Writing is like swimming – it needs a conscious effort and repeatedly practice. We as teachers should be aware of the difficulties our learners may face on their writing tasks at elementary level.
Unexpectedly I think it is not easy for elementary students to simply copy a couple of lines without making mistakes or compose a paragraph on their own. Therefore, I suggest the following tasks that enable learners to write in English without having the burden of thinking too much about content and text organization.
Some controlled writing tasks:
1. Present a sentence to the class, then cover it and make the class write it from memory.
2. Hand out a text including some mistakes for the class to find.
3. Distribute a story in the classroom with some missing words asking pupils to write them correctly.
4. Take a story, then cut the sentences into strips and distribute them in the classroom. Pupils can work in pairs: One is writing and the second student is running to find all the paper strips in the room and then dictate them from memory to his partner. After dictating, the sentences need to be ordered
correctly and told by one of the students.
Some guided writing tasks:
1. Let students read a text and note 5 to 7 keywords. Then put the text aside and try to reconstruct the original text using the keywords.
2. Let students listen to a story and then write about the main ideas included in it.
3. Ask questions that the learners are answering based on a picture. What/who can you see? Where is it? What happened? What will happen next?
4. Expose the students to some factual information in table like city or country fact files or personal profiles, then ask them to write a new version of the text based on the given one.
Writing is not a frightening experience. By doing some controlled and guided activities learners can find a balance between rule oriented (spelling, grammar) and creative expression.