As regular readers know, I’ve been thinking more about collaborative storytelling and how to use it more effectively in my Intermediate English class. Last week, in fact, I published The Best Sites For Collaborative Storytelling. I also recently ordered a game I read about called Story Cubes that I thought might be useful, but once I received it concluded it wasn’t very helpful in a class with English Language Learners.

However, all those ideas got my brain going, and I came up with what turned-out to be an excellent lesson in my Intermediate English class yesterday.

First, I had the class divide into groups of three. Within the small groups, each person was numbered either one, two, or three. Each group was given one sheet of paper, and on the top of each paper the group had to write “Once Upon A Time…”

Next, I put a piece of paper under the document camera and projected it on the screen. I then wrote:

“1) Who?”

That meant that the number ones in each group had to write one sentence describing who was going to be in the story. I told people just to have fun with it, and pushed them to write adjectives. I explained that they would have no more than two minutes to write it.

Then, I wrote:

“2) Where?”

All the number twos had to take the paper and write where the story was taking place. Students began to get engaged with it at this point.

We continued this process until the paper on the overhead looked like this:

3) When?
4) What is the problem?
5) Who said What? (indicating that someone in the story had to say something, which was a great time to reinforce quotation marks).
6) Who said What back to that person?
7) Something bad happens
8)Something good happens
9) Something funny happens
10) It ends

Students then got a big piece of easel paper and converted their sentences into a story with illustrations. Next, in a round-robin routine, each group told and showed their story to one of the other groups.

It was all done well within two class periods, required next to no teacher preparation, and provided superior opportunities for reading, writing, speaking and listening. One can’t ask a lot more than that…

I do, however, have lots of other ideas about how to maximize it even further.

I’ll be adding a link to this post in “The Best…” list on storytelling I referenced in the first paragraph.