Time: approximately 2-3h / Age: teenagers / Level: B1 upwards
This post presents a project I did a few years ago with my teenage groups (12 and 15-year-olds) to celebrate World Book Day (23rd April). It took two classes, in which students were first introduced to the idea of a book swap and discussed their reading preferences and then were guided through the process of writing a short book about themselves. Below is a brief description of the two stages.
- Present slides with pictures of book piles. Students discuss why the books may have been left there and who might have left them there.
2. They read a text about a book swap project and answer questions about it.
3. Students discuss the idea of book swapping and whether they would participate in it.
4. Students look at some opinions about reading and discuss whether they agree with them or not. They also talk about their own reading preferences and habits.
5. Students look at ideas of encouraging young people to read more and discuss which of them would be effective and which wouldn’t.
1. The teacher tells the students they are going to write a short book about themselves and presents a slide with introductory instructions.
2. Students are guided throughout the process chapter by chapter working on their drafts.
3. The teacher monitors the work, helps with ideas and corrects the drafts.
4. Students are given time to finish off their final draft and decorate the covers of their books.
5. Students swap books and read each others work giving feedback on which information they found surprising, whose book they found funny, well decorated, creative, etc.
The content of either stage can be obviously adapted depending on the age of the students and their interest. The introductory stage may be shortened if you anticipate that the writing stage will take a long time. Alternatively, you could stretch the project over 3 lessons.
When I did the project with my students I expected them to have a negative attitude towards the task. However, the introductory stage put them in the right mood when it comes to talking about books and surprisingly they got down to it quite eagerly. The clear guidance throughout the writing process helped them stay focused and provided ideas on what to write about. Still the best part was the outcome. I was honestly touched by my students’ sincerity and creativity. I saw completely different people through their writing and found out things I had never known about them. It was especially moving to find out how they perceive themselves as their texts revealed some of their insecurities, parts of their personality they tend to hide, and their ambitions.
I highly recommend doing a project of this kind with teenage students as it allows them to express themselves freely and write about what is important to them. Since it’s very personal it is possible that some students may be sensitive about revealing information about themselves. It would be then advisable to consider each group individually and adapt the content to the students in those particular groups. It also means monitoring and assisting students is crucial for the success of the project. The teacher should be led by empathy and offer moral support when needed.
by Kasia Kępka