Crowdsourced Stories

Story writing with a twist.


  • participle clauses
  • relative clauses
  • collaborative decision making
  • proofreading and editing skills
  • style and genre awareness


  • Level (CEFR C1-C2)
  • Ages 15 and up.


This neat little writing lesson for advanced ESL students is good for practising participle/relative clauses and helps them be more discriminating editors.  This is especially helpful for students who are gearing up for the Cambridge: Advanced (CAE) exam or IELTS.  This activity works best as a freer practice activity after having focussed on the form.  It also works nicely as a review for later lessons.

You will need:

  • 30 minutes approx.
  • 1 handout per pair of students (download link at the bottom).  I prefer to have each sheet on different coloured paper because it makes it easier to track where each story has been.

  1. Put students in pairs.
  2. Explain that they are going to help you improve a story that you have written.  It is a truly rubbish story.  Before writing anything (so pens down!), ask pairs to discuss how they would change the story to make it more appropriate to the labelled genre, bearing in mind that each piece of paper has a different type of story.
  3. Tell the students that they have to add some extra detail using participle / relative clauses to improve the story, while keeping to the genre.  They will have 2 minutes to make only 1-2 additions to any of the sentences and then they will be given a different story.  This will continue until the stories are perfect.  example: The man, who was very old, walked down the road, carrying a large box.  If they think the story has any errors, then they should correct them.
  4. Monitor and rotate the stories clockwise/anti-clockwise around the room from pair to pair.  Take the opportunity to board the errors as they occur.
  5.  Once the stories have been edited by a number of groups, pause the students writing and let them correct the boarded mistakes.  If you have a large group, the ideal time to stop the activity is when the groups original story (i.e. the genre they started with) comes back to them.
  6. Allow them to reflect on and react to the stories in front of them and correct any errors.  Monitor for support.  Encourage them to discuss how the story has changed from their original vision.
  7. For a final chance for reflection, put them with a new partner and ask them to discuss:  If you could change one story you know (a film, a book or a TV series), how would you change it?


  • Students may initially be reluctant to correct each others’ work.  Keep encouraging them and ensure them that it’s everyone’s work, so there’s no reason to worry.
  • If possible, it’s always good to give students a written copy of the errors that were made.
  • This activity could also be easily adapted for lower levels if you wanted to practice adverbs.  Alternatively, this could be a follow up to stronger classes: once they’ve added some clauses, you could ask them to add 1 adverb to each sentence.


A relatively quick and simple writing activity that focusses them on the target language.  Students can start to have some real fun with it, especially playing with stereotypes of each genre.


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