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Interactive writing is a process by which a student and teacher collaborate on a piece of writing, usually something as short as a single sentence. This activity can be done between a teacher and a single student or may involve an entire classroom. The teacher and student work together, often both using a pencil and talking together, to decide on what is going to be written and writing out the sentence. Interactive writing allows a student to understand the writing process through interaction with the teacher, modeling by the teacher, and actual work performed by the student.
As a student’s writing abilities improve, interactive writing typically becomes less useful and relevant, so it is commonly used with young students. The process begins with a teacher and student discussing the purpose of the sentence or writing they are going to be doing. This writing activity should be something that matters to the student, such as a letter to a parent, a thank you note after a birthday, or a summary of a book that was read. As the teacher and student work together, the teacher should model the process of brainstorming used to decide what to write.
Interactive writing then typically involves the use of a large sheet of paper to allow the student to write out the sentence together with the teacher. The student writes out each word of the sentence, as the teacher observes to ensure proper spelling. Any mistakes in interactive writing can be corrected as they happen, rather than once the sentence is complete. White correction tape is often used, and students should be encouraged to work out the correct spelling or conjugation of a word as they are writing.
During this process, the teacher may take the pencil from the student to help, but ultimately the student should be responsible for the writing. As each word is written out, the student should read it back to the teacher, and once complete, the student should read the entire sentence out loud. Such repetition helps ensure understanding and learning, and demonstrates the connection between writing and reading for comprehension. Interactive writing can then continue with another sentence for a longer piece of writing by following the same steps, or the student might review what was written and discuss with the teacher why certain choices were made or where he or she had difficulty while writing.