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Teaching Tip: Interactive writing and learning new words

Interactive writing and learning new words

Michele Dufresne

This month, I am focusing on ways you can create opportunities for your students to learn new words. This week, I have a tip for using interactive or guided writing to help students gain a core of words they can easily write (and read).

Reading and writing are reciprocal processes. Learning to write a word can help a child learn to recognize that word in a book. It is a good idea to take a few minutes, especially during early Guided Reading lessons, to do some interactive writing. This practice allows you to work with a small group that has similar skills and needs. It can be especially impactful for students reading at levels A or B. Best of all, it takes only about five minutes.

You will need: a large sentence strip.
Each child will need: a whiteboard, dry erase marker, and an Alphabet Chart.

1. Dictate a simple sentence* – four to six words. You might say, “Let’s write I like the little dog.” Make sure the sentence includes a new word you want to focus on that was in the new book and could be useful for reading and writing.

2. Ask the students to say the sentence.

3. Draw a line for each word in the sentence on a sentence strip while students repeat the sentence.

4. Have the students help you write each word on the sentence strip. Teach them to say each sound slowly. Ask them what sounds they hear and have them refer to their Alphabet Chart for help identifying letters. Pick one word in the sentence to practice. Have them write the word several times on the whiteboard. Have one student write the new word on the sentence strip.

5. As you read the sentence, cut it up into separate words. Give each student a few of the words. Have the students work together to reassemble the sentence.

*Do not take time to get the students to come up with the sentence. You are using this so they will be able to write their own stories later during writing workshop!

This activity comes from Jan Richardson’s book The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading.

Michèle Dufresne is author of many Pioneer Valley Books  early readers (including the Bella and Rosie series), Word Solvers (Heinemann), and an early literacy and literacy intervention consultant.

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