Hello parents of our wonderful students at English Aloud that I have the pleasure of teaching.

I thought I would apprise you of how I am working with students to prepare their Writing Contest and Multimedia entries.

As you may know our topic has changed this year and has given us a lot of opportunities and flexibility to tailor the lessons to your children's needs and interests.

In my classes students can take three approaches:

1) A summary of the film/book/game/etc. they have chosen. If the student is advanced and chooses this option, they must also frame the summary with a critical analysis. A summary can introduce the characters and their profiles, or give an overview of the plot. For series or games that are quite complex, some students are choosing to focus on one aspect in depth. For example, one student is reviewing a complex video game, so he has chosen to create a walk-through of a particular aspect such as the items available in the store and what they do, or how to beat a certain level.

2) A review of the film/book/game/etc. they have chosen. Here the student is required to give their opinion on their chosen film/book/etc. It is more than I like it for these reasons or I hated it for these reasons. We will be working on using their critical thinking skills to discuss the film/book/etc.'s weaknesses and strengths and the writing will be presented in essay format.


3) A fictional story based on the film/book/game/etc. they have chosen. Here the student might choose to exercise their creative muscle and write a story. Perhaps they will pick a single character from a book and write a new solo adventure for them. They might even write poetry or song lyrics inspired by their choice. The sky is the limit.


Although the entries are not due until the end of December, we have already begun working on the entries. I created an outline below so you can have an idea of our expected progress:

1) Research & Planning:

For most of my students we have already begun the research and planning phase. This has included making possible book/film/tv/etc. selections, discussing the pros and cons of each, deciding on which they will write about, and choosing their approach (1-3 from above). Over the last few weeks we have also discussed their approach in depth and have started some preliminary exercises. For example, those writing summaries and are doing creative work might have begun working on character profiles as a supplementary exercise for their writing entries. For those who have chosen to write a fictional story, we have begun to discuss The Hero's Journey. We have also discussed new vocabulary such as protagonist, antagonist, climax, etc.

As homework, students have been asked to re-acquaint themselves with their chosen selection. If it was a film, to watch it again, in English if available. If it was a book, to skim the book to remind themselves of the story. If possible it is best if the selection is an English version, and some of my students are taking the English version from the library. But if not, that is perfectly okay! Translation of ideas into English is also a useful exercise.

2) Organizing Ideas:

Most of my students are entering the organizing ideas stage this week and next. We will be discussing essay format, plotting, etc. and creating an outline for their rough draft.

We will also be brainstorming multimedia approaches for students who will submit video or audio entries.

3) Rough Draft Writing

By mid-November at the latest, all students will be in the process of writing and submitting a rough draft of their entry. We will work together closely to ensure the structure and flow of ideas is working. We also will be working on how to translate their writing entry into a script for their multimedia component. At this point students will be submitting their entries to my board. Younger students might require parent's help in doing so, or I can guide them in class.

4) Copyediting/Polishing

By the beginning of December we should have a good draft of their written entries and final copyediting, polishing will begin. Students will also start practicing saying their entries out loud or gathering the materials for their multimedia entries.

5) Multimedia Component

Finally, the students will use the remainder of December preparing their multimedia entries and recording them.

Some students will chose to record them telling the story as a speech. This will require the students to practice and memorize their written entries. Other students and parents might not want their faces presented in video. These students can do a visual presentation such as power point or record an audio version. I will post some previous students examples later this week.

How parents can support:

Most of my students have spent considerable time selecting the right choice and their approach, so that we can best tailor the upcoming lessons to their level, goals, interests, etc. I will be pushing the students to work above and beyond the expectations and to challenge themselves.

Currently, parents can be supportive by discussing with them the stories they have chosen. If a student has chosen to do a summary of a book, a parent could ask them to tell them about the story, the characters, and plot. Or just encourage them to review the materials again so they are fresh in mind during our classes.

Once we begin organizing ideas and writing drafts, parents are free to review the materials submitted on my board (or in the skype chat window for younger students). Parents might also help their child post the materials to my board if it is difficult for them (or I can guide the student in class on how to do so).

Once the written entries are complete, parents can listen to their child practice reading their polished entry aloud, and even practice memorizing it. Some parents might want to help with multimedia elements if so desired: such as helping set up a powerpoint presentation. It is important however that the student leads the way and feels invested that this is their project, taking ownership in preparing materials but supported by parents with the technology that might be a bit out of depth.

All parents are free to address any questions or concerns regarding the progress of my student's entries. Keep in mind, that this is only one component of writing work we do as part of our lessons. Students usually have additional writing homework assigned to me from the textbooks that we review either together in class or on my board depending on the circumstance.

I hope you are all as excited as I am to see the student's hard work in its final form!