Opinion class starts with silent Spaghetti Challenge, works toward larger pieces

On Monday morning, the opinion writing class participated in a 12-minute Spaghetti Challenge as an analogy to forming their opinions. They tried to build the tallest tower that would support a marshmallow that included uncooked spaghetti, the marshmallow and a few pieces of tape. The catch? They couldn’t talk.

The room was dead silent, other than an occasional laugh or groan as a group’s tower fell apart on them.

“My favorite part was not being able to talk because it takes out an aspect of communication that we take for granted every day,” student Onur Toper said.

Some groups were serious while building the towers, and other groups giggled throughout the activity.

“The whole idea of this activity is that there is no wrong way to build the towers, and you have to go through trial and error and mistakes,” teacher Christina Hammitt said. “And that’s the same thing when you’re forming your opinion. You might start something where you think you know, and you’re very confident, but as you go through the process, you realize you may have to start over or take a different approach.”

According to Hammitt, throughout the week the opinion class will also survey their audience (other students) for opinions, draw pictures of their audience and write book reviews. Hammitt said they are starting with more concrete opinion pieces and will then move into more abstract work. For example, she said, the final project will be for every student to create his or her very own blog.

“I’m excited to make a blog, because I’m planning on making my own blog pretty soon,” Huron High School student Charlotte Bunch said, “so I think it will be really good practice and a good way to learn how to write pieces for a blog.”

8 Responses to “Opinion class starts with silent Spaghetti Challenge, works toward larger pieces” »

Eashan Thatte says:
Jul 31, 2018

I really liked this article. It’s clear that you took the time to interview the students and teacher about their experiences woking with such weird and difficult materials. It’s concise and to the point, and gives a good overview on the opinion coverage class and its goals over the week. I think one way you could improve is by giving us a better overview on why the spaghetti challenge is used outside of the context of this class, because the challenge is used everywhere from big tech companies to small startups. Otherwise, the grammar is good, the spelling is perfect, and overall it’s a very well-written and well-researched article.

Mackenzie Warren says:
Jul 31, 2018

Hello my name is Mackenzie Warren and I am in the Opinion Coverage class at MIPA. I think that this article was interesting and the introduction paragraph really drew me in with the wording. I thought that it was really helpful to have quotes by the teacher and the student because it helps me understand the reason behind the story more.

Molly Wilson says:
Jul 31, 2018

Hi I am Molly Wilson and I am taking the Opinion Writing course that you wrote about in the article. I really enjoyed how you added quotes from many different people in your piece. This allows me to see different perspectives on the class. The fact that you interviewed not only students but additionally the teacher, gave a variety that I really enjoyed. I also really liked your use of language as I felt it drew me in. One example of wording that I noticed was, “The room was dead silent.” I thought that it was very descriptive and painted a visual picture. As someone who took part of the activity being described, I felt that this description truly captured the atmosphere. The only advice that I could think to give would be that I personally would try to use the word ‘said’ less. Obviously that is more of a style preference but I like to see more variety.

Annie Hamaty says:
Jul 31, 2018

Hi Sami, my name is Annie and I’m from the Opinion Coverage class at MIPA this year. I loved the angle that you took for the article, because you explained the relationship we made between building the tower and writing an opinion piece. Also, the quotes from the teacher and the students added a backbone to the story. Although I appreciated those two traits, I was confused by the second part of the headline. I understood “Opinion class starts with silent Spaghetti Challenge”, but did not feel the, “works towards larger pieces” was relevant to the article. Possibly the title could only include, “Opinion class starts with silent Spaghetti Challenge”.

Jareal says:
Jul 31, 2018

The way the article was organized out was extremely informative, and it gave me a nice background of what was happening in the class. Because I was in the class I was able to visualize and think about what happened that day. I personally loved started your article with the background and then provided a hook, a quote from one of the students in the class Onur Toper. This allowed me to connect which made your piece much stronger I was able to get a feel for the vibe of the classroom and how connected the students were. However, next time, you should try using a shorter headline because from personal experiences such as reading newspapers and being in the opinion coverage class I notice that with longer headlines readers lack interest in reading articles that long. I would personally suggest leaving the reader assuming what the article is about therefore they are more likely to read because the article doesn’t give the intent of the article away.

Toni Golston says:
Jul 31, 2018

Hello Sami, you have a well rounded piece written here. Even though it is good there could be a few improvements here and there. For starters, don’t put a comma before a conjunction. For example, in the fourth paragraph you can take the comma out and it would be perfect. Also, when you state that trial and error are in procesas, you do not need to state any more synonyms to expound upon that thought. Other than that you did excellent. I love how you placed the quotes synonymous to your next area of discussion. Your length is small, but full of information and how the class activity plays into what the class is aimed towards.

Onur Toper says:
Jul 31, 2018

I’m Onur Toper from Opinion writing class. This article was well-written with a good mix of quotes from students and descriptions of the environment of the room which sets the tone for what will be written in the following sentences and paragraphs. The beginning of the article was also done well, but I would switch up the spots of the sentences in order to better take the attention of the reader. I would place the catch that students couldn’t talk towards the very beginning in order to keep the reader engaged and understand one of the main points of this exercise. Lastly, the title of the article is informative as it gives us all the information we need: the class, what they are doing, and what this will lead to going forward. An overall good insight into this class.

Charlotte says:
Jul 31, 2018

Hey Sam, it’s Char. I like your piece and how you started with a narrative. That made the story feel much more intriguing to me. The overall structure is really great too. The quotes wove in nicely with what you were discussing.

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