Target group: High school students
Duration: 45 minutes
Topic: Writing a review of a book or film
Material: Students’ book, workbook, notebook, pen, dictionary
The purpose of this lesson is writing a review of a book or film that students have read or seen recently. The main aim during this writing lesson is to help students develop effective paragraphs through pre-writing, while-writing and post-writing stages, to improve writing skills, to be able to write an essay content relevant to the topic, to be able to organize the essay in a good way, learners have possibility to share their thoughts and to show their creativity. Another goal is to practice passive and active voice as well in four different tenses that students were taught during this unit: present simple active and passive, past simple active and passive, present perfect active and passive, and future simple active and passive. Another goal in this unit (11-pre-intermediate) at vocabulary section was learning words with two or more meaning, such as wave, fit, present, still etc. In general the goal of the task is the general intention that lies behind it, relating the task to the objectives.
Students will understand the concept of a book/film and they will be able to explore their understanding and impression in an essay-writing task. Another objective is introducing new vocabulary items as well as practicing language skills: reading, listening, writing and speaking.
The students are almost introduced with a particular review of the novel Frankenstein . First the students will complete the gaps of the unit-based exercise and then they will read the review of the above mentioned novel. After they get the point of the review they will start writing about their most favorite book/film they have read or seen recently. The students will be able to improve content, style, grammar, organization, spelling and so on.
Writing a review about a book/film is very motivating and creative as well. Reading whatever novel or seeing whatever film and writing about it is a resource through which students become more creative, more critical, more confident in exploring their thoughts, freer in speaking as they can expand their vocabulary and so on. Writing and then discussing about a book/film review provides a good and enjoyable atmosphere for students.
- Pre-writing (10 min.)
After the students fill in the gaps and read the review about Frankenstein novel, I explain to the class that they are going to write a similar review about their favorite book or film they have read or seen recently. The students work individually. They are presented with the topic and they start brainstorming and generating as many related ideas or statements about the topic together on a paper as they can, they write whatever comes in their mind. The aim is to get their ideas flowing.
- While-writing (25 min.)
After brainstorming, students have gathered around as many ideas as they could, now I ask them to start the review beginning with the first paragraph . I write on the board things as the following:
- Title and author?
- Type of the book or film?
- Some basic information about the book/film?
Then the students continue writing the second paragraph. Again I write on the board the things they should relate to in this paragraph, such as:
- Give a brief summary about the plot for example where and when does the story take place?
- Give a brief description about the main characters , and tell what happens
Students then start with the last paragraph (conclusion), where they are asked to give their own opinion about the book or film whatever they have written for. They write if they have enjoyed the book/film or not, what have they find good and bad, would they recommend it to somebody else to read or see.
- Post-writing (10 min.)
Students check their work to find out if they have made any mistake while writing, they ask about any word they do not know how is in English which they probably have written in their native language and do not have dictionary to look out, or any grammatical structure as they usually make generalization with L1, they just find words or ideas and put together in the same order as their own language and they themselves know that their structure is probably not used well, and they may ask to make themselves sure if they are doing well in the writing task. Then in the last five minutes I ask them if they enjoyed the class, was the topic interesting, did they face any problem while writing and so on, to find out if they enjoyed the class.
I collect the students’ papers to check and evaluate at home. I usually evaluate a writing task about grammar, punctuation, spelling, organization, content, style, and vocabulary. Then in the following class students read their writing task and discuss about it.
Generally speaking, writing tasks play the most important role in learning a language. Through writing learners can practice all four language skills, that is to say, all language skills are integrated in a writing lesson, like for instance the writing task I did in this lesson plan ‘writing a review of a book or film’. First students have read a sample review from the book called ‘Frankenstein’, then they have started writing about above-mentioned topic, where they, first of all have practised writing skills, such as brainstorming, generating ideas, writing the plot, giving their own opinion about the book or film, dividing paragraphs and so on. After evaluation which is usually done about content, organization, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary and grammatical structure, students are given their papers and they read it in class (some of them, because there will be no time to read each students’ work) where they practice both language skills, reading and listening at the same time, one student reads and the others listen. Finally comes up discussion about the writing task, where students make a lot of discussions about different novels or films they have read or seen and at the same time they practice the last language skill, speaking.
An important part in a writing lesson plays the material, as it is said in the book (pedagogical writing) “Teaching materials are central to writing instructions and are widely used to stimulate, model and support writing” (Hyland, Ken, 2003, page 85). Most of the time students like using authentic materials because they like to be exposed to real language and culture. My students, for example, whenever we read anything interesting in the book they ask if it is real or true.
Another important role plays the textbook as well. So, I think a language book should have all the language skills presented in an effective way. When I say effective I mean that the book should represent everything clear, in the way that students would be effected positively. It should have enough exercises in the grammar section, sufficient vocabulary according to the level of the book, for each unit it would be useful and helpful to have a writing task according to the lesson, to be convenient, that is, to be easy to use and store and I also would require a textbook to have various activities to help students develop writing skills such as pre-writing, composing and post-writing. In general, according to me, a textbook should contain clear and understanding grammar, interesting stories, appropriate writing task and to be helpful in learning a language.
Regarding my lesson plan and why did I choose a process approach to write about, is that in general I think writing is a process, and it is appropriate because it is focused in steps of a writing task, that is to say a writing task is done step by step, through stages. Why is it important to write through stages? First, students will brainstorm or they will cluster their ideas, or they will create a spider-gram for pre-writing, as soon as they find out the topic about which they are going to write. Then, after they gather as many ideas as they can, they will start composing or while-writing stage, so they will put their ideas down on the paper, starting with introduction and continuing with the body and conclusion paragraphs. Then in post-writing stage they revise the work and refine anything they find inappropriate or unrelated to the topic, or they may ask for any word they do not know in English.
In a writing lesson it is also important for students to know how to paraphrase or cite any borrowing expressions, to be not considered as plagiarism. The teacher should give the guideline for citations to the students in order not to plagiarize, because if they are not given guideline citations students may plagiarize unintentionally. So they should be taught about that, it is not bad if they use others expressions from different resources, the important thing in this case is to mention who did it come from, as it is said in the book, “even the most original academic paper integrates facts, ideas, concepts and theories from other sources by means of quotations, paraphrases, summaries and brief references” (Campbell, 1987, page 211).
The reason why I choose this topic for this writing lesson is that literature or extensive reading has an important role in learning a language. Using literature and then writing about it is very useful as it provides different situations, problems, solutions and so on, and in this way students not only can enrich their vocabulary or become more creative but they learn about different things, different countries, living, cultures, authors and so on.
I can conclude that a writing process is a writing activity through which students can develop their ability to gather words and sentences, organize information, explore their feelings, show their creativity, and give a well-organized conclusion about the topic they are asked to write. Our task as a teacher is to do the best to help them, so when I mention teacher’s help I agree with Raimes who said, “The teachers role is to guide students through the writing process, avoiding an emphasis on form to help them develop strategies for generating, drafting, and refining ideas. This is achieved through setting pre-writing activities to generate ideas about content and structure, encouraging brainstorming and outlining, requiring multiple drafts, giving extensive feedback, seeking text level revisions, facilitating peer responses, and delaying surface corrections until the final editing” (Raimes, 1992, page 4).