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Pizzaz! Creative Writing and Storytelling Ideas: Email Chain Stories

Example Web Site and/or Technical Equipment Required

Website: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~leslieob/pizzaz.html

Website Example: http://darkwing.uoregon.edu/~leslieob/chains.html

More Ways

Computer(s), Internet access, student e-mail accounts

Activity Description

Students use e-mail to write chain stories. Students co-author stories in three parts with a beginning, middle, and end.

Preparation

Have students set up e-mail accounts, if they do not have them.

How-To

Instructions from the Web site:

  1. Set the Stage: You can base stories on a class experience, or pre-select a theme (e.g. mystery, false fable, soap opera, etc.). Story starters, such as those from BogglesWorld Creative Writing Prompts [www], can also be useful for helping writers get started.
  2. Set up the authoring teams. Divide the class into pairs (if using a story starter) or groups of three (if students are creating their own beginnings).
  3. Everyone writes Part A, if the beginning of the story is needed, and gives it (e-mails) to another person in the group.
  4. Everyone writes Part B, the middle of the story, and gives it (e-mails) to the last person in the pair or group.
  5. The last person writes Part C, the end, and the story is finished (and can be e-mailed to the teacher or to everyone in the class). Make sure each person's name is on the final story.
  6. The instructor can do whatever editing or correcting seem appropriate for the learners and course.
  7. Students can illustrate stories individually or in groups (optional).

Teacher Tips

  • Faster results can be achieved in class-to-class and e-mail exchanges if the class that initiates the story (Part A writers) also finishes the story (Part C). Then the story is only "gone" (in the hands of the other class) for just one turn. Fewer stories are lost or remain unfinished this way.
  • You could also find a class with whom you can share exchanges, either in person or online.
  • Students need to know how to use e-mail: compose a message, send, reply.

More Ways

  • Another option for sharing stories in place of e-mail is to set up a class blog and students add to the story by commenting or set up a class wiki with a page on which students can easily edit and add to a story. Suggested blog sites (among others) are Weebly [www] or WordPress [www]. Suggested wiki sites could be PB Works for Education [www] (PBWiki) or Wikispaces [www], but if you have a favorite that you are familiar with, use it.
  • The Web site contains several other writing activities for students to compose poetry and fiction.

Levels

  • Intermediate High
  • Advanced
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OTAN activities are funded by contract CN200091-A2 from the Adult Education Office, in the Career & College Transition Division, California Department of Education, with funds provided through Federal P.L., 105-220, Section 223. However, OTAN content does not necessarily reflect the position of that department or the U.S. Department of Education.