Thursday, February 25, 2010

Collaborative Writing: Etherpad

Our fifth grade teacher is starting a Poetry Unit this week and is looking for some ideas for ways to innovate. I thought of this new tool I just read about in February's Tech & Learning Magazine: Etherpad. In the article, "8 Free and Easy Ways to Begin Educating Innovatively" they feature this "group writing" tool. As a part of my keyboarding unit, I always run a "round robin writing" day, which is like a combination of musical chairs and choose your own adventure stories. Kind of. Students start at their own desks and write a title to a story. Just a title. Then, they move clockwise around the room to the next desk and sit down, read the title, and they have two minutes to type the beginning to that story. After two minutes, we switch again and the students change the color of their writing (so I can tell who wrote what) and continue what the person before them started. Since our periods are only 45 minutes long, we only get to switch about 10 times. But that's 45 minutes straight of keyboarding and creative writing.

So, what does all this have to do with Etherpad? I had this idea that the teacher could create perhaps five or six rooms and give students in groups those URLS. The students could each interactively, in real-time, write a poem together. The teacher could assign a topic for the poem or it could be an open subject.

Then, perhaps 10 minutes of class could be the editing time and instead of writing the students must collectively edit their poem. Finally, the poems are shared. Of course, there would have to be some pre-teaching on certain elements that must be included: maybe the poem has to rhyme or use iambic pentameter. Whatever. You get the idea.

We'll see if she will go for the idea.

1 comment:

Emily Menz said...

I don't know if your colleague will like your idea, but I do! I was not aware of etherpad before reading your blog. I teach writing in high school and am always looking for ways to stir up student interest. I think they would really like the interactive element and take more chances with a group project than they might with their own individual writing opportunities.