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Thursday, July 10, 2014

Diggin' Into Next Year - Writing Instruction

Welcome to week 7 of the Diggin' Into Next Year series hosted by Laura from Where the Magic Happens. This week we are talking about writing instruction.

Today I'll be diggin' into some guided writing instruction with interactive writing. There are so many great things that can be taught with interactive writing.

Interactive Writing vs. Shared Writing
So what's the difference between shared writing and interactive writing? Shared writing is where everyone is participating with decisions about what to write, but the teacher is the only one doing the actual writing. It is a great instructional strategy for many things. It makes the task of writing fall only on the teacher which does make it go faster. Interactive writing has everyone participate in the decisions, but it also has everyone participate in the writing which makes it slower. So you actually write a lot less each day. Usually I finish a shared writing task in one sitting, but with interactive writing we will add to the text each day for a week or maybe even two.

Integrating Subjects
One of my favorite things about interactive writing is that it is so easy to teach an integrated lesson. To truly integrate a lesson you need to be teaching more than one thing at a time. So if you write a poem about bugs it may fit fabulously into your thematic unit about insects, but unless you are teaching about insects it's not necessarily an integrated lesson. A great example of integrating your study of insects with writing would be drawing an insect, labeling the parts and writing captions about how an insect uses each part of its body. Your students can learn the parts of an insect while simultaneously learning some of the conventions of writing. Teaching two things at once is just plain smart in these days of too much to teach and too little time to do it.

Creating a Shared Text
A shared text gives me the chance for some very explicit writing instruction. It also gives us a shared reading text. There are so many things that you can teach from this text. Here is an excerpt from my Interactive Writing for Grades K-2 with a list of things that can be taught during interactive writing:

Guided Practice
Interactive writing provides a great opportunity for students to try out something they are struggling with or something new with lots of support. As students write on our shared chart paper, they have everyone's support to help them. As they are writing on their own papers, they still have the support of the entire class. They can see how it should look on the class chart and then try it on their own. We are talking through everything we do as a class. Talk about scaffolding for your emerging writers! There is plenty of time for independent practice when they get to writer's workshop because everything I teach in interactive writing applies to their independent writing.

Examples from First Grade

So, what will I be changing? More integration, more integration, more integration.  I need to make sure that the writing assignment is integrating another subject. I also want to focus more on the teaching of writing conventions. In the past I have used interactive writing to teach lots of conventions, but it's been more of a whatever comes up approach. This coming year I want to be more systematic about it. I can plan what to cover by needs I observe during their independent writing time. By using my data from writer's workshop, I can make interactive writing focus on what they specifically need. Then interactive writing will be either reinforcing my mini-lessons from writer's workshop or allowing me more craft mini-lessons because I am already teaching the conventions during interactive writing. But it will all be based on actual needs. I also want to look for the transfer of skills I teach in interactive writing into their independent writing. I need to hold them more responsible when I conference with them. These aren't really big changes, they're really more about refinement.

Gathering at the carpet to write a collective piece with the students writing on their own paper has worked really well for me. I'm definitely going to continue this way. I prefer them writing on paper because I hate the smell of all those dry erase markers, plus I like them to be able to reread their own writing from the beginning each day. You lose that when they erase each day's work and they have nothing to take home to read with their family.

My Interactive Writing for Grades K-2 gives the where, when, who, what, how and why of teaching interactive writing. Plus it has over 75 writing ideas and 17 photo examples from first grade to keep you writing together throughout the year.

Thanks for stopping by.  If you head on over to Where the Magic Is you can find links to other posts about writing instruction.  I'll be back in two weeks for a post about technology integration during week 9 of the Diggin' Into Next Year series.


  1. I learn so much from each of your posts Brandi! Your interactive writing is in my "wish list" I cannot wait to get it!

  2. Great blog.Thank you so much for sharing this.