AN ALTERNATIVE WRITING LESSON
Have you ever tried a silent lesson, an alternative way to practise writing? This lesson might well be one of the most popular lessons you have done so far. It’s ideal for all ages, but the best for teens and young adults. There is only one rule: YOU CANNOT SPEAK. NOT A WORD. COMPLETE SILENCE, PLEASE! This way, you (Teacher) can relax and conduct an engaging writing lesson.
There are many great ideas about how to use mobile phones in the classroom and exploit for example WhatsApp group chats in an English lesson. However, in Italy many schools ban mobile phones from their premises. WhatsApp also exposes the teacher too much, you might get messages even at inappropriate times and you need to set up very strict rules in order to keep everything professional, otherwise things might get out of control with comments and pictures.
Most schools in Italy have a computer room with working PC connected to the Internet. You will need to liaise with the corridor guard or the PC technician, but things usually work (even in the South).
If you do your course online, the problem is solved straight away.
Now, set up a video chat for your students. Decide together what to use: Are they registered on SKYPE? That’s great, Skype keeps track of the chat, so you can use it later for error correction or any other activities. In ZOOM you can download the chat content onto your PC and do the same. Otherwise, you can simply use JITSI to set up a video-chat just for this lesson without any track. Jitsi suits also to students who don’t want to download any new program or application onto their devices.
After setting up and inviting everybody to the chat, clarify the only one rule: every communication will be conducted in written form. So everybody can switch off their microphone (and also the camera).
You can then do different things:
– Conduct a normal lesson in writing, giving instructions and asking questions in written form and your students will need to react to these in written form.
– You can share a picture and ask the students to describe it or write down what the person in the picture might think.
– You can start prompting them about a topic, simulate a conversation/debate in writing.
– You can give them a story starter and ask them to continue the story – sentence by sentence. Here, you need to name the student(s) who should write the next sentence. If more than one sentence is presented, vote which is the best and continue that one.
– You can write them a short email and ask them to answer to this email.
– Start giving a description of a famous person and students need to guess who you think of. Give the details about him/her one by one.
– You can type in infinitive forms of verbs and ask them to write the simple past and past participle form as a race. The first gets a point, the winner gets some award.
– Discuss possible abbreviations we use in text messages and posts, clarify what they mean (How R U?).
– Type in a short situation (you borrowed my tablet and dropped it, the screen is broken) and ask them to write a message (max 35 words) apologizing for it.
– Ask them ‘What would you do…?’ questions, then vote for the most imaginative answer.
1) Make sure that all of your students are active and take part in the lesson.
2) Decide if you give individual or open feedback, be delicate.
3) Give clear rules, not only about ‘only writing and no speaking’, but also who can write and when, how many seconds/minutes they have to complete one task, who corrects whom, etc
WHERE WOULD YOU LIKE TO GO NOW?