In my beginning writing class one of the patterns of organization that we work on is giving instructions. Giving instructions is one type of process writing and perhaps the simplest type. The first two patterns students practice in the semester are time and space order. It seems logical to work on writing instructions (or processes) after time and space order since processes use the features of time and space.
Some of the building blocks that students prepare before writing a paragraph giving instructions are the imperative tense (note: the verb put requires a location), reminders (be sure to, it’s important to…), prepositions (in, on top of), articles (a the first time you write about a singular count noun and the, the second time), and object pronouns (mix it, put them in the pan). Recipes in cookbooks often leave out articles and object pronouns and this is a good opportunity to teach students that these omissions are fine for recipe writing, but are not practiced in academic writing.
One fun activity that we do in class is write a paragraph together. Students work in pairs and as a whole class, we go through a PowerPoint presentation slide by slide, step by step. We talk about certain grammatical points, listen to each other’s sentences, and ask ourselves if we might like to add a reminder or perhaps a detail. The presentation I made is on how to make a simple Japanese dish called oyako donburi. Feel free to use it with your students if you would like.
The presentation is largely visual because I want the students to generate their own language, but I put in just a little bit of sound to add interest and to encourage the students to develop their paragraphs by adding more details and explanation. When I use this presentation in class, I simply talk to the class about these details, but I have added sound for you to use. Some of the sounds start automatically, but to hear others, just click on the sound icon. In order to hear the sounds in PowerPoint, they must be saved in the same folder as the presentation. Click on the link below and save the files in the same folder on your computer. If you do not need the sounds, you can use the link to the PowerPoint presentation only: Oyako Donuburi Presentation with Sounds The Presentation Only
This type of PowerPoint presentation might also work well at other levels of language acquisition and in a variety of subject areas. I can imagine a group of biologists working on a paragraph on cell division or on an explanation of how the kidneys work or a group of nurses explaining how to do CPR.
Oh, I’d like to also add that oyako donburi is easy to make and delicious. Try it!