The Missouri Reader Vol. 40, Issue 3 - Page 8

I have discovered that when it comes to writing, many students in my second grade classroom lack sufficient background knowledge on many topics. Most days I begin with beautiful lesson plans and a skip in my step, out to save the world until I realize during a lesson that I didn’t complete my anticipatory set and the students have no background knowledge or connections to the topic. Epic fail. Writing workshop is one of my favorite times of the day but I have learned that guiding students through the writing process and setting the expectations is an important task for these learners. One way that I have been able to better serve my students is through shared writing in my classroom.

According to Routman (2005), shared writing is when “the teacher and students compose collaboratively, the teacher acting as expert and scribe for her apprentices as she demonstrates, guides, and negotiates the creation of meaningful text, focusing on the craft of writing as well as the conventions” (p. 83). The district in which I teach uses the Being a Writer curriculum from kindergarten through fifth grade. This curriculum uses authentic literature and incorporates it with collaboration to foster young writers. It fuses shared writing with independent writing time, allowing students to work with others and apply the principles to their own writing.

Shared writing is something that I really enjoy doing with my students. First, I do a read aloud to the class and then we brainstorm topics related to the book. Then I facilitate a shared writing that we usually build upon each day as we take it through the writing process. Shared writing gives students the opportunity share when they are ready and to focus on the content while providing a clear example of what the expectations are for the writing assignment. Using shared writing in my class has proven to be a great resource and the students have a lot of fun creating a story together.

Let me get this straight, I just write a story with my students? That’s right! A typical timeline for the week looks like this:

Monday. I read a book related to the writing style (narrative, opinion, nonfiction) and then create a class anchor chart of topics we can write about for the week.

Tuesday. The class chooses a topic to write about from the list on Monday and I typically write the introductory sentence. I then have the students think about the next sentence and call on about five students to fill in our story. Along the way I always make mistakes that can be revised and edited later. I also have the students come up and write their sentences so we can fix those later on as well.

Wednesday. We will revise and edit our shared story as a class.

Thursday. We write a published copy of our class story.

Fridays. Students share their writing.

The students always take pride in our shared writing and it serves as a reminder of what their own paper should look like as they take it through the writing process during the week. This shared writing time really sets the tone for writing workshop, gives the students an example they can relate to, and creates connections with their own writing assignment. Periodically, students even remember one of our stories from earlier in the year and we reminisce about the “cat that crossed the road after he stepped on a tarantula while trying to get away from the red-eyed furry monster under the bed.”

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Resourceful Research

By: Joyce Burns