National Writing Project

Figment Provides Space for Students to Share Writing

Date: September 21, 2011

Summary: Katie Robbins, director of educational programming at Figment, an online community where young adults and teens come together to create, discover, and share their own writing and discuss their favorite works, discusses how Figment can be used in the classroom.

 

Figment is not only an online space for young authors to submit their writing and discuss their favorite works; it's also an innovative, exciting teaching tool, already being used in classrooms, libraries, and other educational settings around the country to inspire and engage young readers and writers.

In a snapshot, here's what Figment offers:

  • Students can create and revise writings in the safe space of a private group, sharing their works-in-progress, as well as commenting and reviewing, only with other members and their teacher.
  • Teachers can post and update assignments, share links to relevant materials around the Web, and monitor student writing.
  • Using the group discussion tool, students and teachers can have class discussions, ask questions, and share outside resources.
  • Once complete, students can publish their writings to the entire Figment community, therein taking advantage of one of the largest authentic audiences for student writing on the Web.

NWP sat down with Figment's Katie Robbins to find out more about how teachers can use Figment in the classroom.

Tell us a little about Figment.

Figment is a vital, energetic hub of teen and young adult reading and writing. Our online and mobile platforms allow users to write, edit, and publish their own works from sonnets to screenplays. Since launching in December 2010, we've built an engaged community of more than 55,000 users, who have created an ever-growing library of more than 130,000 books! And who are remarkably supportive and responsive to their peers' writing, providing feedback and comments and the much-needed boost when writer's block sets in.

We also work with a diverse range of publishers and professional authors, giving teens an opportunity to engage with their favorite writers through author-judged contests, interactive Q&As, exclusive excerpts of books, and other author programming.

What can you tell us about the new "groups" feature at Figment?

We think of Figment Groups as "virtual writers' workshops," extensions of the traditional classroom, where teachers, librarians, and other educators can work with students on all phases of the writing and reading processes. Figment itself is a huge community of young, devoted readers and writers, and we heard from teachers who wanted smaller, closed communities within the site where they could work with their classes on the craft and process of writing in a safe space before the students published their pieces to what is one of the largest authentic audiences for young writers on the web.

How are teachers using groups with their students?

The flexibility of the writing platform and group functionality means that Figment Groups can be used in all kinds of educational settings. We've received a wide range of inquiries from educators interested in creating groups for everything from undergraduate creative writing programs to AP English classes to public library book groups to high school literary magazines to slam poetry clubs—and even the occasional biology or geometry class. Some of the ways we've seen educators using the Groups so far:

  • To continue conversations about assigned reading outside of class using the Groups discussion feature.
  • To post writing prompts that students then respond to by sharing books to the Group. Students then workshop the pieces by providing comments and suggestions on classmates' writing.
  • To post assignments, offer writing models, and share outside resources.
  • To teach specific elements of the writing process. For example, through the discussion feature, the teacher models a thesis statement and then students craft their own, offering feedback and refining as they go.
  • To create collaborative writing and class projects.
Who sees what students publish in their groups?

When students write a piece on Figment, they can save it as a draft and then share that draft just with their class Group. This means that only the other members of the Group can read and comment on it. If students ultimately choose to share it with the entire Figment community, they simply push the "Publish Now" button and the piece becomes visible to an audience of tens of thousands. It can still be revised, edited, or removed even after it's been published.

What do I need to know and do to create a group for my students?

While we have public groups for our general Figment community, private Figment Groups are only available for educators. You can sign up , or, if you already have a Figment account and want it to be enabled to create Private Groups, you can email education@figment.com, and we'll set you up. Figment Groups (like all of Figment) is a free resource.

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