Extending Interactive Writing

Anna Hein Section B February 11, 2016


The Common Core standards make clear the types of writing students should produce each year. However, they don't explain how teachers should approach this instruction. This article discusses how to extend interactive writing into grades 2-5. The article introduces the parts of a interactive writing lesson and how they all work together to enhance the instruction and the learning experience. Also, the article describes how to make improve the instruction for upper elementary students. The sections below break these steps into further points. Overall, the key point to the article is to help the students develop clear, explicit, and powerful methods for supporting writing.
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Parts of An Interactive Writing Lesson

  • Experience: the writing piece is motivated by a shared classroom experience such as reading a book or content studied in social studies
  • Prewrite: teacher and students consider the form and function of the writing like the audience or overall message
  • Compose: teacher and students work together to discuss and create the piece of writing
  • Share the Pen: teacher and students take turns with the pen to write some of the message
  • Review: teacher helps the students revisit a few instructional points to emphasis like words with specific endings or vocabulary words
  • Extend: class continues to use the complete writing piece as an instructional tool

Key Shifts with Interactive Writing for Grades 2-5

  • The lesson sequence is more fluid and dynamic. The teacher can move a little faster and in depth with older students.
  • The older grades are able to do more like longer sentences and a variety of vocabulary.
  • Lessons might occur less frequently over the course of the year and longer lessons.
  • Older grades can explore a variety of genres using interactive writing.
4th Grade Common Core Writing: Adding Detail to Narrative with the 5 Ws, by WriteSteps
In this video, a teacher introduces a common core writing activity that goes along with the interactive writing process. The video doesn't exactly match the writing steps listed above, but I think it helps to create a good visual of what it might be like in the classroom.

The Whys and Hows

Since common core has become such a big influence, I think learning to incorporate all the new ideas and activities is really important. This article introduces these new ideas to me in a really simple and understanding way. I think this article really made me reflect on how I will use these writing activities in my classroom. I never really thought about how all these different things go into teaching especially in teaching writing. It makes me see how complex all the different aspects that go into teaching. However, I know all this work is important and is totally worth it in the end. The article has definitely encouraged me to consider all the different aspects that work together in direct instruction and how I can prepare myself to do that in the classroom.

Things to Consider

  • What are your experiences with interactive writing in the classroom? How does it compare to what is discussed in this article?
  • How can interactive writing help enhance literacy instruction in the upper elementary grades?
  • Why do you think the key shifts for upper grades are important?

Additional Resources

This website has an example of a how to lesson for implementing an interactive writing lesson. I think it really helps to see it planned out.


This website has lots of different resources and ideas for digital interactive writing. It is always important to think about implementing technology into our lessons, and this websites provides lots of ideas.


Here is a link for my YouTube video from above.


Article Citation

Kate Roth & Joan Dabrowski (2014). Extending interactive writing into grades 2–5. The Reading Teacher, 68(1), 33–44