Individual & Group Interactive Writing Activities

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Katie Surber

Katie has a Master's degree in English and has taught college level classes for ten years.

Interactive writing activities are used to help improve writing skills by a collaboration between student and teacher. Explore the idea of the lonely writer, discover more about interactive writing, and look at interactive writing activities for groups or individuals. Updated: 11/01/2021

Lonely Writing?

John Donne once said, 'No man is an island'. We are never really alone. We have friends, family and people to keep us busy. We have smartphones, computers and television to entertain us. It is rare that we would go a day without talking or interacting with someone else.

When writing, you are also not alone. This may be hard to imagine. Many people see writing as a personal event, and one that they do not want to share. To these people, they plan alone, write alone and then give their paper to their teacher, hoping for the best. The entire project, start to finish, is done alone.

But how successful are these writers? Can you really be an island when writing? Well, not really. Writing should be a shared activity. You can work with other writers to help plan your paper, develop ideas, research, revise, proofread and even submit your work. In this lesson, we'll discuss why interactive writing is important and then give some suggestions on how you can practice interactive writing.

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  • 0:01 Lonely Writing?
  • 1:08 What is Interactive Writing?
  • 3:01 Interactive Activities
  • 6:44 Lesson Summary
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What is Interactive Writing?

Interactive writing is a cooperative event in which a teacher and students jointly compose and write a text. What does this mean? In interactive writing, the teacher and students would decide what to write about and work together to write a paper. It can be done one-on-one or even in small groups.

The goal of interactive writing is for students to become better writers by seeing good writing modeled to them. For example, if a teacher practices interactive writing during the prewriting stage, the student can learn how to brainstorm, make a list and then decide on a topic. If interactive writing happens during the drafting stage, students may become more comfortable with the essay structure, writing a thesis or adding more details to the paper.

Interactive writing can help a writer grow in confidence. Many times, new writers can be intimidated by the writing process. However, through interactive writing, students can grow with others and learn from sharing the writing process with them.

How does interactive writing work? Interactive writing can take many different forms. Let's look at one scenario. Ruth sits in a college composition classroom. Her instructor tells the class that the first essay is a narrative. Together, the class lists some potential topics on the board. This is the first step of interactive writing - brainstorming. Together, they decide on a focused topic and begin to plan the requirements of the paper. Then the students begin to write at their desks to get started. The instructor walks around the room, stopping at each student's desk, reading each paper, commenting and writing with the students. Finally, the class divides into smaller groups, and the students read their drafts to each other. Through each of these steps, the class and the instructor work together.

Interactive Activities

Now that we have discussed why interactive writing is important, let's look at a few different examples. Remember that interactive writing can be done both individually - between teacher and student - and in a group setting.

If you are working individually with a student, there are a few different activities you can try.

First, encourage them to read literature. This may sound a bit strange, but reading is directly related to writing. It can help a student learn new words, learn how to use more details and see how different patterns can be used successfully. When they finish reading, encourage them to take time to ask questions about the material, such as how did the writing make me feel, or what did I learn from reading this? These questions will help students to begin the writing process.

Second, encourage your students to visit a writing center. When they write, remember that they should share with others. While this may sound intimidating in a larger classroom, a writing center is a great place to practice in one-on-one sessions with others. In a writing center, a student can work with a writing tutor, read the paper together and decide on areas that need more focus. The tutor will ask questions about their writing, which may lead them to make changes or to rethink some of the details. In this setting, they can still work collaboratively with someone else, but the group is much smaller.

Finally, encourage them to work with the instructor. A large part of collaborative writing is the teacher. Have them schedule a writing conference, which is just a meeting where you and the student share writing. Much like the visit to the writing center, the instructor will ask questions, make suggestions and together, both of you can rewrite some of the material.

In a group setting, there are many different ways to practice interactive writing.

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