You can listen to Judith Ortiz Cofer as she introduces the activity.
Listen to the audio.
"Well, one of the hardest things to do in a creative writing classroom, I think, is to talk grammar because people always want to be allowed to be creative in that area. 'I don't feel like punctuating today. I'm a poet.' And so it's, for me, particularly important in my undergraduate classrooms to incorporate the rules or strong suggestions about usage and grammar into the idea that good writing is paying attention to usage and that they will have license to use fragments as soon as they win the Nobel Prize in literature and then they can stop capitalizing if they wish you know, and they can be E.E. Cummings or Hemingway. In the meantime, they can use language creatively but it has to have sentence sense.
"And so one of the things that I am doing now is I am writing a book for Scholastic, a novel and I have asked them to let me use my poetry to construct it as a series of scenes, one or two page scenes. So, the novel is at this point, the working title is My Life in 100 Scenes and it's a story of a girl who calls herself Maria Alegre when she's feeling good and Maria Triste when she's not. And she lives in a basement apartment in Paterson, New Jersey where I grew up and she's very creative but she has a thick Puerto Rican accent, so they've put her in ESL and, in order to keep herself interested and not be bored, what Maria does is she takes every grammar lesson and makes it into something about herself, something in her journal. And so, Mister Golden is her ESL teacher. He's a forbearing, a patient man, you know, who is trying to teach this United Nations of America, you know, the English language.
"And so, I'm just going to read like three scenes from My Life in 100 Scenes. And the first one is the basic lesson, an interrogative sentence and he says "An interrogative sentence asks a question. It begins with a capital letter and ends with a question mark. These are interrogative sentences."
"And so, I did it in . . . Maria does it in the form of a dialogue. She reconstructs the class."