Shared, creative, collaborative writing

Here's one of the ideas I'll be presenting during my talk at the IH Barcelona ELT Conference (February 4-5).

From places like Yahoo News, The Telegraph and Orange you can obtain dozens of stories a day that make great prompts, which serve as starting points for learners (even those that say they don't like writing) to build their stories from.

Best response — and the best stories — seems to come from the slightly bizarre stories you find: "Couple take trip to France, leave mother-in-law in car park" was one I recently used from The Mail. Stories in which someone is "to blame" are also fun!

For lots of the creative writing I've done with learners we've followed more or less the following outline, sometimes working from and building on the whole text, sometimes working from just the headline and then reading the original story after the writing has been done:

1 | In 3s:

  • Agree which of the characters you are each going to be (the husband, wife and mother-in-law, for example…)

2 | Individually, make notes on:

  • What are your feelings for the other characters?
  • What exactly happened?
  • Whose fault was it?

3| In 3s:

  • What inconsistencies are there in the story?
  • Which of those inconsistencies do you want to iron out?

4 | Individually, but collaboratively:

  • Write your version of the story, hyperlinking it where appropriate to the other versions of the story (e.g from the wife to the husband's version)
  • Share it with your partners and the rest of the class

You want to allow some of the inconsistencies your learners will find they have at stage (3): they should agree which, but it makes for better stories if some of the contradictions remain (and then, in their stories they can accuse each other of lying!).

Creative writing is I think one of the best ways to exploit technology, and it doesn't have to be truly digital storytelling with complex multimedia: a blog, or a wiki or an Edmodo group and not too much more can make excellent storytelling platforms, on which the stories can be shared, and you can then add in as much multimedia as you like (though, personally, I like to insist that all photos, audio, video, etc. are created by the learners too).

The sharing and the collaboration are vital, not only because they make it more fun, but because without them you get less interaction between the learners and, hence, less language learning.

Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *