I recently did a CPD session on teaching writing skills and dragged out all of my old writing lessons. This was a lesson I did with a PET class once but it works for any elementary or pre-intermediate class. A low elementary group might have some trouble with it but with some scaffolding they would cope. Also, it works with any review you could find or write yourself so please do feel free to change the film, I just always liked the idea of a butch Santa Claus.
What I’ve found over the years is that very often we assume writing sub-skills like paragraphing, organisation and punctuation will naturally translate from a student’s own language. However, this is not always the case. Too often, students see writing as a vehicle for showing off their vocabulary and grammar and ignore what they know about good writing in their own language. This lesson draws attention to structure and paragraphing at a low level which I feel is extremely important.
The worksheet is laid out quite easily for teaching so I’ve just added some tips and ideas for teaching in the procedure instead of going into massive detail.
Material: Writing a Film Review – Rise of the Guardians
Level: Elementary – Intermediate
Getting them interested
The opening discussion questions here should serve to get the students interested in the topic. By monitoring carefully you can also be filling the board with errors and interesting language that emerges and will be useful for the students later on. Really focus on descriptive adjectives and nouns to describe films.
Activate Ye Olde Schemata
I think it’s important to get them thinking. In question 2 on the worksheet, the students are essentially preparing themselves to read by predicting what kind of information will be in there.
Engaging with the text
It’s important to give them a chance to not just read the text for language but to read it critically. The discussion questions in Q3 are designed to encourage this.
You may also notice I haven’t really given any comprehension questions. You could add them if you wanted but I don’t think that’s really the aim here. I want them focusing on content, organisation and thinking about the text as a whole.
I do think it’s important to highlight that reviews will be rich in adjectives and adverbs. At this point I usually go back to the board from the beginning of the class and highlight the adj and adv that came up in Q1. I also encourage them to give me synonyms and opposites of the adjectives we have. It’s all preparing them for what’s to come later / for homework.
Q5 + 6 can be done together but I think it’s nice for the students to go back and see that their predictions were correct and then to really focus on the order.
Obviously we now want the students to go off and write a review. This can be done for homework if you like or it can be done collaboratively in class. If it’s done for homework, I would set aside some time for peer-correction at the beginning of the next lesson. I would prepare a review checklist to encourage students to edit their work. something like this;
- Have you used appropriate paragraphs?
- Have you used appropriate adjectives?
- Does your title catch the reader’s attention?
- Did you give your opinion at the end?
- Did you give some information about the film?
The idea being that if they have answered YES to all of the questions, they have an appropriate review. If they haven’t , they have some editing to do before they give it in as a finished piece of work.
If you decide to do it in class collaboratively, you could choose a film they’ve all seen and assign each pair of students a paragraph. Then put them all together at the end. This really highlights the importance of paragraphing and having one point per paragraph.