Developing students’ writing in level 2Jonathan Gelens
Last year I worked with levels 3 and 4. During this time I worked with students helping them develop their writing skills. I used Gary Pathare’s On the Road and Exit 5. I was impressed with how Gary took the students through the different stages of writing and helped them understand the structure and the process of writing.
This year I have been working with level 2 students. As you know, they are required to produce similar, albeit shorter, opinion essays. In order to help them organize their ideas, I started creating a similar writing booklet for level 2 students following Gary Pathare’s example. It is still a work in progress, but I thought it might be useful to share with level 2 teachers.
Part 1 – Brainstorming and planning
Normally, students struggle to understand the topic of each question and then think about the choices and their answers. So, in this stage, I had them work on different questions using a simple spider diagram. In the center of the diagram I would have them write the topic of the question and then their preferred opinion. After this they would think about 3 reasons. I asked them to just write 1 or 2 words.
Part 2 – Sentence structure and Main body paragraph
In this stage the students would take their ideas from the brain storming and then work how making them into full sentences. I spent time on how to write full sentence and word order (this is also part of level 2 grammar). I also developed some BookWidgets to go along with this stage. Once we had practice sentence writing we then moved on to putting the sentences into order and adding a topic sentence to begin the paragraph. At this point I began to look at signal words (also part of level 2 grammar). This was also a good opportunity to practice punctuation and I used extra material to help with this.
During this part, the students seemed to be engaged with the writing, but I didn’t want to have them just writing all the time. So, I added some BookWidgets and other activities to keep them interested.
Part 3 – Adding examples
In this stage the students looked at how they can support their reasons with examples. Examples were split into 2 types. Type 1 is specific details. This means that they think of a brand name, or a place, or particular thing and use that to help support their reason. Type 2 is a real life example. For this students can talk about a family member or a friend and what they do or did, and so this can be used to help support their reason. To do this students went back to the planning stage and added examples to their reasons.
|Firstly, you visit new places. For example, last year my family and I went to Thailand and we saw a lot of different buildings and countryside. Moreover, it is exciting. For instance, in Dubai you can do skydiving.|
Part 4 – Introduction
I wanted to keep the introduction short and simple. So I had the students write 3 short sentences. Sentence 1 is the topic sentence and the mention what the topic of the question is. Sentence 2 the students introduce the 2 different opinions. Sentence 3 the students write about which opinion they think is best.
Part 5 – Conclusion
The conclusion is just one sentence. Here the students repeat their opinion and then write down their 3 reasons in list form after their opinion.
Cycle 1 feedback
Although it was a struggle to get students on board, they did eventually find it writing an essay to be a lot easier and more achievable. Actually, given my experience with level 2 students, I am happy with the results so far. Most of my students who used this booklet did well on their writing quiz. The lowest score some students received was 3.25 and the highest was 4.
However, some students still seem to struggle with sentence structure, especially subjects and verbs. I’m still not sure how to address that in the booklet, but any comments or feedback will be greatly appreciated.