How to Improve Writing During Structured Literacy

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Does writing instruction with little people leave you scratching your head? I know that lately we’ve been talking a lot about the components of structured literacy / small group reading lessons, but I’ve got something I have to share with you!

While we have a dedicated writing block, I like to sneak guided writing instruction into my structured literacy groups! And trust me… it doesn’t take a lot of extra planning or prep and it totally aligns to what you are already doing in your groups.

If you’re an OG follower of the The Teaching Texan, you may have seen this previous post where I share a bit about guided writing, but we’re going to expand on that today. Let me show you how!

On the 2nd day of our small group lesson (I generally split my lessons into 2 days) we end with guided writing.

I’ll select one of the comprehension questions that we dive into together as the frame for our guided writing sentence. For example, if we talked about what a character did in the story then our guided writing prompt will be the same question.

First, I have my kids answer the question in a full sentence (sometimes I’ll help wordsmith so the words are closer to the complexity of words they are currently reading/writing).

Then, we count the number of words in the sentence. When first starting I’ll use manipulatives and work through this similar to how you would use a sound box, but once we’ve got the hang of it we just count the words on our hands.

From there we will either (1) draw lines on our writing paper to place hold for each word we counted OR (2) count out precut sentence strips – one per word.

Students then go to work segmenting words as they write and recording the symbol/s for each sound in each word. If we’re using the writing paper template, I’ll give reminders as needed for proper finger spacing.

This is the perfect time to take notes on letters that students need additional practice with for handwriting formation. This could be incorrect strokes, reversals, or even letters not falling into the correct placement on the writing template.

Lastly, I have my students go back and mark any capital letters in blue (we call these “cool blue capitals) and any punctuation in purple (we call these “purple punctuation.”)

I absolutely love this routine because it’s truly a routine! Students get the hang of it and it becomes a quick check in on writing and an opportunity to practice new strategies (punctuation, different sentence structures, dialogue, etc) as students are ready.

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