Introduction Getting Ready
Learning Circles Teachers' Guide
Open Circle Plan Projects Share Work Publish
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Ideas for Organizing Writing
for the Computer Chronicles Newspaper

Classroom Reporter Teams

Many teachers working in Learning Circles have reported the effectiveness of having students work in small teams. Once you know how many newspaper sections there will be, you can post the project names with a limited number of spaces for students to sign up as reporters for the different sections. Then the reporters for a given section can meet and assign articles to be written. Grouping students into pairs to write together is an effective way to increase the quality of the students' work. This organization makes it very easy to produce 2-3 articles for each newspaper section sponsored by your Learning Circle partners.

Group Composing

Teachers from previous Learning Circles describe a group composing process that is very effective for reducing mail overload. The teacher sits at the computer with a group of 5-6 students or the whole class. The students and teacher discuss the topic that has been suggested by others on the network. As ideas are proposed they are typed into the computer. The students can see their ideas take shape on the screen while the discussion continues. After the class or group discussion, a smaller number of students can revise these notes into a class or group article to send to the Learning Circle. This process results in a single draft with multiple authors. This method works particularly well with young students or students who have difficulty writing.

Writers Select Their Own Work

Students can write first drafts of articles for several different sections of the newspaper. Each student selects one or two drafts for more careful polishing. Students might want to read each others papers and offer advice on which has the most potential for publication. Since the selections are likely to represent a wide range of topics, redundancy will be low. Also, since students work at different rates, the number of messages ready for the weekly transmission is likely to be manageable for both the sender and the receivers.

Editing Team Work

Some teachers may prefer to have students initially write alone so that the essay can be used to assess their individual skills. Suppose, for example, you want all of your students to respond to a request for information about local tourist attractions. You find that 11 students wrote first drafts on one topic, 8 on another, and 5 on various other topics.

You are now faced with a dilemma. What should you send on the network? If you send all their papers, you will be sending a large number of redundant messages. One way to solve the dilemma is to create a cooperative editing team.

The students can work in groups to prepare final drafts of their essays. Students who wrote on the same topic can work together to combine their ideas into a single essay that will be more complete, but not necessarily much longer than any single essay. Students who wrote on different topics could work together to improve the quality of their individual papers. Have the students read each others papers, and underline unique points or well-written sentences. This evaluating, analyzing, and editing experience will help them develop new writing strategies and extend their ideas.

At the end of this process, the class will have seven well-written articles to send. All of the students will benefit from the experience, and the smaller number of well-written messages will be eagerly received and read by students in other locations.

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Copyright © 1997, 2002, Margaret Riel