One of my favorite children’s books, and one of the best books for motivating kids to write is “The Mysteries Of Harris Burdick” by Chris Van Allsburg. We recently began a collaborative writing project designed by Lisa Parisi and me – Lisa gets the credit for doing the bulk of the set-up work. She set-up the Google Docs the participants will use, and the wiki page that explains the project. We also met a couple of times over Skype on weekends to pull it together along with numerous Twits and emails.
Students will write stories inspired by the drawings and captions from the book collaboratively. Members of each classroom are grouped in 3′s and 4′s (1 or 2 members from each class), to write about one of the illustrations. They will share ideas via Google Docs and video-conferencing on Skype to brainstorm, discuss and finally author their stories … all the time discussing where it should go next and helping each other proofread. The finished stories will be posted for all to see. Our first Skype session will be Thursday so that both classes can meet.
To prepare my students I had them write “Pass-It On” stories. They were given the beginning of a story:
Each student then took over the story and wrote for 10 minutes … after that they passed their story to the person next to them who then had to continue the story. We continued to pass them around their group, about every 5 minutes, until they got their own story back which they then had to bring to an end. We started to post some of the finished stories on our blogs, all should be posted by week’s end. This doesn’t mimic exactly how the project will work, but I wanted my students to have experience working on a piece of writing that wasn’t all their own.
Learning is messy!