I had been struggling to find an interesting and modern example to use to demonstrate the passive voice in writing about processes. Previously I had used a ‘how to make an X-wing fighter from two Paris metro tickets’ which turned out marginally better than using wine-making as the process!
So I was glad to see a tweet (hat tip @chadsansing) which led me to an article on a project that turned a set of library steps into a giant game. And as a bonus the text accompanying the video used the passive voice. Authentic, interesting text, not made-up, stiff, out of date prose!
one could start by asking – What do you think is happening here? This would then lead onto eliciting various vocabulary needed for the writing task – stairs, tin cans, (tennis) ball, balloons, game, etc.
Before, during and after photos could then be used to encourage thinking about the procedure which goes from an empty staircase to a game via electronics and collaborative work.
This video of the event could be shown next:
Students would be told to write up a report of the event as if they were a journalist for a newspaper.
Finally a gap fill could be given of an actual write-up:
Four flights of seventy-two stairs ____ _______ into a giant game board using 1,200 feet of wire and 48 Internet-connected tin cans _______ with green and gold helium balloons at DIY: Physical Computing at Play. These were our targets.
The customized game ____ _______ after we invited designers and web developers Michael J. Newman and Scott Hutchinson to Kennedy Library at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, to present at Science Café, an ongoing community series. They made a couple of drives up from L.A. to find inspiration and check out our Brutalist building. The two saw our dramatic stretch of concrete stairs and knew they’d found their game board.
At the event, participants built and tested simple circuits then rigged our staircase using the wire, cans and balloons. Then we aimed and threw tennis balls down the stairs, hoping to knock over the cans, which acted as live switches on foil tape.
Cans _____ _______ to a breakout box by 25’ wires, and a live site updated the score whenever a can from either the green or gold team ____ _____ ____. Working with the library’s IT group, the site ___ ______ on digital displays throughout the building as well as on participants’ mobile devices. Cal Poly linked to the scoring site from the university’s home page.
Use these words: to be (x5), transform, decorate, conceive, attach, knock over, share
As an additional activity one could use the following interview as a listening quiz: