Make a Group Text – this is a really fun classroom activity for practising reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills!
1. Stage 2.1 First Draft – Initial Ideas:
Explain that the whole group is going to write a shared text with 8 sentences on the board, which includes an agreed number of vocabulary words and phrases. T [teacher] states or elicits a text type, e.g. an informal email. A SS [student/students] from one team comes up and writes their sentence at the top of the board. A student from another group comes up and writes the next, and this continues until there are 8 sentences and SS from each group have participated. As they write, all of the other SS have to copy the text into their notebooks. Other SS can call out with suggestions and corrections. T must stay out of it. T does not try to correct their work. If SS ask for help, T says, “Sorry, I can’t help you at the moment.” By the end of this stage, SS have created the first draft of the text. One SS reads it aloud.
Variation: each sentence has to begin (or end) with one of the 8 chosen words.
2. Stage 2.2 Second Draft – Corrections:
T asks: “Can you see any errors?” T elicits a few from the text. SS work in their teams and analyse the text for errors: grammar, spelling, and pronunciation. After a few minutes, T elicits the errors from the whole group, helping if SS really can’t see some of the errors, and corrects the text on the board (or a SS could do this), until the text is completely correct. SS should also correct the text in their notebooks, so that every SS has the same corrected second draft text written down.
3. Stage 2.3 Third Draft – Improvements:
T congratulates the group: “Good! The text is correct; it’s good, but can it be improved? How can we make it better?” T elicits the different ways in which it can be improved:
a. title / headline / subject line (if required)
b. higher-level vocabulary and more adjectives
c. compound or complex sentences instead of simple
d. character development, e.g. names, motivations, backstories
e. more dramatic action
f. consequences of actions are explored
g. detail where the text is generalised
SS work in their groups to produce an improved text, which means that there are now several distinct texts in the room. T can check each group and offer advice. After about 10-15 minutes, T asks a SS from each group to read their text aloud. After each reading T asks the other groups: “What was different? How has it been improved?” T helps SS to process what they have done: how they have gone from a few vocabulary words, through a rough version of the text, then a corrected version, to an improved version – working together as a whole group to begin with, then in smaller groups.
- T must let SS do all the work. Guide, don’t lead. Let them make mistakes on the board in Stage 2.1. Encourage SS to peer correct. All mistakes will be corrected in Stage 2.2.
- Before you begin, make sure you have a few board pens that work!
- The text that the SS write on the board should be legible and of a reasonable size. If it is too small, other SS will not be able to read it; if it is too big, there may not be enough room for all 8 sentences.
- SS could write up their own final draft of the third draft text for homework.