Our Class Timeline

{A Meaningful "Share the Pen" Activity}

I'm loving this idea.  I was inspired by a similar idea I found on Pinterest over the summer, but I changed it up a little to meet the literacy needs of my incoming first graders.  Each Wednesday, as part of my weekly word-study schedule, we "share the pen" in an interactive writing activity.  

It all starts with a photo from one of our shared experiences together. First, we look at the picture and "turn and talk" in partnerships to recall the event and orally rehearse what could be written on the paper.  (This is a great exercise that supports the same thoughtful work I want them to do during writing workshop later in the day.)  Then, we draft the message together, pre-counting the number of words in each sentence and drawing a line for each word we say.  (I hesitate to call it a "story" because I'm expecting the stories they write during writing workshop to be longer and stronger than these samples.  That's why I call them "messages.") Drawing the lines is a great visual support for my most emerging readers as they tend to write random strings of letters or leave spaces out of their writing.  I invite the children to think with me and write any part of the message I think is developmentally appropriate.  I LOVE when word-wall words (and words that rhyme with word-wall words) show up in our message because it provides a very real context for me to model using the word wall as a tool.  It's also a great time to model using decoding strategies (such as "Stretchy Snake") and prompt for comprehension ("Does that make sense?" and "Can you visualize the event?")  Of course, there are also opportunities to teach conventions, such as capital letters and punctuation.

Once we're done writing the message, we use it as a text for a quick shared reading, which is a great time to also model fluency (with a smooth and expressive tone).  The best part is it becomes a great on-the-wall scrapbook of our year together and people who pass by love taking a moment to see what we're up to.  :)



  1. Hey Andrea, I love this one too. Sharing the pen is a great idea and such a simple activity has so many opportunities built into it for modelling and scaffolding your young writers. Know I have to work out how I can modify this type of activity for my middle schoolers!

  2. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE this!!!!
    Christina Aronen

  3. Thanks, Christina. My students look forward to this activity because they anticipate what the photo will be. They love seeing themselves and their friends in the pictures... it really motivates them to tell the story and help me write it. :)


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