Thursday, March 24, 2022

Embedded Writing

This week, I was cleaning out my files in my Google Drive and came across this activity which I had completely forgotten about and have not used for years. It is a post-reading, writing activity which I learned from a conversation that I had with Bess Hayles at NTPRS a number of years ago and then saw demonstrated by Betsy Paskvan. It is a very low-stress, low affective filter way to get students to write without overwhelming them into a full-blown timed/free write. It is very similar to an embedded reading, but this time, students are supplying the missing information. 

  1. Take a paragraph from a reading which you have been covering in class. 
  2. Type the sentences out on a document as a list but leave a lined space between each sentence. 
  3. The objective of the activity is very simple: Students' task is to write a sentence of their own in the target language in that lined space which makes sense between the two sentences. It can be an expansion of the sentence of previous sentence, be a transition between the two, or explain the need for the next sentence. Did something happen in the story between the two sentences that is missing? 
  1. I like this activity, because although students are writing in the target language, they also have parameters in adding new details and meaning to a story.
  2. For beginning levels, you may want to do this as a guided activity first to familiarize students with writing and with the activity itself. For example, for the sentence between #1 and #2, you could ask students aloud, "What is the boy or girl feeling? Happy? sad? Can you describe the boy or girl? Is the boy or girl doing anything?" This will help give students a number of different ideas and details which they could add. Many times I have found that it is not necessarily a lack of vocabulary knowledge which prevents students from writing but rather a lack of direction or ideas to follow.
  3. This is actually a very good higher-order thinking activity, because students must create a sentence of their own which makes sense between two other existing sentences.
  4. Depending on the level of the class and its familiarity with writing, you may choose to leave two lined spaces between each sentence as a higher-level challenge. Students must then write two sentences between each sentence.
  5. I would scaffold this late in a unit lesson plan, because students do need to be familiar enough with the story that they can add new details of their own.
  6. Variations of this activity could be pairing up students or having students pass their papers to another student after they complete writing a sentence, and the next student must write the next new sentence.
Again, I found this activity tucked away in a Google Drive file - I may need to see what else is in my Google Drive!

1 comment:

  1. I did this in class, but we had a longer block bell so I gave the students the flashcards, asked them to make the decks and told them they had to decide which sentences to skip, which words to make into blanks, and which sentences to modify (I helped them with this). Once they were finished we had a bunch of decks and students went around the class putting their peer's decks into order.

    Students realized they could make it more difficult for their classmates if they made repeated words into blanks so you can't just fill in the blank you have to read the next sentence to be sure.

    Students read the story perhaps 7 times in one activity for which I showed up with only flashcards and directions.

    An exit ticket for this activity could be to have students pick any random card and translate, illustrate, or even fill in the blank without the benefit of other cards depending on your story, level and objectives.