Interactive writing is SO important in kindergarten. Yet, so many teachers aren’t sure how to best implement it! There are many components to teaching kindergartners how to write, but including interactive writing in our daily routine can be super beneficial.
What is Interactive Writing?
One thing that often holds teachers back from doing interactive writing with their class is that they aren’t quite sure what it is.
Simply put, in interactive writing, students are holding the pen.
I have found that interactive writing is often confused with shared writing. In shared writing, we are writing a shared piece. Students tell you what to write, but you are doing the writing. An example of this is interactive anchor charts.
In interactive writing, you are telling students what to write and they are doing the writing. These writing activities are usually short. They can be single words, a simple sentence, or a few sentences.
In interactive writing, phonemic spelling should be encouraged. This is a time when students are learning to take risks with their writing. Daily interactive writing is a great tool for developing independent writers.
Interactive writing does NOT take the place of Writer’s Workshop.
What Does Interactive Writing Look Like in Kindergarten?
To begin, the teacher would tell the students what they are going to write. If it’s a sentence, they might draw lines for each word guided writing style.
If you are writing a single word, students will help stretch it out with you. For a sentence, I tap each line and say the sentence. Then I have students repeat it.
One student will come up to write the word or sentence. Again, phonetic spelling should be encouraged.
What are the other students doing? Well, they can just watch. If you want all students participating, you can have them each grab a white board. They will write the word or sentence on their board as one student writes the main piece.
I know what you’re thinking. So you’re telling me I need to add yet another thing to our packed daily schedule?
I get it! That’s why i’m going to show you some easy ways you can incorporate interactive writing into every day.
Interactive Writing with Sight Words
One of the easiest ways to include interactive writing is to add it to your sight word instruction.
This is an example of our sight word interactive writing from towards the beginning of the year.
I let students come up with things we can do. Then, I drew a line for each word and told students the sentence. A different student wrote each sentence.
As you can see, we only got two sounds for the last words. That’s okay! These are not sight words so phonetic spelling is encouraged. I supported students in writing the sounds they heard.
This should be a quick routine! Students’ attention spans are short. You may only get 1-2 sentences in a day and that’s okay!
After we finish writing the sentences, we read them a few times through for fluency. We will whisper the sentence, shout it, read it in a robot voice, etc.
Interactive Writing During Phonics
Your phonics block is another easy time to include interactive writing in kindergarten. I know it’s tempting to do all the writing yourself and have beautiful anchor charts.
I promise you, though! It’s worth it. Students are much more likely to remember and use an anchor chart as a resource if they help create it.
If you have words with phonics patterns that you have not yet taught, allow students to write the sound they hear. For example, if you are writing “shark” but haven’t taught the ar r-controlled vowel yet, students might write “shrk.”
I don’t write the correct spelling underneath. To students, that’s saying “There is a right way to spell and i’m doing it wrong.”
While, yes, words have a right way to spell them, phonetic spelling is not wrong. In fact, it is an essential developmental stage in the writing continuum.
Interactive Writing during Reading
I don’t usually recommend including interactive writing during your whole group reading lesson because teacher clarity is so important. If your lesson is about making connections to the story, you won’t want to muddy the teaching point.
However, writing information we learn about a nonfiction topic is something we do over and over again in kindergarten. Interactive writing is a great mini lesson activity when practicing labeling or writing a sentence to answer a question.
For example, we did interactive writing when we practiced labeling the parts of a penguin:
We practiced stretching out the words together. Then, students wrote the labels and taped them on our penguin anchor chart.
You can also use interactive writing to practice responding to a question. This writing activity asked, “What can bats do?”
We had already done nonfiction research many times, but my students were just being introduced to writing a sentence.
I asked students, “What can bats do?” They used what they had learned to give me a few different ideas. Then, we wrote the sentences together.
You will see some words correctly spelled above. I had a student who came in writing that year.
After we finished our interactive writing, students chose one of the sentences to write and illustrate on their own paper.
Interactive writing is so important to growing strong writers in Kindergarten! During interactive writing time, students are holding the pen. You can easily incorporate this routine into your day by adding it to your sight word routine, phonics instruction, and literacy block.
Interactive writing does not take the place of Writer’s Workshop in Kindergarten. Rather, they work hand in hand to build strong, independent writers. Are you looking for an effective, developmentally appropriate Kindergarten writing curriculum? My Kindergarten Writer’s Workshop Curriculum has everything you need!