I’ve always been a fan of social constructivism, collaboration and project-based learning. I love the moment when, after having spurred on and activated the students, they take over control and follow their own path. I love to watch them discuss various alternatives, argue, fight and finally come to a conclusion.
This is something I’ve always wanted to do but I haven’t had the courage yet; I’d like a group of intermediate students to write their own book collaboratively. The idea has been ‘floating around’ for some time but it finally got its shape thanks to at least three people: Cristina Monteiro Silva, Theodora Papapanagiotou and Shelly Terrel and their posts for 30GoalsEdu. The aim of this venture is to introduce Kidblog to my students, encourage them to write more in English, and also enable them to feel the sense of accomplishment.
Here is my plan. First of all, I should stress that this will be a long-term project; I suppose it will last a couple of weeks, even months. To start, we’ll create a Facebook group where the participants will ask questions, vote, discuss the strategy, etc. From my experience, this works best because there is little time in the lessons to squeeze all the planning in. The students’ initial task will be to agree on the genre of their book (I suspect that horror story might be in the lead). I’ll ask them to choose their favourite book written in the selected genre and get them to look at the structure of the book. We’ll discuss this in the lesson. Each student will then write one chapter. The group will agree on a person to start (it might be advantageous to be the first one but it may also be challenging). This person will have one week to produce the chapter. The next person will always have to pick up and elaborate on the previous chapter (that’s the most challenging part). So every Monday, for example, the book will be ‘handed over’ to the next student who has to continue the story. The students will be encouraged to read the book all along the line – not only when it’s their turn to write. They will discuss the content, comment on anything they like or dislike, suggest how to go on and how to improve the work as a whole. However, the final decision will always be left up to the person ‘in charge’ of the chapter. I don’t want to restrain my students very much but I suppose that each chapter should be of approximately the same length (1-2 A4 pages), or I might well have to set the minimum of words. I’ll ask some creative students to illustrate the chapters with images and design the cover. Alternatively, each student could use #eltpics for this purpose and add images to his/her chapter. The last student will have to come up with a good ending of the book, or this might be done collaboratively. The students will then choose an appropriate title. Finally, we’ll print the book out and/or share it with other classes online.
The most interesting part about this project is that nobody actually knows what it’s going to be about until it’s finished. It ain’t over till it’s over. Keep your fingers crossed for us! We’ll see how it works in reality.
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