Saturday, 28 February 2015

The 100 Word Challenge

This week I tried the 100WC with my students for the first time.
If you have never heard of the 100 Word Challenge, then you can find out more about how to enter on their website: 100wc.net
Basically, once a week, some amazingly committed and enthusiastic educator posts a writing prompt and then children from all over the world write 100 words inspired by the prompt and posts it to a class or student blog.
The great thing about the 100WC is that the students can become part of a global community of young writers who are all working together to get better at their craft.
A team of dedicated parents and teachers (known as Team 100WC) volunteer to read and comment on the students' work. Students who enter are also encouraged to read other entries and to comment on other people's work.
At the end of the week a select few entries are chosen to be the "showcase entries" for the week. This gives students something to aim for, but also an easy way to identify some entries that are good examples of writing.
It was only our first round, but I was so excited by the way that my class were so motivated to write, read, reflect, write, read and write as they posted their own work and commented on their classmates and read the comments they received.
We did have some discussion about comments the week before.
I used the T.H.I.N.K. acronym to introduce a discussion about what might be appropriate or inappropriate in an online discussion. Since some of my kids have appeared to have confused blog comments with "chat", we really discussed the "helpful" and "necessary" components. I added to our blog expectations that the comments needed to be on topic, as opposed to random chit-chat.
We also watched one of my good-ole-favrits: Mrs Yollis' Guide to Writing Quality Comments.

This week as part of our focus on the qualities of a good learner, we looked at the role of feedback in helping us to reflect on our work so that we can improve.
I can never get sick of the video about Austin's Butterfly on the effectiveness of good feedback, and any student or teacher I have watched it with has enjoyed it as much as I have. It really helps students to visualise how learning can improve when they receive and reflect on good feedback.
After discussing the role of feedback and watching this video, the students were excited about the prospect of getting feedback on their own writing, and the quality of the feedback they gave to each other was much better than the usual "Good job" or "Nice story" because they had an understanding of what good feedback might look like.
I would like to get the students to read the feedback they received from me, their peers, parents and other readers from around the globe to set themselves a personal goal for their writing that they can work on for the rest of this term.
If you would like to give them some more feedback, I am sure they would love for you to read and comment on their work. Our 100 Word Challenges can be found at: http://mrsbathamsclass.edublogs.org/
We will continue to work on writing comments and feedback throughout the year.
Yesterday I found another good website that also promotes writing using peer feedback: http://www.writeabout.com/
I particularly like their guides to writing comments and self and peer review.
They have a great little poster that I might add to my growing collection of "tech help" on my back wall:

WriteAbout have also produced a short, student and parent friendly guide to writing comments which elaborates on the messages in this poster.


It is early days yet with our writing, but if we can maintain our enthusiasm, the 100 Word Challenge seems to be a very useful resource for improving student writing!

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