Speed Dating Topic Sentences

This activity, created by Justin Gest, involves learning through "speed dating."  The activity focuses on how to craft excellent topic sentences and substantively centers on the question: how are conceptual and classic understandings of the state (or polis) complicated by globalization and immigration?

Check out this lesson in action!


On the board, Justin prompts the students to brainstorm what makes a good topic sentence, aiming for the students to list that they should:

1) be clear
2) be concise
3) summarize the paragraph to come
4) be attractive
5) transition
6) link to the thesis

Once all six elements are on the board, Justin gives half the class passages from theorists of about half a page in length.  The other half of the class receives newspaper or magazine articles that are 1-2 pages long.  Justin gives the students 5 minutes to read their text and come up with a clear, concise topic sentence.  Once the students are done with this, Justin tells them that they will be "speed dating" each other.  Using their topic sentences as "pick-up lines,"  the two sides "speed date;" all those with theory articles "meet" those with articles from periodicals.  Each pairing gets 3 minutes to open with their topic sentences and then discuss whether the theorist predicts the reality and how the reality complicates the theorist. 

After speed dating all potential matches, Justin brings the class back together.  He asks them whether there were any "love connections," meaning the theory really fit the reality.  He then asks whether there were any "lovers' quarrels" where the theory and article really did not fit.  Lastly, he asks if anybody encountered a really excellent topic sentence.  This topic sentence is then written on the board and critically dissected.

See below for a document with the speed dating excerpts and articles.

speed_dating_sample_-_94mg.docx150.55 KB