At school, you and a dozen of your friends have been busted for a minor breaking of the rules that’s hardly worth mentioning. The sentence comes down unjustly harsh: a week’s detention with the nastiest substitute in the school district. That afternoon you all report to de tention, heads down, feet dragging. At the door you are forced to give up your phones, Gameboys, iPods, and computers. Stripped of your dignity, you are led to a seat miles from anyone else and handed a piece of paper and a pencil. Then a threatening voice booms from the front of the room:
“Welcome to my world! I own you for the next five days, and trust me it won’t be a vacation spa! You will not speak, look at, smell, or taste anything but the misery of guilt and regret in this room! But to show you that I am not without mercy, I will release one of you after one day.”
At this, heads rise from the desks.
“Like the king who kept Scheherazade, the legendary Persian queen and storyteller of One Thousand and One Nights, if I like your story I will spare you. You have 750 words to tell a story that will thrill me, chill me, turn my mind inside out. I want at least one unique character with an odd habit. I want an object that serves as the controlling image or symbol. I want humor, irony, or a twist ending; I want a message, and make it good! Use poetic, fresh language and no clichés – tired, overused expressions, please.”
“As an added bonus, because I am such a marshmallow, I will also release the student who offers the best critique of someone else’s story. I want you to follow the 4 P’s of peer critique to the letter. Praise what is working in the story. Probe what you don’t understand. Propose improvements with tact. And above all, be POSITIVE. Any Nasty Nellys or Neds will spend another week with me. Don’t say anything you wouldn’t want to hear. You better balance that with directness. No Wimpy Wilmas or Williams! Say what needs to be said, and back it up with specific examples and suggestions. What are you still staring at me for? If you want to get out of here, you’d better get busy!”
To do now for peer review:
Write a flash fiction story that you hope will get you out of this mess. Do your very best work, then post your flash fiction story to the Discussion: Share and Share Alike link so that your peers can get credit for reviewing and commenting on your story. To get full credit, for at least 2 of your peers’ posts, practice the 4 P’s of peer critique. Good Luck!
Please view the discussion rubric for information on how this assignment will be graded.
For help with editing and revising, go to the 6 + 1 Traits of Writing rubric.
Once you get peer feedback, your job will be to revise the story and turn it in. Go to the next page to learn how.
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