Sunday, 5 February 2017

Don't forget your PIN

I was reminded earlier of this activity, which I think I originally got from one of the CILT Pathfinder books.

Some students, when learning to write longer sentences, need more support so as to embed the structure and build confidence.  Writing frames are a useful tool to achieve this, but sometimes we need to take a step further back to help students to use them effectively and correctly.

Some students need to practise starting at the left hand side of a writing frame, and working over to the right, picking up something from each column as they go.    If we number each element of the writing frame, and then give the students sequences of numbers - PIN numbers - to decode, they will get used to how the writing frame works.

Here is a simple example: = J'ai les cheveux noirs. = J'ai les yeux bleus. = J'ai les cheveux gris.

The more examples like this that students do, the more confident with using the writing frame they will become.  They can then put together some PIN numbers for their friends to solve, which in turn will help to show that they know how to use the writing frame to form sentences that make sense.

While creating a writing frame is pretty straightforward, adding a number to each element using Word isn't quite as easy.  I usually print out the normal writing frame and then add the numbers quickly by hand.

It's possible to do a PIN numbers activity with complex writing frames such as this one:

Students can decode your PIN numbers, write the sentences and then translate them into English.  Then they can use the writing frame to create PIN numbers for their friends, decode those of their friends and translate those.

This way you'll be able to get a lot of mileage out of a simple writing frame.


  1. Fabulous! So simple and yet so powerful

  2. I fully agree! A fab idea! And clear outcomes. Older books had these grids which helped sentence construction.