How to Teach Collaborative Writing

Instructor: John Hamilton

John has tutored algebra and SAT Prep and has a B.A. degree with a major in psychology and a minor in mathematics from Christopher Newport University.

This lesson discusses how to teach collaborative writing and provides ideas for incorporating it into the classroom. This methodology has students working alongside one another and in groups of various sizes to complete a writing assignment.

Why Write in Groups?

Do you remember being assigned a writing project back in school, only to come down with the dreaded writer's block?

Collaborative writing is a methodology in which a pair, small group, or many students work in unison to complete a writing project. This system can be a useful way of enhancing the confidence and skills of students. It is also known as: interactive writing or shared writing.

Some research suggests that when it comes to collaborative writing the smaller the group the better. Students can be divided up into groups as small as two or three. It will be up to each educator to assess various situations and determine which group size is optimal.

Sometimes four students working together can produce better quality work than a student working independently.

Implementing Collaborative Writing

Students may be intimidated by the prospect of writing together and having to share in a group setting. To get the ball rolling, the educator may employ the technique of guided writing. For example, he or she may write on the board 'The Bill of Rights is...' and students write responses on paper that complete the sentence. There can often be more than one answer. In this case one student may write the first ten amendments to the Constitution while another may write a way of guaranteeing personal liberties. Provide time for each writer to share his or her complete piece of writing in order to make sure all ideas are heard and valued. This type of exercise can be a way of easing into interactive writing.

It has been suggested that students are more creative when they use pencil or pen and paper versus a keyboard and that cursive writing may even be more beneficial. However, as for editing and keeping track of finished assignments the use of digital technology in a collaborative writing project may be the way to go. There are many digital tools that make collaboration easier and allow the teacher to view the contributions of each student.

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