5 Benefits of Writing in a Group

5 Benefits of Writing in a Group. Students work collaboratively together to complete the essay process.

How To Plan Group Writing

The 5 Benefits of Writing in a Group

The 5 benefits of writing in a group are: practice with collaboration, building teamwork skills, support from classmates, quality work over quantity work, more focus from teacher. What is a group essay assignment? or What is group essay writing? They are the same process as how to write a 5 paragraph essay with the exception of doing it in a group. The focus of this blog will be the literary analysis essay.

How to Plan a Writing Group

How to write a writing plan for essay is the most important steps to writing an essay. If you do not plan properly it can be a chaotic waste of time. Prior to writing or beginning an essay students receive graphic organizers to fill in about the steps in the essay process. We watch videos as students fill out their graphic organizers. We cover all the parts of the essay process: attention getter, summary of essay, thesis statement, topic sentences, transitions, evidence, commentary, concluding sentence, and writing a conclusion. Schmoop or John Green videos are an engaging and effective way to cover each of these topics. They have short entertaining videos that hold students attention long enough to learn about a less than enthusiastic topic such as transitions. They truly do a great job. If I have a lot of students who are in special education, in the process for how to plan a writing group I decide if I want to allow them to use head phones and work independently on this part of the process. This way they can pause, rewind, or forward the videos as many times as necessary to really grasp what each part of the essay process is and to allow time to fill in their graphic organizers, which they will next be taking to their assigned group.

Collaboration and Teamwork are Key to How to Write a Good Essay

The first of 5 benefits of writing in groups is collaboration. It needs to be strategic collaboration. I strategically place students in assigned groups when I begin how to plan for a writing group. An example of being strategic would be to not put three extremely shy students in one group, or not putting three students who do not typically work in the same group. The second of the 5 benefits of writing in a group is honing teamwork skills. If you do not set the teams up strategically, they will not work well as a team. It’s crucial to place them into groups of 3. The reason I choose groups of three is so that each student will be given the task of writing a body paragraph and there are three body paragraphs. They also cannot skate by on someone else’s work. In addition the pressure of your grade being a contributing factor in the group’s grade as a whole is enough to encourage full participation and effort. During this assignment, I receive more tutorial visits from students than any other time of the year. Students do not like letting their peers down, nor feeling like they do not fit in. I give them as much support as they need until they get their paper to the level that they want.

In How to plan a writing group, use small intimate groups to provide the right amount of pressure for students to put in the full effort for the group essay grade. I have the most tutorial visits during this assignment than any other assignment all year.

Once students are in groups they will be given a poster paper and colored pencils. Color coding will allow them to see the different parts of the essay clearly. It will also provide clarity for the different parts of the essay when they share with their classmates. They will be color coding the introduction: attention-getter, summary of essay, and thesis statement.  Once settled into their group the real work begins. We review themes from the novel-as they were covered throughout the unit and students already have a completed graphic organizer for theme.  I use videos to cover the theme from a novel. These are short entertaining videos from Pixar, or created by students in a video class that the kids love and remember. An example would be “Family heritage defines perception in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, and a short Pixar video I show is called, “Snack Attack “, where an elderly woman’s perspective of a young teen is grossly skewed. It isn’t until the end of the video that she realizes that what she perceived as disrespectful behavior was actually respectful behavior.

In How to plan a writing group, be sure to have prior lessons and graphic organizers for students to use during the essay process. Above is snack attack: a teen is trying to share a snack with an elderly woman who believes he stole her snack. In the end she finds her snack in her purse. She carries on getting angry with him and he remains respectful and calm the entire time. He even waves to her as her train pulls away. Students have a graphic organizer with all different themes from the novel and this is listed under perception.

