of a Process-Writing inspired approach to prepare and motivate
students to write a discursive composition, with particular
attention to generating, selecting, ordering and organising
ideas: effective use of linking devices: and paragraph planning
- by Nicola Holmes
Plan to accompany the article - 2
of the Lesson:
To familiarise students with a set of linkers of addition,
concession, cause/effect and conclusion, and encourage them
to begin to use these linkers in their writing.
2. To prepare and motivate students to write a discursive
composition, with particular attention to generating, selecting,
ordering and organising ideas, and paragraph planning.
am assuming that the students will be familiar with most of
the vocabulary that comes up, especially in the warmer and
gapped sentences, and that they may also already be familiar
with some of the linkers, although I do not consider the latter
to be essential to the success of the lesson.
am hoping that the students will be interested in the main
topic of materialism and also in the topic of Christmas, which
comes up in the warmer.
imagine that some students will have written similar compositions
in Spanish at some time in the past and will have some ideas
of possible conventions of layout and paragraphing for discursive
essays, although, again, this is not essential to the success
of the lesson.
Problems and Solutions
lesson is an adapted and considerably edited version of an
earlier plan, which I tried out with another class at the
same level. However, I am still concerned that some students
may feel overloaded with text in this lesson. I have tried
to compensate for this by keeping the topics discussed as
simple as possible and by recycling as much vocabulary as
possible from previous lessons. I have also cut down on the
number of handouts originally planned and have deliberately
chosen not to give the students Yvonne's full email to read
themselves until the end of the lesson.
have also been concerned about overloading my students with
linkers, and have consequently cut down on the number to be
covered and deliberately included the gapped sentences as
controlled practice before asking the students to use the
linkers more freely. I do not expect each student to use all
of the linkers in the free practice at this stage, but hope
that it will serve as an initial awareness-raising and familiarisation
exercise, where students will see how linkers can help them
to express their opinions and argue a point more effectively.
free practice activity may also seem slightly unnatural, given
our tendency to use linking devices more in written English
than in spoken English, but I hope to draw the students' attention
to the role of linking devices in the more formal medium of
debate, and, as mentioned above, their usefulness in arguing
a point clearly and effectively.
am also concerned that the e-mail from Yvonne will seem too
contrived and obviously set up by me. I am hoping that any
possible impressions of this nature will be outweighed by
the prospect to the students of having a real native speaker
audience for and response to their ideas. I am also hoping
that by showing the students the photographs of Yvonne, they
will be further aware of her and her students as real people
and real readers of their writing.
students may question whether the medium of discursive composition
is really the best way of presenting ideas to 15-16-year olds.
I will acknowledge any different ideas on this, but will stress
the academic context in which their ideas will be received
and responded to.
students may have problems with the meaning of the linkers
themselves, as well as with the analysis of their use. I have
tired to simplify the terminology used in the analysis stage,
speaking simply of a 'noun' rather than a 'noun phrase' and
a 'sentence' rather than a 'clause'. I have also attempted
to guide them more in their analysis, by underlining the verbs
and nouns which follow the linkers in the initial handout
to enable them to make connections more easily and more quickly.
students may feel a need for a Spanish translation for some
of the linkers. I hope to get round this by describing them
simply as approximate alternatives for 'and/also', 'but' and
'because of', but I may tolerate a degree of translation amongst
students if it clears up any slight confusions more efficiently.
may be problems with the more subtle facets of the linkers'
use, particularly with the distinction between the use of
'however' and 'although'. I will deal with such problems as
and when they arise, whilst tying to avoid too much detail
at this stage. (This is something which can be focused on
more at the later drafting and redrafting stages.)
often have problems with the late arrival of students, which
could make my warmer longer. However, I have explained to
the students that this class will be observed and asked them
to arrive on time if possible. Some students have also expressed
a dislike of walking around the room, but I feel that this
is a valid activity to warm students up and vary the pace
in the class, the main reason given for an objection to this
was that students felt they didn't have enough time to think
before speaking. I am hoping that by keeping the opinions
used in the warmer fairly simple, interesting, topical and
linked, this should not pose too much of a problem on this
could alsobe a problem with some pairs working together on
the planning tasks, particularly where there is a mixture
of weak and strong students., I will try to ensure that the
final pairings are well-balanced and that Jesus in particular
is matched with another strong student.
I have tried to be as realistic as possible with my timings
and tried to keep the tasks as simple and clear as possible,
so as to keep the pace moving throughout the class. However,
I may need to adapt my plan slightly if areas of difficulty
crop up, particularly where the linkers are concerned.
up opinions about Christmas, stuck around the classroom
of above opinions with questions about the meaning and use
of six linkers of concession, addition and cause/effect.
of sentences with gaps for controlled practice of linkers.
of my friend Yvonne and copies of her email with essay title
Basic spidergram handouts
One set of cut-out linkers per student.
Worksheet for essay planning
part 3 of the lesson plan
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