NT - Engaging with the Write a Book in a Day Competition via Distance

Last year I wrote about Katherine School of the Air (KSA) being regular participants since 2014 in the Australia-wide competition, Write a Book in a Day (WABIAD). The competition raises money for KIDS Cancer Project. Participants have 12 hours on their chosen day to write and publish a book that will be sent out to kids’ cancer wards in hospitals around Australia. All stories must have an Aussie theme and are given a set of five parameters, aswell as five random words. For further information see the website, https://www.writeabookinaday.com/.

This year we entered again with one Primary team and a Middle Years (MY) Team and, in all honesty, things did not go smoothly with technology for the Primary Team.

We had our writing day on the first day of Term 3. REACT(our lesson platform) was playing up which meant four members of our six person team were regularly being kicked out. It was easy enough to log back in but connectivity was very intermittent and unpredictable. One student couldn’t login at all.

But… that wasn’t about to stop us.

To plan and write the story we use a OneNote document stored on the school portal. When we are not on REACT we are working in that document, seeing in real-time what each other is writing and regularly going back to check on story plan, character descriptions and chapter breakdown. We can also leave notes of encouragement for each other and tend to focus on encouraging detail and interesting vocabulary.

One student who couldn’t log on to REACT at all was still able to go through the portal and access the OneNote to see the story being created. Through a phone call we negotiated that he be our illustrator. He read the character descriptions and chose particular points in the story to illustrate. He then emailed his drawings to me and I cut and pasted them into our final book.

One student kept being kicked out of REACT and so was in regular email contact with her questions, as she wrote. I think I received around 15 emails throughout the day from her alone. A phone call to read through and edit her chapter meant her vision for Chapter 5 was achieved. She had one successful REACT session towards the end of the day where the story was read.

Those students who were able to connect with REACT worked well, continuously throughout the day to ensure the team ended up with a cohesive fantasy story full of imaginative creatures, danger and intrigue and, of course, a surprise ending that the reader would never suspect.

The Primary Team’s story includes a lecturer, a movie director, a chameleon, a music festival and a missing pet. Patch, the Chameleon,has his work cut out for him when an evil lecturer begins stealing rare animals from the Country Road World Music Festival on the Cape York Peninsula. Written in first person, present tense, the primary students did an amazing job on their 2000 word story, written and illustrated in eight hours.

The MY Team’s story includes a songwriter, a skier, a crocodile, a tunnel and getting fit. Larry, a smooth-talking crocodile, offers to become Sherbet the manicorn’s personal trainer. Sherbet needs his help to winthe World Water-Skiing Championships at Cape Leveque, near Derby, WA. Deception is not discovered until the 11th hour. Can Sherbet still achieve his dream? He is 80 years old and quite overweight. Who knows? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Anything goes in WABIAD and seemingly impossible parameters always weave themselves into wonderful, imaginative tales as students’ imaginations work with their English skills to create engaging narratives.

I encourage other Distance Ed schools to get involved and am happy to be a source of support to make this happen.

It is so important for students to learn that distance, in this day and age, is not a barrier to collaboration and creativity.

Last year’s article.