The Write Path

The Write Path, which launched in 2008, aims to bring together schools from around the world to work on writing and video projects online. It is now looking for schools to take part in the Autumn term.

The Write Path is the brainchild of Beverly Humphrey, a trained children's librarian and reading consultant, who wanted to find a way to celebrate International School Libraries Day in October.

Humphrey says, "At the time I was working with a group of boys who loved technology and we had already been Skyping with students overseas around World Book Day.

"Another librarian I work with in Stockport mentioned that she was looking for an online writing project between schools, and we already had a colleague who had moved to Beijing.

"From that start, we found we had a number of schools around the world who wanted to take part."

The first event in 2008 was a collaborative story writing project which included pupils from 15 global schools and five children's authors who worked together to complete five very different stories.

The project has now grown to include more than 60 schools and the event takes place over the course of two weeks.

Humphrey hopes that this Autumn's online event will be even bigger and she is looking for schools now who want to sign up for the October 2011 event.

Schools that participate are given the introductory paragraphs to six stories a day, or the six first stanzas of poems. Schools can take on as many stories as they would like; they don't have to work on all six stories.

As schools join throughout the day, they are given an hour to complete the next paragraph or stanza, with just two or three pupils generally working on each of the stories or poems - although some schools have involved entire classes, or event the entire school.

Each paragraph has a word count of 250 to 350 words. "They go off on wonderful tangents," says Humphrey. "We've had pirates, zombies and giant Gummie Bears as characters!"

The school that takes part at the end of the day has the hardest job, to complete the story and tie up all the loose ends; they get two hours to work on the endings.

Pupils taking part are generally Year 7 and Year 8 in secondary schools, and there is now also a separate project for primary school pupils.

What young people like about the project is that it is all online, says Humphrey. "Most young people now live in an online world and they want that online recognition. They also appreciate that they are writing for a worldwide audience."

There are also now video-chats taking place between schools that pupils can get involved with, and which they love; talking to the school that preceded or followed them writing the story online.

Young people also like the idea of becoming published authors, says Humphrey, as their work is produced as a completed book at the end of the project, including their names as authors.

As for schools, Ofsted likes the project because it ticks the box of engaging with global communities. For staff who have not yet worked in a digital environment, it also represents valuable CPD. There is online support for those who are new to collaborating online and some training is available from Humphrey.

Already, around 20 new schools have signed up for the Autumn project and Humphrey is expecting many more to join before the end of September. There is a fee for getting involved of 50 per school, which supports the technical costs of the project.

The project has also developed further, to include a video story with authors such as Tommy Donbavand and Barry Hutchinson recording the first chapter to video last year.

"That has worked really well", says Humphreys. "We have some really creative footage from students and it gets those involved who are not so confident about writing." The video story runs for a week as an additional option for schools that want to get involved.

The two winning schools, one primary and one secondary, will receive a trophy. For more information, follow the following link.

Image: Tracey and May, The American School, Vietnam

14/07/2011The Write Path
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