We were introduced to Skype about a week ago and since then I’ve seen various weblogs on it. Working with another school about 20 minutes away from ours we’ve been using the add on Talk and Write with Skype to help mentor young writers.
WOW! What a powerful tool! My class are 11-12 year olds and our buddy skype class has 8 year olds. My colleague Simon got his students to write their stories on the Interwrite pad and saved them. He then sent the file through Talk and Write to us so that my student mentor for the day could read through the story. At a prearranged time, we called each other and got Talk and Write up and running as well. As the two students talked via Skype they were also able to work on the writing collaboratively, adding words, deleting words, adding new sentences etc as they went.
I’d have to say you definitely need to teach your students how to “mentor write”. They need to encourage and support the younger writer, gently teasing out new ideas. One of the strategies I taught my mentors was to offer their writer a selection of words to choose from. We will definitely continue this process and can see the difference to the writing immediately. It will be interesting to see the difference to the independent writing of the 8 year olds after several mentoring sessions. I’ll keep you posted on that one!