Imagery: Day 5

Today was all about using description to activate the five senses, i.e. imagery. That’s why, as students walked in the door, they received a card with an eye, ear, nose, hand, or mouth on it.

1. Do now. Students reread the writing they did last night and underlined words and phrases they wrote that help readers see, hear, smell, feel, or taste the scene. Then, we passed in the writing. Ms. Fowler and Ms. Garvoille have looked at the writing to help place students into writing groups for tomorrow.

2. Imagery Notes. Students received L2: Imagery. First, we learned a catchy little tune to help students remember that imagery is more than images. It goes to the tune of “Jingle Bells”:

Im-a-gery, Im-a-gery:

taste, touch, hear, smell, see.

When you use description,

my five senses you must please!

Then, we reviewed Setting: time and place. We explored the different times of a story (season, day/night, hour, day of the week, era, decade, time period, century) and the different kinds of places (specific location, country, room, alternate dimension). Students came up with how they might hint at the setting by using imagery.

3. Applying Imagery Jigsaw. Students divided into groups based on the cards they got at the door. All the sight folks gathered, for instance. Then, these expert groups analyzed the example passage on L2, labeling all the imagery words related to their sense by underlining.

After sense groups worked for a few minutes, students then met with their color group, which had roughly one representative per sense. Students shared out their answers so that everyone had a key of all the imagery in the passage.

Here’s the passage we used from Sue William Silverman’s book Fearless Confessions: A Writer’s Guide to Memoir:

Drowsy, I recline on the terraço of a friend’s villa in Sintra, Portugal. Across the valley is another villa, owned by the Rothschilds, and beyond that, the Atlantic Ocean, currents flowing from the Gulf of Cádiz, azure and hot. I am writing an aerogram, the paper supported by a book, Graham Greene’s The End of the Affair. Beside my lounge an oval table holds a pitcher of ice water. Slices of lemon circle a tray. I place a slice in a goblet, fill it with water, and sip. From the valley rise the spicy scents of eucalyptus and olive, lupine and poppy. Cerise bougainvillea etches whitewashed walls. I drift in sun, in shade from cork trees, sun and shade, pages of the book and the aerogram fluttering against my fingertips.

4. What’s the difference? Students were asked to read the first draft version of this same passage and compare:

Portugal is beautiful. The weather is warm; the days are sunny. Every afternoon I sit outside reading or writing letters, with the ocean in the distance. The air smells fresh and sweet. Sometimes, I feel as if I could fall asleep outside in the warm air. I never want to leave. It’s so vast and beautiful that I hope this moment lasts forever, that it never ends.

The original, students said, was more boring. You couldn’t imagine it very well. She just told you it was pretty instead of describing it. Your writing, too, should progress from being vague to being specific and full of imagery.

5. Making your own imagery. Students received a prewriting sheet to help them brainstorm what kind of setting they would like to describe for homework. Setting Piece Prewriting. The first chart is for Honors, the second is for Regular. Regular English I folks need to write a page-long description that uses imagery to make the reader feel like he or she is there. Honors English I peeps need to use imagery to convey their inner feelings about the setting without telling us directly. We spent some time filling out the prewriting sheet in class.

HW: Finish your Setting Piece Prewriting and then write a description of a significant place in your life. The description needs to be at least one page long (Regular). If you are in Honors, you need to keep writing until the description is finished. Rough draft due tomorrow.

It’s okay if you also tell a story along with the description. This place should have some symbolic, emotional, intellectual meaning to you or should have some element of conflict present in it.