So, this was a session that I did with some teachers at our school, EC, a few years back, it got great feedback at the time and I am constantly pleased to see that some of the ideas from it are still being used in our classrooms today.
If you have used many of the writing materials posted on the site you will probably recognise some of the ideas if not actual full exercises here. The idea of the CPD was to try to get teachers thinking about teaching writing, and what that involves rather than just setting writing. There is an accompanying booklet that goes with the CPD as I don’t think there is much point in giving teachers ideas without giving them a helping hand to put them into practice. They are busy and often won’t have time to plan a lesson using the new ideas so anything that can be done to make it easier for them to implement ideas is a good thing in my book.
The procedure below is just a talk through the power point which you can download below.
The session format is more workshop than lecture, you need to give the teachers chance to discuss a few of the points.
- Discussion – The beginning is all about finding out what teachers do, some may have great practice already, doesn’t mean a refresher won’t help, some may not do so much, it is good to find out why.
1.1 Get them to check against the list on the screen, not all of them are good practice, in my opinion. Now ask them to discuss why they do these things.
1.2 Answer reveal – this is how i would divide them, this may create discussion, which is the idea, but explain there is nothing wrong with any of the activities on the ‘No, something else’ side, but that they are not teaching writing.
2.1 The focus of this is to ask teachers why model answers are useful. There is a whole lesson on this on the site.
Discussion – In pairs or groups ask them to discuss for maybe 5 minutes and then do a group feedback session.
The answers should be:
- Can we assume that students will know what particular types of writing should look like?
No, task types can be different in different languages and writing types don’t necessarily translate
- How does the student benefit from a model of the type of writing you are using?
They can see what you want them to produce, we all need this. Also exposes them to the vocan and grammar that is appropriate for the type of writing and other features that make up register.
- What happens when students aren’t given a model?
They don’t give you the piece of writing you want. disappointed teacher, disappointed student, less motivation on both parts, downward spiral and so on etc.
This slide focuses on layout, again key in many styles of writing and something that is too often taken for granted.
3.1 Ask the teachers what styles of writing these are and how they know, ask if they think their students would know and why / why not?
Answers: letter – report – essay
What is the difference in layout? – letters have rules for how they are laid out – the report is normally divided into sections – essay features longer paragraphs etc
Why do students need to know these? – if they don’t, how will they write them?
Style and register – again this was looked at elsewhere, here in fact
4.1 Ask the teachers to briefy discuss the two questions on the slide and do whole group feedback
answers should include – you get inappropriate writing, or the styles are all mixed up. a very negative effect on the reader.
4.2 Show them the example and ask them what is wrong, for extra interactive work you could ask them to quickly rewrite a paragraph.
Obviously it is far too formal, but I am sure many of us have had a slightly less extreme version of this. In my experience if shown this many students would be unable to say what was wrong and many might think it was very good.
Planning and editing
5.1 Ask the teachers to decide what other benefits of planning could be, maybe ask them to shout them out and then reveal.
Just acts as a reinforcement of importance of planning. I find students who don’t plan have many mistakes in their first paragraph, normally as they have directly translated from their own language. These can be lessened, if not eradicated, by planning in detail.
Lesson ideas, probably a good time to hand out the accompanying booklet, so they can see what each one is.
As I said earlier, this was a session that we ran at our school, it was quite successful, feel free to use it and let us know how it goes, or feel free to adapt it and change bits around.