Year 6 students at Trinity Grammar Preparatory School recently met the challenge to write a book in a day in a competition that raises funds for children's cancer research, and distributes the competition book entries to libraries in children's hospitals around the country.
The Write a Book in a Day competition was the brain-child of the Katharine Susannah Prichard Writers' Centre (KSP), the oldest writers' centre of its kind in Australia. Started in 2002 as a partnership between KSP and Princess Margaret Hospital for Children in Perth, only 18 teams competed. Over the years Write a Book in a Day has grown in popularity to become the national competition that it is today, with over 500 teams competing and raising funds.
The competition is open to teams of five to 10 people and each member contributes to the book as an author, illustrator or both. The competition has four categories; primary school, middle secondary school, upper secondary school and an open/corporate category for people 18 years and over.
Trinity boys were excited by the challenge of having to write, illustrate and publish a book before home time! Working collaboratively in self-selected teams of five to seven students, the boys were tasked with writing a story of 2000 or more words that met the competition parameters.
This was a huge undertaking for some of the students and they demonstrated many of the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme (PYP) attributes including commitment, cooperation, enthusiasm and creativity. “The boys applied themselves to the task with excitement and enthusiasm and there was a palpable buzz of learning and collaboration,” said Claire Elliot, Trinity Preparatory School Teaching and Learning Librarian. “I think the boys surprised themselves and they certainly surpassed our expectations,” continued Claire.
Each group was given a unique set of parameters that was to be included in the story. Some groups had to include a cleaner and a paramedic in their story, while others had to incorporate a didgeridoo, set the story in an office or deal with the subject of moving house. In addition, groups were required to include five provided words within their story.
Throughout the day boys worked closely together to meet deadlines and ensure they remained on task. “It was wonderful how well the boys worked independently to coordinate themselves and ensure the group remained focused. It was the first year Trinity participated in the event and the boys did extremely well in completing their books. Although we provided snacks to keep energy and motivation levels up, stress was visible at times, but overall the boys found it an uplifting task,” concluded Claire.
Teams were asked what they thought about the day, and what advice they would give to boys completing the challenge in the future. Here is what they had to say about the positives and the challenges of the day:
“The most enjoyable bit was the snacks and we didn’t have to go into the classes and do normal school work. Pretty much there was no school work for the entire day. Also they gave use the characters and the setting and it was weird stuff, it was hard to include. We probably could have argued less. Our advice to the boys next year is choose a good group, and don’t argue. Oh and eat your snacks slowly, they help you get through the day! And plan first!”
“We enjoyed the snacks and team work and having fun. Also we missed out on school! We probably could have organised ourselves better and it would be good to change how much time we had to write. Make sure you pick a good group and start writing early and proof-read your story.”
“We enjoyed the writing bit. You could let your mind roam free with ideas, you could be as creative as you wanted. It was nice that for once we could work in a group and that the work that we did was equal and shared instead of one person having to do all the work. We were able to resolve each other's problems and work together well. It was good because we were challenged and there were strict parameters and we would not normally like a book like that.
If we could change something it would be not having four writers and one illustrator because it was a lot of pressure to quickly finish your illustrations. You should spend a lot of time planning as you need a good plan…as it will make the day easier as you progress. Also choose your group carefully, it needs to be people you work well with and make sure you have FUN! Oh and don’t eat all the snacks at once because they make you sleepy at the end of the day and you can’t think.”
“The best bit of the day was the first time we got snacks because it was a surprise to every single person and every single group. It was really good that we were all able to work together to write a book and you get to all work as a team and write it together. The most rewarding bit was when we finally got our final copy. It just felt like all the hard work was worth it, until we found a mistake! The planning was hard as this was when we argued the most because we didn’t know what to go with. I think we could have used our time better, time management was pretty bad.”
“We enjoyed how everyone works in a team. We loved the whole experience. It was great that everyone got to contribute and in the end we had a finished product. Also it was competitive. It was enjoyable writing the book because usually you don’t get this much time to work in a group to write a book, usually it is short periods. If we could change something it would be to change the time period, because towards the end it gets very stressful...Instead of being 2000-2500 words it could be 1000-1500 words, it was a lot of words. The limitations and characters were also really hard. They should make it Write a Book in a Week!
We’d advise the next year’s group to not argue or else you won’t accomplish much and to have fun! Don’t look at it too competitively and use a lot of your time planning.”
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