A Guide to Shared Writing (interactive writing)

Shared writing is a unique method whereby an adult and a child share a pencil and write together. While the adult inscribes most of the portions of text and uses inputs and ideas of the child, the child is allowed to write at the level they are able to write. It is an efficient approach for blossoming writers and those who struggle with writing. Thus, in shared writing, the adult serves as the scribe, questioner, summarizer of ideas, and one who takes quick decisions on correct spelling and punctuation.

Since the adult handles most of the writing, the text in shared writing is usually more complex than what the child would be able to accomplish alone. This technique also focuses on all aspects of writing, such as holding the pencil, pronouncing words for spelling, form letters, and space, among others. With shared writing, the child can focus more of his energy and time on the linguistic features and structure of the text as well as its consistency and coherence.

Shared writing can be practiced in time blocks of 15-20 minutes. Its goal is to facilitate true collaboration between the adult and child that maximizes the latter’s involvement. For instance, the adult could ask the child to offer suggestions or ideas within his skill set or relevant to his writing needs. This may include a direct question about punctuation or a synonym for a word that has been excessively used in the written text.

Shared writing offers several benefits for the child, some of which are as follows:

·         It incites his imagination and lets him become an active participant in writing.

·         Due to collaborating on ideas with the adult, the child will learn how to incorporate new vocabulary. Thus, he’ll develop a much richer vocabulary than his peers who don’t use shared writing.

·         The child will get a clear model of what’s expected of his writing in terms of grammar, content, spelling, and punctuation.

·         He’ll be able to practice oral storytelling without the additional stress of writing in a newer language.

As shared writing involves a collaborative approach and rich discussion, the child will develop an understanding of the intrinsic motivation, purposes, and techniques of writing. To benefit the most from this technique, shared writing activities should consider the child’s level of knowledge and the type of support needed to help expand his writing skills over time.

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