Thursday, December 1, 2011

Here Comes Interactive Writing

Interactive Writing is one part of a balanced writing program.  In this blog post, we will explore Interactive Writing and how it fits in your writing block.
Modeled Writing
There are several ways we can write with kids. In Modeled Writing, the teacher is doing all of the work. She is doing the thinking and the writing.  For example, when I was building my anchor chart for shapes, I introduced each shape and I labeled them on the chart.
Shared Writing
Another way to write with kids is shared writing. In shared writing, the teacher still has control of the pen, but the kids are helping to compose the text.  In this Patterns  Vocabulary Chart, I worked with the kids as the created a definition for the word. I recorded their thinking.
Interactive Writing
We will talk more about interactive writing below. In interactive writing the teacher and the kids are sharing the thinking and sharing the pen. More on this later...
Independent Writing
The last type of writing is Independent Writing. In independent writing, the child has total control. She is in charge of ALL the thinking and ALL the writing. After we created this apple/pumpkin graph, I gave each child a strip of paper. They analyzed the graph and recorded one observation on their strip of paper. They shared their thinking and we added it to the graph.
Interactive Writing
Ever done interactive writing only to say, "I won't do that again?" You are not alone. When I first tried interactive writing, it was a disaster. Here are some tricks I have used to make interactive writing a productive (and sane) activity.
  • First thing...In interactive writing you SHARE the pen! It doesn't mean you give them the pen, it means you can decide which parts you are going to write and which parts they are going to write. It doesn't have to be a "fair share". You can write as much or as little as you need to  keep the lesson moving along.
  • The next thing...the other kids need something to do while one child is writing on the chart. This doesn't include rolling around on the carpet! :/ All of our kids have a dry erase board. As the selected child is writing on the chart, the other children are attempting the same thing on their board. This holds everyone accountable for the learning.
  • Another thing....ask yourself, "What parts do I want them to write and what parts am I going to write?" Interactive writing is NOT a standard. It is a tool that we use to teach standards. Before we begin an interactive writing lesson, we decide on which standard we will focus.  For example, we might concentrate on words begin with a sound. Or, we might concentrate on some words we can write really fast (sight words).  Whatever you pick, that is the parts you will invite the children to write on the chart paper. Let's say you are working on beginning sounds. Then, you invite children to write the beginning sound on the chart paper and you fill in the remaining letters to spell the word.
  • In interactive writing, ALL words are spelled correctly. As you share the pen you are modeling standard spelling. Provide a place to practice or model. This is an easy trick that we use.
  • It is easy to differentiate during interactive writing by calling children to the chart depending on their need or level of understanding. I might call some children to write easy to produce sounds like b, s, or t. While I might call other children to write blends or diagraphs.
  • One final thought...a good place to start interactive writing is with a list. Lists only have to be two words! Once the kids have "had enough", you can stop! Don't keep the lesson going once they are "done".  Build stamina as they mature in the ability to focus and stay on task.
We also explore other genre's of writing with interactive writing. Here are a few samples:
 Persuasive Writing
 Procedural Writing
 Informational Writing


  1. So you can read and read something and as soon as you hit publish you see an error! It should read "The craziness is here!" No kidding!

  2. I have two "must haves' during IW... a white board to model unknown letters/chunks/blends AND white tape to cover mistakes. Both help students feel confident b/c they know someone is there to help them, and if they make a mistake they can fix it! I am definitely going to try this IW project with them! THANKS!

  3. Great post! I think I've always struggled in the past with this because I didn't have my other students engaged by writing on their whiteboards. Thank you for this helpful tip!
    Rambling About Reading

  4. One thing I am doing this year that my first graders love is "Watch It Wednesday." We watch a two minute video clip that is just really amazing (think murmuration of starlings) and then do an interactive writing about it. That way all of my kids have shared knowledge about the topic and they are really eager to talk and write. We turn and talk to generate our sentence ideas and then the kids write in white paper books as we write on the chart paper together. I like having a record of their writing because I can follow up with a strategy group for kids who are not meeting the writing standards. I LOVE the Christmas tree writing. We are starting how-to books next and this would be a great class piece. Thanks for the great post!

  5. Super cute!!!!! I love it because all kids are responsible for their learning AND all kids can be successful with the DI. Thanks for sharing. The Christmas Tree How To is adorable - can't wait to do it!
    A Teeny Tiny Teacher

  6. Thanks ladies! I used this in my room the other day and you would not believe the work I got out of my kiddos. (Or maybe you would believe it - you probably saw the same results!) Hop on over to my blog if you have time and check out what you inspired!
    Spotlight on Kindergarten

  7. I saw this post shared by 2 other bloggers and just had to come check it out! How cool!! I really love the way you described teaching writing, it is so true! And I totally read "is" instead of "in"! We self correct all the time!

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom!

    Miss Kindergarten
    Target Treasures

  8. Hey Hadar, Just curious, which other blogs shared this idea? Would love to look at their take on the idea.

  9. Hey Tessa, Went to your blog and love your pictures! Thanks for sharing them.

  10. was linked to this writing post by "A Little Kinder Told Me So!" I have seen Kim present at Illinois Kindergarten Conference many times, though, so I'm excited to find this blog from you ladies!

  11. hey there...I want to make sure I understand this correctly. The children are copying everything that I am writing as well as those coming up to the board? Thank you!

  12. Hey Chrissy, Yes, everyone is writing along. If they get behind, just say skip that part. The important part is that they are actively involved not just copying!

  13. Hey,

    I'm an ESL teacher in NYC. I teach middle school but a lot of my students are newcomers and do not have much writing fluency in their native language. They come pre-literate. Anyway, I came across your post about interactive writing and I think it would be a great way for some of my higher level kids to take a leadership role (have them lead the class) while the lower level kids get more support.

    My question is where do the prompts come from. We're don't really do phonics and beginning sounds. Would this world with a prompt? A question to be answered? One kid gets ups, answers and writes the question, the other students write interactively?

    Thank you!

  14. Hey Alexandra,
    Interactive Writing is a program used to practice early literacy skills. BUT, how great is it that you have found a way to use the concept in your situation. I would say, try it and see. I would say the main thing is to be sure that they are engaged in the concept not just copying an answer from the chart. Good luck!

  15. I have never done IW with kindergarten and was researching tips and tricks. This post is very helpful! Where do you get the ideas for your prompts? How often do you do interactive writing? Every day?

  16. Hey Megan,
    I select my topics based on what I am doing in other content areas. It might be based on a book that we are reading or something we are learning in science or social studies. I want to address more than one standard at a time. I can have a literacy standard AND a science or social studies standard. I am using interactive writing as a tool. I don't do it every day, but usually every week.


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