Professional Development

April 16, 2019

Shared Writing

How does writing fit into your schedule? Are you able to share the experience with your students? Shared writing is one part of the balanced literacy approach to teaching. Itโ€™s such a valuable part of the day that teaches writing through writing.

Shared writing is one component of balanced literacy. This is a time for you to model writing for your kindergarten students. You can use this time in your primary classroom to model every element of writing! Check out this blog post for more about shared writing!

Why to Do Shared Writing

Shared writing is an opportunity to scaffold learning to help build strong and confident writers. It also creates a mentor text that students get to participate in writing that they can also refer back to if needed. There are so many benefits to shared writing in the classroom!

  • It makes it possible for all students to actively participate in writing, even those who may not be working on level.
  • Allows our English Language Learners (or ESL students) to practice oral storytelling without the added stress of writing in a newer language.
  • The expert writer, the teacher, gets to model conventional spelling, correct punctuation, and how to incorporate new vocabulary.
  • Students get to take what they observed or shared in shared writing and practice it during independent writing in writerโ€™s workshop.

What Is Shared Writing?

Shared writing is when the students collaborate on ideas for a shared piece of writing, and the teacher acts as a scribe using correct spelling and punctuation. This writing is a good example to be displayed in the classroom for students to reference. This block of time is usually 10-15 minutes.

Shared writing is often confused with interactive writing, but they are different. The main difference is that in shared writing, the teacher writes. In interactive writing, the students use the pen with teacher assistance. You can check out more about interactive writing in this post HERE.

Materials for Shared Writing

All you really need is chart paper (I like this one from Amazon HERE) and markers like these HERE. I like having what we call “oops tape”, a pointer, and an alphabet chart handy, too!

Do you do shared writing in your kindergarten classroom? These tools are favorites for me! Read more about my shared writing routine and how I did this in my kindergarten and first grade classrooms.

You could also do this on an interactive whiteboard, too.

How To Do Shared Writing

1. Start by letting students know they will be helping you brainstorm ideas for a new piece of writing. It should be something thatโ€™s a shared experience for the whole class- something funny that happened, a science experiment, an announcement, daily news, a letter to a school staff member, etc.

2. Let students partner talk to discuss ideas for the story. As students are discussing, try to listen in to get an idea of what their conversations are sounding like. You can coach partners if the discussion needs to be redirected or bring the level of discussion up to a higher level.

3. Pick a topic to write based off of an idea you heard. I just usually say, โ€œI heard one pair talking about __. That sounds fun to write about today.โ€ You could also have student input to help you narrow down on a topic first. Once you’ve chosen it, begin writing based on what the students are suggesting.

4. Invite students to collaborate on what should be written through the piece. Ask questions like, โ€œWhat should we add here?โ€ โ€œWhat would make this part more interesting?โ€ โ€œWhat might make this sound better?โ€ โ€œHow should the story end?โ€ Give students time to turn and talk to a partner to discuss throughout the writing process. Listen in again and coach any partners that need guidance. Add more to the story/piece sentence by sentence.

5. Model explicitly through the writing process and share your thinking. This is KEY! For example, model rereading before writing, share why you picked what you wrote, ask yourself if one sentence would sound better than another, etc.

6. Reread and revise as needed. Ask yourself and students questions like, โ€œHow can we add a detail about __ to be more clear?โ€ โ€œIs there something missing here we need to include to make more sense to the reader?โ€

The overall gist is to ask students for ideas, let them partner talk, coach as needed, and write down their ideas in conventional sentences and spelling. And repeat!

Tips for Shared Writing

  • Try to incorporate as many studentsโ€™ ideas as possible so they all feel valued. You could even make a list at the beginning of the week and then work through them throughout the week.
  • Be mindful of what your writers need. For example, you may focus your thinking aloud on the writing process and decision making more than conventions, spelling, etc.
  • I love how Regie Routman put this: โ€œ Donโ€™t hesitate to put the language that students may be struggling to express โ€œinto their ears.โ€ This is part of our role in helping to shape and guide the writing.โ€
  • Shared writing pieces make great displays for students to refer back to as needed and to spark writing ideas.

Remember, the goal of shared writing is to help students write better, think deeper about their writing, and see a full picture of the complete writing process.

Shared writing is one component of balanced literacy. This is a time for you to model writing for your kindergarten students. You can use this time in your primary classroom to model every element of writing! Check out this blog post for more about shared writing!

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Happy Teaching,



Want to use the latest research to boost your readers during small groups? Thisย FREEย guide is packed with engaging ideas to help them grow!

Hi, I'm Amanda

I’m a K-1 teacher who is passionate about making lessons your studentsย loveย and that areย easy to implementย for teachers.ย ย Helping teachers like you navigate their way through their literacy block brings me great joy. I am a lifelong learner who loves staying on top of current literacy learning and practices. Here, youโ€™ll find the tools you need to move your K-2 students forward!


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4 Responses

  1. Do you have any other ideas about what we can write about during shared writing?

    Ideas, it seems, do not pop up every day. For some reason, I have a brain freeze to think about how to move shared writing forward in our classroom.

    Thanks for all your help.

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