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Lesson Plan

Collaborative Stories 1: Prewriting and Drafting

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Collaborative Stories 1: Prewriting and Drafting

Grades K – 2
Lesson Plan Type Standard Lesson
Estimated Time Three 30-minute sessions
Lesson Author

Renee Goularte

Renee Goularte

Magalia, California


National Council of Teachers of English



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From Theory to Practice



In this lesson, students complete two prewriting activities, one on brainstorming ideas using story maps, and one on creating beginnings of stories. They then work on two collaborative-writing activities in which they draft an "oversized" story on chart paper. Before starting the activities, the teacher reads aloud the first few sentences from a variety of children's books that have unusual, exciting, or particularly descriptive openings. Each student works individually to read what has been written before, adds the "next sentence," and passes the developing story on to another student. The story is passed from student to student until the story is complete. In a later lesson Collaborative Stories 2: Revising, the story is revised by the groups.

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Story Map Interactive: Use this online tool to map out the elements of students' original writing. The tool can also be used to analyze the characters, plot, and setting of a piece of literature.

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Writing stories is a common activity asked of young children, but often the hardest parts of writing the story are developing the idea and getting started with that first sentence. Having children collaborate on writing stories may bring into play the "two heads are better than one" idea, allowing for language and plots which can be enriched by a variety of ideas and student backgrounds. Collaborations during the writing process offer support for writers, according to Short and Harste in Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers. Specifically, they remind us that through "a shared writing process, writers are able to offer demonstrations to each other about strategies they use while composing." The group process supports less proficient writers, partly because they can participate in grand writing activities while feeling "less overwhelmed by the amount of writing they need to contribute to the book."

Based on her research into collaborative writing, Helen Dale believes that: "Writing together allows students to work through the writing process in a social context in which they can both see the variations possible in areas like brainstorming and organizing and also experience the recursiveness of the writing process." (70)

Further Reading

Short, Kathy G., and Harste, Jerome E. 1996. Creating Classrooms for Authors and Inquirers. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.


Dale, Helen. 1997. Co-Authoring in the Classroom: Creating an Environment for Effective Collaboration. Urbana, IL: NCTE.

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