One thing I tend to overlook when I teach writing is titles.

We get through revisions and formatting, and then all of the sudden, my students want to know if they need a title. “Yes,” I tell them, which inevitably leads to, “Well, what should I title it?”

For once, I finally created a lesson solely based on TITLES.

Inspired by The Quiet Year, I created a “title prompt” for each card in a playing deck. For cards 2-10, I simply gave a title of a book or essay and asked students to tweak it to make it their own. For Jacks-Aces, I gave a prompt or challenge, such as “Think of a song that could double as a title for your essay.”

I gave each student a deck of cards, and they drew ten cards from the deck. They looked up the prompt for each of their cards and wrote down potential titles. Ahead of time, I warned them that some of the titles would be worthless–and that was OK! As writers, we don’t always write Pulitzer Prize winning material the first time. This warning is important so students don’t get caught up on making each title brilliant. This activity is about quantity, not quality.

Finally, each student took a highlighter and rotated around the room, reading everyone else’s titles. They marked their favorites with a dot from their highlighter.

By the end of the activity, every student had at least two quality titles for their essays. A few days later, when it came time to prepare the essays for publication in our literary magazine, not one needed any help with a title.