Interactive Writing

By: Alexandria Marquez- Section B, February 11, 2016


Interactive writing is a dynamic instructional method during which the teacher and students work together to construct a meaningful text while discussing the details of the writing process.


  1. Experience: The piece to be written is motivated and informed by a shared classroom experience
  2. Prewrite: The teacher and the students consider the form and function of the writing. The class together thinks about who the audience is the overall message and its importance.
  3. Compose: The teacher provides instruction to support his/\her students’ writing development by synthesizing the ideas she hears from students and also proposes vocabulary or language that will advance the ideas.
  4. Share the Pen: Teacher and students take turns writing.
  5. Review: The teacher briefly summarizes what is learned about the craft and conventions of writing.
  6. Extend: The class can use the writing piece as an instructional tool. For example, the teacher can mount the writing to make a class book or mural that students can look at or reread regularly.

Interactive Writing mural

Big image

Why use Interactive Writing?

  • Interactive Writing is beneficial because it brings together the overall literacy curriculum which includes, work around language, reading, and writing development.
  • Interactive Writing can also be used for a range of purposes in the classroom: Such as writing a letter, recording a science experiment, summarizing or extending a story read aloud, or labeling a diagram.
  • With Interactive Writing, students are actively participating in the writing of the text and engaging in conventional spelling and punctuation.
  • Many pieces of the writing can be kept and used as ongoing tools and resources for students.

Four Shifts in Grades 2-5

  1. Lesson Flow: Fluid and Dynamic: As students become more fluent writers, students might write several sentences or whole paragraphs in one interactive writing lesson. Whereas, younger readers might spend several days on just ONE sentence.
  2. Share the Pen: Modifications in Pace, Discussion, and Medium: In Prekindergarten- first grade, the teacher and students share the pen and write the message on a word-by-word or even a letter-by-letter basis. By grade 2, one student might come up and write several words or an entire phrase. In grades 3–5, the teacher can guide the students in talking about the conventions for the entire sentence before the pen is shared.
  3. Lesson Frequency and Duration: Less and More: Lessons need to be frequent for younger students. At the beginning of the year, the teacher should start implementing Interactive Writing into the classroom three times per week. As the year progresses, interactive writing can be used periodically to highlight key writing principles. A first grade lesson will typically last 10-15 minutes long, whereas, in a 2nd-5th grade classroom, the lesson can typically last 20-30 minutes.
  4. Teaching Points: Expand and Extend Around Genre: With Interactive Writing, writing is created around a topic that is relevant and engaging for the entire class.

Universal Elements of Interactive Writing: Four Principles That Hold for All Grades

  1. Value Each Step in the Lesson: Each lesson component (Experience, Prewrite, Compose, Share the Pen, Review, and Extend) plays an essential role in the outcome of the lesson.
  2. Balance the planned and unplanned teaching opportunities: There are always unplanned instructional opportunities, but, the most effective teachers seize these opportunities and use them to lift the instruction to a new or higher level.
  3. Make Intentional Teaching Decisions as Writers Develop: The most effective teachers make strategic decisions about each child scribe and are very intentional about each teaching point in order to maximize student learning.
  4. Make Explicit Links to Students’ Own Work: Teachers who are most effective with this method are deliberate in their talk with students about how to apply what they are learning during whole-class interactive writing lessons to their independent writing.

Tips to help you get started with Interactive Writing

  1. Teach Routines First: Take time in the first lesson to break down procedures to the smallest detail for students.
  2. Consider Carefully the Time of Day to Deliver the Lesson: Be thoughtful about what time of day to do interactive writing
  3. Create a Comfortable Space Near Writing Resources: The physical environment is important for bringing everyone together in support- ing the shared nature of the task.
  4. Use High Visible Materials: Young students do best with sentence strips with handwriting lines while older students use two lines for print, with the middle line indicating the midway point for “tall” vs. “short” letters.
  5. Prepare to Make Thoughtful Teaching Decisions: Read and analyze students' writing to determine what they are doing well and where they need support.
  6. Keep All Students Engaged: Interactive writing lessons must be fast- paced and relatively brief. Always have students doing something whether they are the one using the pen or are sitting on the floor watching.
  7. Be Patient with Yourself: It can take a class several weeks to find a natural rhythm in interactive writing so be patient with your students and yourself.
Kindergarten Interactive Writing Day Two
In this video, a Kindergarten teacher has her students participate in an Interactive Writing Lesson where they make a new version of the nursery rhyme Jack and Jill.

Interactive Writing Examples

Personal Opinion

I actually really enjoyed reading this article. I truly believe that this strategy will help our young readers progress in their writing proficiency more and more each time they participate in an Interactive Writing lesson. The Interactive Writing process provides a high level of support from the teacher while the students interact and share their thoughts or ideas with their peers and teacher through out the entire lesson. I think that this is a very important aspect in a classroom because the more engaged the students are during a lesson, the more likely they are to learn and take valuable information away from it. I really like how this Writing process involves the entire class as a whole because then, every student has the chance to particpate in some way or another. I plan on using this strategy in my own classroom because I acknowledge how successful this strategy has been for other elementary students. Using this strategy will provide me with the assurance that my students are actively engaged, participating, and growing as writers. I want to be the best teacher that I can be for my students, and for me, that means making sure that all of my students are involved and contributing equally to "whole" class work.

Questions to think about

  1. How can you use Interactive Writing in other subject areas?
  2. How would you make sure that every student has the same equal chance to "share the pen"?
  3. How would you get a "non interested" or "non-engaged" student interested in joining in on the Interactive Writing Process?

Apa citation

Roth, K., & Dabrowski, J. (2014). Extending Interactive Writing into Grades 2-5. The Reading Teacher, 68(1), 33-44.