Writing descriptive essays and understanding the writing process is key to enhancing our students’ language skills and competencies. In this case, I’m using a B2 Writing DRGC Learning Outcome to explore the impacts of climate change, through a descriptive writing process set out below:
- Pre-Writing Activities: a) Brainstorming: Begin by conducting a brainstorming session to elicit students’ prior knowledge and perceptions about climate change. Encourage them to share their thoughts, experiences, and concerns related to the topic. Create a word bank or concept map with key vocabulary terms such as global warming, extreme weather events, sea-level rise, biodiversity loss, and deforestation. Discuss the meanings and contexts of these words to build students’ vocabulary and understanding.
- Visual Stimuli: Show students compelling images or videos that depict the effects of climate change, such as melting glaciers, wildfires, or the destruction of coral reefs. Ask them to observe and describe what they see, noting the visual details, emotions evoked, and potential consequences of these changes. This activity will help them develop their descriptive language skills while deepening their understanding of the issue.
- Research and Fact-Finding: Encourage students to conduct research on specific aspects of climate change and its effects. Provide them with resources like articles, documentaries, or reliable websites. Ask them to take notes on the key facts, statistics, and case studies they find, ensuring they understand the cause-and-effect relationships between climate change and its various consequences. This research will enrich their essays with evidence and support their descriptive arguments.
- Descriptive Writing Techniques:
- Sensory Imagery: Guide students in using sensory language to vividly describe the effects of climate change. Encourage them to engage all senses by describing how things look, feel, sound, taste, and smell. For instance, they could describe the scorching heat of a drought-stricken region, the pungent smell of smoke from wildfires, or the gentle rustling of leaves in a dying forest.
- Figurative Language: Introduce various figures of speech, such as similes, metaphors, and personification, to add depth and creativity to their descriptions. For example, they could compare the rising sea levels to an insatiable beast devouring coastal communities or personify a dying coral reef as a fading work of art.
- Organization: Teach students how to structure their essays effectively, beginning with an engaging introduction that hooks the reader and presents a clear thesis statement. Encourage them to use descriptive paragraphs to highlight individual effects of climate change, supporting each point with evidence and examples. Finally, guide them in crafting a compelling conclusion that reinforces the urgency for action and leaves a lasting impression.
- Peer Review and Feedback: Organize peer review sessions where students exchange their essays with classmates for constructive feedback. Encourage them to focus on the clarity of descriptions, organization, and use of language. Provide a feedback rubric or specific questions to guide their evaluations, ensuring they provide constructive suggestions for improvement. This process allows students to refine their writing skills while learning from their peers’ perspectives.
Some follow up ideas
- Presentations and Discussion: Allocate time for students to deliver short presentations based on their essays. This allows them to practice their speaking skills while sharing their knowledge and concerns about the effects of climate change. After each presentation, facilitate class discussions to encourage questions, reflections, and debates on the topic. This collaborative learning environment promotes critical thinking and further enhances their language proficiency.
- Call to Action: Conclude the essay writing process by inspiring students to take action against climate change. Encourage them to reflect on how their individual choices and behaviors can contribute to mitigating its effects. Discuss practical steps they can take, such as reducing carbon footprints, supporting environmental organizations, or engaging in community initiatives. Emphasize the importance of their voices and actions in creating a sustainable future.
It’s important to take your students through research, descriptive writing techniques, peer feedback, and class discussions so they can develop their thought processes, writing techniques and descriptive language while contributing to a more environmentally conscious generation.