Back to Basics: Write Alouds

Welcome to our Back to Basics series! In this series we explore some of the foundational methods, practices and terminology for teaching reading and writing. This series is for those new to the field of literacy, beginning tutors or those who would just like a refresher. This week we discuss write alouds.

In a previous post we talked about the reading comprehension strategy called think alouds. Did you know there is also a writing strategy called write alouds? Also called modelled writing, writing aloud demonstrates how an experienced writer constructs different kinds of texts. During a think aloud, the tutor narrates their thinking while reading. This helps the learner understand reading processes. Similarly, the student learns the forms and functions of writing as the tutor explains their thought process and decision making while writing.

“Writing is certainly not a natural process. Developing writers do not have a priori understanding about how to compose. Thus, teachers play a crucial role in helping to develop good writers.” – Mark Pennington

Tips for teaching write alouds

  • They can be used to teach a variety of learning objectives such as spelling, new vocabulary or sentence structure.
  • While preparation is important, learners gain a lot by witnessing spontaneous decisions and live writing.
  • Learners need to see the text clearly as it is written.
  • Engage the learner by asking them to watch for and note the strategies being employed.
  • Explain your choices as the text is constructed.
  • Show your vulnerability as a writer by making mistakes and use this as a teachable moment.

In the video below, Kristina Smekens offers a great example of how thinking (or writing) aloud benefits learners much more than a simple demonstration.

There are many different ways to teach using write alouds. Check out the resources below to learn more.


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