Using Shared Writing to
Teach Writing Skills
Shared Writing is a technique that allows the teacher to model
good writing for his/her students. The teacher begins the writing
workshop by gathering the students around an easel and starts
a discussion about a shared experience--a topic they all are
studying or know about. The teacher elicits information and
leads a discussion. The children discuss the topic and share
their ideas while the teacher records them on chart paper in
story or paragraph form. As the teacher writes he/she verbalizes
the skills he/she wants the children to practice during the
writing session that follows.
The following skills can become the focus of the shared writing
- stretch out words to approximate conventional spelling
- use a Word Wall or other references for conventional spelling
- recall variant spellings
- recall and follow rules of capitalization
- use quotation marks correctly
- follow rules for punctuation
- indent for a new paragraph
- write from left to right
- write legibly
- Invite a student up to the easel to put a period at the
end of a sentence.
- Use a red marker for the period at the end of the sentence.
- Use different color markers for different paragraphs.
- Have students participate actively by dictating spelling
A colleague of mine at P.S. 40 in Manhattan shared this great
idea to get to know your students during the first few weeks
of school. It involves using an artifact bag to stimulate conversation
and start a shared writing experience. It's also a great way
to get your students to write well on their own.
One small attractive shopping bag
One additional bag (in case a child forgets to bring it)
Easel or chart stand
Time allocation: 20-30 minutes
I bring in two small, attractive, commercially made shopping
bags. I call them artifact bags and explain to my students what
an artifact is. In one of the bags I place an object that tells
about me, usually about my cats, my heritage, or my family.
I elicit from the children what this artifact tells about me.
I supplement where necessary and then ask the children what
they have learned about me from my artifact. I record their
responses in sentences on chart paper and this becomes my shared
writing lesson. As I'm writing I ask them to stretch out words,
put a period at the end of the sentence, and use capitalization
at the beginning of the sentence and for names. Then we re-read
it, have a student illustrate it, and hang it on a clothesline
or display area in the classroom. Within a month or so we have
pieces about each child which I then make into a book. These
pieces can be re-read during independent reading time or put
on the computer and duplicated for all of the students to re-read
At the end of the lesson I invite two children to take home
one of the artifact bags and find something at home that fits
in the bag that tells about them. I find that labeling the bags
with instructions to the parents helps get some really good
artifacts to talk about and informs the parents of what is happening
in the classroom.
An important outcome of this activity is that the children can
begin to learn about each other, make connections, and begin
to form friendships. They also can use these pieces as a springboard
to writing about themselves, their families and friends, and
their experiences in an interesting way.