Ongoing engagement, Warm up activities

Collaborative Storytelling

Promote a sense of community and break the ice in class with collaborative storytelling activities.

Click on the CC icon in the bottom right corner of the video to turn on closed captions.  

Collaborative Storytelling
Educator prep: None
Student prep: None
Synchronous or Asynchronous
Shared online space
Duration: Variable

Activity purpose

Promote a sense of community and break the ice in class with collaborative storytelling activities.

Useful for

Can be used at any time in the semester and even as an on-going activity throughout the semester.

Fun way of encouraging students to pay attention to details, engage in close reading, and think of logical possible scenarios. Teaches how to follow a unified style and voice. Is an outlet for students’ creativity.


Setting up a shared editable Google Doc or a Wiki within your LMS.

Deciding whether you want to let students collectively create a prompt to begin the story or wish to use an online random plot generator to get things started such as or  Another alternative is to get the ball rolling by creating a basic story plot related to the course (e.g. An anthropologist conducting field research or a scientist working at a research lab or an entrepreneur setting up her business).


Post preparation, make it clear how many times you’d like each student to contribute to the story per semester (e.g. 3 times) and how much content (e.g. a paragraph each time).

Create ground rules for students. E.g.:

Please don’t delete or edit the work your classmates added.

Read what has been written so far carefully. You have total freedom to create exciting twists and turns and move the story forward, but whatever you add has to make sense and seem logical given what comes before it. That means being true to the characters, plot, and style so far.


This is an asynchronous activity. It can run from the start to the end of the semester, or can be done for just a few days.

Adaptations and examples

  • Microsoft Word online and any other tool that lets multiple people work on the same document.
  • Can be done using video/audio/visuals and not just text.
  • Can be done on Twitter using a hashtag.
  • Can be done using Twine for interactive non-linear storytelling.
  • Can be done synchronously on Slack or WhatsApp, or via text chat on Zoom or orally on Zoom
  • Can be done synchronously as ”Improv” with additional restrictions like, beginning of each sentence starts with the next letter of the alphabet (A, B, C) or each person has a certain length sentence (3-10 words)

Technical requirements


Useful resources


More 'Ongoing engagement' activities:
Equity Unbound Activity
Imaginary Buffet (or Potluck)
The purpose of this activity is to engage students with each other’s ‘small talk’, by making a game out of active listening.
Maya Hey
Equity Unbound Activity
PowerPoint Karaoke
Engage students in improv presenting, and enhance oral presentation skills in a light and humorous way.
Maha Bali, Jasmina Najjar, Hoda Mostafa
Equity Unbound Activity
Tiny Tales
Encourage short, focused storytelling, easy to share with others, writing stories in 100 words (or fewer), or 6 words or 2 sentences, etc.
Laura Gibbs

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