Start off with something concealed and ask the students to guess what it is. Give them questions that will help them to ask appropriate questions (i.e. What does it look like? and What can you do with it?) Make a mind map with each of these questions in the middle therefore collecting adjectives and verbs they can use later to describe other objects. Optional: elicit from the students the parts of speech--"adjectives" and "verbs")
Once the students guess what it is and you reveal it, the students then break up into groups of four and receive other objects that you have concealed. (i.e. a pencil, an orange, etc) and two guess while two answer the questions posed. Once they guess, you ask them in a large group to share some of the adjectives and verbs that they used to describe these objects adding them with markers to the mind maps as they do.
The students then do a word search that includes even more adjectives and they compare with a partner to see how many they got. The word search is then checked using an overhead projector (students circle the words as they find them) and these words are also added to the mind map.
The students are then invited to take our their own "special objects" (that they've been asked to bring to class that day) and write down some words that would describe it.
They show this list to a partner and ask that partner if there are any words he/she would like to add to describe it.
The student then writes sentences using some prompts like "How did you get this object?" and "What memories do you have about this object?" and then shares these with a partner.
The student then takes these sentences and starts a first draft of a paragraph. The student reads it and self corrects then passes it to their partner who reads it and counsels them on how they could change the content to make it more interesting or flow better.
The student then re-writes the paragraph according to these suggestions. Then the student reads it to self correct with specific attention to the grammar. He/she then passes it to a different peer to help correct it grammatically.
The student then re-writes it with those considerations in mind.
Finally, the teacher receives it and goes over it that night making suggestions about where things could be corrected (but doesn't MAKE the corrections his/herself--only points out that there is an error to be corrected).
The student then gets a chance to self correct or ask a peer to help correct it before typing it up for a final draft and turning it in to the teacher to be published in some way (i.e. put together in a book or put up around the room for all to share).
By Susan Berry
Susan Berry earned her Master of Arts in TESOL from the School for International Training. She is originally from Santa Cruz, CA and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Cultural Anthropology from UC Santa Barbara. Her teaching and training experience includes teaching in West Africa with the Peace Corps and teaching in the Northeastern United States. She loves the work and the travel and the never ending teaching/learning cycle.