Lesson: Overheard Conversations

kermit-167443_640Purpose:  To look at how context plays an important role in any text.
Instructions:

  • Go to a public place. Coffee houses and pubs work particularly well for this assignment. Make sure you bring a notebook and a sturdy pen.
  • Eavesdrop on a conversation near you. Write down as much of what is said as possible.
  • Taking these notes, create a context within which this conversation makes sense.
    • For example, if this is what you heard: “Suzanne’s gone too far this time; I don’t think I can ever trust her again,”….
    • One appropriate context MIGHT be: “Suzanne, famous for her practical jokes, filled the speaker’s office with balloons filled with banana creme. When the speaker walked in, she angrily batted the balloons out of her way, only to rupture one and find herself covered in banana creme. Little did Suzanne know, the speaker is allergic to bananas and went into anaphylactic shock.”
  • Be as creative as you like… But the context must match the conversation that you overheard.
  • Tips: It might take a few overheard conversations before you find a good one. If you strike out with one conversation, move around the room until you hear one that sounds like it has potential.

Requirements

  • This post will be in three sections: Text, Context, and Analysis:
    • Text: Describe your location (where you were, what time of day, etc) and sum up the conversation you overheard. This shouldn’t be a transcript, just a brief sketch of what was going on.
    • Context: Create a context that makes sense for the text. Be creative!
    • Analysis: In a few sentences, reflect on how what was overheard makes sense, what the conversant might have intended, and how their conversation, in the absence of this constructed context, might be misconstrued. Why should we be concerned with context?
  • Approximate length = 500 words.

 

LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW IF YOU TAUGHT THIS LESSON IN YOUR CLASSROOM. HOW DID IT GO? WOULD YOU DO IT AGAIN? DID YOU MAKE ANY MODIFICATIONS?

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