Some of the lines in this text have one extra word in them. Identify and correct where necessary. The first one has been done for you.
I first dtd visited Borough Market in London on a bright spring morning in April 2004. It's an amazingly busy place, full of the people from a rich variety of countries and backgrounds - all lumped together in search of a fresh food, a new eating experience. If you're a 'foodie' then this is the most best place for you: organic ostrich steaks, olives from Spain, fresh fish, farm-made cheeses, home-made cakes and a variety of organic vegetables which all looked and smelt very fantastic. If you're not much of a cook, there are also plenty of stalls selling takeaway food from burgers to soups, sandwiches to tapas - and a lot more. If you've not never been to a modern food market, Borough is a great place for to start - the only worry is how much money you'll end up with spending, and how much weight you may put on!
Building up a collection of worksheets and activities like the ones above will allow you to give further practice, extra homework or examination preparation materials to your learners. The advantage that these materials have over many of the other options we will be looking at in the course of this book is that they are generally very small files - and so are easily transportable - and they are also more likely to fit into a wider range of computer access situations since they do not necessitate an Internet connection or high-powered computers to work.
A simple word processing activity to start with is a dictation from the teacher - in this case the opening few lines of a creative writing narrative. This should be treated as a standard dictation, and the learners should input (type) the text as they listen. Once you have dictated the first few lines, try introducing a small round of peer correction, with learners
exchanging texts and making edits to their partner's text, possibly using TrackChanges, before moving on to a final round of teacher-led correction.
Once the dictation phase has been completed, learners return to their own documents and have a fixed period of time in which to add to your model narrative opening and to develop the story further, before turning it over once again to their partner. Their partner then has to read what has been added, make edits and is then given more time to add to the text. This process continues until completion, at which point the final product is turned in to the teacher for correction.
There is a lot of activity in this kind of process, from dictation and text modelling, through peer correction, reading, use of narrative structures and sequencing to final text production, and the combination of these techniques and skills can have a significant effect on the quality of your learners' writing.
An activity which encourages noticing of structures at lower levels, and for younger learners, is for pairs of learners to produce a short descriptive text (for example of a mystery animal), including the third person -s.
This animal is large and grey. It lives in Africa and India, and it has large ears and a short tail. It eats leaves and grass, and it likes to wash in the river. It remembers everything!
Pairs exchange texts, read the description and guess which animal is being described. They then underline and/or highlight all the examples of the third person -sthey can find, either by using WordArt (in Microsoft Word), or highlighting the -5 in a different colour, font or size. They can also be asked to search the Internet to add a photo to the highlighted text. These finished, highlighted and illustrated texts are then displayed around the classroom.
An Elephant! This animal is large and grey. It liveS in Africa and India, and it haS large ears and a short tail. It eatS leaves and grass, and it likeS to wash in the river. It remembers everything!
Collaborative writing activity
A well-known writing activity is that of the collaborative story, where a story is started (perhaps from a prompt such as an evocative series of sounds, or a painting) by one learner or pair, and then passed to subsequent pairs of learners, who add to the story. This works particularly well if learners are first asked to listen to an evocative piece of music for two or three minutes, and asked to close their eyes while they imagine what is happening, as if they were watching a film. In the computer room, after listening to the music and imagining what is happening in the film, pairs can start a story on one computer and then move around to the next computer terminal after a certain period of time (say five minutes) to add to the story on the next computer. The teacher can provide a narrative structure for each stage in front of the computer - for example:
3 1 Describe the scene and the characters. [change computers] 2 What happens first in the story [change computers] What happens as a result of this? [change computers]
4 What new character arrives and what do they do? [change computers]
5 How does the story end?
[change computers - go back to the story you started]
The final version of the story is then read by the pair who started it, for revision and correction, using TrackChanges, or in a copied document which is edited directly. The final edited versions of the stories are then printed out and displayed for learners to read. Learners can then compare how many different stories for the imagined film there were.
Using word processors for presenting work
One final use of word processors to consider is that of encouraging learners to put their word processed documents into a presentation package, possibly as part of an ePortfolio of their work.
As we have seen, word processors facilitate correction and redrafting, and ease the pressure to produce 'good copy' in the finalised piece. They also encourage learners to take more pride in their written work, often with surprising results for those teachers used to encountering motivational difficulties when trying to get students to write.
Enhancing produced documents with images and photographs from the Internet taking into account copyright issues) can also help to increase the time and effort put into the writing process by learners.
Specific pieces of work can easily be transferred from word processed format to a presentation format like Microsoft PowerPoint for public presentations, or added as files to students' web pages or blogs
Once learners have a final piece of finished work as a word processed document, they can be encouraged to keep documents together in files on a USB pen drive or diskette (as well as on their own computer if they have one) as a portfolio of work produced during a course. This can then form part of their electronic portfolio, a format that is becoming increasingly important for learners in a mobile working and learning environment.