Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Collaborative Writing

This year our principal is really getting us excited about collaboration. He has sent us a lot of great articles and has even gotten the staff together for faculty collaborations.  I am trying my best to include collaboration within the classroom as often as I can because it is truly amazing to see the children working together! 

The first time I introduced collaboration was during our bat unit. We worked together to complete a bats vs. birds venn diagram. Let me tell you...it wasn't that pretty! There was a lot of arguing over who was going to put the fact on the venn diagram, who was going to read the fact, who was going to get the tape...you name it, they argued about it! 

I realized that I obviously didn't show them what collaboration looked like well enough. So we gathered back on the carpet. I pulled a couple kids to sit in a little circle with me, the rest of the students stayed on the carpet and watched. Then, I led a collaboration group. I showed them how to take turns, what words to use (I just went, now you can have a turn), what kinds of questions to ask (do you agree?, what do you think?, etc.)

Then I told them that the next day we were going to do the venn diagram again and I was going to see if we could do it better! Sure enough, they did much better! Still a tad bit of arguing, but I heard some great questions being asked and I saw some real collaboration. 

The next time we did a venn diagram in class was during our Pilgrim unit. We compared and contrasted children now to Pilgrim children and they did wonderfully!! Practice definitely makes perfect ;)

I decided to try out some collaborative writing to see how my students would do with it. Let me just tell you...it was the CUTEST THING EVER! 

Their goal: each group had to write 2 facts about the Mayflower.
Right away they went to their tables with the paper I provided and I heard them giving each other 'jobs'. They split up the amount of words in the sentence and everything. I heard one student say, "The sentence has 11 words, we can all write 2 words!" WOW!
Other groups took a different approach. One student helped sound out the words for another student who wrote. Then the 2 students who didn't have a job yet decided to split tracing the words in permanent marker when the writer was finished.
But, the picture above was my absolute favorite. One of my little ELL girls is not yet sounding out words and really doesn't know enough letters yet to write. When I walked by the table I almost asked what they were doing because I knew it would be hard for this little girl to have the job as the 'writer'! Then I looked a little closer. Another student had made the 'dash' lines for all the letters and was letting her trace them! WOW, just wow! I was so proud of them for working together so well.
When they were finished I let each group share their facts and then we added them on to our Mayflower!
I love how it turned out and some of their facts still make me smile!
'The Mayflower has a poop deck' definitely got my kids all giggling. And the splitting up of the word 'cargo' to 'car go' was just too cute!
This Pilgrim house was also made using collaboration. Each group had a job: to make grass, wood for the house, straw pieces for the roof, etc.
We tried collaborative writing again the following week. This time writing ANY fact they wanted about Pilgrims or the Mayflower. Again, they did beautifully! 

How do you use collaboration in your room? I would love to hear some new ideas!!


  1. Your kids' writing is fabulous! Great job!

  2. I've noticed that over past few years my students can't even play on the playground without it turning into an argument. I had to show them how to establish rules, have a base, take turns. Kids just don't get these experiences anymore. They are too isolated on their gadgets!

    This is a fabulous post. Great lessons! Now I need to find the time to do this more and more in my classroom and push it on my friends and family!!

  3. OMG this is such a great idea!! thanks for sharing! :)

  4. I had groups of students work together to write their own version of The Little Red Hen. The students had to decide the characters, setting, and ending. They each wrote a page of the story and then we had a reader's theatre of their stories.
    I was just thinking that next week I could have the students work together to write about how to cook a turkey.