The first time I learned about interactive writing, I was so excited I couldn’t wait to get back to my class and try it out. I was teaching first grade in a highly impacted inner-city school at the time. Although my students were first graders, most (not all) were performing at a much lower level. Finally, a way to teach writing where all my students could be successful and have FUN! I took out my giant writing tablet, passed out the dry erase markers and boards and we were on our way. Of course, the tablet kept trying to fall off the easel and my students just wanted to draw all over their white boards. Can you blame them? So, after some rules and routines were established and a smaller writing tablet was procured, we were really on our way. My first graders and later my kindergarteners, loved learning multiple concepts through the process of interactive writing. They also learned to write.
What is Interactive Writing?
Interactive writing is a teaching technique where the teacher and the students collaborate to compose and write texts. It can be used for whole group, small group and individual instruction.
Interactive Writing for Kindergarten
In kindergarten we used interactive writing throughout our entire curricula; guided reading, reading core, literacy skills, science, social studies, and of course writing.
Interactive Writing Process
The process is simple. The teacher and students compose a sentence. The teacher puts lines corresponding to the number of words in the sentence, large enough for all to see and easily access; this is the class model. The students work with the teacher to write each word. Depending on the group’s ability, the words may be written phonetically moving towards conventional spelling (unless it is a sight word the students should know; or a phoneme/chunk that has been taught). The teacher chooses different students to write each word on the class model. The rest of the students write on their individual white boards. The teacher and students celebrate by reading their sentence together.
Using Interactive Writing in Guided Reading (Small Group Instruction)
- After reading the book, give each child a dry erase board and marker. Place one sentence strip on the reading table, in front of the students, for the group to see.
- Guide the students to compose a sentence that reflects or follows the pattern of the book.
- Together count the number of words. The teacher draws a line for each word on the strip emphasizing the space between the words and the size of the word.
- Next, with your students, stretch the first word phonetically and have them write it on their white boards.
- Choose one student to write the first word on the corresponding line on the sentence strip.
- Stretch the next word with your students and have them write it on their white boards.
- Choose another student to write this word on the appropriate line of the sentence strip.
- Continue until the sentence on the strip is complete. Students are not writing the sentence on their white boards, only one word at a time.
- When finished, have each student read the sentence while pointing to each word on the sentence strip.
- Each student should have their own individual dry erase board and marker. The teacher can use a large writing tablet or a large white board, the entire text will be composed on this and used as the class model.
- Guide the students to compose a sentence about the Alphabet Animal. Students can turn and talk about the animal, and you (the teacher) will listen for and choose a sentence. If students are having trouble, talk about where the animal lives, what he eats and who his friends might be. If they don’t come up with a good sentence, just pretend they did and use one that you have already thought of.
- Together count the number of words in the sentence. The teacher draws a line for each word, emphasizing the space between the words and the size of the word. Check to see if there are the right number of lines by repeating the sentence as you point to each line.
Now the writing can begin!
- With your students, stretch the first word phonetically and have them write it on their individual white boards. Make sure students write only one word at a time, erasing it before stretching and writing the next word with the teacher.
- Choose one student to write the word on the class model. Make sure the student uses appropriate conventions by gentle reminders.
- Choose a different student for each word in the sentence. Continue until the sentence is complete. Remember, students are not writing the sentence on their white boards, only the words.
- When the writing is complete, read the sentence together, pointing to each word. You can choose one child to come up and point to each word on the class model.
- It is now time for each student to write a sentence on their Alphabet Animal Interactive Writing page.
- Have students either write their own sentence on the Alphabet Animal Interactive Writing pages or copy the sentence the class wrote together, depending on the student’s ability.
- Students illustrate their writing to match their sentence.