WORD PROCESSORS AND COLLABORATIVE WRITING
by Rogerio and Mariel
We believe that using word processing tools in collaborative writing is a great opportunity for teachers and students. Writing on a computer may be more motivating than using just pen and paper, and may make editing much easier.
Word processors are particularly useful for editing and revising texts. The teacher should make the most of it by stimulating students to keep record of the mistakes (and the improvements) they have made.
Most students are already familiar with the basic features of word processors (especially Microsoft Word) and should not be intimidated by activities in which they are supposed to use it.
On the other hand, it is also important to note that many students are likely to restrict their use of word processors to a few frequent functions, so if they have not been properly trained in this area, the language class may be the right place to develop their skills.
Since I am teaching a workshop on ‘Writing Emails’, a real activity I can use to simulate an email exchange (about four messages for each pair of students) using Microsoft Word.
One of them is supposed to write the first message: he/she wants to schedule a meeting.
The other replies it is not possible for him/her and suggests a new date. They reach an agreement and then exchange ideas on the agenda for the meeting.
An additional practice would be to rewrite those messages in a neutral/informal style.
Using Word Drawing Tools in Composition Planning
Imagine a situation suitable for the following exchange. Then, using Clipart, Autoshape and/or an Image Bank, draw the setting and the characters and insert the text in balloons to suggest a comic strip:
You want me to get up?
Once you have finished, write a story that includes the situation as you imagined it. Remember to spell-check it.
Note: All the work could be done collaboratively in pairs. Alternatively, the strips could be swapped so that each student writes a story about their partner’s strip. Then they exchange views on how similar or different the final outcome is from the original idea. In any case, it is important that the conversation provided should be “vague” enough to allow creativity.