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Taking Aim:

Your Purpose Is the Bull's Eye


Today's Snack: Put a grape on a fork, shut your eyes, and try to get the grape into your mouth without spilling it. It's tough, isn't it? Now try that with your LEFT hand, or your right if you're left-handed. Last, but not least, try it (grape on a fork) with the hand you don't write with while hopping across the room and flapping your other hand up and down in the air. All those distractions make it really hard to get that grape in your mouth, don't they? Well, pick up any spilled grapes and throw them away . . . and sit down and eat the rest of the bunch of grapes with no distractions. Ahhh! That's better! Drink a glass of milk through a straw, taking perfect aim into your mouth, and minimizing the chance that you might spill.





Bow and arrow | archery expert


OR, if those aren't available, you can play any kind of "aim game":


Throw a beanbag into a wastebasket,


blow a hard pea through a straw to knock a

wad of paper off a table,


or fold a piece of paper into a triangular "football" and flick through

someone's hands forming a human "football uprights"


Each student should have a piece of writing from a past

assignment available to trade with a partner



Have you ever aimed at a target with a bow and arrow? It's harder than it looks. If you have an archery expert available, demonstrate this ancient and noble sport.


Whether or not you have an archer present and a chance to try it, let's think today about the importance of good aim.


In archery, if you aim just in the general direction of the target, you most likely won't even hit the target's surface, much less hit the bull's eye. There are a LOT of things that can go wrong and mess up your aim. Your arms might wobble, you might get a bug bite on your leg that distracts you, there might be a loud noise . . . taking aim is serious business, and it's pretty easy to lose your focus while you're trying to aim.


Now, if you practice a little more, and take your time and really aim well, your arrow might land somewhere on the surface of the target. It would be better than not hitting the target at all, but it would still be far from the center.


But if you practice and practice and practice, and look with great concentration right at the bull's eye before you shoot, and take careful aim, you might be able to shoot that arrow right in the center of the target.


And that's what you want . . . in archery as well as in writing.


The best way to plan and organize a piece of writing is to THINK about it, before you ever get started.


Is your aim to teach people about juggling and make them amazed at how it's done?


Is your purpose to make your readers more concerned about pollution, and give them three specific things they can do to help keep the Earth a little cleaner?


Is the goal of your report to explain enough about ancient Mexico so that students your age could visit a Mayan ruin and recognize at least three cultural symbols and be able to tell their families three facts about those people?


It's a great idea to put the target, or goal, of your writing, into words. Write a sentence that tells what your aim is. Then, when you sit down to write the report or story or whatever it is, you can look back at your target, and make your writing task fulfill that goal.


When you plan that way, you literally take aim on the bull's eye - which, in writing, is to get your point across well, and serve your reader in some way.


To aim well, be clear on your purpose and what you're trying to accomplish. If you think before you write, you will increase your chances significantly that your reader will get the point.


Now, each student is supposed to have a past class writing assignment in hand. Trade yours with a partner. Read your partner's writing assignment. Then tell your partner in one sentence what you thought the aim of it was.


Listen to what your partner defines as your aim, too. How close, or how far off, were you?


Next time, will you take more time on fine-tuning your aim, so that your writing will "hit the mark" better?


Now practice taking aim with archery, or play another "aim game" listed above. Most of all, always remember the importance of keeping your eye on the target whenever you sit down to write.


By Susan Darst Williams Writing 2010


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