Modeled writing is a time for the teacher to demonstrate the writing process through his/her own writing. The students may ask questions about the topic, but the teacher is doing all of the composing. Modeled writing should take place often and is most effective right before an independent writing session. As students become more proficient writers, modeling does not need to occur before every session, but it should definitely occur each time students are introduced to a new genre of writing (journal, letter, list, narrative, paragraph, report, etc.). Students will need to see more than one modeled lesson in each new genre.
Step 1 – Select a Topic
Decide upon a topic. Choose an interesting story about yourself, something you have read aloud, a letter you want to write, something that recently happened to you. Be sure to select a topic that will engage the students and model aloud how you have selected the topic.
Step 2 – Think Aloud
Talk about what you are going to write. If it is a personal narrative, tell the story. If you plan to respond to literature, discuss some aspect of the book with the students. If an expository piece is your goal, this might be a good time to model organizational tools such as outlines and webs.
Step 3 – Write Your Draft
Once you have organized your thoughts aloud or on a planning sheet or graphic organizer, you are ready to write your draft. During this step you are modeling the actual act of writing. I prefer to use an overhead for this step because it is most like pencil and paper.
Step 4 – Rereading and Revising
Reread the story to make sure that it makes sense and tells the story clearly. Rereading is one of the most powerful editing/revision tools we can teach our students. One of the best times to teach this skill is during a modeled writing session. Encourage students to ask some of the following questions as they reread and attempt to make revisions:
- What would be a good title for this story?
- Can you think of a more colorful or interesting word?
- Are any words missing/unnecessary?
- Are any interesting details left out?
- Are events in the correct order?
Step 5 – Independent Writing
Give students the opportunity to write independently as you watch for transfer of those strategies and skills you’ve been teaching and modeling. As students write, you will want to circulate around the room and confer with students, providing feedback and praise about what they are writing.
Ideas for modeled writing adapted from Interactive Writing and Beyond BER Resource Handbook by Patricia Calabrese, 2002.