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April 2009
Dagbladet Online

The world is bigger than the school yard

5. and 9. grade students at Herfølge School are going to write the last chapter of a science fiction story in May which has been written by students in Europe and Asia.

Herfølge: There is something in the basement. There is something evil deep down in the basement at the end of the long dark tunnel. That is how a story starts which students from all over the world have been written on since January. It is Monday morning at Herfølge School, and a fifth grade studies the story which has just been delivered on the internet from a school class in Malaysia.

Helene Tind   ”The world is bigger than the school yard in Herfølge”, says Helene Tind, and she does her part to make the students discover that. Photo: Jens Villemoes

Chain letters

The students read, translate and comment on the story and from the 18th of May they are going to write the last chapter of the gloomy novel. Herfølge School is one of in total 3 Danish schools which participate in the international chain writing. The project started at a conference in 2008 where teachers from Asia and Europe discussed new access to teaching. One of the results was Chain-stories which, according to co-coordinator and English teacher, Helene Tind, has been a fantastic supplement to the lessons. The students are in charge of building on to the story and there will not be any corrections either on the grammar nor the spelling mistakes before it is mailed on to the next class.

“The pupils learn in a very different way when they are a part of writing the story instead of just reading it in a book. It gives them a deeper understanding for the language when they also can participate in correcting each other’s spelling mistakes”, says Helene Tind.

Helene Tind   The students Sarah Jensen and Jessica Grigorian translate the story at first and then they have to answer some questions.


At the moment the students work their way through the first five chapters which have been written by children from Hungary, Italy, Spain and Malaysia. Every chapter is being translated and discussed and in the end it is the children’s choice to write a suitable ending. The word is not entirely free though because the contribution from the Danish students has to be exciting, yet fairly realistic and it has to match according to what the others students have written earlier on. At the same time the story has to fit the genre which was marked out from the projects beginning. “In that way we also get a lot of relevant teaching in Danish into the lesson. We discuss all the time which elements are suitable for a thriller or a science-fiction story”, explains Helene Tind.

Free for everyone

While the fifth grade writes in English, a ninth grade at the school has done the same thing in German where they had to start a fairy-tale story. The chain-stories are yet only a beginning because in the long term the project should result in real pen-pals and maybe even real exchange travels. “What we do is gradually accustom the children to the thought that the world is bigger than the school yard. We give them a cultural understanding for similarities and differences between the countries and that there exist different point of views around the world”, she says. The organization AEC-Net is open and free for all Danish schools and Helene Tind would like for more Danish schools to take part. “It expands the pupil’s horizon and it is far more interesting than just studying books”, she says.

If you are interesting in knowing more about projects you can join and AEC-Net, then take a look at the website

Original article published at