Writing in The One Computer Classroom

One computer in the classroom can be a great asset for teaching the writing process. Prior to the writing activity, have students:

    Complete organizational charts to gather details for writing
    Write individually. This will give students a chance to work independently and will give a foundation for the cooperative writing activity

Choose one of the collaborative writing structures below and engage students in the writing process.

Small Groups

In this structure each group of students is responsible for composing one paragraph of the final narrative. Topics could include: history of the place, fun things to do, hours of operation, etc. All students in the group are responsible for composing the paragraph. In addition, students have specialized jobs. The final product includes words, phrases, and/or sentences taken from each student so that each student feels ownership of the final essay.

Give students roles to complete while composing at the computer. Give students a form to evaluate their contribution to the group each day.

    Researcher - locates information and helpful resources
    Organizer - uses the organizational chart to determine a logical sequence for informative details
    Grammarian - Checks for proper mechanics
    Computer Engineer - Uses the keyboard and selects proper font. spacing, bullets, etc. This could be shared by two students
    Composer - Checks for transitions and sentence variety

Whole Class

In this structure, the whole class writes together. The conversation about writing during whole class collaborative writing is invaluable for demonstrating to all students the writing process. Reluctant writers get to hear the entire writing process played out before them, in a way that is not possible with other writing methods. In addition, the more capable writers are also stretched by hearing the equally good but different ideas of their peers. While whole class collaborative writing is the most time consuming, it can be the most rewarding.

    Necessary Materials - In order to engage in whole class collaborative writing, you will need a computer with a projection device. Because all students need to be able to easily see the phrases and sentences unfold, use a large font for composing.

    Keyboarder - Unless the students are proficient at the keyboard, the teacher should act as keyboarder. Too many keyboarding errors or keyboarding too slowly can severely interrupt the composition process. Students should be thinking about word choice not typing errors.

    The Process - With teacher as director, begin to compose the narrative. Encourage several suggestions for each sentence and discuss the merits of each. As a class, choose the best words, phrases, and sentences, and key in the students' ideas, allowing for revision along the way. By engaging them in dialogue about topic sentences, transitions, word choice, sentence varitey, etc. you will be demonstrating the writing process and creating an understanding that can then be applied to individual writing assignments. The final essay will reflect the best words, phrases, and sentences of all students, so that the entire class will feel ownership of the essay and can share pride in its being published.



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