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.
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
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
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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