This project assignment sheet details the requirements for an engaging, student-centered writing activity: mimicking Mark Twain. Writing a full satire is a commonly seen assignment, but most of my students would have too much trouble doing this; instead, I offer them this satire-lite version.
Students have two options: conceptualizing and describing a tall-tale character with local connections (my students made Pittsburgh-area characters like the Three-Rivers Monster) in the style of Twain’s famed jumping frog; or, mimicking Twain’s sarcastic advice in the style of his short texts, “Advice to Little Girls” or “Advice to Youth.” The students apply their understanding of techniques like dialect, local color, puns, irony, understatement, and hyperbole in their products, and then reflect on the choices they made.
In addition to asking students to write creatively like Twain, the reflection component also asks students to write analytically by explaining their choices.
The assignment sheet includes an explanation of each assignment, a list of expectations, a detailed rubric that assesses the visual and verbal aspects of the product, a caution about school appropriateness, and examples.
This could be an individual assignment or a partner assignment, and I usually let students choose between those options.