During this kindergarten interactive writing session, I drew the beach picture to remind students of how writers draw pictures to jumpstart their writing process and get the idea juices flowing. When the students came to the rug, I had already written, “I like the beach in the summer on the page; however, the words “beach in the summer” all ran into one another and looked like “beachinthesummer.” We used cover up tape to correct my mistakes and used this error as an opportunity to remind students about the importance of using finger spaces which I noticed the students still weren’t doing consistently in their writing. We continued to compose together and as we reread, the students kept wanting to read the word “play” as “like.” We used highlighting tape to remind us that this word was not the word we expected. The next time students read aloud, they remembered to read it correctly!
Interactive Writing: Lists
After a lesson about using quotations and adding dialogue to writing to make it more interesting, Leah’s students became so intrigued they wanted to delve deeper.
Their exploration began with a big book reading of A Pocket for Corduroy by Don Freeman which is filled with alternatives to “said.” As they read, they highlighted these words and returned to the big book the next day to think more about how the author chose different ways to show what was being "said"and how these choices could help them understand HOW the character is speaking.
As they began to generate this list, they borrowed some of their word choices from A Pocket for Corduroy. In addition, they began sharing and noticing similar words in other books and added to this list over many days. It was posted in the classroom and as the students experimented with their own writing, they continued to refer to it to strengthen the quality of their own pieces.
Interactive Writing: Writing in Response to Reading
After teaching first grade for several years, Leah came to recognize that her students needed more in the way of comprehension support. Early in the year, she set a goal to do more writing in response to reading to help students explore their thinking about books and to help them see how writing could help them achieve deeper, better understandings.
After reading Sophie by Mem Fox, Leah’s class engaged in an animated discussion about the book and one child commented that he thought it was a circle story. This presented the perfect opportunity for interactive writing. Why was this a circle story? They would write to find out.
This response took three days to complete. Sophie is a complex story but through constructing this text together, children were able to investigate how characters changed over time and gain a deeper understanding of the author’s message.
Interactive Writing: How-To
Leah’s class studied How-To writing around the holidays. To help them explore how writers think carefully about each step of a process, they thought about real life activities and settled upon wrapping a present as the theme for this interactive writing. They wrapped the present slowly and as they did, they recorded each step using the words they had learned to transition from one idea to another. Because these words were an important part of their discussion, they highlighted these words in red.
Interactive Writing: Social Studies
Leah uses interactive writing to support all areas of her curriculum, including social studies. After reading Time for Kids, Leah and her students started to think about how things have changed from the past to the present. The t-chart seemed like the best way to organize the information that they had. For most of these first graders, the t-chart was a new organizational tool and now many of them use it as they plan for their own independent writing.
At the beginning of Leah’s unit of study on poetry in her writing workshop, she decided to expand their understanding of poetry and support the growing quality of their poems through interactive writing.
To begin, she gave each child a piece of Hershey’s chocolate and an organizational web. As the students ate, they were asked to describe the chocolate using their five senses or similes which are concepts the children had previously been introduced to.
The next day the children were asked to bring those webs to begin generating a poem about chocolate. The children shared ideas about what they knew about the way a poem should look and sound. Leah and her class decided to stop writing mid-sentence and concluded this interactive writing session with “It explodes like a…”
This poem continued to be written over days as the children learned more about poetry in their day-to-day mini lessons. Writing it over several days allowed the children to think about what to write next and revisit it to make it "better" each day.
What you see here is a chart created during an interactive read aloud that focused on inferential thinking. We were reading “Soccer Doc” from Judy Blume’s Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One. You’re probably thinking, “Hey wait, I clicked on interactive writing. What’s interactive reading and inferential thinking got to do with anything?”
Sometimes, I need help seeing possibilities. When this lesson was finished and I looked back over what the students had written, I noticed that there were a lot of misspellings, the students had missed some punctuation, and that sentence that says, “The other team is go to score” just doesn’t sound good. As I thought about what I was looking at, I saw a possibility: All year, we have had conversations about editing our work before publishing. Before we hang this up in our classroom (thereby “publishing” it) we need to take care to make sure that it is properly edited! This will allow us to talk about editing in a meaningful context. The work will be authentic and it will provide a forum for synthesizing all of those lessons on editing that we have talked about through the course of the year.