Our students face many challenges when it comes to academic writing and this may lead to a certain level of motivational issues in class. Although some might find ways to tackle those,most fail doing so and have lower levels of motivation. Having taught Intermediate essay writing for long enough, I was always in search of ways that would lead to encourage our students to improve their content. As most of us would agree, improving content is the most challenging part of teaching writing since the students do not tend to talk about reasons in their daily lives .
Last module, I had the chance to teach Pre-Intermediate level for the first time, where students learn to write opinion paragraphs. I took it as an opportunity to look for ways to teach them to talk about reasons rather than just mentioning simple facts. So, here comes a simplified version of my lesson plan that I used to improve the content of the students’ writing via exploiting speaking questions in their coursebooks and level objectives.
In this post, I would like to focus on how I exploited our course book’s “Speaking Questions” to revise our objective; writing an opinion paragraph, and to improve content.
In the first two weeks, writing objectives were new to our students so we made use of every opportunity to revise and teach them.
- There are 6 questions in this exercise. I chose only 3 of them which can be possible writing questions for them.
2. I simplified the last question:
3. I asked 5 students to stand up and choose their team mates. 5 students volunteered. They chose 2 more people for the group work, so we had 3 groups of 3 and 2 groups of 4 (I had 17 students).
4. They had 10 minutes to discuss the questions in their groups while I was monitoring and listening to them. I sometimes joined the discussions to elicit some ideas for REASONING.
For instance, a group couldn’t come up with any reasons for the 2nd question. They were repeating the sentence: “It is better to live in a hot country.” as I insisted on asking WHY? Their only answer was “because it is hot.” I guided them to think about the activities they could do in summer. Then they were able to find some reasons. (They can go out with their friends/ It is enjoyable because they can swim).
5. After 10 mins, I divided the white board into three columns and wrote the questions there.
6. Then, the students started sharing their ideas, and we took notes on the board.
7. Lastly, I chose the last question to practice writing a paragraph together with the students. We had all the brainstorming ideas ready on the board and it was easy to group those ideas with the REASONS because students already mentioned those reasons.
8. I suggested them that we should choose an “umbrella term” for each supporting idea. Looking at the brainstorming ideas, we decided to talk about physical (sick/ energetic/ young) and psychological (depressed/ bored/ moody) effects of climate on people.
9. We wrote the topic sentence and first supporting idea together with its reasons, further explanation and examples and I gave the 2nd supporting idea as homework.
Having written the first part together in guided fashion, students were much more motivated to produce their own draft. They felt more enthusiastic.. In sum, our precious in boosting motivation was generating ideas and enriching content.
How do you exploit the books to increase the motivation of students? What is your precious?
By İlknur Sarıoglu