentences if necessary. After that, 5 minutes should be spent on rearranging the writing sample’s paragraphs, revising the beginning and ending sentences as necessary.
  5. For the last 10 minutes of class, the instructor should lead a discussion in which the students discuss their challenges with the exercise. They should also share samples of their rearranged sentences, reading both the original and the revision.
  6. Alternately, the instructor can collect the original and its revision and compile a selection of samples to show the class at the start of the next session. This way the instructor can use the assignment as a transition to the next class, practicing the lesson upon the framework of the class itself. Like showing the video, this draws attention to how many types of compositions, not just paragraphs and sentences, can be arranged with an awareness of overlapping beginnings and endings.

Additional Information: The core exercise can be done in one 50 minute session: 10 minutes to write a brief piece; 10 minutes to establish the concept of AB/BC bonding; 15 minutes to rearrange the writing sample’s sentences; 5 minutes to rearrange the writing sample’s paragraphs, and 10 minutes of discussion. Alternately, if a 5-minute video is incorporated in the lecture portion of class, 5 minutes may be removed from the discussion portion.

Media-based and Peer-Review-based Variables: This exercise can be incorporated into peer review sessions. (“Rearrange the sentences/paragraphs in your peer’s paper to create emphasis and/or transitions where needed.”) If using media such as audio files, rearrangement may take be assigned as homework. (“Rearrange these 5 music tracks to make a mix, paying attention to arrangement and how the songs transition. Write one double-spaced page that defines the playlist and explains the reasoning behind your chosen arrangement.”)

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Picturing Transitions: Narrating Scene Shifts

Purpose: This activity will help students create effective transitions between paragraphs and topics in their writing. It should also get them to think about how transitions help to guide the reader through their work.

Description: This activity forces students to think outside of the box and consider the function of transitions in their writing.

Suggested Time: 40-60 minutes

Procedure: Divide your class into groups of 4-5 and bring in enough magazines for each group to have at least two (check the magazine racks around campus if you need extra copies). Also, bring in scissors so that they can cut pictures from the magazines.

This is a four part collaborative exercise: 1) cutting images out, 2) writing descriptions, 3) creating transitions, 4) sharing and discussing the work.

Explain that they will be working on developing effective transitions by connecting different scenes that possess no direct relationship with one another. They will cut out pictures from a magazine, generate short descriptions of the scenes, and then link them with one another by constructing effective conclusions and introductions that weave the scenes together. However, instead of one group doing all three processes, groups will pass the work they do for one part of the assignment to a neighboring group so that a different group is engaged in each phase of the process. The fact that other groups will be completing the work should encourage students to come up with out of the box images and/or descriptions, fueling creativity and a sense of competition. Inform them that what they create will be shared with their peers.

  1. Have students cut out four pictures. Tell them to try and find the most unrelated, crazy images possible (10 minutes). Note: Reduce the images to three if you are under significant time constraints.
  2. Have them pass their images to the right and then ask each group to create a short narrative of the scene (what is going on, etc.). However, also ask them to take a specific, unified rhetorical approach. For example, they might take a narrative approach and write from a single character's perspective or write from a specific analytical perspective and treat it like a research paper or expository piece (e.g. famous vacation spots or best spots around town). Tell them not to spend too much time on writing for one image and to write only three-four sentences for each. (10-15 minutes)
  3. Have them pass the images and descriptions to the right and ask each group to create introductory and conclusion sentences that weave together each scene. Be sure to tell them not to become too clichéd in their process and to avoid redundancy (e.g. simply writing next I went to the mall and now I'm at the mall when someone is traveling from a beach scene is not acceptable). Encourage creativity and critical writing. (10-15 minutes)
  4. Share what students have written. Everyone should enjoy seeing how the scenes they picked out were described and how their descriptions were linked to each other. After each reading, discuss what was strong and weak about each piece (in a constructive, positive manner, of course). If necessary, this last part can be delayed until the following class, giving you time to look over the responses. (10-20 Minutes)
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Looking for Connections Between Ideas

Purpose: This exercise aims to teach students how to construct effective transitions in their writing and look for connections between ideas where a natural link might not be obvious.

Description: Transitions asks students to link unrelated ideas and discovery new and creative ways of tying together concepts in their writings.

Suggested Time: About 20 minutes


  1. Tell them to divide a sheet of paper in half, making two columns. In the left column, have them list what they like about Tallahassee. In the right column, what they dislike. Give them time to make a fairly decent sized list, at least seven or eight in each column. I write my own list on the board.
  2. Have them randomly circle two ideas in the like column, then two ideas in the dislike column.
  3. Have them number these four ideas, starting with a like, then a dislike, then back to a like again. e.g. 1) rainbows 2) bloody noses 3) warm soup 4) pop quizzes
  4. Now begin a discussion about transitions. Ask them if they understand what teachers mean by rough transitions. I explain that the difficulty often arises in people's inability to see the connections between ideas, and one way to get better at that is to practice looking for those connections between ideas which don't seem naturally related.
  5. Tell them to write, to move from subject one to two to three to four. I explain that a bad transition is one which just jumps suddenly from one idea to another with no idea logically connecting the two. It will probably also be beneficial to explain that good transitions also do not stray too far from the main idea of the writing (i.e. don't just ramble).
  6. (optional) When they have worked on this for a while, have some people read their pieces out loud. The first people done will probably be the ramblers. Discuss what could be done to tie all of their ideas together.

