Here's the scenario: You just got back from the zoo and you tell the children they are going to write a story about their experience at the zoo.
One is only beginning to write 3-letter, short vowel words, one is saying things like "Oh, no fair!" because he hates to write, and one is jumping up and down ready to put pen to paper.
How are you going to have time to work with all three of them when you still have to get dinner ready?
**Create a story together using interactive writing.**
Interactive writing is the easiest way to jump-start a reluctant writer or help a beginning writer interact in the writing process. It's simple, requires little prep, if any, and no special materials.
You can customize the process to your needs and make it fun, even including multiple children in the process.
You can use a large whiteboard, chalkboard, or easel with paper. Start the story by writing "Today we visited the..."
Let a volunteer come up and fill in the word 'zoo'. This could be an easy place for the beginning writer to jump in!
Then ask the strong writer to begin the next sentence and allow the reluctant writer to fill in a few words. Continue this way as you guide the story so it follows a logical sequence and develops into a well-written story.
Let the children get creative and try to include everyone's ideas. It won't be long before they are jumping up and down asking for their next turn to contribute to the story.
When they are finished, read it to them and ask someone to read again. Then have them copy the story into their story journals and illustrate as you get the chicken in the oven!
Interactive writing takes pressure off the reluctant or beginning writer and allows the stronger writer to showcase their strengths and act as a model for the others.
Interactive writing helps the weaker writer feel like part of the process without getting bogged down and stressed out about creating an entire story.
You can use this technique one on one and you can pull it out of your bag of tricks when you sense someone is getting tired or frustrated and needs some support to finish a writing assignment.
Don't forget to use teachable moments to create mini-lessons throughout out the process! Here are just a few suggestions from Reading Rockets on Interactive Writing.
- Capitalize words in a title, the first word in a sentence, and names, days, months, place names, and a person's title
- Indent the first sentence
- At the end of a sentence, use a period, question mark, or exclamation mark
- Commas in dates, a series, and addresses
- Apostrophes in contractions and possessives o Periods in abbreviations
- Commas in compound and complex sentences o Quotation marks in dialogue
- Ask for ideas about how to spell the word; model the conventional spelling of the word
- Writing the date
Remember, make everything as simple as possible, but not simpler. ~ Einstein