Participatory Writing


Research from the  Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society tells us that the key skills the literature sector they think will be vital in the next decade are those pertaining to digital skills and information technology.   Although digital technologies have already begun to impact student writing in myriad ways, teachers often complain that writing in the digital domain is too informal or sloppy.  We know that social media has given students new outlets for their writing,  and at the same time there are more and more spaces online in which students can write collaboratively, the fact is that such tools do not necessarily make them better writers. 

Until now, that is!  I am excited to say that, here at New Milford High School, we are going to be integrating Paperlet, a new online participatory publishing platform, into our writing instruction.  

According to a recent Pew research study, “students exposure to a broader audience for their work and more feedback from peers encourages greater student investment in what they write and in the writing process as a whole .”

Paperlet is the ideal resource to give our students precisely this kind of extended exposure for their writing. It takes the existing traditional writing process a decisive step further by bringing the readers into the creative process too.  Writers and readers come together in a uniquely combined effort. Writers gather feedback on their writing from readers and are then able to refine their stories based on this feedback.  This allows them to have a built in audience and guaranteed readership from the get-go.  It also means that young people in school can have a wider audience, and therefore a greater breadth of feedback, than simply their class peers or their teachers.

Our learners all consume content in the digital domain, however built into our writing instruction needs to be opportunities for participation.  This doesn’t replace traditional skills, but brings kids into the creative process, moving them from not just authors but to creators and story architects.  And the stories themselves are no longer simply traditional linear narratives; they are now taking on immersive and interactive elements. Paperlet guides students through the process of expanding their writing into this new media form.  

Paperlet provides a safe, creative space in which students can freely explore these new methods of storytelling. Students are given the tools needed to create their story, build their audience and cultivate meaningful feedback to help them refine their story so that they are proud to publish and celebrate their writing.  

The roots of immersive storytelling lie in marketing and in entertainment and have been proven to be effective tools in engaging people in stories and therefore being profitable.  A participatory approach to writing will engage all of our learners – this is our currency.

Watch this space for updates on our journey with Paperlet!