Discourse in Writing
by Emma Worrall
- lesson plan - preliminary information 2
Anticipated Problems and Possible Solutions
Problem: Classroom management problems. The students will
be working at small, individual tables and with small pieces
of card. The regrouping process may cause confusion as may
the removal of some cards from the essays (see stages 2 )
and later the dovetailing activity (see stage 6) where students
will reform their essays. As the teacher working with 4 small
groups will be time-consuming .
Solution: Provide large pieces of card and blutak for the
students to stick the pieces of card to. Provide a model of
the essays on the board and demonstrate how the students must
reform their completed sentences to allow for more student
autonomy and to give them a further opportunity to collaborate
in groups in order to follow instructions given by the teacher.
Students in each group will be asked to reproduce their part
of the essay twice on two different red boards so that when
students regroup for the dovetailing process (see stage 6)
they will have two complete essays to look at instead of 5
or 6 students trying to look at one finished essay.
Problem: Students will have problems identifying the first
sentence card of the essay and it will take them too long
to complete (see stage 2).
Solution: Tell students the first sentence card and then
ask them to identify the last sentence card before they go
on to complete the rest of the essay.
Problem: Although there are 11 students in my FCE group
they may not all attend the class.
Solution: Split the class into slightly bigger groups and
ask all the students in each group to write one/two missing
Problem: Students may be familiar with discourse markers
but may not know how to use them effectively. Questions may
arise over the positions of discourse markers and students
may want to discuss others which have not been included in
the list (see main aims)
Solution: Briefly discuss the various positions of the chosen
discourse markers, making a note on the board next to each
discourse marker, but steer students away from introducing
others explaining that we can look at any others in another
Problem: Some of the discourse markers may cause problems
for the students for example "despite" which is
less complicated to use in Spanish than in English. I also
predict that "a further disadvantage" may cause
problems i.e. that students may think it is a contrast and
"of course". which students may think is a contrast
when it is used more in generalisations. Students may not
understand why the various discourse markers are in the alloted
Solution: Use "a further advantage as an example of
a discourse marker and elicit the unnecessary word (i.e. "further")
and elicit the purpose of "further" (addition).
Prepare to explain the problem discourse markers and if necessary
give further explanation via example sentences.
Problem: Some groups may finish the sentence reproduction
(see stage 5) before other groups.
Solution: The fast finishers should provide help to the other
group completing the same missing sentences. Or if their are
only 2 groups ask students to choose two or three discourse
markers which are either new to them or they do not use and
note them in their notebooks with an example sentence.
Problem: Students may not have had enough time to absorb
the content of the essay and will have extra difficulties
reproducing their missing sentences.
Solution: "Help Cards" (see appendix) will be provided
(two per missing sentences). The first help card will contain
several content words from the original sentence card to help
jog the students' memories. If the students still have problems
recalling the nature of the missing sentences the second help
card will provide the content words again with the category
of discourse marker which was used in the original. Students
will also be informed of the need to keep the meaning of the
original but that they are not expected to reproduce the text
word for word.
Problem: Students may not finish stages 6 and 7 before the
end of the class.
Solution: The aim of the class is not to rush the students
through the writing stages but to let them work at their own
pace. Obviously, if students are really struggling they will
need extra help from the teacher. If students do not get to
the comparing stage I will write up their work and we can
look at their work as the first part of the follow-up lesson
as a whole class, checking for problems and errors.
The group has only been together for 3 weeks but already
most of the regular students have built up a good rapport
with each other. At the beginning of the course many students
expressed a need for writing and listening practise in particular.
They respond well to visual based activities and we have discussed
the need for well-organised notes.
María: Has come through two or three of the academies'
levels. She is a confident speaker but is quite weak. Her
writing is stronger but she needs to check her work for Spanish
translations for certain structures.
Ricardo: Has also studied at Hyland before so is used to
the learner training that we employ here. He is very quiet
in class but speaks carefully and accurately and feels more
comfortable working in small groups. His writing is also strong
and he has applied, to recent homework, some structures and
discourse markers that we have already looked at.
Enrique: Is also quiet in class and will not readily volunteer
opinions. He also seems to work well in small groups. His
written work is fairly good and his listening skills too.
Marta: She is fairly confident in class and speaks with a
good deal of accuracy. Her writing is well-structured. However,
she has missed some classes (she works for a law firm and
has said that she is fairly busy with her work).
Beatriz: Started the beginning of the year in a level below
FCE but has been allowed to go to the FCE level because she
is doing extra conversation classes. She has missed lots of
classes and has only produced one piece of writing where she
relied heavily on Spanish translation of phrases and she did
not use many discourse markers.
María José: Like Beatriz, she was in the level
below FCE and is following a conversation course, however,
she is quiet in class and I suspect it is because she has
been told that the FCE class is a trial to see how she gets
on along with her conversation classes and she is worried
that her level is noticeably lower than the others in the
class. Her written work also relied heavily on Spanish translation
and showed that she needs lots of learner training in the
written part of the course.
Miguel Angel: Is a very confident student who has a tendency
to dominate open class and small group discussions. He works
well with María because she is confident too and she
does not allow him to dominate the conversation. His written
work is good. He has to write in English for his job (he is
training to be an air traffic controller) so he is used to
Olga: She has missed much of the course so far and she has
given me one piece of writing which needed work, especially
on the structure and linking phrases. Given her attendance
so far, she will need to do a lot of catching up.
Elena: She has only recently joined the course (two classes)
and she has not produced any written work yet. She is also
fairly quiet in class but speaks fairly accurately.
Verónica: Has also recently joined the class. Her
written work is okay and she speaks fairly accurately.
Virgínia: She is the youngest of the class. She is
a very confident speaker and her writing, though lacking the
maturity of the others' writing is well-thought out and very
the lesson plan procedure
the print friendly version
the articles index