PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing / Inquiry: Examples of my student’s (5 & 6 Year Olds) collaborative writing & the teaching strategy that I promote!

The key is students working collaboratively, sharing their learning, prompting each other and using the skills and language generally used 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. However, I keep coming back to this teaching strategy because I believe this strategy not only accelerates writing development, but also provides support for less confident young writers.

Interactive Writing is normally a small group; teacher led writing strategy. My desire is to make teaching and learning in my classroom ‘student led’, has ‘morphed’ this teaching strategy from teacher controlled to student controlled. My role is to watch for the transfer of learning, and listen to my student’s conversations which highlight their learning.

Interactive Writing is the strategy I use when we are writing about a shared experience. This week we went to our local beach to explore rock pools.

Inquiry: Sharing the Planet

Central Idea: Living things have needs in order to survive and grow.

Leaner Profile: Knowledgeable, Caring

Key Concepts: Form, Connection

Attitudes: Appreciation, Respect

In this inquiry we explore our local environment. As our school is a very short walk from the beach, we take the children to the beach to explore life in a coastal environment. Each year we organize Ben, known as Ben 10, from the Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit to lead our learning. Ben’s enthusiasm and knowledge is inspiring. He is a Prep hero! The Dolphin Research Institute Education Unit is supporting Inquiry Units across our school this term.


I’ve provided photos of my students Interactive Writing recount about our excursion. There are some great teaching points for the whole grade, and for individual students clearly identified. Because each child writes in their own color this makes identifying individual teaching points clear. I’ve also included a copy of the Writing Checklist (criteria) used by students to revisit and edit their writing. The checklist really guides the children through this process.

Cheers Nina


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7 responses to “PrepD Student Led Interactive Writing / Inquiry: Examples of my student’s (5 & 6 Year Olds) collaborative writing & the teaching strategy that I promote!

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  2. Wendy

    I am a middle grades teacher in the US, and am seeking more information on this approach to reading and writing instruction, as it appears to be quite different than the way in which we focus instruction (and I really like it!). Is this a framework that you have initiated, or is the example that you have shared based on a program published elsewhere? Look forward to learning from the other side of the planet:)!

    • nina davis

      Hi Wendy,
      Sorry it’s taken so long to write back. We’re at the end of our school year, writing reports, packing up rooms etc. Interactive Writing – Teacher Led is a writing approach which has been written about, but not in as much detail as other strategies. I’ve made it student led, by handing over the teacher role and language to my students.
      I still use Teacher Led Interactive Writing as well. There are some interesting youtubes involving older children and whole class Interactive Writing. I like small groups, but as you have older students these may be worth watching. This strategy can be used with any age group. The conversations the students have while collaborating give a great insight into their thinking and learning.
      I hope you use this strategy, as I believe it extends those students needing extension, and supports less able students at the same time. I use mixed ability fluid groupings and ability groupings as well.
      Keep in contact. I’m always interested in sharing!
      Cheers Nina

      • Nina,

        Thank you so much for taking time out to get back to me.

        I actually teach math at the moment, but am a collaborative and inquiry enthusiast, so I think what you’ve shared might be adaptable (or I can coordinate something with colleagues). Ideally, I’d like to integrate more writing into my math classes, so I will view some youtubes to learn more.

        By the way-chuckled at “Keen footy” expression. That’s a new one on me:)!

        Enjoy your break!

  3. Sue

    Hi Nina, I just don’t know how you manage to do the extra things you do and teach Prep as well. I am regularly amazed at the way you share so much of your work in this way and am extremely grateful for the opportunity to be able to experience the work that you do. Although I haven’t responded to your Instrctuional Round materials , I have enjoyed reading your blogs. Congratulations again and thank you for that opportunity. I notice you have extended your writing checklist and with permission I would love to make the additions to our checklist too. The children are so focused when they use the checklist to assess their own writing before consultation with me. I also use the VELS assessment map materials. I find them invaluable and worthwhile ways of assessing students.
    Have you tried the TES uk website. There is so much fantastic support with resources and various uses of the electronic whiteboard to reinforce our teaching and support our student’s learning too.
    Do you arrange for teachers to visit your school from other regions or do you extend invitations to your PD sessions? I would be interested to hear if that would be possible. Congratulations on your work …you are an inspiration to many teachers.

    • averil2

      Hi Sue,
      It’s been a busy year, but I’m a teacher who needs to be busy. I’m actually writing reports, so answering this is far more interesting. I also manage to pack in a life.
      My son’s doing VCE Year 11 (2 Year 12 subjects included), so we’ve been close to home for the last couple of weeks. TPL has been great. I’ve had 25 days, but as I haven’t used them all, my school has agreed to move not used days into 2011, so my TPL buddy and I can continue our project.
      This week I’m speaking to group of teachers at a network meeting. I thought it was just an informal chat, but they’ve had 20 registrations and that was a while ago, so I’m thinking about what will make this time well spent for them. The last thing teachers want at this time of the year is to go to something and not come out without something to try. It’s also a great time to find something new for the new year.
      I’ve decided to talk about the things I’ve discovered this year that really make a difference to my student’s learning. Interactive Writing, building the language to support reading, writing and Inquiry, strategies to discover misconceptions early, ‘task predicts performance’ and my ‘fav’ resources. Do you have the PM Big Book Writing Exemplars? If not, push for them across the school. Also the Fountas & Pinell Reading Assessment Kit – Fantastic!!! I’m planning using their ‘circle’.
      My checklist is developed around the PM Exemplars. I’ve also included differentiation in the checklist. Some of my students are using talking marks because they’ve seen them in books. They’re trying to transfer them into their writing – very cute, but not in the right place, so I’m teaching them… and they’re getting it.
      This year I’ve been able to move my student’s reading ‘through the roof’. Comprehension is a must, and I’m now a big supporter of fluency at each stage.
      Teachers do visit my classroom, and I’m always happy to have anyone join me from anywhere. I’ve had quite a few this year. Whenever, I get a chance I love to visit schools as well.
      Please use whatever you want from my blog. I share everything, and in return teachers share with me. I’ll visit the website you recommended as well. I’m always looking for resources!
      This amused me….one of my children asked me why he wasn’t using paragraphs… and I had to say because your teacher needs to be more ‘on the ball’. He’s a keen footy player! He smiled! And this is Prep!! So he’s learning about paragraphs….
      Yesterday, I showed my students the assessment maps and asked them to think about their writing and where they thought they were. Their conversations were fantastic. ” I’m doing that” or “I need to check that”. I need to do more of this.
      Great to have these conversations. Inspiration – very kind. Actually, the fact that so many people read my blog amazes me!
      Cheers Nina
      P.S It was interesting to find out during Interactive Writing that one of my students has a b/d misconception, and I hadn’t picked up until this activity.

    • nina davis

      Hi Sue,
      I read my comment and added a word. When speaking to this group of teachers I want them to leave with something new.
      Cheers Nina

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