When Kindergarteners write daily, they begin to think of themselves as writers and become
engaged in the writing process for their own needs and interests.
- Bobbi Fisher
Balanced Literacy Connection to CORE Curriculum Standards:
Writing Students effectively use written language for a variety of purposes and with a variety of
W-R1 Relate narrative, creative story
PO1 Create narrative
PO2 Create story
PO3 Create message
W-R2 Spell simple words
PO1 Use sound/symbol relationships
W-R3 Write alphabet
PO1 Copy alphabet
Guided Writing is a teaching component designed to teach a specific skill or strategy to the
whole group, a small group, or individuals and to give children practice in the writing. Each
child has his own writing materials and space. The children do the writing, but are supported as
needed by a teacher who provides instruction through mini-lessons and conferences.
The purpose of Guided Writing is to give children the opportunity to expand their writing
knowledge from their name and a few other words to more words and eventually sentences.
Guided Writing is an important step in the continuum toward conventional writing.
Student Objectives - Students will:
increase their ability to write words and use punctuation
use writing for different purposes
foster creativity and the ability to compose
practice writing to develop their voice
publish their writing in the form of books, poetry, letters, and other genre
begin to apply their oral understanding of the Six Traits of Writing
- Word Choice
- Sentence Fluency
(See Kindergarten Assessment Handbook and Six Trait Handbook for K-1
Teachers for more information on the Six Traits.)
Suggested Teaching Sequence for a GUIDED WRITING Lesson:
Unlike Modeled and Shared Writing, which is done with the whole group, Guided Writing is
most often done with an individual child or with a small group of children. It is often difficult
for children to move from giving dictation and having the teacher write down everything the
child says, to writing on his or her own which at first may feel more limiting to the child. The
gradual addition of successful guided writing experiences helps the transition and reduces the
child‟s frustration level.
1. Plan the lesson
The small group/individual gathers around the teacher to receive general instructions for the
writing workshop that day.
2. Present mini-lesson
The teacher presents a mini-lesson. This is a brief lecture, demonstration, or writing tip. The
topic for the mini-lesson almost always emerges from what the teacher notices the children
need to learn from observing their writing, conferencing with them, and reviewing their
writing folders. For example, “When you are writing, say the words slowly out loud,
stretching the sounds, listen for the letters, and write down the letters you hear.”
The children get their paper to write on or get out their writing folders and find a comfortable
place to do their writing. All children in the group/individual write.
The teacher begins conferencing with some children, engaging them in conversation that
enables the writer to move the writing forward.
At the end of the workshop period, the teacher calls the group/individual back together.
Writing problems may be discussed. Suggestions for workshop improvements are made.
Volunteers share their work in the author‟s chair.
What a GUIDED WRITING Lesson Might Look Like:
Ms. O‟Connell starts to do “The Five Steps,” a version of Bobbi Fisher‟s “Four Steps” (in her
book Getting Started with Writing, 1991). The Five Steps are: think; draw a picture; write
something; write your name; copy (or stamp or get an adult to write) the date. At first, Ms.
O‟Connell does a mini-lesson to teach The Five Steps. Using an overhead projector placed on
the floor so as not to obstruct any child‟s view of the screen, Ms. O‟Connell does The Five Steps
while the children sit together on a large rug and watch her.
She begins the mini-lesson by turning on the light to reveal a blank transparency with no lines on
it. She says, “Boys and girls, in a few minutes I want you to do The Five Steps. So you will
know what I want you to do, I am going to do The Five Steps and let you watch me. Before I do
that, repeat after me what The Five Steps are: think (they repeat as I raise a finger); draw a
picture (they repeat as I raise another finger); write something (they repeat as I raise another
finger); write your name (they repeat as I raise another finger); stamp the date (they repeat as I
raise a fifth finger). So, what‟s the first step? („think‟) All right, the first thing I have to do is
think about what I will draw today. Have I seen anything interesting in the past few days? Have
I done something interesting that I would like to draw? Let me think.”
