This lesson went really well even though I wasn’t trying very hard and probably because I allowed plenty of time for the writing itself. The aim was to familiarize the students with the structure of a standard business report and to write a business report in class.
The nice aspect of the lesson was that we used ideas generated from the chain emails assigned as homework previously. I printed and handed out the emails in which the students had asked one another for tips for a healthier office space. In class I told them to read the emails and add one more tip each. These are the most interesting ideas they came up with:
- Ergonomic chairs and keyboards
- Free vegetable&food snacks
- Nap rooms
Then I presented the students with the central task for the lesson:
The head of your organisation has asked you to research some ideas to improve your working space. Write a report for your boss describing the advantages and disadvantages of some of the ideas. Finish by and writing a recommendation for a healthier office space.
Before doing the task itself, we did some preparatory tasks. To prepare for the lesson I used my go-to book on writing again: Nick Brieger’s Writing by Collins which I really recommend. It helped me immensely in learning about business reports.
I designed several tasks based on the info in the book, i.e. (1) ordering the parts of the report; (2) looking at which parts are likely to be read by the executives; (3) matching typical content with the parts of the report.
Then I had read many reports online and in ELT books and pulled out some typical language into a phrase bank and again, we discussed which part of the report they could be used in.
This was the end of the theoretical part. We were 50 minutes into the lesson and I told the class it was time to write the report. I suggested they write it collaboratively and appointed one student as the owner of the report to be in charge. After that I just lay down and scrolled my Twitter feed… no I didn’t. But I could have.
The student made the following decisions:
- He himself would write the Intro.
- The other three students would each describe one of the healthy office suggestions and put forward some evidence.
- The Executive Summary would be written last.
The students went on to write their paragraphs and I was strolling around and helping. When everyone finished, the “owner” called on each person to read what they had written. I was listening very carefully. Whenever I listen to my students reading, I adopt my “deeply-thinking-with-eyes-closed philosopher pose”. Closing my eyes helps me focus on the reading but I’m not sure how it looks to the students.
The leading student commented on each of the writing making connections to how it relats to his introduction.
For homework, I asked him to put the report together and add the parts we didn’t write in class. I’d like to publish this as a mini-e-book as a course project (ssh, that’s a secret!).
I assigned different homework to the other students:
Your Office English teacher has asked you to write a report about your experience with the course describing what you like and don’t like about it and why. Finish by saying whether you would recommend other XXX employees to try the Office English course next year.
Write your report.
The self-assessment looked like this today:
Self-Assessment: – check the boxes:
|I understand what a report is|
|I can identify different parts of a report|
|I know what information I should put in each of the parts|
|I can use relevant phrases in each of the parts of the report|
|I can write a business report|
I also asked each student to comment on the lesson orally. And we finished on time today!
You can find the previous instalments of the course here:
Office English 5 – Meetings
Office English 4 – Tone of Emails
Office English 2 – Emails
Office English 1 – My working day and week