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Teaching 21st Century Skills Through Collaborative Writing


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Teaching 21st Century Skills Through Collaborative Writing
by: Priyanka Raha ~4/15/2022


Gone are the days when writing in the classroom was limited to being a solo, independent task that kept kids on their seats. Now writing can be a fun, collaborative activity that can be done away from the desk with a variety of tech tools to make this possible.

Working together towards a common goal such as a group writing project can teach kids valuable 21st century skills. These skills are classified into the 5C's that students need in order to be successful in life and work in today's ever changing world.

Below are the 5C’s of 21st century learning and how you can develop these skills through collaborative writing activities.


Communication among students is developed when they get to share their ideas with one another while taking turns to speak and listen. When students brainstorm ideas in a classroom or as a group, they draw inspiration from one another and pick up ideas they would’ve never thought of before. They learn to ask questions, be open to suggestions, find common ground, and improve the ways in which they get their message across whether in written or oral form.


A great thing about collaborative writing is the opportunity the students get to be creative together and play off of each other’s strengths in completing a project. Students learn to lead and delegate tasks to members in the group who would be best suited for the role. There is also the added advantage of peer feedback. Peer feedback is the practice where students give constructive feedback on the strengths and improvements of each other’s work so they meet the success criteria. Pair work is another way to explore collaborative writing. Two students with differing abilities are thoughtfully paired together to accomplish a writing task. This allows students at different stages on the growth journey to learn from each other, support each other and encourage each other. Collaborative writing can shine a light on the different strengths of each student and increase a student’s appreciation for their classmate’s unique contributions.

Critical Thinking

Collaborative writing activates critical thinking when students evaluate each other’s contributions. By working together in a group, students witness the thought processes of their peers. They learn to see that there isn’t only one way to approach a problem, or answer a question. Students get to consider multiple viewpoints before forming an opinion on a piece they are writing.


Collaborative writing allows for greater creative expression as students team up to showcase their written ideas in original ways by building on each other’s skills and talents. Using digital media such as pictures, audio and video can make writing more immersive and interactive for their readers.

(Digital) Citizenship

Collaborative writing exposes students to various online tools they can use to work with their classmates thus increasing their proficiency with these tools. They learn to relate well to the people they communicate with online where the use of language is more complex and ambiguous. Students can adopt tools and strategies that have worked for their classmates, and share resources that help them stay focused and inspired. They can practice being kind to each other by checking in and supporting each other throughout the collaborative writing process.

Here are some collaborative writing activities you can try with your kids…

  • Round Robin - Students take turns writing one line in a fictional story.
  • Shared Sensory Writing - Students are grouped together to write a descriptive paragraph about an object with each member assigned one of the 5 senses to write about.
  • Fact Files - Students group together to research and collect information about a subject they are interested in. Some examples could be animals, food or sports.
  • Poetry Tapestry - Two students are paired to each write a 9-line poem after selecting a title. The pair works together to combine their 18 lines into one poem in an order that they both like.

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