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Bringing Academic Writing to Life


Hi all! I'm a creative writing coach working out of Hong Kong and exploring ways to broaden my classroom approach.

I run an afterschool learning centre which accommodates around 100 students a week, engaging in month long creative and academic writing projects based around one area of written English. Our monthly topics revolve around a single word/technique (Persuade , Entertain, Inform, debate etc.) from which students are encouraged to pursue individual/group projects in a field of their choosing. At present we are a pencil and paper only experience.

I have quite a unique situation in that I'm able to offer free courses to accommodate my whims and experiments and can usually find kids to test my evil creations on.

I'm currently working on an initiative to incorporate the fundamentals of individual writing styles into month long projects, ultimately with deliverable digital artefacts as the goal. Finding ways to draw from traditional writing activities as inspiration for digital animation, data presentation or simulation projects. Details are fast and loose at present and I'm planning to start a blog to document the development process for the programme. With a goal to holding some pilot sessions in January 2015.

At this stage I'm curious to hear of any projects that bear any resemblance to this that I may drawn inspiration from. is home to my current website if anybody cares!


This sounds like a fun project.

A while ago, I ran a unit on picture books. The students wrote short stories from their life experience. They illustrated the stories leaving space for the text. We scanned these illustrations and then inserted the text digitally. We created both pdf (made flippable by some website) and print copies. This was with elementary aged children.

The same project could have employed a digital animation tool. The short stories made them really focus in on the kernel of action in their stories.


The paper and pencil activities cans be motivated by an idea of making a book with stories written by each student. It will be interesting mix other activities such as illustrations, pictures, drawings or paintings made by themselves. At this point you could also use and develop other abilities in a collaborative work. This would increase their participation and the link among them.
This book could be "published" in a "book fair" or presentation night (or afternoon ?). If some of them like drama, one or more story could be played in this night, generating other kind of interaction and exploitation of the written ideas. This kind of "grand finale" always motivates them a lot!
I would have other ideas for the digital level too!


Nice! Thanks for the feedback.

That's exactly my thinking, and I see no reason why this idea couldn't be extrapolated to incorporate a computer science based approach to writing. Two topics that don't intersect on a regular basis at school! I'm hoping that student may be able to communicate their written topics through software that they create. Perhaps through the use of software such as Scratch, Hopscotch etc. I haven't boiled it down to a particular platform yet, I still think the core ideas are underdeveloped on my side!

I'm hoping to apply similar processes to other forms of writing outside of narrative based stuff, too.

Scenarios might include:
- A story might involve a character travelling from one place to another. To trigger the next event in the story, the students should find a way to prompt the story user to control an actor on a stage to move from point A to point B, triggering an event. Over time they would craft an entire interactive storybook project.

  • An informative writing process could see students gathering data on a given topic: say, the number of kids who play computer games. Using programming students could create animated/interactive infographics that respond to user input, allowing students to gather and submit their own data. They could add their own abstracts and conclusions to the app to explain the purpose and display results etc.

Just throwing ideas around at the moment. Needs more planning.


Full agree! We already run monthly projects that encourage students to submit and display their monthly work and I'm currently converting a lot of the work to digital and hosting it as a work gallery on my website where students can show off their work at the end of each month. We have a peer review system for the kids to submit comments as well. At present everything is physical on location here at the learning centre. Hoping new ideas can help take it out of the classroom so students can share their passion projects with peers!

Doubles quite handily as a marketing tool too! wink


I've been brainstorming the basics of what the project will entail and how it addresses the content and learning outcomes. I've tried my best to consider the roles of Projects, Peers, Passion and Play in the thinking process.

The next step is to burrow down a level and begin to lay the foundations for a pilot project that works within this framework. Proposed plan is to run a series of lessons in January 2015 that execute a project within this framework.


  • Consider the soft learning objectives for the overall project and the specific skills required to reach those targets in terms of both writing and coding.
  • Identify hard skills required to execute and best method of teaching these in time-frame provided.
  • Settle on a technical platform to execute the project (Animation software, programming environment etc.).