Hog Dog Writing
An easy, fun (and delicious) way to introduce all the elements of good
- understand the use of a hot dog as a metaphor for good writing.
- demonstrate the elements of a well-written paragraph.
writing, writing process, state test, test preparation, hot dog, metaphor
- a real hot dog, bun, condiments, chips, and plate or a construction paper model of those things
- "Little Smokies" (little hot dog hors d'oeuvres in crescent roll dough), one per student (optional)
Writing a good paragraph is like preparing a good meal. All the elements must be there to be enjoyed. Take a hot dog, for example
A hot dog meal "serves" as a good metaphor for good writing. Use an actual hot dog (or a construction paper model) to drive home to students some important points about good writing:
- A hot dog must be cooked and juicy. A writer uses vivacious verbs, awesome adjectives, and spicy words to appeal to his/her audience.
- A hot dog is messy without the bun to surround it. A paragraph must have structure. That means it should include a topic sentence (one side of the bun), a concluding sentence (the other side of the bun), and good details in between.
- Everyone likes their hotdogs prepared differently. Just as catsup, mustard, sauerkraut, relish, and even peanut butter make a hot dog an individual expression, every writer's writing is different -- unique, personal, and creative.
- No two potato chips are shaped alike. No two sentences should be alike. Sentences should vary in type (statements, questions, exclamation, quotes), structure, length, beginning words
- Plates are essential to hold your meal together. Presentation of writing is everything. Find a way in your writing to engage and WOW your audience (readers).
- Pickles? Pickles must marinate for optimum flavor. Think about your writing, then put it away for a little while and come back to it with a fresh eye.
- Don't forget the napkin. Clean up your grammar, spelling, and punctuation.
Immediately after I "serve up" this metaphor, I provide a writing assignment. When students are finished writing, I encourage them to refer to the hot dog: "Use it as a checklist to be sure your writing includes all the proper elements"
- vivacious verbs, awesome adjectives, and other spicy (interesting) words
- a topic sentence, a concluding sentence, and good details in between
- unique elements that make your writing different -- personal and creative
- sentences that vary in type, structure, length, beginning words
- elements that help to engage the reader
- clean grammar, spelling, and punctuation
You might even assign a different color to each of the above elements and have students highlight each element in their writing in its associated color.
Sometimes I create a bulletin-board model as we do this lesson.
Sometimes I make an actual hot dog as a model.
Sometimes I prepare the "Little Smokies" (little hot dog hors d'oeuvres in crescent roll dough) ahead of time and we can have a snack as a wrap-up.
You might create a rubric or checklist that includes each of the elements
above with room for comments. You might rate each element on a scale of
1 to 5.
Alternative assessment: Students might participate in rating their
peers. Each piece of writing might be read by another student. Or several
students might read each piece, and the final rating will be an average
of all the student ratings. (If the latter is done, writings might be
shared anonymously so students are not influenced by who wrote the piece.)
Barb Frye, Titusville Middle School in Titusville, Pennsylvania
Copyright © 2009 Education World
Originally published 09/29/2005
Last updated 04/29/2009