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San Diego, California
|Strategy Guide Series||Teaching Writing|
Young or inexperienced writers need to both observe knowledgeable writers at work and participate in writing events in authentic and well-supported ways. Shared writing lessons will allow you to both model and actively engage students in the writing processes that they most need in order to improve their writing.
Students learn the forms and functions of writing as they observe and participate in writing events that are directed by knowledgeable writers, particularly when these events are followed by opportunities for exploration during independent writing. Effective literacy teachers present the demonstration, explanation, and models needed by naïve writers in order for them to understand how and why to incorporate genre and text structures (and such transcription skills as punctuation and spelling) into their own writing behavior. When clear and targeted modeling of the ways in which writers work is presented by teachers and co-constructed with students during collaborative, rich discussion, learners develop understanding of the purposes, intrinsic motivation, and techniques of writing. Shared writing activities are constructed for students based on the level and type of teacher support needed as students expand their writing skills over time.
Strategy in Practice
During shared writing, the teacher transcribes the entire text while engaging students in a rich discussion about how the text should be composed.
- Shared writing is taught to small groups or a whole class in briskly paced, 5- to 20-minute lessons.
Plan lessons for types of writing that present particular challenges to your students.
First, develop and extend children's background and language knowledge on a topic or experience of interest.
Establish a purpose for the writing and an intellectually engaging opportunity for students to apply new learning. Students might write a letter to a local newspaper or write directions for a new game they have developed.
Write the entire text yourself in front of students (using chart paper or document viewer) while requesting input from students regarding aspects of the writing where they most need to expand their expertise. Consider, for example, whether your students need to focus attention on paragraph structure, word choice, or sentence expansion.
During the writing, model processes needed by your students. Have a small whiteboard available, for example, to demonstrate to students how to say a word slowly and write sounds heard into "sound boxes" (Clay, 2006) before writing a phonetically regular word into the text for them. For older students, begin with a root word and demonstrate how to add prefixes or suffixes to a new word.
Demonstrate in-the-moment revision during shared writing as necessary to construct a strong draft. Reread the text to students from time to time to discuss what needs to be written next or to monitor whether or not the text conveys information clearly. Add a word using a caret, for example, or delete unneeded text.
Do not deliberately make errors during shared writing. Model the immediate construction of a high-quality draft.
Read the completed text to students. Take a few minutes to have students orally summarize what has been learned about writing during this session.
Post the text in an accessible spot in the classroom, and provide opportunities for students to read or use the text multiple times over the next several days or weeks.
Grades 5 – 12 | Printout | Graphic Organizer
Students can utilize this printout to organize their thoughts as a new concept or content is introduced through a Seed Discussion. This printout readies students to acquire new knowledge by organizing what they know and what they’re prepared to learn.
Grades 3 – 8 | Printout | Graphic Organizer
Use this T-Chart to examine two facets of an object, situation, or event and to make comparisons related to a variety of subjects and content areas.
Grades 5 – 12 | Printout | Writing Starter
Students can utilize this printout to organize their writing as they learn to use the RAFT strategy. This printout enables students to clearly define their role, audience, format, and topic for writing.