Writing is typically thought of as a solo activity, but with a little creativity, there are plenty of ways that your students can collaborate on writing projects!
In addition to practicing writing, collaborative writing projects like the following present the perfect opportunity for you to create a memorable classbook that you and your students will treasure for years to come!
These collaborative writing activities can be adapted for all grade levels and will help your students hone their descriptive, narrative, persuasive and expository writing skills. These ideas can easily be incorporated into your existing lesson plans for other subjects.
Writing Activity #1 - Partner Interviews
You can use this activity at any point during the school year to “mix things up” and encourage students to get to know other classmates outside of their usual group of friends. Your students may even develop new friendships while they build their writing skills!
Provide your students a list of interview questions to get them started or have them write their own. Students can ask their partners all about their favorite colors, foods, sports, hobbies, movies, games or whatever else they can think of.
They can also ask questions like “what’s the best vacation you’ve ever been on?” “what’s your family like?” or “do you have any pets?”
Have your students use a mind map to organize the information they learn about their partner. Their partner’s name should be written in the middle and their favorite things should be written in the bubbles around the name.
This will help them remember what their partner’s answers were, so they can begin writing about their favorite things.
Have your first and second graders incorporate their partners’ answers into short essays. This will help them work on basic sentence and paragraph structure and essay writing.
Third through fifth graders can use their partner’s answers—along with their narrative writing skills and descriptive writing skills—to create a “day in the life” or even a fantasy story featuring their classmates’ favorite things.
Your students will love hearing a special story that’s all about them! After your students complete their writing pieces, have them add an illustration of their partner surrounded by their favorite things.
Publish their writings and illustrations into a fantastic classbook that students can share with their parents and friends for years to come.
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Writing Activity #2 - World of Superheroes
This activity is a great way to tap into children’s love of superheroes and generate excitement for a writing project.
Divide your students into pairs and have each pair decide if their story portrays them as superhero partners, a hero and a sidekick or maybe even a superhero and a supervillain.
Students of all grade levels will enjoy using their descriptive writing skills to tell you all about their heroes’ or villains’ powers and costumes. There’s also the fun of coming up with a creative name for their hero!
Students in lower grade levels can describe what their heroes’ powers are and what they look like. Can they fly? Are they super strong? Is their costume colorful and eye-popping or dark and mysterious?
Older students can use their narrative writing skills to develop a backstory for their pair of heroes. How did they meet? How did they start working together? Do they know each other’s true identity?
Older students that have a broader worldview can work together to describe the city or world that their superheroes or supervillains live in. Is it a fantasy world? A city like Superman’s Metropolis? A gloomy setting like Batman’s Gotham? A real-life city like New York City?
To spark ideas, show age-appropriate video clips from superhero movies and have students jot down words or phrases to describe the settings.
Have your students brainstorm who their superheroes or supervillains are, what their backstory is and what their powers are (depending on the level of writing your grade level can handle of course).
Then, have them then create an outline of their story or a mind map of their heroes’ characteristics and use that to complete their individual writing assignments.
Have your students then draw themselves as their heroes or villains and combine everything into a super classbook! You can use a storyboard to keep your classbook pages organized so that partner pages are right after one another.
Writing Activity #3 - Animals Working Together
This writing collaboration project ties in perfectly with a science and nature unit on animals. There are many examples of unlikely symbiotic relationships in nature that you can assign to pairs of students. Here are a few to get you started.
- crocodiles and Egyptian plovers
- wolves and hyenas
- crabs and poisonous sea urchins
- remoras (suckerfish) and sharks
Have one student write about one half of the pair and their partner write about the other half.
If you feel that this may cause some conflict, go ahead and assign each partner their specific animal. They can do their research together and then split off to write about their own half of the animal pair.
Use this writing activity as an opportunity for your students to work on their informative writing skills and have them tell you about their animals and the reasons why they work so well together.
Or, you can take a more creative approach by having your students develop their animals as characters. They can tell stories about how their animals met from both perspectives.
How did your animals meet? Did they like each other right off the bat? If not, how did they grow to like and trust each other? What are their favorite things to do together?
After your students complete their individual pieces of writing, have them add an illustration of their animal and have their partner draw the other half of the animal pair to create an awesome classbook.
Writing Activity #4 - Snowball Fight!
Okay, this writing activity isn’t actually a snowball fight (that would be incredibly situational, not to mention messy), but this fun activity will help students become more familiar with the writing process while also putting them in a festive mood!
To begin, set a timer, and have each of your students get out a sheet of notebook paper. Then, start the timer and have them begin writing a story that falls in line with whatever you are teaching them.
Maybe it’s fiction, fantasy, science fiction, a specific writing technique or you can just let them write about whatever they want to! Once the timer goes off, have your students crumple their stories into balls… er, snowballs.
At the count of three, have everyone throw their “snowballs” across the room (just make sure they don’t hit anyone!). Then, each student should scramble to grab a new snowball. Once every student has a new snowball, restart the timer, and have them continue their peers’ stories.
You can repeat this cycle as many times as you would like. The shorter the timers and the more times you repeat the process, the wackier the stories will be!
This activity really encourages students to be creative, as they have to continue a story that they did not start, and it challenges them to put on their thinking caps and create a cohesive, albeit silly, narrative.
Once you have repeated the process for the final time (whether that is three, four, five or more times), have your students take a little bit extra time to finish the story. They can either do this in class or take it home and finish it as a homework assignment.
This activity is a perfect opportunity to encourage your students to work together and teach them the peer-reviewing process. Divide your students into groups and have them pass their stories around, so their classmates can provide feedback.
Once your students’ stories are fully complete, have them draw pictures to complement their narratives. It’ll be fun for your students to see where their story ended up after multiple classmates contributed to it!
These finished projects are a perfect opportunity to create an awesome classbook that you all can cherish forever!
Turn Your Students Into Published Authors!
As an English teacher, it can be difficult to get your students excited about the writing process, but with these fun and collaborative writing activities, you can ensure that your students will be looking forward to coming to school each day.
Plus, they might even make some new friends that could last for the rest of their schooling career!