students on the sofa

The Magic of Collaborative Writing: A Tale of Two Classrooms

Nestled within the vibrant world of Atelier 21, where creativity intertwines with learning, two neighbouring classrooms, each brimming with its own unique ambiance, played host to an enthralling session of collaborative writing. Guided by the adept hands of Kelly and Jess, two dynamic and innovative educators, Year 2 and Year 3 students embarked on a literary journey, delving deep into the realm of words and imagination.

Year 2: Kelly’s Classroom

Upon entering Kelly’s realm, the children were swept up by the rich environment and palpable energy of the room, a testament to the eager young minds eagerly awaiting their literary voyage. With her characteristic enthusiasm, Kelly set the stage for the session, urging her students to elevate their writing through the artful use of language.

The session kicked off with an invigorating discussion on the potency of descriptive language, where Kelly adeptly illustrated the distinction between “£1 adjectives” and “50p adjectives.” “A 50p one is like sad, a £1 is like upset,” shared one student. Kelly explored the examples further using a fun ‘named duck dip’ to choose who would share their ideas next, all the time encouraging her students to opt for the £1 adjectives to imbue their writing with depth and richness. Reviewing their learning further, it was the turn of the power of three. “2 adjectives and one noun … the green, wet tree” was the keenly given example, followed by more reviews of the literacy tools they have been learning in applied ways. Through interactive exercises and prompts, Kelly challenged her students to delve deeper into the nuances of language, fostering a keen awareness of word choice and sentence structure.

Excited by the introduction of a class-based mini competition with the prize of pompoms for the class jar, the children listened attentively while Kelly “magpied” their ideas for the first demonstration round of the game that would fill the remainder of the lesson.

Amidst the buzz of collaboration, students paired off to brainstorm ideas and craft paragraphs brimming with creativity. Actively using their learning powers, the students were resourceful independently searching out the thesaurus, target cards, and printed vocabulary builders to expand and enhance their learning.

Kelly fostered an environment of support and encouragement, where every idea was met with enthusiasm and respect. Through engaging games and activities, grammar and vocabulary lessons were seamlessly integrated into the writing process, equipping the students with the tools to express themselves with clarity and precision.

As the session drew to a close, it was evident that the innovative approach that runs like a central nervous system through the Atelier 21 educational model had ignited a newfound passion for writing among her students, leaving them eager to explore the boundless possibilities of language.

Year 3: Jess’s Classroom

Next door in Jess’s domain, a sense of anticipation hung in the air as students congregated around a table, immersed in a world of suspense and fantasy. The air was filled with focus and suspense due to the deliberately chosen music playing in the background. Inspired by a descriptive paragraph adorning the whiteboard, students collaborated to weave narratives teeming with intrigue and emotion.

Briefed with the day’s focus and context, students delved into the intricacies of storytelling, focusing on crafting narratives that evoked mood and atmosphere. Individualised feedback and encouragement from Jess spurred students to refine their narratives, as they delved into the art of building suspense and eliciting emotion through their writing.

Throughout the session, Jess underscored the importance of collaboration, fostering an environment where students felt empowered to share ideas and support one another in their creative endeavours. As students grappled with the challenges of crafting suspenseful narratives, they honed valuable skills in communication and teamwork.

Recognising that the students had found the lesson challenging, they were asked what had kept them in the learning pit, what they needed to climb out and how they could address that in the next lesson. Students expressed articulately that they were used to writing about action, the progression of the story, and it was hard to focus on one scene to build suspense. They felt they would have been better equipped if they had all stayed in one place rather than separating to different locations in the classroom and piazza so they could collaborate more widely than just in their pairs. Talking about what it was like to work in pairs instead of writing alone, they reflected that at times they had thought their partner was with them to later realise they were on completely different pages intelligently reflecting on the need to realise and resolve misunderstandings quickly to progress with the work they were doing. Celebrating the wins they had from collaborating with their classmates, they made a plan to work together more the next day, to share their ideas with each other so they could all learn and develop their writing together posing the question “how do we collaborate tomorrow so we focus on building suspense and don’t get carried away with storytelling action?”

Reflecting on the session, students identified areas for growth and expressed a desire to further explore techniques for building suspense and refining their storytelling abilities. Jess’s nurturing approach and unwavering dedication to student learning shone through as she guided her students through the writing process with patience and enthusiasm.

As the lessons drew to a close, an enthusiastic year 3 student expressed the desire to share her work with the year 2 class – work produced entirely from her own ideas and language. Standing confidently she read the beginning of her scene … “The castle was surrounded by thick, ghostly fog which swallowed the light of the lanterns around the stone ruins. My heart stopped and my mouth went dry … “ what will emerge? The scene is set for the adventure to develop in the next lesson.

In Conclusion

In both Year 2 and Year 3 classrooms, collaborative writing emerged as a powerful tool for nurturing creativity, fostering communication, and honing critical thinking skills. Through innovative teaching methods and personalised guidance, Kelly and Jess created environments where students across a range of ages and abilities felt inspired to explore their potential as writers, laying the foundation for a lifelong love of language and literature.