This project started as a simple writing assignment a few years back and I have reworked it in recent years to make it more interactive and to respond to students’ requests to read each others’ writing. The photo above is of the assignment with a 7th grade intermediate low/mid class, but I have used it with novice students as well as more advanced students.
Students begin with a writing prompt and create a brainstorm (mapping) sheet with the ideas they want to include. I go over these sheets for content before students write a first draft of their writing. This gives them a chance to focus on content independent from language structures. Students read each others’ drafts in class and comment on content and discuss any grammatical concerns. Based on this feedback students complete a second draft that I go over with suggestions for richer content and highlighting grammatical issues. It is very important to give prompts at the appropriate proficiency level of the students or the teacher will spend more time going over the grammar than it took for the student to write the draft. This is a clear sign the proficiency level of the prompt was too high.
When students get the draft back they type a final draft to hand in along with an additional sheet that includes pictures or drawings of the content. I post the writing and picture sheets on a bulletin board.
I hand out a question sheet to students to complete as a homework assignment. They need to read their classmates writing and find the information to fill in the question grid. The picture sheet helps to guide students in understanding their classmates’ writing if there are words that they do not know. I typically make several versions of the question sheet with 5-7 names on it. I hand these sheets out to students, making sure that they do not get a sheet that requires them to read their own writing.