Friday, 18 February 2011

Ancient Greeks - Writing with Primary Students

Motivated by discussing writing last week in the 9pm GMT #ELTchat, I decided it was high time to do a bit of writing in class. I work as a freelancer and one of my jobs is as a language assistant in a primary school. I only see the children once  a week, so I had to get permission from their English teacher before I could get them writing. Luckily she agreed to my suggestion and we designed an activity together.

The children in question are 11 and 12 year olds. They're in the last year of primary school using Cool Kids by OUP. Like most primary schools I've see in Spain, teaching is heavily course book dominated. So, we were working with language and vocabulary taken directly from their course book.They're on unit 4 of Cool Kids 6 which is called Myths in Greece. As you can probably imagine, we're looking at the past tense. The past of the verbs to be and had to be precise. The unit also teaches adjectives to describe appearance and character such as old, beautiful and strong.

The activity itself was very simple. We put the children in pairs and they choose a picture of one of the gods or goddesses. We wrote simple stems on the board to help them . We only asked them to write simple sentence level descriptions. There was nothing revolutionary about the class, it was just a welcome change from all the games and communicative activities we usually do on days that I go to their class.

I didn't correct their written work before I displayed them as I didn't want to be heavy handed the first time I did a writing activity with them. There were mistakes that the English teacher drew their attention to when they read out their texts to the rest of the class. I'm going to suggest that we take their work down next week and ask the children to re-write their descriptions correcting any mistakes they made. Then to give them a bit more motivation for the rewritng activity I'm going to take in my laminater and when they've finished their descriptions they can laminate them. The final step will be to stick them all together in a class book. I'll give them the choice of three titles for their book and we'll vote for the one they like the best.

Here is a link for Carol Read's blog  W is for Writing


  1. This sounds like a great lesson Leahn! As a graduate of Ancient History, I'd love to be able to get my kids to do a project like this. No space in the syllabus for it this year but definitely a topic I'll keep in mind for next time :)

  2. Hi Dave,

    I know what you mean about projects and time. Luckily this was in their course book so we could do it. It has lots of other interesting possibilities. I'd love to be able to spend more time teaching them who the Gods and Goddesses were and concepts such as God of Love!