In a recent class my students did some writing starting with the (elicited) sentence:
Tom was teaching English at IH in England two years ago.
This was to finish off a week during which we had studied relative clauses, and I hoped that students would include at least one or two of these in their own writing. It has to be said that my introduction to the writing was probably not the best ever seen in a language classroom, and this may have had something to do with the final result. However, since the students are in an Intermediate class, the general standard of their writing needed to be improved anyway.
I took the writing home at the weekend and came up with a set of questions, reproduced below.
Before the class, I cut them up so that each question was on one slip of paper. I turned them over and numbered them, so that the students could see which ones they had already responded to.
In class, I first asked the students to break down their writing onto small pieces of paper, so that one piece of paper had one clause (though I used the term ‘idea’ here). The examples here are from the end of the lesson, after they had worked on the text:
This made it easier for them to move the ideas around in the story – more like a puzzle than a piece of writing!
Students then worked through the questions in the same groups which they wrote the original stories in. Once they had a final version, they rewrote it on a new piece of paper. For the fast finishers, I marked a few errors for them to look at.
As the students themselves agreed, the new piece of writing was much richer. They still remember some of the questions I asked them when producing writing now (2 weeks later), although obviously not everything!
With the permission of my students, here are the before and after versions of their stories (click to make images larger):
Hope that all makes sense! I’d be interested to here if you’ve tried anything similar with your students.