Many teachers tend to think that writing is an individual task usually done in silence. However, it can also be done while collaborating with other students.
Collaborative writing is a methodology in which a pair, a small group, or many students work in unison to complete a writing project. It can help learners a lot in developing their communicative skills as well as maintaining team spirit. There is a number of solid reasons to make collaborative writing your usual practice during the lessons:
- it allows students to feel more confident, especially those who are low-level writers;
- it gives a profound basis for the development of creativity as it deals a lot with brainstorming;
- it also prepares students for real-life employment where working in a team is a routine;
- students will have more fun.
Let’s see how collaborative writing can be organised in a class of young learners.
Planning is a really important part of writing and should be properly taught. Collaborative planning can be also motivating even if students are going to complete their writing task individually. It may bring fresh ideas, can be a great help for those who don’t know what to write about or for those who have any difficulties with organising the text.
- Play Consequences. This game can make the story really fun and unusual. The first student writes the name of the character and folds the piece of paper? then passes it to the neighbour. The second student adds some information (you can prepare some questions beforehand), folds the paper and passes to the next person. When the first student has his/her piece of paper back he/she needs to write the story using the information they have.
- Mind Map. Set up the topic of the essay and give the student some time to generate ideas. Then give them an opportunity to write down all their ideas on the board in the form of mind map. After that students are working in groups to decide what to include, exclude from the story, how to order it. With young learners you can also use pictures, realis or cards to make it more physical.
- Questions Round Robin. Give students a piece of paper with a ready set topic. Make your student move around the classroom and write the questions for each topic. They cannot repeat the questions which have already been used. Students use these questions as the plan for their writing.
Writing usually makes students feel nervous and stressed but when it’s done in a group it can become an engaging task which your students will ask for again and again.
- Send. You need to set the topic of the writing. The students in groups start writing the story. When you say “Send”, they need to stop even in the middle of the sentence and pass their story to a different group. This group should read the story, correct the mistakes if there are any, and continue writing.
- Sound off, pens on! It’s not a secret that people are messaging a lot these days. Why not use it for the sake of teaching? You can switch on some relaxing music and set the topic. The students in pairs can communicate only by sending ‘messages’. After the exercise, you can have a look at language use.
- Storybook. Every student produces his or her story, and after that, they should organise the stories into a book. Another way is all students are working on one story which is later developed into a book. It can be even printed or published with pictures made by students as well.
As you can see writing together can be a highly rewarding task. Enjoy your lessons and have fun.