It’s a Thursday afternoon, and I’m teaching a group of restless sixth graders some of the finer points of English grammar. As you can probably guess, this isn’t the easiest task in the world.
Several of the students are beginning to whisper back and forth to each other and laugh under their breath. Two others are absorbed in drawing pictures on their worksheets. Another looks like he’s about to fall asleep. I realize I only have a few minutes before I lose complete control of the class.
“Okay,” I say in a loud voice. “For example…” I pick up a marker and begin drawing a stick figure on the whiteboard. “Let’s look at some sentences about Bob. He’s going to help us see when we should and should not use commas in our sentences.”
My illustration on the whiteboard is far from a masterpiece. In fact, my tutoring students are laughing at it. But they’re also sitting up straight in their chairs now and all eyes are on me.
As I write sentences on the board accompanied by funny illustrations of Bob, the kids are eagerly calling out answers to my questions. All I had to do was use the two words, “For example” and come up with stories to illustrate the grammar rules, and I’ve captured their attention once again.
It works like magic every time.
And these two words can work like magic in your writing too. [Read more…]