Grade: all
Subject: Language

#2860. OREO Response Writing

Language, level: all
Posted Wed May 14 10:55:22 PDT 2003 by Mark A. Schneberger (
Oklahoma City Community College, Oklahoma City, USA
Materials Required: One large bag of OREO cookies (any center filling will do).
Activity Time: 25 minutes
Concepts Taught: To use OREO cookies to teach students to connect with how they personally feel about specific issues

Introductory Activity :

Teacher should explain to the students that they are beginning the stages of "Response Writing" to a written work.

Explain that rather than reading a written work first, the class will work first on the more important part--how to engage in responding.

After informing the students that this is a food based activity, and those allergic to chocolate are warned, the teacher should take out the unopened bag of cookies.

Body :

He should then open the bag and explain to the students that they are each to take a cookie (even if they don't intend to eat one) and pass the bag to the person to their right--until each student has a cookie. The teacher should then explain that as soon as each student takes a cookie, he/she should write a short five-sentence paragraph which explains "what just happened"--meaning what was the process of watching the bag come around the room, taking a cookie, perhaps eating it, and writing about what just happened.

The students will spend at least two minutes passing the cookies, and they'll spend another three to five minutes writing their short paragraphs.

Next, ask each student to share his/her paragraph with the student who passed him/her the bag. Have them read their paragraphs aloud to each other and compare their very alike writing--looking for similarities.

When they are done (in about two minutes) write the words "Plot Summary" and "Summarization" on the board. Then, call the students to attention, and tell the students that you want them to try and not do that style of writing again when writing about literature or other published works as it is called "Plot Summary" and "Summarization" which will generally result in a very surface level response to something read. Also, explain to the students that just like their cookie paragraphs, summary writing often results in lack of originality in students writing and often makes one student's paper seem just like another.

Now explain to them that you would much rather they do something different.

Write the words "Critical Response" on the board and explain to them that it's much more important for the students to try and demonstrate how they feel about a subject, rather than to simply explain what the subject is. They can do this by asking themselves and answering the questions, "How does this make me feel and Why?" This causes them to connect emotively and intellectually with the piece.

This kind of demonstrative writing is called "Critical Response."

Then ask the students to try and write a short paragraph which demonstrates how they feel about the cookie passing exercise and why they feel that way.

Next, ask each student to share his/her paragraph with the student who passed him/her the bag. Have them read their paragraphs aloud to each other and explain to each other how this second paragraph is different than the first. Also, have them identify any specific "feeling" words that are in the second "Critical Response" paragraph.

Conclusion Activity :

Finally, as a whole class share experiences and impressions of the activity to ensure all students understand the difference between the two writing methods.

Vocabulary Words :

Plot summary--the simple retelling of the plot of a story.

Summarization--the regurgitation of information from an article or other piece in an effort to explain what was read.

Critical Response--explaining your mental and heart-felt connections to something written. Basically, explaining how you feel about something written and why.

Evaluation Activity :

Take up the paragraphs and read them to ensure that the students have demonstrated the different writing styles