Chat Room in a writing programme

The facilitator came across an open source chat room that he set up on the cluster website. He talked to several teachers at Waipu Primary School about it’s possible use in a language programme.
One of the teachers suggested they use it to write collaborative stories.
Over the next few days the two teachers allowed their kids to write using the chat room.
One child would write one sentence on one computer then another on a different computer would write the next line. Because a chat room is in real time the students could instantly reply with their next sentence.
While the students where writing the facilitator watched remotely from his laptop. (He even joined in on one story).
The resulting stories were wonderfully written and of high quality. The children loved the idea and though it was an interesting and very different way to write a story.
A chat room can not be used every day but is great for a small group or as a reading response or collaborative story.
This activity was an interesting bit of research but what was even more interesting than the writing was what went on when the kids got home and logged on to the chat room after school.
The facilitator just happened to have left the chat room open on his laptop while doing other work when he realised that several students had logged on. He watched the conversation evolve from story writing to idle chatting, to gossip, to bad mouthing. It got to the point where the facilitator had to shut the chat room down due to the nature of the conversation.
In response the facilitator visited the school and talked to the students about the dangers of such things.
In discussion with other teacher the facilitator explained how the internet and especially tools like chat rooms and web 2.0 tools can quickly spiral into something harmful. The teachers discussed security and preparing kids to use these tools safely.
This situation was a great learning tool for both teachers and students.