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How Modeling Transforms Writing

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In the last session we examined writing instruction in relationship to the Gradual Release of Responsibility (GRR)FrameworkMany thought leaders in writing instruction encourage us to model writing. When Kelly Gallagher (2011) describes writing instruction he says, “She goes, I go, you go.” “She goes” refers to opportunities with mentor texts. “I go” refers to opportunities for the teacher to demonstrate and model by thinking aloud. Only after that are student asked to write independently.

Let’s take a moment to examine what we mean by modeling writing. 

Part One:

In this web seminar  presented by Kelly Boswell, an elementary teacher in Montana, we take a look at what we mean by modeling writing. She carefully unpacks the difference between "Explaining" and "Modeling". ) (30 min)

 Explaining Modeling
  • Summarize the writing activity
  • Show the finished piece of writing
  • Talk about what w did and the decisions we made
  • Act out the process we want students to do
  • Create the writing in front of students
  • Think out loud while we are writing

From Write This Way (p.23) by Boswell, Kelly, 2016 by Maupin House Publishing, Inc

Part Two: Note, if there is only a 45 minute period available, the facilitator shoudl select on video below so the group can practice using the observation guide. If more time is available, small groups can each select a video pair to observe while using the observation guide.

Choose one of the classroom video pairs below. These videos features teachers modeling writing at various grade levels. As you view, notice and note the items in the Modeling Writing Observation Guide and Template. When possible not only note whether the characteristic occurs but when possible give specific quotes or actions that describe that.



Fourth Grade


Back in the Classroom:

Ideally, working in small groups or pairs with educators in similar grades, use the mini lesson planning template to jointly create a lesson. If at possible, use the modeling observation guide utilized early to observe or invite a colleague to observe you while teaching the lesson.

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These tools were created as part of the Literacy Improvement in Rural Education through Collaboration (LIREC) project funded by the U.S. Department of Education