I learned of this idea back in college and can not take credit for it, in its original form, but I do it many times a year and love it each and every time.
The idea is simultaneous shared writing. I start out by reading a book with really strong characters in it. For this time around I chose Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak, a crowd favorite.
After reading I give each student a plain white piece of paper, and instruct each student to grab a different colored marker. When I say go each student begins drawing a "wild thing" of their very own. After about fifteen seconds I call, "markers up," and we pass the papers clockwise around the table.
This process continues until each paper makes it back to their owner. I usually give the owner about another thirty seconds to put any finishing touches they may want to make to their creature.
Afterwards, I ask each student to name their newly minted monster.
NOW comes the really fun part. I pass out lined paper and we repeat the process, but this time with writing instead of drawing. The only difference being that I allow an incremental increase for each pass to give the next student a chance to read what the previous students have written.
This activity gets even the most reluctant writers excited!
By adding onto the story that is already taking place students are unable to say that they don't know what to write about.
For the writing portion I generally have the students pass around their team twice, but it also depends on the amount of time you give them. When it reaches the final rotation I give the original author a little extra time to bring the story to a close.
Then we share our completed stories with our table groups!
Since everyone at a table had a hand in writing each story they pay particular attention to hear their part!
When we are all done I attach the illustration to the story. Ours are currently hung on our hallway bulletin board garnering tons of attention!
A few management tips:
I always preface this activity by reminding students that when we work on each others papers we need to be respectful, but also to keep in mind that everyone is going to have a different vision.
We also have to have a talk about appropriate writing. The monster topic in particular leads to some, shall we say, interesting topics.
I have used this same activity with many different books to lead into it. Some other ideas are Charlie and the Chocolate Factory where students create a new candy, or any Dr. Suess book where they create a new Suess character.
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