One of the Steps to Writing an Essay is Support From Classmates

The group decides on a theme for the essay. The theme is chosen from the novel we have completed. It’s important that they have a clear picture of what the theme means in relation to the novel in order to complete a successful essay.  The third of the 5 benefits of writing in a group is the support students receive from their classmates. For example, students are less likely to choose a theme that isn’t going to work for a 5 paragraph essay, because it has to pass through three students for approval. From there they write a thesis statement in color on their poster paper. In writing their thesis statement they add an opinion to the theme. It’s essential to choose an opinion and theme for which they can find several pieces of evidence to back up this theme plus opinion. An exercise that can take place at this stage in the essay process is to have them look up three pieces of evidence that will back up their thesis statement. This is to ensure essay success because if they cannot prove their thesis statement, they will not be successful in writing the essay.

At this point I put up all posters around the room and pass out sticky notes for each group. They will now perform a gallery walk where they write four comments on sticky notes for each poster. They are to write two things they like about the thesis statement, and two suggestions. Once they have completed the gallery walk, posters are returned to groups, and groups are to share their thesis, comments, and are to then improve their thesis statement.

The next step is to write an attention-getter, which can be one of three things: an interesting fact or statistic that relates to the topic; a famous quote that relates to the topic; an anecdote, a short story about themselves that relate to the topic. If they are to write an interesting fact, statistic, or quote, they are to look it up and site it correctly. If they write an anecdote, I provide a prompt to support them through the process. An example of a prompt would be, “tell me about a time you were sure of something, even argued about it, and later found out you were wrong. What did that look like, describe how you felt when you learned you were wrong. What did you learn from the experience?” Students would then share these stories with each other and a couple would share out with the class. This would be in keeping with the theme about perception. In the groups they would choose the best story and use it as an anecdote: attention-getter.

In How to plan a writing group, have students choose a theme from the book such as perception.

Tips for Writing an Essay: Quality Over Quantity

From there they will write their introduction together as a group. Students will then write the topic sentence for each body paragraph as a group. In addition they will review the parts of a body paragraph as a group. At this point each student will choose the body paragraph they want to complete independently. The 4 out of 5 benefits of writing in a group is that there is quality over quantity. More often than not, students will spend the evening prior to due date, putting together a 5 paragraph essay. Only having the task of writing one body paragraph, ensures quality work over quantity. It’s important to have this part of the group essay project be independent to ensure two things: that students understand how to write a body paragraph independently and to ensure all students are participating in the essay. Once students have completed their body paragraphs, they share them with the group and the group works collaboratively to revise as necessary.

How to Write the Conclusion

The next step for the group essay process is to write the conclusion as a group. The conclusion is a simple process because they repeat the thesis statement in different words, repeat all topic sentences in different words, and write a lesson learned in the essay process. The introduction and the conclusion can go on the poster and typed versions of the body paragraphs can be attached to the poster. The fifth out of 5 benefits of writing in groups is that there is more focus from the teacher. A teacher who typically has 140 students, will now be able to support 45 during the essay process.

How to Organize Peer-Editing

Students will then exchange essays and perform a peer edit. In order to complete a successful peer edit, I provide a worksheet that gives step-by-step instructions. These are passed back to the group who make changes as they see fit. Students create a polished copy of a new poster for the introduction and the conclusion as well as each group member revising their body paragraphs. Once they have this all together, I collect them, grade them with a rubric and post them around the room. Student names are on the back of the poster for those who are painfully shy about their work being displayed. A final step can be a prompt for a individual reflection: what worked, what didn’t work, and how to change things for next time.

In How to plan a writing group, students write essay on poster and share with the class.

In this blog post we went over a step-by-step process in how to plan a writing group. If you follow these steps, you will have a successful, collaborative, essay process. As mentioned in the introduction it is crucial to plan in advance in order for this to work. If you do not plan, it will be a chaotic waste of time. The plan includes: graphic organizers and videos for each step in the essay process, assigning groups, walking students through the introduction step-by-step. Planning for a gallery walk. An instructional sheet for the essay, a peer edit form, rubric, and self reflection sheet. How to write a reflection on a group work essay? Have them write one independently and as a group. If you put this plan into place you will have an effective lesson that students have the opportunity to work on collaboratively and cooperatively. Let me know how you plan group writing in the comments below! If you enjoyed this article and want to learn more about writing essays, take a look at me How to Write a Narrative Essay blog post.

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