Sunday, October 11, 2015

The Monster Project: Collaborative Descriptive Writing!

Photo by Michelle Balleck - Craig Daily Press

October is the perfect month to inspire children to practice descriptive writing! Describing jack o'lanterns, Halloween costumes, or nocturnal animals were all favorite assignments for my first or second graders. The all-time favorite, however, was always The Monster Project

This writing assignment requires partners for collaboration. We used international pen pal partners, but the project can be just as easily and effectively completed with partners in the next classroom or a school across town. The steps are simple:
  • Prior to the project it is helpful, depending on the age of the children, to review geometric shapes, directional words, prepositions, and adjectives.
  • Each child draws a monster. 
  • Next, the child writes a detailed description of their monster, explaining how to draw it.
  • The descriptions only (no pictures) are given to another student. Possible partners might be another child in the class, students from another class in your school, students from another school in town, or distant pen pal partners.
  • The student receiving the description, recreates the monster.
  • The recreated monster drawing is returned to the original student for comparison to their original drawing.
My class exchanged their descriptions with pen pal friends in other countries. We used a wiki for posting the project. Each class had a page on which they posted their descriptions. The receiving class uploaded their redrawn monsters. The originating class then upload the original drawings for all to see. The examples below were from an exchange between our class in Colorado and a class in Beirut, Lebanon:

Such a simple idea to get kids writing with an authentic audience!

Here are links to some of our monster project results from years past. We, at times, had partners who did not speak or write the same language. Wikispaces allowed the students to write in their own language and translate the postings of their friends:

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