Written by Ingrid Mosquera, PhD.
Writing is difficult, we have talked about it in the past. Perhaps we could try to meld writing and reading into just one proposal. I present a project that can be adapted for different ages, combining reading and writing.
The idea is to work in cooperative groups, in which students are going to write a story to the rest of their classmates. They will read each other´s stories, according to their tastes.
Here, I explain, step by step, how you can achieve this. Of course, each of these steps can be modified according to your needs, imagination and resources.
Introducing the theme and making groups
1. In our lesson, we talk about the films and series they like:
-We can show them some pictures of films, series, books or actors and we let them discuss it.
-We can prepare an introducing game, such as guessing the name of a film, series or actor from pictures or by saying famous phrases or dialogues.
-We can ask them direct questions about their favourite series, films or books.
2. In a kind of a brainstorming activity, we write on the board genres in columns, such as police stories, love stories, adventure stories or comedy.
3. We ask them to write their name within the column that displays their favourite genre.
4. After everyone has had the chance to add their names to the appropriate list, we can either take a photo of the board or write down the lists. Then, we can continue the lesson with another topic or, alternatively, we can take advantage of that sparkle of motivation and keep on talking about films or books, about famous actors or create a cooperative word cloud with related vocabulary.
5. Keeping in mind the lists generated previously, we divide the students into groups depending on: their English level, their relationships with each other, as well as any other criteria that you want to take into account.
6. During the next lesson, we remind the students about the genre activity, we explain our grouping methodology and we ask them to sit in their assigned groups.
Working in groups
Once in their groups, these are the following steps to follow:
7. Two groups will focus on each of the genres (love stories, adventure stories, and so on).
8. Each group is going to create a story to share with their partner group.
9. Each story will be divided in short chapters.
10. As soon as a chapter is ready the other group will be able to read it.
Chapters are ready
There are many options from this point onward:
-Any other group, regardless of their genre preference, could read a chapter first in order to correct it. For example, two groups interested in different subjects could sit together and discuss the English mistakes before delivering it to the target group waiting to read it.
-Technology, such as blogs, or digital tools, such as Storybird, could be used to present the stories.
-Our students could also prepare an audiobook for another group to use it as a dictation activity, being able to self-correct it later with the original.
-Each group could prepare comprehension questions about their own stories.
-The reading group could read it aloud to each other, passing the paper to one another, reading several phrases each.
-We could prepare a grid, alone or along with them, in order to evaluate the writings and the readings.
-The final product of this project could be a book/ebook containing all the students´ stories.
-They could also choose their favourite one and prepare a play or a video all together, the original group taking the role of scriptwriters and directors.
-Students could design illustrations for the stories or could present the stories in comic book form.
Many of these activities could be developed in a cross-curricular way, thereby developing them into a transversal collaboration proposal involving several subjects.
There are several issues we would have to deal with before embarking in this type of activity. For example: the actual organization in the groups, the cooperative role of each student or the duration of the whole project. These are decisions that you will have to make by yourself, regarding the specific features of your own educational context.
The possibilities and variations depend on our and their imagination.