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Rethinking Writing Instruction: Student Grouping Strategies in ELT

Innovation in ELT

In writing class, students are often asked to follow rigid rules that assumed to lead to good writing, such as “all paragraphs must have a topic sentence,” “all essays have an introductory paragraph, three body paragraphs, and a concluding paragraph,” and “all concluding paragraphs reiterate the information in the introduction.” Regardless of which of these rules or activities obtain, the “instruction” remains rooted in the form of writing, with unhappy results. 


How will you group your students when they are working on each ‘stages’ of composing a piece of writing? Will you ask the students to work in the same group from prewriting to publishing? Justify your answer!


When grouping students for each stage of composing a piece of writing, it can be beneficial to consider their individual needs, learning styles, and the specific goals of each stage and we should consider some stages of writing as follows:

  • Prewriting Stage: In this stage, students benefit from collaborating and working in groups during the prewriting stage, which allows them to generate ideas and receive peer feedback.
  • Drafting Stage, In this stage, students have to work individually during the drafting stage where they focus on their own ideas and writing style.
  • Revise and Edit Stage, In this section, students can benefit from grouping with similar writing skills or common areas for improvement during the revising, and editing stages, and this allows them to provide each other with valuable feedback and suggestions.
  • Publishing Stage, In this final section, students may benefit from grouping together during the publishing stage to collaborate on aspects of formatting, then design, and presentation. As well as this also allows them to celebrate the completion of their writing project.

The following is a table that describes how I grouped students for each stage of the writing process, along with justification and sources:

No. Stage How I Would Group Students Justification
1. Prewriting Divide them based on interests and writing strengths In this section, the steps will help students to come up with more creative and interesting writing ideas because they will be able to reflect on their ideas from other students by paying attention to groups of students who have the same interests and this will also help students to learn from their strengths. each other, as they will be able to see how different students approach writing (Richards & Renandya, 2002)
2. Drafting Done randomly This section is done with the aim of helping students and ensuring that students are exposed to a variety of writing styles and approaches and Students will begin to compose their writing in a more structured and orderly manner (Reid, 1993)
3. Revising Done based on the level of writing This would allow me to provide more targeted feedback to students who need it. This process in writing refers to making substantial changes and improvements to the content, organization, clarity, and overall effectiveness of the writing and revision also involves critical evaluation and reworking of various elements of the text to improve its quality and coherence. (Reid, 1993)
4. Editing Done randomly This stage is carried out with the aim of ensuring that students are exposed to various editing techniques (Brown, 2001)
5. Publishing Done by students choose their own groups This final stage will give students the opportunity to collaborate with their chosen peers, and it will foster a sense of pride and ownership in student writing (Richards & Renandya, 2002)

Brown, H. D. 2001. Teaching by Principles: An Interactive Approach to Language Pedagogy (2nd Ed.). New York: Addition Wesley Longman, Inc.

Reid, Joy. 1993. Teaching ESL Writing. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall Regents.

Richards, Jack C. and Renandya, Willy A. 2002. Methodology in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.