» A collaborative creative writing
experience for Year 8 students
A cluster of 4 inner city schools
32 students in total
1 guest author
Introductory and closing evenings
2 full writing days
Editing and publishing afternoons
Books published in ibook author
» To enhance the writing process through collaboration with
» To improve understanding of narrative elements such as
character point of view and plot structures.
» To improve editing skills and the ability to provide peer
» To provide students with an opportunity to become
publishers of material in an authentic online context for a
variety of audiences.
» To increase effective group participation skills.
» 4 students per group
» Stimulus and story crafting provided by guest
author and TLs
» Group work and ICT skills enhanced by teachers
» Feedback given by students and some guidance
» Students collaborate on elements of story
» 4 characters explore the same scenario from
their point of view
» Each student writes their own story based on
the common scenario
» Shared wiki – information, group discussion
writing, feedback, editing
Shared space for
story ideas for
» Provided a clear structure on how and where to
provide peer feedback
» Provided a platform for support materials and
» Able to be continually modified by teachers and
» Able to post engaging multimedia
» Students able to be active online participants
» Teachers notified of editing progress
» Wiki most beneficial support to get the most out of
the group work – 60% respondents
» Survey results - pre and post workshop
» Pre workshop survey (32 responses)
» Post workshop survey (23 responses)
» Overall - positive feedback from students
˃ Group work
˃ Peer editing and feedback
˃ Benefits for learning
˃ Digital Citizenship
» Improvement made in attitude towards
benefits of group work
Pre workshop survey
Post workshop survey
» Decrease in challenges
What challenges (if any) did you
have with working in a group?
Linking stories and differing ideas 9
Uneven contributions 2
Personality Clash 1
» Increase in peer status as credible editor
» Students see the benefits for learning
» More input needed on publishing online
Post Workshop Survey
» A positive experience
» Professional end product
» Decide to publish as ibook online or not
» Some difficulties with different operating
» Some students unfamiliar with Mac
» Save ibooks in one designated location
» Allocate group leader to combine books
» Instruct about copyright permissions
» Not edited by teachers
Online collaborative writing workshop Term 1
My writing workshop Term 3
Group collaborates on common plot
Percy Jackson – missing chapter
Mrs Weaver’s Nine Writing Steps –
Each group member writes short story from
their own character’s point of view on wiki
apply to practice story, then write a
new short story from
Brian Falkner’s Writing Workshop
point of view on G Drive
Step 1: What is story?
Step 2: Plot development
Step 1: Plan for Success
Step 2: Characters
Step 3: Sizzling Starts
Step 4: Tightening Tension
Step 5: Dynamic Dialogue
Step 6: Show, Don't Tell
Step 3: Character - Make them real, Make us
care, Make us laugh, Save the cat
Step 4: Covenant of the arc: characters are not
the same at the end of the story as at the start.
Step 5: The writing triangle: Doing
stuff, description, Dialogue
Step 7: Ban the Boring Bits
Step 6: “The power of “what would be better
Step 8: Exciting Endings
Step 7: Writing with emotion
Step 9: Review, rewriting, reflection
Step 8: Peer editing
Step 9: ibook making
“… greater attention to an outcome will improve performance
on any measure”
Almost everything works. Ninety percent of all effect sizes in
education are positive… setting the bar at zero is absurd.
“Our debates are too concentrated on how we teach, whereas all the
visible learning work tells me it needs to be about the impact of how
we teach. Observe the impact. Wow, is that powerful.”
Kids Speak Out on Student Engagement
APRIL 26, 2012 http://www.edutopia.org/blog/student-engagement-stories-heather-wolpertgawron?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=blog-kids-speak-out-question
"What engages students?" 220 eighth graders. Responses seemed to fall under 10 categories.
1. Working with their peers
2. Working with technology
3. Connecting the real world to the work we do/project-based learning
4. Clearly love what you do
5. Get me out of my seat!
6. Bring in visuals
7. Student choice
8. Understand your clients -- the kids
"Encourage students to voice their opinions as you may never know what you can learn from your
"Teachers should know that within every class they teach, the students are all different.“
9. Mix it up!
"I don't like doing only one constant activity...a variety will keep me engaged in the topic.
"Also, you can't go wrong with some comedy. Everyone loves a laugh...another thing that engages me would be class or
group games. In Language Arts I've played a game of "dodge ball. We throw words at each other, one at a time."
10. Be human
1. Eliza breaks into a haunted house at night to
retrieve a ball, and finds this very frightening.
2. Clarisse creates an illusory sea monster that
attacks Percy, so Percy takes revenge by making
Clarisse’s cabin wet and smelly.
3. In a future world, Technologians run out of coal
and attack the Naturalisers who grow their own
food and use solar power. Iggy, the son of the
Technologian leader is saved by his enemy, the
Naturalizers. He stops his father and makes
Technologians realise they have to live with
Salty Revenge Madeleine End Term 3
The huge monster had me pinned to the ground. Horrifying seaweed essence slowly
dripped onto the ground beside me. The gigantic mass of seaweed and coral raised its head
and roared, shattering my eardrums.
Ribbons of seaweed hung from its humanoid figure like tassels. Its spectral yellow eyes
were hidden from view, deep underneath the vulgar seaweed tangle. A ring of dead coral
decorated its face, like a crown.
