Freeze the writing - A way to make writing tasks a group activity

This activity would follow input work on writing in a particular style - for example, an informal letter inviting a friend to visit your home town for a holiday.

Gillie Cunningham


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.

Language Level


It is a wonderful activity which promotes collaborative learning, competition among groups and brings life to the rather grey area of ESL;writing. If wondered if someone could suggest how to adopt this activity at elementary level with very little or no knowledge of the conventions of formal and informal writing. So far I can understand, perhaps we can do this activity at sentence level!!! Thanks.

Submitted by 3rohana on Sun, 06/09/2013 - 13:56


 It's really interseting. The learners can read, edit, add and write to improve their writing. I am going to introduce this activity with my students.


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