Whiteboard | instructions | writing

Guiding your students through steps of a writing task via instructions on the board?

Why not?


Who? A group of 12 B2 adult students.

What? A lexis-rich lesson on challenges, taking risks and undergoing change, that had lots of vocab & speaking practice but was leading to a writing task.

Why? The lesson was unusually long (120mins) and I knew that by the time we get to the actual writing stage they’d be pretty spent and in need of all the help they can get to be able to focus on writing.

So while I was giving instructions I used the following diagram as a reference.
instructions - writing

I had drawn it before the lesson and copied it to the board while they were busy with one of the previous tasks.

The instructions were more or less as follows:

Are you ready for a bit of honesty today?

If yes –  get ready to write a personal anecdote.

If no –  you’ll be writing a story.

The piece of paper I gave you is almost blank. At the bottom, there are 4 sentences*. One of them will be the final sentence of your piece of writing. Choose one.

You have to use some new lexis in your writing, so dig deep into your memory, have a look at your notes, or, if you need more help, look around the room for clues**.

Once you are ready with your first draft, read it from the end to the beginning, sentence by sentence. This way it will be easier for you to spot things that are incorrect and introduce the changes.

Then exchange your texts with a partner and give and receive suggestions on what’s to be changed / introduce the changes.

When you finish – congrats! You’re done. Sign at the back.


* If you’re curious, these were the four endings my students were to choose from:

  • Nothing happens by chance, my friend. No such thing as luck.
  • You had your chance. You blew it.
  • Housework can’t kill you, but why take a chance?
  • Better an oops than a what if.

** I left some phrases I’d introduced during the lesson hanging around.


Conclusions/feedforward for me (and you):

→ I did not have to answer a single question from “what now?” category.

→ I was afraid of losing control during this stage of the lesson. It turned out to be rather liberating to everyone involved – I didn’t have to “direct the traffic”, so I gained plenty of time to focus on assisting everyone individually, a bit of help or challenge here and there, distributing the attention evenly.

→ Everyone could work at their own pace without having to wait for others or worrying about falling behind.


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