20 benefits of paired / group writing
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This is one of those activities I’ve never read about in ideas and resources books but which is so simple and effective it must be in one somewhere.
It is the idea of communal writing – putting students into pairs, or groups of three, four, five… and getting each student in each pair / group to write exactly the same thing, down to the spelling, punctuation, paragraph breaks, etc.
(Of course each pair / group will give you a different piece of writing.)
My instructions to students are as follows:
You will write as a pair/group.
You will all write EXACTLY the same thing as the other student(s) in your pair / group.
You will all write at the same time (please do not make one draft and then let other students copy it later).
EVERYTHING you write in your pair / group must be the same. Check that your spelling, grammar and punctuation are the same as those of your partner.
If there are things you do not agree on, write them on a separate piece of paper and I’ll take it later, or quickly e-mail it to me.
Why do I think this is an utterly and totally fantastic exercise?
- It’s collaborative.
- It turns a writing activity into a multi-skills task.
- Students learn from each other.
- In my experience, students tend to think more about what to write, which produces better quality ideas. It’s great watching students have fun brainstorming and bouncing ideas off each other.
- It’s a good opportunity for students to share their writing exam tips and hints (in their L1 if necessary).
- The finished piece of writing is often of a quality better than if students were to write individually.
- Mistakes are more likely to be ironed out within the group, leaving any incorrect work to be errors, which are more useful for the teacher to work on.
- The activity contains many elements of process writing, but student controlled.
- If you assign group names and tell students their work will go up on the board, they tend to write better for the future audience of their written work.
- Students think and talk about spelling, punctuation and grammar.
- It makes a nice change from individual writing.
- It gives the teacher a whole lot more time to monitor – five pieces of writing among 20 students is a lot easier than 20 individual pieces of writing.
- It drastically cuts down on marking / correcting papers – I take one finished piece of writing from each group (making the assumption the other students in each group wrote the same thing) and correct it.
- Give feedback is quicker. I return a copy to each student in the group and talk to the group as a whole.
- Stronger students can help weaker students.
- The teacher can use the points students do not agree on for a boardwork correction stage.
- If students mail the teacher the points they do not agree on, (s)he has a ready-made sample of work to copy and paste into an activity on the smart board / projector. This sample is likely to be useful in monolingual groups in that it is likely to consist of common errors.
- It’s fantastic for whole class writing project work. You can swap students around so each new student adds ideas to the original group.
- The activity can be used for grammar test practice activities where accuracy is key.
- It can be used for spelling tests and is fun if you make it a competition – the group with the most correct answers being the winner.
I hope you try this and then write a comment below. Or you could just write a comment below