A few weeks ago we had a tip entitled Reading to Speaking. Readings often lend themselves perfectly to writing activities too. I find opportunities for writing are often overlooked in some coursebooks, and that some teachers are averse to writing, perhaps because they think their students will be reluctant to write.
The nature of the writing is dependent on the genre and content of the reading text. Here are a few ideas to use with narratives such as a descriptive story or newspaper article. They could be done in class or for homework, alone or with a partner. They are basically ways of getting students to retell the story but with a twist.
• Take away the text, provide them with key vocabulary where appropriate, and ask students to rewrite the story. To make it more interesting, ask them to change two of the facts secretly, to test you or their peers.
• Take away the text and again ask students to rewrite the text, this time replacing the characters with themselves, their classmates and possibly you. It may even be possible to relocate the story in a familiar place.
• Particularly if the story is an interesting and emotionally rich one, ask students to write an email / letter home to a friend or to one of the other characters.
• As an alternative to the above, ask students to write a diary entry as if they were one of the characters.
• Write an interview with a local journalist and one of the characters involved in the story. Think up some headlines together.
• Ask students to rewrite the story up to a particular point (choose an event which happens at least half way through), without the text. Then they conclude the story in a different way.