engagement · interactive writing

Reminders About Interactive Writing

Estimated Reading Time: 2 1/2 minutes (515 words)

Target Audience: PreK-2 Classroom Teachers

Last Friday, I posted a book review of “A Teacher’s Guide to Interactive Writing” by Matt Halpern. Matt’s book provided some important reminders about interactive writing that I’ve lost in the past few years, in addition to some new ideas. The book inspired me to implement the tips right away. Today, I’ll walk you through creating this morning message with my class. Read the reminders from A Teacher’s Guide to Interactive Writing below, then watch how they played out in a Kindergarten morning meeting!

Our Morning Message: Good morning! It is popcorn day. Today is Thursday, May 11. Let us have the best day!
The morning message we wrote together (Click to enlarge).

REMINDER #1: Try it outside the literacy block. While interactive writing is often helpful during reading or writing workshop, it’s fun to change it up. The class was excited to do something different during our morning meeting. Interactive writing allowed for more active engagement than our usual routine.

REMINDER #2: Engage the whole class. I coached the group through handwriting and spelling by asking them to write words in the air. We also read chorally and segmented words as a group to help the writer.

REMINDER #3: Differentiate. I can scaffold the task appropriately based on student needs. So, I coached a student who is learning letter identification through writing an M, and prompted a student who is learning how to write sentences to write three words with finger spaces.

REMINDER #4: Narrate every move. While watching Matt teach in the included videos, I was struck by how he narrated every move he or a writer made. Writing involves a lot of brain work, and explicitly describing each decision writers make inspired me to say things like:

  • “Watch how she slides her finger to the next word to write a space.”
  • “I start at the top and draw a straight line down, then curve around.”
  • “Wow! I heard her repeat the sounds to make sure she got them all. Can we do that too?”

REMINDER #5: Keep it short. This session took ten minutes- just the right amount of time for the average Kindergartener’s attention span. Matt also reminded me that the class can come back to a piece day after day to add more and revise.

REMINDER #6: Plan Intentionally. I’ll admit I used to fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants when it came to interactive writing, so the words we wrote weren’t as strategic. This time, I took just five minutes to plan what we would write to make sure kids could practice words with blends and digraphs, our current phonics focus.

  • Of Note: For this lesson, I planned all of the text, because the purpose was to communicate information about our school day to students. However students can help create the content of the piece, too- it depends on your goals and purpose for the piece!

Examples in Action: This three minute video shows examples of each of these reminders during our interactive writing session.

The Bottom Line: “A Teacher’s Guide to Interactive Writing” reminded me to be more intentional. I plan to prioritize time for co-creating charts about academic content, classroom expectations, and more for the rest of the year.

Congratulations to the winner of our book giveaway: Linda Szakmary! I will email you today to get your mailing address, and you will soon receive a copy of “A Teacher’s Guide to Interactive Writing” by Matt Halpern, generously donated by Heinemann.

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