Interactive Writing

Alexandra Kimball - Section C - February 11, 2016

What is interactive writing?

-Definition: dynamic instructional method during which the teacher and students work together to construct a meaningful text while discussing the details of the writing process.
-Uses a technique call "sharing the pen"
-Has many opportunities to differentiate instruction to meet specific students needs.

The Essential Parts of an Interactive Writing Lesson

1. Experience: The piece to be written is motivated and informed by a shared classroom experience. (example: a book the class read together)
2. Prewrite:The teacher and the students consider the form and function of the writing. (example: a report to share what they learned)
3. Compose: The teacher and students discuss the specific content of the writing. Students share their ideas as the teacher helps the class decided the language of the text.
4. Share the Pen: The teacher and the students take turns with the pen. The teacher writes some of the message and then chooses students to write at points of high instructional value. Students can add letters, letter clusters, whole words, or punctuation. Editing of conventions are either done at point of error or at the end.
5. Review: After the message is complete, the teacher helps the students to revisit a few of the instructional points. At the end of the review the teacher will often briefly summarize what is learned about the craft and conventions of writing.
6. Extend: The class continues to use the completed writing piece as an instructional tool. For example, the teacher might mount the writing to make a class book or mural

Four Key Shifts in Grades 2-5

1. Lesson Flow: Fluid and Dynamic: In the primary grades the class typically finishes one sentence each time, where as in the older grades they may finish multiple sentences and possibly even paragraphs each time. It all depends on the teachers goals.
2. Share the Pen: Modifications in Pace, Discussion, and Medium: In pre-k through 1st grade the students usually write on a word-by-word or even letter by letter basis, 2nd grade they write several words or an entire sentences, 3rd-5th grade the teacher can guide the students in talking about the conventions before the pen is shared.
3. Lesson Frequency and Duration: Less and More: For students of any age the interactive writing lessons need to be fast-paced and demand engagement. In the early grades the lessons are short but they happen more frequent but as they get older there are less lessons but they become 20-30 minutes per lesson.
4. Teaching Points: Expand and Extend Around Genre: The topic is based around something that is engaging and interesting for the whole class. In the upper grades the finished interactive writing pieces can serve as exemplars for the students.

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

1. Value Each Step in the Lesson: There are numerous opportunities for craft and convention in interactive writing. These can only be met when each step of the lesson is carefully planned and implemented. Teachers should avoid eliminating any of the steps in interactive writing because that would eliminate valuable and unique learning opportunities.
2. Balance the Planned and Unplanned Teaching Opportunities: The main goal of interactive writing is to teach students strategies that they can use when writing themselves. It is the skillful balancing of planning ahead and teaching in the moment that allows teachers to achieve this goal.

3. Making Intentional Teaching Decisions as Writers Develop: The real learning moments come from instructional decision-making relating to the unique strengths and needs of students at a particular moment in time. The most effective teachers make strategic decisions about each child and are very intentional about each teaching point in order to maximize student learning.

4. Make Explicit Links to Students Own Work: Teachers are more effective with this method when they 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. Not all students will make these connections independently, some need explicit direction.

Getting Started with Interactive Writing (Grades 2–5): Seven Points for Preparation

1. Teach Routines First
2. Consider Carefully the Time of Day to Deliver the Lesson
3. Create a Comfortable Space Near Writing Resources
4. Use Highly Visible Materials
5. Prepare to Make Thoughtful Teaching Decisions
6. Keep All Students Engaged
7. Be Patient With Yourself!

Reflection/ Opinion

The article contained a ton of information about interactive writing and made it clear that this is an important process when teaching kids how to write. Before reading this article I had never heard of interactive writing, so I enjoyed learning about a new strategy I can use in my future classroom. I think that having the students involved in a story all together makes it a fun and creative process. It also models for the students what writing should look like. Interactive writing gives each student the chance to practice writing with the guidance of the teacher before writing on their own. When I become a teacher I will definitely use this in my classroom and try to make it as fun and engaging as I can for all my students.

Additional Resources


1. Can you see yourself implementing interactive writing into your future classroom? Why or why not?
2. How would you chose a student to write during "sharing the pen"? Should students be called out if they don't volunteer?
3. How would you chose a topic that will engage the whole class? How would you get a student engaged in the process if they seemed uninterested in the topic?

APA Citation

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