Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.
Why Group Writing?
Think about the times in your life when writing is important. Of course, sometimes you write things on your own: letters, report card comments, behavior notes. Often, though, you probably write things in collaboration with others, like presentations, behavior plans, IEP goals and even the annual family holiday letter. Students should learn how to write in groups because group writing is something they will need to do throughout their educations and careers. Furthermore, writing in groups can help students learn from one another and enhance their individual strengths. This lesson recommends writing projects that students can take on in groups.
Projects for Early Elementary
In grades K-2, students are still working hard at the mechanics of writing, and collaboration is fun but also challenging. These projects will help children develop their capacities as writers.
- Ask students to write a letter to their families describing everything they have done at school during the week. In their letter, they should all have a voice. They can also work together to add illustrations to their letters.
- After students complete an activity or experiment in science, have them work in groups to write about the procedure they followed and what they learned or discovered. Photographs or illustrations can accompany their writing.
- Read a picture book out loud to your students. Then, ask them to work in groups to rewrite the story as a play. They can even perform the play to show off the writing they have done!
Projects for Upper Elementary
From 3rd to 5th grade, students are somewhat more seasoned as collaborators and are more familiar with the writing process. These projects make use of their newfound strengths.
- Have your students write a letter to the author of a book they have enjoyed as a class. In their letters, they should explain what they admire about the author and ask any questions they may have.
- Explain to your students that they are in charge or writing introductions to their school for potential visitors. In groups, they should write the copy for brief but helpful brochures describing everything that is at your school and what makes your classroom special.
- Ask students to imagine they are traveling back in time to a period they are studying for social studies. They should work in groups to write descriptions of their experiences and roles they played during this time travel.
Projects for Middle School
Middle school students often love the opportunity to work along with their peers. These projects build on their interpersonal strengths and help them build writing skills as well.
- In science or social studies, students are probably deeply involved in particular topics. Break them into small groups, and assign each group a specific question or subtopic to research. Then, have them collaborate to write up an expert report on the topic.
- Ask your students to work in groups to write persuasive letters to the principal of your school asking him or her to make a change they feel strongly about.
- Have each student in a group develop one character in detail. Then, bring students together and let them share their characters. Finally, have each group develop a fictional story that brings all of their characters together.
Projects for High School
Students in high school are more sophisticated writers and will benefit from these advanced projects that push their writing as well as their collaborative skills.
- Ask students to work in groups to read a newspaper article on a topic they are interested in. Then, have them collaborate to write letters to the editor describing their own opinions on the issue.
- After your students have completed a novel or play in literature class, have them work in groups to think about what might happen with the characters after the text ends. Have them collaborate to write an epilogue or a scene that takes place five years later, justifying all of their choices from a literary standpoint.
- When students do labs or experiments in science, challenge them to work in groups to write formal lab reports. These reports should contain problems, hypotheses, materials lists, procedures, and conclusions that all group members can agree upon.
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