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Don’t Take This Exercise For Granted: Transitions

Purpose: This exercise encourages students to explore ways of employing effective detail-driven transitions within their writing. By finding common threads, they’ll be able to unify ideas within their papers.

Description: Students will work to combine significant events, people, or beliefs with effective transitions. This can either be done in groups or individually, depending on how much time you would like to spend. Both ways can benefit from reading Meagan C. Arrastia's "The One I Took for Granted” (2004-2005 McCrimmon Award Winner).

Suggested Time: For both methods, about 35-40 minutes will suffice.


For Group Paper:

 1. Divide the class into groups of three or four and have them brainstorm on common
 themes in their life (ex: "overcoming adversity," "growing pains,"
 "influential people," "trips," "beliefs," etc).
 2. The students will then list as many important moments or ideas that have defined their lives and that they feel circle around this common theme.
 3. The groups will select one event from each member’s list, based on which event sounds the most interesting and that they'd all like to hear more about. It doesn't matter how disparate the events or moments are. As a matter of fact, students should be encouraged to choose events that don't tie together in obvious ways to make their group paper more interesting.
 4. Each group member will then freewrite on his or her topic. After 10 minutes,
 group members will come back together and share what they have written and try
 to figure out how they can string the story together. Ideally, they will work
 out ways to transition between the snapshots of the lives of different group
 members in an engaging way.

For Individual Paper:
 1. Students are asked to choose "a significant person," "a significant
 event," and "a significant belief," and list them on a clean sheet of paper. Below each "significant" header, students choose and list three scenes or incidents that are especially vivid about that person, event, or belief. They are encouraged to choose scenes that are far apart in
 time and place and perhaps don't seem to connect in obvious ways.
 2. Students then trade their paper with classmates; at least six or seven other people. Each classmate votes for which topic sounds the most interesting, based on the "scenes" listed. With that many opinions, they can see where the reader's interests lie.
 3. When students get their sheets back, they are tied to the topic that received
 the most "reader votes." For each scene in that topic, they start listing the personal emotions they felt, the adjectives that describe the person, event, or belief as well as their state of mind. The goal is to keep them from tying their paper together in a simple chronological way, and to order it ideationally. Hopefully, they find that in many of these scenes they were in a similar state
 of mind.
 4. Have students begin freewriting one of the scenes, and as soon as they find themselves expounding on one of the adjectives or emotions that help tie the scene together, they’ll jump to the next scene (they can always come back later to flesh out the scene fully, but they have the ever-important and ever-missing from freshman writing – transition). They do this until they've tied together all their scenes, and they have the bare bones of a personal experience paper.

Additional Information: For other ways of "making connections," students could also look at Becky Godlasky's essay "Using Metaphor to Make Connections," which is in The Inkwell. Also look at the Raymond Carver's poem "Sunday Night," in Bishop's On Writing. (As Bishop writes, "what small, overlooked elements might loom large in your composition?" In other words, how can find unique connections in the minute details of your stories?)

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Puzzle Pieces: Effective Transitions

Purpose: This activity should help students identify effective and creative transitions in the essay by restructuring the final draft. It should also show them how to allow the connecting ideas to serve as the transition in an essay vs. only using one-word transitions. Use with “Adaptations, Limitations, and Imitations,” OOW 2006-2007.

Description: The author of “Adaptations, Limitations, and Imitations” wrote in a process memo that he/she initially encountered difficulty trying to organize the paper logically, but the final draft was structured beautifully. By cutting up this essay into individual paragraphs, students are forced to seek out connecting ideas as they try to organize the essay in a logical way. Students also see how different organizational structures can significantly change an essay.

Suggested Time: 30-40 minutes


 1. Before class, make five copies of the essay and cut them up, separating the different paragraphs. (Numbering the paragraphs out of order may help in discussion).
 2. Divide the class into no more than five groups, with 4-5 students in each group. Give each group one dismantled essay and ask them to put the pieces together in “logical” order. This may take up to 20 minutes.
 3. Students should discuss amongst themselves (1) the essay’s progression, (2) what the transitions are, and (3) the lack of “obvious” conclusion (In brief, In Conclusion).
 4. As a class, ask students how they organized the essay and why. (This is where the prior numbering would come in handy. For example, the group would be able to easily say “We think paragraph D goes first, etc). Ask them to identify the connecting ideas for each paragraph of the essay (i.e. the second paragraph connects to the introduction because it continues the anecdote about the writer’s sophomore year of high school). If the different groups disagree about where the paragraphs go, ask them to explain why they think.

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