In my peripheral vision I could see campers rushing out of their cabins, unsure of what
to do. I saw someone throw a spear at the monster’s back, but it bounced off harmlessly, as
if it were a twig. I tried to stretch my hand out towards my sword that lay on the ground
beside me. My fingertips were just touching the cool, unforgiving blade.
I sat in front of our Holograph Projector, watching some Technologian freak with shiny
waxed legs and unnaturally white hair talk about different shades of eyeliner. I had my eyes
trained on her surgically puffed lips with disgust. I unconsciously traced my fingernails
around the little buttons around the remote, pretending I was reading Braille. Today I felt so
lazy. It was the hottest day this summer and some of our solar panels broke, so we have no
air-conditioning. I stared longingly at the picture of Antarctica that my sister, Zeeta, drew.
How could such a place ever have existed? Apparently, it used to be so cold, that there
was ice there! Now of course, it has melted.
Q6 Which method of learning about writing did you find more enjoyable.
Please give reasons.
I enjoyed collaborative writing more because we had the opportunity to read
each others' stories and provide feedback as well as receive feedback..
Wiki writing was very enjoyable, and I would recommend it to anyone. It was a
new, enjoyable experience that I have valued. However, for me, I prefer writing
by myself as I am in control of the story, and not dependant on others as much.
Q7 Which method of learning about writing did you find improved your story
writing more. Please give reasons.
I feel as if the group work improved my story the most because I learnt about
other people's writing styles and used their idea to improve my own story.
I believe the wiki writing was a unique experience where other students gave
me improvements for my story. I liked this, as it was from students my age.
Q8 What improvements would you suggest for the collaborative
wiki writing activity?
I would suggest smaller groups…it was very hard to settle on a
basic story plot.
More time to talk with the group.
Q9 What improvements would you suggest for the classroom
teacher directed writing workshop?
I have no suggestions - the lessons given my the teachers were
very informative and helpful.
In the last two years I have attended writing workshops, and have
found teachers focusing on writing activities too much. I prefer
looking over the writing activities as I write, rather than go
…mixed gender groups produce less stereotypical writing. For example, it was found that boys are
more likely to present females as victims and use a lot of violence, when writing on their own.
Girls were found to create more independent characters with stronger voices, and less feminised
stories when writing in mixed groups. Handbook of Writing Research by Charles A. MacArthur, Steve Graham, Jill Fitzgerald
Guilford Press, 2006
"compositions written by pairs were more advanced than individually written ones, and the
benefits of collaboration carried over into subsequent individual creative writing (Hartup, 1996)."
Vass et al found that the benefits of collaborative creative writing are dependent on the quality of
collaboration, as well as other contextual factors, which is why teachers need to explicitly teach
collaborative skills and set up a task suited to collaboration. Vass, Eva; Littleton, Karen; Miell, Dorothy and Jones, Ann
(2008). The discourse of collaborative creative writing: Peer collaboration as a context for mutual inspiration. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 3(3), pp. 192–
EMOTION and GROUPS
“necessity to consider the emotional aspects of cognition. Coates 1996, used the term collaborative
floor to describe the period of mutual focus and intense sharing, where the overlaps and
interruptions are neither chaotic nor off-putting. This fuzzy, organic, non-linear type of collective
thinking is called ‘ripple thinking’ (Vass 2007b). "When engaged in ripple thinking, ideas build on
each other and get more and more rich and complex, expanding in all directions like ripples of
water." Vass states productive talk in creative contexts may not conform to tidy or linear
discourse patterns. Classroom practices need to accommodate such unpredictability and
unboundedness. Vass, Eva; Littleton, Karen; Miell, Dorothy and Jones, Ann (2008). The discourse of collaborative creative writing: Peer
collaboration as a context for mutual inspiration. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 3(3), pp. 192–202. http://oro.open.ac.uk/12788/2/
OTHER APPLICATIONS _ YEAR 10 EXTENTION CLASS USING SHARED ONENOTE
NON EXTENSION CLASS
» Student surveys - survey monkey
» Group work and collaboration skills taught
explicitly; Listening and conflict resolution training
and structures added
» No story cards
» Peer feedback - given headings and allocated
person to edit
» Explicit discussion of aspects of collaborative
writing eg. plagiarism
Do more conflict resolution and active listening skills before workshop.
Discuss importance of character roles - to overcome student conflict over being the hero
or the villain. The importance of hero, villain and supporting characters could be
The winning group used a jigsaw approach rather than parallel stories, so alternative plot
structures could be further developed.
More reliance on peer feedback, and reduce teacher feedback further. There could be 2
sessions of peer editing, one by a group member, then another at each school.
Gain more understanding of gender differences and writing.
Arrange logins beforehand - problem with emails at some schools - check before event.
Consider wikispaces - can be used with Apple and Windows devices - now has comment
Improve technology barriers; either find and use alternative tools for collaborative
publishing or address login and format issues with ibooks.
Need more time for publishing ibooks.
Develop student input to online publishing – leadership role in groups; explicit teaching of
Author input – Student activities more conservative and texts mentioned more age
appropriate, author speak for less time on night.
Welcome evening – provide clear aims and breakdown of sessions.
Areas for further consideration: compare stories 2011 to 2013 to see if there has been
any improvement in stories due to the enhancements to the process.