5 Reasons to Assign Collaborative Writing

5  Reasons to Assign Collaborative Writing

As a high school English teacher, I assign my students many writing assignments over the course of the year. Some assignments are quick 3-sentence responses, some are literary analysis paragraphs, some are narrative responses, and some are complete, multi-paragraph essays. In addition to assigning and assessing individual writing, I also assign several collaborative writing projects throughout the year.

While it is essential to assess student writing on an individual level, collaborative writing projects are extremely beneficial for students…and even teachers.

1. Built-in peer editing

When students work together to produce one well-written piece of writing, they take each other’sā€™ best ideas and incorporate them into the final piece. Not only do students have two (or more) sets of eyes looking at the paper, but students also draft and revise as they go.

2. Less grading

When students partner up to produce one paragraph or one essay, that reduces the grading load in half! As an English teacher, I easily get more than 150 papers to grade at a time. When that workload is drastically cut in half, I can provide meaningful feedback to my students much quicker!

5  Reasons to Assign Collaborative Writing

3. Students learn from one another

Teachers are not the only ones doing the teaching in a classroom. Students also teach one another, especially with group work. Assigning a collaborative writing assignment is a great way to help students learn from their peers.

4. Learn to collaborate

As much as some students loathe group work, it is a necessity. Many careers and jobs require people to work together. Assigning a partner essay provides students with another opportunity to learn how to collaborate to produce the best work possible. A collaborative writing assignment is another opportunity for students to learn to work together.

5. More individualized time

When students write collaboratively, teachers have more time in class to provide meaningful and individualized instruction. As students write their papers in class, there are fewer papers to read during those precious instructional minutes. This leaves you with more time to help students improve their drafts as they write.

5  Reasons to Assign Collaborative Writing in the ELA Classroom




  • I just finished grading my first set of collaborative essays analyzing the events/characteristics that led Holden to become the catcher in the rye. We currently level our students into Level 1 and Level 2 classes, so Level 1 is "accelerated" and Level 2 is academic. The Level 1 essays were amazing– they really used one another as tools and models. For a lot of my Level 1 students, it was their best work. On the other hand, my Level 2 students did not work together as well. They had trouble coming up with topic sentences that were unique from one another, and because the motivation levels in that class are so different, a lot of the teams had general teamwork issues. I'm definitely reflecting on it for next year, reducing team sizes in the Level 2 classes and doing more mini-lessons on topic sentences beforehand. I assigned heterogenous teams based on their previous essay grades, and I was happy with the results in my Level 1 classes for the most part. In my Level 2 classes, though, it seemed like they just wanted to get it over with. Even though we proofread for a class period, the essays they turned in were not their best work. Overall, I think it was a good learning experience, either way.

    • I love that you have already reflected and that you have a plan for the next time you assign collaborative essays.

  • When assigning collaborative writing assignments, how do you know if only 1 person did it? Do you assign specific parts to each student? Also, do you choose their partners or do they choose? Thank you! šŸ™‚

    • I usually assign this type of assignment on Google Docs so that I have the ability to check and see who contributed which part.


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