Short, creative writing projects with Twitter, Edmodo

Doodle your story (see below)!

Here's another idea that came from this week's Guardian: Twitter fiction (telling a story under 140 characters, that is, not necessarily on Twitter). It isn't a new idea but it's one that works great with language learners, especially when the stories are written collaboratively, in pairs.

To relate it to your coursebook, in order to recycle language, you could specify that the stories must be on a particular theme (the environment, or whatever the unit is…). A "prize" for who can fit in the most vocab from the coursebook adds a nice competitive element…

Your learners could write and share them via Twitter, but an Edmodo group also works just as well and Google Docs (now Google Drive) is also great for collaboration, commenting and sharing.

The memo pad on a mobile phone is also great for writing (and sending) the finished stories (and if you have teenagers, which would they rather do: put pen to paper, or fingers to phones?).

Assuming at least some of your learners are reasonably creative (and, once again, classrooms should be creative spaces!), getting one in each pair to doodle the story adds another dimension to it. Here's one I wrote, with the doodle above:

South of the town, we abandoned the car, the tank now dry. Emma wept as she took the bags from the boot. If we could reach Zamora, we'd be safe. But they were there, too.

If you are going to do that, Edmodo is probably going to be a better tool than Twitter, as it's so easy to attach the image to the post.

Other tried and test writing projects
Older alternatives include 50-word Mini-sagas and 100-word stories (and at IH we've also experimented with 6-word stories).

Way back when I did a lot of fiction with learners (does anyone still do the Proficiency set book option?!) a similar idea that worked superbly was getting the learners to summarise the plot in exactly 100 words (and the same also worked for character sketches).

"But my students hate writing," I can hear you say. But if it's collaborative, shared, fun… my experience is that even those learners who say that in fact enjoy such projects.

See also:
Digital storytelling: Creative writing with technology

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