While this post is a bit late for talking about elves, the concept can be used with many other topics so I felt it still worthwhile to share. One of my first grade teachers wanted to do a collaborative, descriptive writing project similar to the Monster Exchange, but on a smaller scale. As it was the end of November, together we came up with the idea for doing an Elf Exchange during December. I contacted @shannonmmiller at Van Meter School in Iowa, who was very excited to be a part of this exchange and invited @mrshureads from Brook Forrest School in Illinois to participate as well.
The general idea was for each student to try and redraw another student's elf using their written description. We ended up with both first grade and second grade classes participating in this project. It was a great lesson in descriptive writing as the students couldn't just tell us about their elf, but had to describe what the elf looked like. Beforehand, the teachers did a min-lesson in descriptive writing to help the students know what to write. After posting their descriptions, the students were very excited to find out what the other student's posted on the Wiki, and at the end were very surprised to see what the original elves looked like! This was a very authentic and engaging lesson to teach the importance of accurate, descriptive writing.
We used a Wiki to organize our elves - each pair of students had their own page. The steps we followed were as follows:
1. Draw your elf.
2. Looking at your drawing, write a detailed description of the elf.
3. Post only the description on your Wiki page.
4. After all schools had a chance to do #1-4, the student's returned to their wiki page.
5. Using the other student's description, draw their elf and post it on the Wiki.
6. After all schools had a chance to do #5, the students posted their original elves for comparison.