I’ve had an email from a group of teachers wanting to know more about Interactive Writing. They’ve read about the strategy and have read my posts. Apparently, they have noted through extensive reading that my approach is unique. Yes, I have developed Interactive Writing into a Student Led Collaborative Approach that I use weekly as part of my Language Experience / Play Experience Approach to teaching literacy and numeracy.
Through ‘morphing’ this strategy, developing and embedding it into my classroom practice during the past two years, I have changed what is an excellent teacher led strategy, not used enough, into a powerful teaching strategy that I believe is the best strategy for teaching writing.
What makes my way powerful?
The key is that students are working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using skills and language generally used solely by teachers. Each student is engaged in the activity with each student committed to contributing with the support of their peers if needed. Groups can be structured to support children or to extend groups of children. The teacher can run a teacher led group at the same time, which I do regularly.
Each child is identified by a color and all are given the opportunity to lead a group. Teaching leadership skills concurrently is essential. The children are given poster sized sheets to write on and textas. I use Student Led Interactive Writing to assess and plan my weekly writing foci. It’s interesting to note that my student’s independent writing improves rapidly. I’m looking for the transfer of my teaching into my student’s Independent and Interactive Writing. Modelled Writing and Shared Writing are also planned into a weekly program from week one.
By the middle of the year my students are able to identify their learning needs and will suggest the foci for writing sessions. That is powerful! Some children, and they are 5 or 6 years old, will teach the writing focus or make suggestions for me to use. Groups share their writing with the class, with little books made using their Interactive Writing texts used for reading. This strategy extends highly able students, develops students working at the standard expected and supports less able students. I believe it accelerates the writing ability of all students.
One teacher I work with had a child who refused to write for many weeks. Even though this is uncommon it is seen from time to time. The introduction of this strategy gave the child the support needed and confidence to start writing.
Please read my previous posts in this blog. I have written about this strategy many times and have provided numerous pictures and descriptions of my student’s writing development. I’d also recommend reading my posts on general Independent Writing development as I have provided many examples of student writing in these posts as well. I think once you’ve seen the development of my student’s writing you’ll be as excited as I am about this approach and keen to develop this approach in your own classroom. I’m calling it the PD Student Led Interactive Writing Approach to recognise my student’s committment and success. They have a passion for writing and have taken exercise books home for the holidays to keep a journal. Many of my parents tell me that their children write at home because they love it. Now that is special! I can only hope that their enthusiasm continues as they grow.
Please let me know how you’re using this approach in your classroom.