This is an activity that I have used with various proficiency levels. It involves presentational writing and interpretive reading. It can be used with on demand writing, that is writing that is generated in the moment and doesn’t go through a revision process, or polished writing that includes feedback and additional drafts.
Essentially students begin by responding to a prompt in writing and then the other students in the class read what their classmates wrote and write a response. Depending on how lengthy the writing is students may be able to read almost all of their classmates writing and respond within one or two classes.
This works particularly well when students are able to use language expressing opinions and agreeing or disagree with the writer. I have students put their writing piece on their desk with a blank sheet of paper next to it. Students then circulate and read their classmates’ writing and write a written response or reaction on the sheet next to it. For novice level students they use chunked phrases such as “me too,” “not me,” “I also enjoy…,” I prefer….” when writing a reaction to novice level writing. For Intermediate students they may begin by writing an opinion on a reading or a film and their classmates will write a response. I have also had students write two reactions; one that is their own and then one that is in response an existing reaction. This takes on the feeling of a social media thread.
Even if the original writing undergoes a feedback process, the written responses allow students to also do on demand writing and to write in response to other comments. What the actual written responses and reactions look like will vary depending on what the original writing prompt is and the proficiency level of the class. I have used this with novice and intermediate students with lots of success. It take s bit more modeling with lower proficiency levels, but they are able to see how much they are able to write when the piece they are reading is at their level. This is one of the benefits of using student-created content as the reading text.
Students like to get up an move and this allows them to do that in the classroom. I use paper so that it is more tactile, but this type of activity could easily be done on a computer or even using Padlet. As for a follow up activity, try a discussion of what different students read or of trends and consistencies. Maybe ask questions about what students learned. Again, the type of follow up will vary based on the original writing prompt and proficiency level of the class.
Here is description of this activity that I recently did with a group of novice mid/high students. I asked them to write a “paragraph” telling about themselves using any and all phrases, vocabulary and structures that they have acquired so far. This particular class is 6th grade and meets 3 times a week for 45-minutes. Most of the class has reached novice high, though some are novice mid. Students wrote their paragraphs in class with no access to technology or dictionaries for looking up words.
They focused on novice language topics such as personal info (age, name, where they live, who they live with,what they like to do, what sports/activities/school subjects they prefer). I gave some ideas of topics, but it was on demand writing, meaning all generated in the moment. For homework they typed it and added some photos. Because it is all student-generated, using vocabulary and structures that they have acquired, the reading is “at level” for classmates reading and commenting. If anything was unclear the images are there to assist.
Give this student-generated reading and writing activity a try. It is very useful when moving the audience of student writing away from always being the teacher.