Exaggerated Yelp Reviews as Writing Prompts

A conversation with a colleague today got me thinking about engagement. Or rather disengagement of staff and students. It’s a pretty solid and straight forward framework for the continuous improvement of instruction. However, it also happens to be a framework that can feel like an assembly line at times. Prepare instruction, deliver instruction, deliver assessment, dive into assessment data, retool instruction, deliver instruction, deliver assessment, etc. It takes a LOT of practice and time to get into the rhythm of data-driven discussions around improving instruction on a regular basis, and it can be easy for teachers to become disengaged, pushing back that the instruction doesn’t feel as ”personal or unique” as it might be otherwise.

This isn’t a post about the PLC process; it’s a solid model that has proven itself in schools around the world. This is a post to remind myself about the silly, stupid, quick little activities I used to create for my students when I found myself disengaged with what was happening in the classroom. It’s good to do something a little different every now and then, especially if you can tie it into a writing prompt or other ELA activity. Which brings me to the Yelp review I left earlier for my favorite cafe.

I took a writing prompt focused on reviewing something mundane on Yelp from the Daily Create community, and I twisted it a bit to become an exaggerated review for something you love. The original writing prompt was for Yelp, but any social review site would work. While I’m not sure how students would respond to crafting fake reviews for Trip Advisor or Angie’s List, there are plenty of examples of exaggerated reviews from major sites, ala the infamous Three Wolf Moon t-shirt on Amazon.

Image of text from Amazon listing
Just one of the many humorous excerpts from the reviews and Q and A on the Three Wolf Moon Amazon listing.

I don’t recommend showing students the reviews and Q and A on the Three Wolf Moon Amazon review (the language gets a bit racy). But I do recommend giving students the opportunity to have some fun writing some goofy “over the top” reviews for some of their favorite places around town. Heck, if they’re old enough and school policies allow it, let them post their reviews to Yelp itself…..or maybe do it for them. I wrote my exaggerated review about Caffe Tosi and then published it on my Yelp account….because I actually really love the place, and they deserve the praise. And tossing something a little unexpected at students (and teachers) every now and then can help bring some fresh engagement amid the learning process.