I use these in pretty much all my lit classes these days because they're not that hard for students to write or me to grade, but they develop and reinforce all sorts of close reading sorts of skills that are way important. Sisyphus is a genius, what can I say?
But I'm sometimes surprised at the words students choose, not because they're bad words, but because they sometimes choose adjectives without considering the noun it's modifying in their paragraph. For example, let's imagine I've assigned this passage from Lear:
Meantime we shall express our darker purpose.The student chooses the word "great" in the line "Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love." And then zie writes about how "great" is the most important word in the passage because Lear is a great king, and powerful, and he's doing this massively important action here, and so forth. But they don't mention the rivalry. And it's the fact that they're great rivals (rivals who are both great men, and also big time rivals, both meanings are there) that really matters. How do you look at "great" in that passage and not start from the context of the noun it modifies? I don't know, but sometimes they do, and it mystifies me.
Give me the map there. Know that we have divided
In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age;
Conferring them on younger strengths, while we
Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Our son of Cornwall,
And you, our no less loving son of Albany,
We have this hour a constant will to publish
Our daughters' several dowers, that future strife
May be prevented now. The princes, France and Burgundy,
Great rivals in our youngest daughter's love,
Long in our court have made their amorous sojourn,
And here are to be answer'd. (1.1.31-43)
And now, back to grading word paragraphs. When I finish this stack, I will be officially caught up in ONE of my three classes. As unimpressive as that sounds, it's a big improvement for my life.