Writing can be one of the most tiresome endeavours of a student – can you recall your own papers, compositions, etc? Surely, not the funniest part of learning 🙂 My language teachers assumed I was able to write a nice story, so they never bothered to teach me how to write. Only at university did I learn what a topic sentence is 🙂
I see no reason not to pass the knowledge further on and teach some writing techniques to my own students. I’ve realised that the sooner they get the basics, the better their writing compositions are.
I think you can start even with elementary students, doing some exercises. Here, I wrote a simple sentence and asked my students to expand it by adding words and phrases. That’s what we got:
On my last lesson, with my pre-intermediate group of teenagers, I explained what a topic sentence is and we decided to make a short outline of a story using only simple topic sentences. That’s what we got:
Next, we thought about what exactly we are going to include in the paragraphs. We could do it together, deciding to write one story with the same plot and details, but at that moment my students started to grow their own ideas, so we just made a general outline:
And then, I asked them to write down some keywords and phrases. It’s a pre-intermediate level, so it’s not too crazy 🙂 but on the more advanced levels I ask my students to add 2-3 items of sophisticated vocabulary, some phrasal verbs, an idiom or two, maybe a proverb. We tend to forget all those nice words while writing (especially on a test), but planning – and writing down – ideas, before we start writing, is a really good idea.
That’s the final outline.
Next, I asked my students to elaborate the topic sentences the way we did during these simple exercises (like the one in the first photo). That’s how I’m able to monitor their work 🙂
Writing a full story (based on the outline, naturally) is their homework.
Since I include a short essay/composition on every test, I give my students more time to deal with this part, but I ask them to write not only the complete task, but also the process – topic sentences, ideas, keywords. It helps me to observe their progress and help them in those aspects they struggle with.
I hope you’ll find the idea worth giving it a try 🙂
(Thank you, group Washington, a.k.a. LeniweBuły, for your cooperation 😉 )