Writing from Memory is another great activity that I have successfully used to enable my students to develop their writing skills. Yury Vedrashko, my former coworker, was the one who introduced it to me. To begin with, you need to select a text of 10 to 15 sentences appropriate for your students’ level. Then write each sentence on a separate slide using either a Power Point Presentation or ActiveInspire. Make sure that there is always a blank slide after the one with a sentence. Pre-teach anticipated unfamiliar vocabulary. I would even recommend leaving the words on the board throughout the duration of the activity for language support purposes.
Explain to the students that they will write down a text, but you are going to show them only one sentence at a time. They have 30 seconds to read and try to remember the sentence. They are not allowed to hold any writing utensils during this stage. After 30 seconds run out, click to a blank slide, and allow them to write down what they remember. If they remember only 2-3 words, that’s ok. Do a practice sentence once before the real exercise to make sure that they understand the rules:
- No writing utensils in hands during reading.
- 30 seconds to try to commit as much as they can to the memory.
- They can start writing once you click to a blank slide.
- Once they are done, they signal to you by putting their writing utensil.
Do not show the next sentence until everyone puts their pencils down. Upon completion, put your students in pairs or small groups and have them compare their answers. Set the time limit of 10-15 minutes. They must come up with one unified text that each participant agrees on. Then distribute the original text and have them compare their versions with it.
As a follow up, you can provide them with comprehension questions with the following discussion. You can also use this activity as a text-based grammar presentation to provide them with an opportunity to notice certain grammatical structures or as a starting point in the product approach to teaching writing skills.
Another way to recycle this text is to create a cloze passage using the same text, i.e. omit the words you want your students to practice and have them complete the text first working individually and then in groups comparing their answers.
Another way to use this activity is to present the sentences from the text in mixed order and then after they are done, ask your students to put them on a continuum. Or prepare sentence strips and have them reconstruct the text. This encourages the use of high-order thinking (HOT) skills since they need to figure out the relationship between the sentences to keep the text cohesive. The latter is also great for kinesthetic learners because they manipulate the strips manually.
I believe that this activity is a genuinely communicative one since it encourages language learners to focus on the meaning, i.e. what is said and provides them an opportunity to pick up the language incidentally just by doing the task.