University of Pittsburgh School of Education

Interactive Writing for Kindergarten

How can I use Interactive Writing in my Kindergarten classroom?

By Sandra Alleman and Tammy Heidecker, Muhlenberg Kindergarten Teachers

When we started the 2000-2001 school year in our kindergarten classrooms, the teachers were writing the class's daily letter and reading it with the students—looking for upper and lower case letters, high frequency words, students' names, punctuation, spacing between words, etc. However, after several weeks of reading the letter, we found that the students were not able to use these skills to read the daily letter more independently.

For this school year, our professional development focus has been interactive writing. So, since reading the daily letter was not producing the reading and writing gains for our students, we decided to incorporate interactive writing as part of our daily calendar time. Each day, a different student is the “calendar person,” and he/she is asked to share a sentence of news. As a group, we use interactive writing to compose the text. We do this for Monday through Thursday. The teachers then print the collected news sentences and each calendar person illustrates his/her news. On Friday, all students receive a copy of the weekly news to share with their families. A copy is also put into a binder and is available to students in the library center.

Because all students can feel success with this activity, it has made a significant impact on their reading and writing. We have found that the students are totally engaged during this activity, even those who are not yet reading or writing independently. We find that more students are spelling high frequency words (which we add to our word wall), hearing sounds in words, knowing when to use upper and lower case letters and punctuation, and using correct spacing. The students look forward to their daily interactive writing, and if a schedule change should occur, they ask, "When are we going to do our writing?"

We have found interactive writing to be a particularly powerful tool for helping children to learn about letters, sounds, and words. It provides an authentic setting within which the teacher can demonstrate how written language works and the students are able to make the reading and writing connection.

By Sandra Alleman and Tammy Heidecker, Muhlenberg Kindergarten Teachers

Resource Texts

Trisha Callella and Kimberly Jordano
Interactive Writing: Students and Teachers "Sharing the Pen" to Create Meaningful Text
Creative Teaching Press, 2000.
Andrea McCarrier, Irene C. Fountas, and Gay Su Pinnell
Interactive Writing: How Language and Literacy Come Together, K-2
Heinemann, 1999