"Write" On!

The best part of my work day is when I get to read with my 1st and 2nd grade friends, Matthew, Joshua, and Johnnie.  Each of these boys are struggling in one way or another to "break the code" when reading, but they have each brought something special to the table and have begun to make progress... that's so fun to watch!  (Don't you love when things start "clicking" for kids?)  

While I'm thinking about it, if you and your school are researching materials to use for reading interventions, I am completely in love with Fountas & Pinnell's Leveled Literacy Intervention Systems.  There are different systems for different grade levels and they're intended to be used for small group reading instruction.  (The lessons also include several ideas for word-study, phonics, phonological awareness, and writing.)  The leveled books that come in each set are sturdy and beautiful... the kids LOVE them!  There is a nice balance between fiction and nonfiction and you'll even find many books include a readers' theater at the end of the story.  I honestly can't say enough about the sets... check them out at:  Heinemann .  And, there's a PD component, a data management system (if needed), and "Take-Home" books so families can support their child's progress at home.

Anyway, back to my super reading boys... my session with each of these boys is 30 minutes and, by the time we warm up with a little word-study and work strategically through our leveled text, we often don't have the kind of time needed to do significant amounts of writing.  I don't worry too much about this because, as you know, young readers who work hard to decode text and make meaning sometimes don't have a lot of stamina to follow that up with tons of writing.  I also know these children are engaged in rich writing workshops in their classrooms daily where they have ample time to write and try out many strategies independently.  

If you are challenged by time, too, or your students are getting bored with the "cut-up sentence" that typically follows guided reading sessions, I have a few samples to share from Matthew's and Joshua's guided writing notebooks.  These samples aren't the kind of writing you'd see during writing workshop because my goal in these writing sessions is to have a tight focus and really target phonics instruction within a meaningful context.

To check in on comprehension and keep the writing manageable and developmentally appropriate, we sometimes make lists or illustrate and label important information we remember from the text:

Often, when we write connected to our reading, I try to frame the writing in a way that will support the classroom teacher.  If the teacher is studying nonfiction text features with the children, I plan for our guided writing to mirror that instruction and language. For example, I can use captions and labels as a way to monitor comprehension and reinforce certain phonics skills within a reasonable amount of time:

{All of these pictures were photocopied directly from their leveled texts
and glued into their guided writing notebooks.}

When time allows, we may label and write patterned sentences or write complete thoughts that are important to remember, such as facts from nonfiction text.  (What I like about patterned sentences is that they allow children repeated practice writing sight words in a meaningful, contextual way.)

Sometimes, an important (or tricky) word from our text leads to new understandings:

We use magnet letters often (Lakeshore's red and blue magnets are my favorite), but one of our most creative ways to make words is with small Post-It notes.  This is a great alternative to the magnets, now and then, because the sticky notes can be kept in their writing notebooks without having to use glue.  I also like the sticky notes because I can put letter combinations, such as ou, sh, er, fl, etc. on one sticky note to help children realize those two letters "go together," often to make one single sound.  In the first sample below, you can see how we use the notes to practice making new words in the -ew word family:

I'll post some more pictures later in the week to show a few more examples of ways we manage guided writing during small group reading instruction.  (I just tried a new strategy with our "cut-up sentences" today that I'm hoping will have a positive impact on smooth, fluent reading.  I'll make sure I take a picture of Joshua's work around that strategy.)

What are your thoughts?  How do you plan for small group guided writing?  What ideas have worked for you?


  1. Can you come teach at my school and help support us with our writing?! :)

    1. It depends... are you buried in snow? :)
      (I'm kind of spoiled where I live.)

      Have a great weekend!

  2. Ditto! Thanks for helping those who can very easily "slip through the cracks". They have the biggest hearts, just need a little help to "shine". :)

    1. These kids are so dear to our hearts. You just want the best for them and pray they find success. It's such hard work, but when it finally clicks (and you always hope it "finally clicks") the rewards are bountiful, aren't they?

  3. These are good ideas for Roaming. Running out of ideas for this part of Reading Recovery. Thanks!

    1. You're welcome... I'm glad you found something applicable to your work. Have a great weekend! :)

  4. Lots of great information about guided writing! I look forward to seeing more on this! Its definitely an area I need to improve!

  5. Hi Andrea!
    Our these notebooks part of your guided reading group or are they just for your kiddos working on guided writing. I'd love to see how you make them... What does the front cover look like? Do you pre-plan for the pages and create journals for each theme? I'm crazy about cut up sentences, I love how you extended it!
    Primary Pointe
    PS I'm a Florida blogger (and new follower) too!


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