It’s Now or Never to Start Up a Shared Writing Routine

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Last year, these lucky Kindergarteners in Jericho, Vermont met their goal of writing and receiving 100 letters by the 100th day! Shared writing for the win!

Hey, pssst…

Yeah, you.

Have you noticed that it’s already the middle of April?

It’s spring. There are only a matter of weeks left in the school year (not that anyone’s counting).

And that thing you meant to do this year… that really fun, super cool thing you learned last summer at a summer institute, or maybe a conference, or maybe from a colleague…

…you still haven’t done it yet?

It’s now or never, teacher friends, if you’re going to try something new this year.

April is the perfect, PERFECT, time of year to start incorporating shared writing into your daily routine. You could start by writing some poems together with your students. Or maybe developing a character or two for a realistic fiction story. Or maybe write a letter together as a class.

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These second graders in New York City pose with their fictional class character, Pepito, who appeared in many of their class stories. He even had his own desk!

But what is shared writing, you ask?

Chances are, you already do shared writing, even if you don’t call it that. It’s when the kids come up with the ideas, and you, the teacher write it down for them (usually on chart paper, or on an enlarged text of some kind using a doc cam or a screen).

Here are a few tips for making shared writing run smoothly. Because let’s face it: any kind of whole class teaching takes a little extra-special teacher magic. Especially on those less-than-comfortable late spring/early summer days with no A/C in your sweltering classroom.

#1. Match kids up to a consistent turn-and-talk partner. This way when you say “turn and talk” there is no question about who to turn to. It’ll just stay the same. No fuss. No worry. No one left without a partner.

#2. Have some ideas of what to write planned ahead, but make sure it truly, authentically seem like the kids are the ones who came up with the ideas. When kids turn and talk, I move around and listen in to gather ideas of what to write. Then when I gather their attention, I say, “I heard someone say __________.” Most of the time “someone” really did say it, but now and then that “someone” is me. Here’s more on some of the basics of shared writing.

#3. Watch out for falling into Q&A. We all know that this is not the most engaging way to teach, and there are so many other ways to facilitate a whole class conversation.

Last but not least, have FUN. Shared writing can be a great way to increase the joy-level in your classroom, no matter the age group.