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- Snowball writing: This is my favourite activity. You give each student a piece of paper and at the top of it they write either a question or the start of a story. They roll it up in a ball and then you play some music. The students then throw the paper around the class and pick up the ball of paper and continue to through it randomly around until the music is stopped. The students pick up a piece of paper nearest to them and continue the story or answer the question. You repeat the activity until or students have finished their story. They then find their original story/question that they started with and have to read it. Very exciting and great for teenagers.
- Hidden typing: This was a task that I learnt during my time doing the CELTA at the British Council in Seoul. All groups of learners are given a laptop and they start MS Word or the equivalent. The screen is tilted down to the back or covered with a cloth and then they have to type a story. You could use a variety of prompts to get them started. After the groups have finished their story, you could get the students to email them to you so that you can review them and look at grammar. A useful exercise.
- Answer the question: Tell students that they have received an email from a friend and they need to reply in English. Give all students a model email from their friend requesting some information. Tell the students that they need to reply to the email. Try to match it with a topic that they are currently studying. Again, look at their writing afterwards and grade it in relation to an examination for that level such as PET or FCE.
- Finish the story: This is another popular examination task for students of English, especially in FCE. You give students a prompt such as: "Steve looked outside from work and couldn't believe what happened. He immediately ran outside." Then you get students to continue the story. It has to have a conclusive start, middle and end. It is great for creative writing.
- Object of writing: This is a nice task that I have learnt from somewhere but I don't remember where exactly. You bring in several objects to class and get groups of learners to place their hand in a bag and choose one item. Then the group of learners then must write about the selected object. It could be a story and the object is related to it or just about the object.
So there you are with five new ideas for writing and getting students to write. I hope it inspires you for next time. What are your favourite activities for writing? What do you like to achieve when students write?