professional books · shared writing · technology · Web 2.0 · writing

Professional Talk: Shared Writing 2.0

I recently received a review copy of Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom, which is edited by Anne Herrington, Kevin Hodgson, and Charles Moran.  The text is comprised of short texts by a variety of teacher-authors who have mastered the art of using technology in their writing classrooms.  The topics range from social networking in the classrom to digital picture books to integrating video and audio into poetry writing. 

One of the many viable ideas I uncovered was in the elementary/middle grades section; Glen L. Bledsoe’s chapter entitled “Collaborative Digital Writing: The Art of Writing Together Using Technology.”  In this chapter Bledsoe takes the idea of shared writing and transforms it into something high-tech.  Here are the basics for implementing collaborative digital writing in your classroom, as per Bledsoe’s chapter:

  • OVERALL PURPOSE:  Teaching students the process of writing a story/script together, with a focus on idea-generation and revision.

  • WHAT YOU NEED:  A meeting area, a computer, an LCD projector, an overhead screen, a word processing program

  • KNOW YOUR ROLE:  There are major differences in the teacher’s role between traditional shared writing and collaborative digital writing.  Make sure you understand the technological demands before you jump into a project like this.  While the software , any word processing program, you’ll use is pretty basic, it’s important to know how to integrate all of the bells and whistles into the collaborative digital story to make the script more exciting.

  • HOW TO START:  Once a student (or students) pitches an idea, the class gathers together to make “friendly ammedments” (42) in a popcorn-style session in the meeting area. 

  • ONCE YOU GET GOING:  Create a deadline that you and your students will stick to so that the writing doesn’t drag on for months (though it should takea few weeks to draft and revise a collaborative digital story).  Find a venue to share the published collaborative digital piece in your school or with the community at-large.

  • WRITING THE SCRIPT:  Bledsoe took about 30 minutes to write the script along with his students daily.  Don’t have that much time?  Figure out a schedule that works for you so that you can meet the rest of your instructional obligations for your students.

  • RECORDING THE SCRIPT:  Once the revisions are complete, gathering kids in small groups when it’s relatively quiet in the classroom is idea.  Bledsoe realizes this can be tricky since a classroom is rarely devoid of noise.  You can always keep kids in during a prep or part of lunch to complete the recordings. 

  • MATCHING UP THE ELEMENTS:  Collaborative digital writing allows you to embed image files into the script you create with your students.  Allow students to be part of this process (47), in addition to the actual writing process, so they learn about the organization and nuances of embedding images into the writing.

I highly recommend getting a copy of Teaching the New Writing: Technology, Change, and Assessment in the 21st-Century Classroom since my overview is bare-bones.  Plus, this is the book to use if you’re looking to infuse more technology into your writing classroom, regardless of the grade-level you teach (The book is broken-up into elementary/middle grades, secondary grades, and a college section.)!

Finally, for more examples of collaborative digital stories, click here, here, or here.

5 thoughts on “Professional Talk: Shared Writing 2.0

  1. 826 NYC (the super hero supply store/writing center in Brooklyn, NY) has a great field trip that uses a similar technique described above. About 6-8 volunteers work with a class to collaboratively write a choose-your-own adventure story. All of the note-taking is done digitally. After only two hours students have a copy of the story to take home with them. If you teach in New York I highly recommend the trip.


  2. Though it might have ads *now* that I’m not actively using it, I did pay for the credits to keep it ad-free when I used it last year because you never quite know where one of the point-and-click ads will take a kid!


  3. Stacey,

    I had a quick question unrelated to this post. When you used Edublogs for your classroom blog did you pay to upgrade in order to not have the advertisement links on your site or were they not that big of a deal?



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