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Freeze the writing - A way to make writing tasks a group activity
Set up the context for the letter, you might do a letter layout on the board to make sure that everyone knows how to lay out an informal letter.
- Put the students in pairs or threes.
- Give them a large piece of paper and say, 'Right, everyone, I want you to write your address, write the opening greeting and then stop. And you do it immediately and you do it straight onto the paper.' And they do that. Then you say, 'OK now you're going to write the letter. But as you write it, at some point you'll hear me say 'Freeze!' and when I say 'Freeze!', I mean 'Freeze', even if you're in the middle of a word - you stop writing. If you're in the middle of a sentence you stop writing.'
- The students begin to write. I check that everyone has written something before I say 'Freeze!' for the first time. I try to hurry the ones along that are lagging behind a little.
- When I say 'Freeze!', I transfer each paper to the next group so that everyone's working with another piece of paper with a letter on it. I give the following instruction which is to read, correct, improve and continue. So, they work on the letter that they've received and then they continue that letter.
- A bit later I say 'Freeze!' and off we go again. Transfer letters, read, correct, improve and continue.
It's always good to get the paper back to the original group just before the ending and again the same instruction - read, correct and improve and this time you say 'close'. So they bring it to a finale.