Students Enjoy Writing With a Collaborative Platform That Gives Them Choice
Earlier this year, Story Wars was selected as one of the “Chosen” apps on the Chrome Web Store by Google. I want to share what we are doing and how this is relevant for teachers (especially language teachers).
Chosen app on the Chrome Web Store (sorry for the Swedish, my native tongue)
Writing and reading are two of the most important skills our students can learn. Learning them should be something that is enjoyable. Ultimately, we want to encourage the enjoyment of reading during free time. Sadly, the average 15 year old in Sweden is spending half the time reading in her/his free time as they did 15 years ago.
We see the debate about how to become a better writer all the time. It’s usually between two camps: “Read more” and “Write more”. With the “Write more” crowd usually being louder.
One of main complaints about “just write” is that students may not have an idea of what to write about. One often proposed solution is to use writing prompts to get started. This is a great way to get started. However a just as common problem is how to continue after the first part is written.
How can Story Wars help out?
We have worked closely together with a specialist in creative writing to figure out a way to make writing and reading a daily habit.
We took three ingredients that we identified as both important and enjoyable: Writing prompts, choosing your own adventure, and collaboration.
The great thing about writing prompts is that you don’t have to come up with the original idea for what you want to write about. Besides using regular writing prompts, what if someone could drop a writing prompt in the middle of your story to rekindle your imagination and interest?
Choose your own Adventure
“Choose your own adventure” is a classic way of getting the reader involved in the story. The reader becomes invested in the story as they can actually affect it. This is the first step towards collaboration.
Coming from the world of development, collaboration is second nature for me. I have worked in companies with over 30 developers working on the same code. We also rely on code that people write all around the world to make our own code better. Besides learning to work with others, we also learn how others work and learn from them.
Writing could be exactly the same.
You read a story that is missing the next part, write up a draft and submit. Several others will also be able to submit their drafts for the same chapter. Your draft is anonymous which promotes writing the first thing that pops into your head, a.k.a “Write more”.
We have seen great results from this: over 13,000 stories created and 20,000 registered users from all over the world.
Every day the admins of Story Wars go through all the new stories to find the ones that will inspire our readers to become writers. We succeed in converting 20% of the readers into writers with these stories.
In the Classroom
In our Classroom version of Story Wars, you can import those carefully curated stories and share them with your students. You get to start off with only the first chapter written and then see how your students will evolve the story.
We have been working on the Classroom version of Story Wars for a while now. Early on we had a lot of teachers asking for a private version of Story Wars but we wanted to learn more before we launched Classroom. We have been testing Classroom together with teachers from the US, UK, China and Australia. The response has been great:
“This is a really awesome classroom tool. It is also a very different approach to encouraging students to write — a purpose. They love the idea of voting for the one direction the story could go.
They [parents] saw their children motivated to write like never before.”
— Teacher Pippa Smith
We will continue to work closely with these teachers and hopefully many more to continue to improve Story Wars.
And as a thank you to EmergingEdTech for featuring us, we are going to give away Story Wars Classroom with 67 % off using this link: https://www.storywars.net/classroom?ref=emergingedtech