With my German I classes today I decided to put a different twist on student-generated stories by working with multiple drafts. In the past when I have put people directly in groups to bang out a story, I’ll get as much chit chat as work, so I tried a different approach.
Step one: I gave everybody an 1/8 sheet of paper, a beginning to the story (“Mrs. Black gets a present.” It’s my wife’s birthday today), and three structures (“looks”, “shows”, “doesn’t know.” ) I put an online timer up on the screen and gave them five minutes to bang out a story.
Step two: I put everybody in groups of 3-4 (randomly generated) with the instructions to write a story that puts all of the group members’ stories together. At the same time I gave the group a 4-picture sheet and instructed them to illustrate their stories over the course of four panels. This time they got around 10 minutes to write the composite story and draw the pictures.
So when they turned everything in, I had them staple the original stories (1/8 sheets of paper), the composite story (half sheet of paper) and the drawings (full sheets of paper) together. Tonight I simply type up the final versions, show the pictures to it on the overhead (or scan them if I get the time) and we’ve got plenty of reading to go around.
Observations: The writing process actually did go much smoother because everybody had something to say before they got into groups. People stayed pretty well on task, and by collecting each stage of the process I have a better documentation to provide accountability (only one person out of 40 students didn’t do much, and that became pretty apparent in the process). Overall I liked it because there was a lot more buy-in than normal. I think if I did this with my intermediate to advanced classes I could ask them to write the drafts in German rather than English, so maybe I’ll see on that next week.