General Writing Tips

Last week we dealt with Capital Letters and Punctuation.

What is our subject today?

General Writing Tips and Practical Suggestions

All my tips and suggestions can be used in any class, provided we adapt the subjects of the writing tasks to the writing level of our students.

We may choose to start with a Writing Storm exercise.

How do we do that?

We can divide the class into groups. The teacher reads out the first sentence of a story and the students have to continue. After 10-15 minutes, the teacher asks the students to stop writing and the groups get another 5 minutes to correct and edit. The representative of each group reads out his story and the class discusses what they have liked or disliked about the story.

e.g.,

Suddenly, the lights went out and…

I woke up and did not recognize the room. Nothing seemed familiar…

Bob apologized again and again, but…

I will never forget the day I met Dan…

It all started a few weeks ago…

Is there another option?

There is always another option. We can bring a theme (not the beginning of a story, like in the first example) and ask the class to write about it. After 10 minutes, we stop them and volunteers can read out their short compositions. The teacher will choose one of the compositions (provided the student agrees) and make copies for every student. The following lesson, the teacher hands out the copies and makes an oral correction (spelling, grammar, punctuation, style, contents, etc) with the students.

Themes for Ten Minute Writing Storms

The best thing that happened to me today 

The worst thing that happened to me today

A great /sad / frightening experience

Friendship

A memory from childhood

My favorite TV program

 What else can we do to help students overcome the writing barriers?

Students may feel more comfortable if given suggestions on how to start a writing activity, how to connect sentences and how to end the writing task.

We may start as follows:

There are several ways to appproach the problem ….

I have decided to discuss…, to deal with…

The topic is very close to my heart since…

When discussing the issue of…, we should take into consideration…

We may connect sentences in the following way:

First of all, besides, in addition to

However, despite, in spite of

On the one hand, on the other hand

On the whole, all in all

Therefore, as a result of, consequently

Therefore, thus

Needless to say, as a far as I know, to the best of my knowledge

Not only, but

We may end the writing tasks as follows:

Finally, in conclusion, I truly believe …

What else do we have to think about before we start wrting?

Students should be advised  to stick to the sequence of tenses and choose whether they prefer to write in the Present or in the Past. Naturally, they may have to move from Present to Past or from Past to Present from time to time. 

Subjects that require writing in the past.

1. Ask your parents or grandparents what school was like in their time. 

Write a short composition comparing school in those days (perhaps in another country) and your school now and here. 

You may begin as follows:

In my grandmother’s days, things were very different. Every morning, she went…

The school was located…

The classes …

There were about…

The syllabus…

As far as discipline was concerned, …

Relationships between students and teachers…

They used to wear a uniform…

2. My parents’ first days in Israel

You may start as follows:

My mother was born in …

She came to Israel…

When my father left Brasil at the age…

Sometimes you may have to write mostly in  the future.

Suggestions:

Write a few paragraphs describing the world in the future as you imagine it. You may wish to write about spaceships, robots, computers, creatures from other planets, etc.

Imagine your life in the year 2040.Describe how you may feel, where you might work, what your family will probably look like.

Describe the most popular professions in a decade or two. Justify your choice.

School in the next century or perhaps, school in the corona days…

Your life ten years from now…

You may choose to end the lesson with a funny story. Humor is a great teaching tool!

A visitor to a certain college paused to admire the new Hemingway Hall that had been built on campus.

“It’s a pleasure to see a building named for Ernest Hemingway,” he said.

“Actually,” said his guide, “it’s named for Joshua Hemingway. No relation.”

The visitor was astonished. “Was Joshua Hemingway a writer too?”

“Yes, indeed,” said the guide. “He wrote a check.”

That’s all for today. More Writing Activities in my next post.

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