To resolve this issue, I decided to set up a writing journal. I told the students they could purchase their own writing book and decorate it in any way they wanted. I said if they wanted to doodle over the cover, that was fine, or if they wanted to sick pictures or stickers to the front, then that was fine too. I wanted the book to be 'THEIR's' and not my book. I wanted the book to be a place where the students could feel comfortable to write about anything they wanted and to make mistakes, without my red pen going all over it. The most important aspect, was that it was a place for Fearless Writing.
To start I put a title on the board, for example "Three things I enjoy doing". I then told them they had 10 mins to write about this topic. You don't have to put a timer on the task, I just did as an introduction and as a plenary task for my lesson. The response was fascinating. Several students didn't want to stop writing when the time was up (and asked if they could finish it for homework), one or two students still struggled and were slower because they fell into the trap of worrying about vocabulary. I told them to use another word or just move on.
The overall results from all the students were surprisingly good. I read them aloud to the group to show them what they were able to do. Some mistakes here and there, but generally accurate and interestingly when I read it with the mistakes, the student would quickly correct themselves, so they were already beginning to edit their work without realising.
Here are some topics for you to try with your learners:
3 things that you enjoy doing
3 people that are important to you
3 places that you’ve been to / would like to go to
3 things you did last weekend 3 things you own which are important to you
3 items of clothing that you like – what is their ‘history’?
3 films / books / TV programmes that you like, and why you like them
Students could also keep a Media Diary. For example, they could about either a film, book, TV show or magazine they have read or seen. I have a particularly heavy boy group, who are very into their computer games, so I've asked them to write a diary about the games they have played, and reviewed it. They can also recommend it to another student in the class.
I will post some pictures of the journals to give you some ideas and you will be able to see how much more confident the students have become through practice.