The Why? The What? and The How?
Balanced literacy has been defined as “an approach designed to help individual students learn how to process a variety of increasingly challenging texts with understanding and fluency.” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2001)
It is an approach to teaching. NOT a curriculum. It is HOW we teach our students to be independent readers and writers. It is NOT what books we use to teach them.
Balanced Literacy has been defined in “components” or “pieces” of literacy instruction.
This 8-week series will focus on the components of a complete BALANCED LITERACY program. We will focus on clear and concise definitions. Definitions that educators can discuss in collaborations. A “common language” where we can learn from each other and with each other.
The 8 components we will focus on are:
- Read Alouds
- Shared Reading
- Guided Reading
- Independent Reading
- Modeled / Interactive Writing
- Shared Writing
- Guided Writing / Writer’s Workshop
- Word Work
Each week we will focus on one area of Balanced Literacy and share experiences, teacher tips, and resources to support and expand our Balanced Literacy repertoire.
This week: Shared Writing.
Week 1: We discussed Read Alouds.
Week 2: We discussed Shared Reading.
Week 3: We discussed Guided Reading.
Week 4: We discussed Interactive Writing.
This week we jump into
Let’s talk about Shared Writing.
Shared writing is an instructional approach to teach writing to students by writing with them. The idea is to teach writing through writing. The process of writing is demonstrated by the teacher through a ‘write aloud’ process. The teacher acts as a scribe while the students contribute ideas.
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. ReadWriteThink.org
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.
Some tips to keep in mind for shared writing:
- I use large paper that looks just like the paper the children use during writing workshop. I write on chart paper or perhaps a SmartBoard so the whole group can easily read it.
- The children are engaged and involved in telling the story (or essay, song, poem, or other kinds of text).
- I restate/scaffold children’s language by modeling rich language and coach them when they storytell.
- Over time, children see each step of the writing process modeled:
- Coming up with ideas
- Planning across the pages, rehearsing how the text will go
- Drafting words and sentences
- Over time, children see qualities of good writing modeled:
Tools that may be helpful for shared writing:
Teacher Books that may help with Shared Writing:
These literacy posts may help in YOUR Balanced Literacy journey.
So…Leave me a comment… What does Shared Writing look like in YOUR classroom?