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Grab a Story and Go!


  • Language Arts


  • 3-5
  • 6-8
  • 9-12

Brief Description

In this shared-writing activity, students collaborate to create a short story.


Students will (depending on their grade level)
  • contribute to a three-paragraph short story that includes an introduction, body (exposition), and conclusion.


short story, writing, structure, introduction, body, conclusion, continuity

Materials Needed

  • paper and pencil

The Lesson

Share with students that in this activity they will create short stories that only have three paragraphs. Introduce the three elements you want them to focus on as they write their stories.

  • The first paragraph is the introduction. In this paragraph, students will introduce the topic and main character, set the tone, and create the setting for the story.
  • The second paragraph is the body of the story. This is where students continue the story -- pick up where the first paragraph leaves off -- by providing more detail. In this paragraph, students also can introduce minor characters. The bulk of the story is told in the body.
  • The third paragraph is called the conclusion. This is where students will wrap up the story and bring it to an end.

Provide each student with a sheet of writing paper. The student should write his or her name at the top of the page. Students are free to choose any subject/topic/setting for their story. You might give them a few minutes to decide on a topic and then write the story title at the top of the page.

Then give students 10 minutes to write the story's introduction.

When students have completed their introductions, instruct them to pass their papers to the person sitting behind them. (Students at the back of the row will carry their papers to the first person in the row.) Provide time for each student to read the introduction written by their classmate, and then give them 15 minutes to write a body paragraph that continues the story they have been handed. Have each student write his or her name in the margin next to that paragraph.

After students have completed the second paragraph, have them pass their papers to the person behind them. Give each student time to read the introduction and body of the short story he or she received. Then allow students 15 minutes to write a conclusion paragraph for that story. Have each student write his or her name in the margin next to that paragraph.

After all students have completed the conclusion paragraph, have them return the papers to the original authors. Give students time to read the stories they started. Ask for volunteers to read aloud the completed short stories.

Close the activity by discussing what it took to be able to write a body and conclusion to another person's story. What did the second and third authors need to do/know in order to create stories make sense? For example, if Tommy started off talking about cats in his introduction, could Melinda write a body that talks about elephants? In this discussion, students might introduce terms such as comprehension and continuity.

To drive home the point of this exercise, and to help students remember the lessons of comprehension and continuity, you might read an example of a story that lacks comprehension and continuity and solicit students' reactions. Create your badly composed story by taking from three different stories an introduction, body, and conclusion.

You might repeat this activity at a later date, taking note of any improvement in students' awareness of the need for comprehension and continuity.


Collect all of the papers at the end of the lesson. Each student's name should be next to the paragraphs she or he wrote. Decide whether each student used his or her understanding of introduction, body, and conclusion in writing the paragraphs. Also, look for signs that the student understood the idea of continuity.

Submitted By

Kamese Fogg, an education student at the College of Notre Dame in Baltimore, Maryland

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