At this point, Ms. O‟Connell pauses and then mentions one or two things that she has done or
seen lately that she might draw. She makes sure they are things that the children can relate to.
An example might be for her to say something like, “I know. We have a new baby in our
neighborhood. I went over to see her when they brought her home from the hospital. Maybe I‟ll
try to draw her asleep in her bassinet.”
After mentioning a couple of examples like this one, she decides out loud to the class which one
she will draw. Then she says, “I‟ve thought about what I‟m going to draw. Now it is time for
me to do the second step. What is the second step? („draw a picture‟) Right! Now I have to
draw my picture.”
Ms. O‟Connell picks up a colored marker and begins drawing, she is careful to draw a very
simple and primitive picture that will not intimidate the children into thinking they must be
artistic to do this step. While drawing, she tells them what she‟s trying to draw. She also says,
“I won‟t draw my picture too big, because I need to leave room to write something later.” It is
important for Ms. O‟Connell not to take too long drawing her picture. When she has finished
drawing, she puts down her colored marker. Then she says, “I‟ve thought about what I wanted to
draw, and I‟ve drawn a picture. Now it is time for me to do the next step. Does anyone
remember what the third step is? („write something‟) Right! Now it is time for me to write
something about my picture.”
Using a black marker, with correct spelling, capitalization, and punctuation, she writes
something about the picture she has drawn (“I went to see the new baby.”) while saying out loud
what she‟s writing. At this point, she explains to the children that, if they aren‟t sure what letters
to use to spell the words, they should write some letters they know how to write. The children
are told that whatever they try to write will be okay. She models for the children what their
writing might look like by writing a few letters or squiggles near what she has printed.
She says, “It is time for me to do the next step. Does anyone remember the next step after we
write something? („write your name‟) Yes, now it is time for me to write my name. She writes
“Ms. O‟Connell.” She tells the children that it is okay if they are not sure how to write their
whole names. They should just put any letters they know are in their first names. She models
what theirs might look like by putting one or two letters from her name near where she has
printed her name.
For the fifth step, she models for the children how she wants them to get their paper dated after
they have finished the first four steps. She uses a date stamp to stamp the date on her writing.
Immediately after this mini-lesson, Ms. O‟Connell gives the children unlined paper and drawing
implements and tells them to begin doing The Five Steps at their seats. Again, she has them
repeat The Five Steps aloud chorally after her. For a couple of minutes at the beginning, she tells
them they are to think about what they will draw today. During this time she does not let anyone
start drawing. After the couple of minutes have elapsed, she tells everyone to begin drawing
their pictures. She walks around the room, encouraging individual children as they move
through the steps.
If they ask her to spell a word for them, she encourages the children just to write letters on their
paper that they hear.
From the time the children begin the thinking step until Ms. O‟Connell ends the activity is about
15 minutes. At the end of each Five Steps lesson, she makes sure that she can read the name on
each child‟s paper. If not, she turns the child‟s paper over on the back and writes the name there.
She does not have the children tell her what they were trying to write so she can write down
correctly, because she doesn‟t want them to compare what they did with what an adult can do.
At this point, that would teach them nothing but frustration. She writes down what they dictate
to her during language-experience lessons, not during writing.
After The Five Steps is over, the children often want to show her and any other adults in the
room what they drew and wrote. She takes a few minutes and looks at what they produced. She
encourages everyone, but is sure to single out the children for praise who completed all five
steps. She takes up all the children‟s papers for filing in their individual writing portfolios.
She has the class do The Five Steps at least two days a week at the beginning. She always starts
with a mini-lesson that has a teaching point. Her teaching point for the first several mini-lessons
is “what The Five Steps are” until she‟s sure that every child knows and understands the steps in
order. After that, her mini-lessons have other teaching points such as invented spelling
(stretching a word a child wants to write, listen for letters, and write down the letters they hear)
or looking around the room to find letters or words to put on your paper.