Setup for Mystery Person Contest
Have everyone write a page describing a well-known person or character without naming the character. The idea is to describe the person/character in such detail that everyone will recognize who it is. While you don't want students to create a cryptic riddle no one will be able to guess, but you do want them to move beyond "He's the President of the United States." The idea is to describe the person's physical attributes, personal characteristics, actions, etc., so that classmates will recognize the person/character by the description. Stress putting the person/character in action. For example, it would be pointless to describe Michael Jordan as a "tall, bald African-American man" -- that could be many people -- without describing the way he moves, which reveals something singular about him. When they are finished, have students read the descriptions out loud and see how effectively they have described their person/character. If no one recognizes him/her, then the student has either picked someone obscure, or they will (hopefully) realize that their powers of description could use a little work. Have students decide whose description wins -- some students really do a wonderful job with this, providing entertaining and detailed sketches.