In my previous posting, I explained that one of my classes was reading Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelson. We have begun reading the novel and the kids seem to be enjoying the book. The journal writing begins tomorrow. In hopes of motivation the class to write insightful responses, another teacher, Rita Hughes, and I have put together a series of activities for both of our classes. The kids will be randomly paired up with a student from the other class. The kids will write journal responses on a set of chapters and then post them on the blogs. In addition to the responses, each student will pose a question at the end of their response in hopes of "stumping" their partner. The students will then respond to each other's journal entries and answer the question. Those that answer correctly will win a prize (that is yet to be determined). The goal is to keep the kids writing productively and to read the novel at a higher level of understanding. On May 16th, they will be interviewing the author, Ben Mikaelson. The final collaborative writing project will be to "become" one of the characters in the novel and write what they would have done differently in the book.
I know that providing a real and authentic audience motivates kids to write better. However, knowing that the postings from this project will be read and responded to by their peers, I am confident that the kids will raise the expectations and quality of their work on their own. This project is truly going to be a "writing community" that will inspire!