If you are teaching a beginner or elementary class you might be having trouble with teaching critical thinking to your students. One might think that most students at these levels don’t have the necessary language to express themselves, which can make the whole experience scary and frustrating. However, there are simple tasks to use, and with minimal preparation, too!
Create a short, grammatically accurate text for your students, but fill it with contradictions! For example:
“Michael is 8 years old. He works at a bakery. He sells pens there. Every morning, he combs his grey hair and brushes his teeth. Every evening, he drives back home from work. Michael wants to buy a free house next year!"
Let your students examine the text and ask them what’s wrong with it. Which words would they replace with others? Then, they can try writing their own texts!
Give your students an introduction and conclusion for a simple writing task, such as 'What is your daily routine?' or 'Describe your best friend'. Ask them to complete the main body in such a way that it ties to the other two paragraphs.
Including the concept of money in an exercise instantly makes it more interesting! Give your students a budget and a situation. For example: It’s your best friend’s birthday next week. You have 60 euros to organise his birthday party.
It’s a great opportunity for you to see who is taking initiatives, their organizational skills, if they can negotiate well, and their ability to accept or reject ideas in order to achieve their goal.
Choose five random household items, e.g. a ladle, a sofa, a pencil, a broom, and a bottle. Ask your students to work together in order to create a unique mouse trap!
Even at lower levels, students always enjoy this kind of activity. Start with a sentence and then ask the students to continue the story one by one. Every time someone adds a sentence, they should fold the paper so that the next person can only see part of the story and not all of it. When everyone has written their sentence, you can discuss as a class what went well and what not so well with it. Students can even suggest ideas on how to improve the story if they want.
Dictogloss is an amazing way to teach writing by reconstructing texts. If you would like to learn more on how to use dictogloss with younger students see our article: Teaching Story Writing Vol. 1 .
Happy Teaching! 🌼