Exam writing: how I help my students get 10/10p 馃摑

You already know what I do with my students when it comes to revising tenses and vocab for their end-of-school exam. This time round, I'd like to show you what we do to make sure they get 10/10 points on the writing task.


If you're teaching at a primary school in Poland you know that there are 10 points that the kids can get for writing an email or a blog post in their exam. I know, I know ... there's also "a note" but let's be realistic ... we KNOW it's going to be an email 馃槄 It's always an email ... hopefully I haven't just jinxed it 馃檴


We started with a general lesson about the writing task: how to write an email and a blog post, what are some of the phrases to use at the beginning, how to finish ... you know the drill. That's the easiest part.


Then we had a conversation about meeting the "correctness" criterion. I basically told them that everything we're going to do this year is working towards their written assignment being grammatically correct, with no spelling mistakes.



Next, we moved on to the magical three dots 鈿笍 鈿笍 鈿笍 Each "dot" is a piece of information which the kids need to write about in their work. Each "dot" needs to be mentioned and expanded on. We spent all of September and October working on just that: expanding the dots. To help my students with this task I took all the Exam Prep Books I have and I found and copied all of the writing tasks onto separate task cards.



All the email tasks have a greenish border and the blog tasks have a pinkish border. Each week, each student writes a paper on one chosen topic, making sure that they work on the "dots". They have a separate notebook for just this task. I check it, sadly there's no way around that, it's an open task and I can't create the error control card for it. You could ask the kids to check each other's work, but at least at the beginning, in my opinion, it should be the teacher.


If any of them are struggling with the "dots" we sit down together and think of what to do to make their piece of writing meet the "expand" criterion. I make a note in their notebook about what they have to remember next time. This way, before they start writing their next assignment they can check what we've talked about and incorporate it in their new piece of writing. I can, just as easily, check if they keep struggling with the same thing and whether or not their writing is getting better with each task.


On top of that, I have found a great teaching resource from ideas4creative.English.lessons. These lovely cards are a great activity to work on the "expand" criterion and, to make it even better, they are divided into the exam lexical topics! At this point I only gave the "Human" set to my kids, but I've already purchased all the other available sets. Printer, laminating machine ... here I come! 馃槣



Once students know how to create an email/blog and how to expand on the "dots", they're pretty much guaranteed at least 5 out of 10 points: 4p. for "dots" and 1/2p. for logic. They're perfecting their spelling and grammar all the time, so they're working towards the 2/2p. for "correctness". The only thing that's left is the "richness" criterion or, as I like to call it, "show us what you've got" criterion.


To get the 2/2 for "richness" we're working on making the sentences more interesting by adding more details; by writing compound sentences; by exchanging the "easy" word with "fancy" words 馃槒


To practise the above I use materials from ideas4creative.English.lessons as well! The materials are simply perfect for practising "richness". One of them is called Writing Super Sentence Cards and the other Writing Sentences Using Linking Words. I have all the cards printed and laminated.



So far, my kids worked with one set of each cards. Now that I've bought the other sets, I'm going to mix them all up. I have an idea to create a daily practise station for the exam for my kids with various exam tasks. These cards would be perfect for a daily practise.


We started working on linking words with a lesson on conjunctions. I've always referred to the conjunctions as the "puzzle" words, so I've made these for my kids to remember what we use them for:


If you'd like to use them, they're available in the Downloads section. I've printed them on yellow paper, the download file is black and white.


Another resource I found online helps my kids pimp out 馃槣 their vocabulary. It's a Thesaurus Synonym Chart from The Literacy Dive.

When my students write their emails and blogs, I ask them to look for the "easy" words and change them into the "fancy" ones. The other option is to tell the kids to try to use 3/5/10 fancy words in their piece of writing.


One more thing I use with my kids is a chart, which helps them get rid of the word "very" and exchange it for a fancy word. Do a simple Google Image search for "instead of very" and you'll find loads of charts:


Last but not least, I ask my kids to show off their language knowledge. For this, they have a grammar check list. I ask them to try and use at least three of the structures from the list in their writing and tick them off to make sure that they've boasted enough 馃槄 The list is available in the Downloads.


So there you go, a handful of ideas to help your students get 10/10p. for the writing task. And what do you do to help your kids practise writing? Comment below and let me know 馃槈


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