What Is It?
Writing aloud, or modeled writing, is a strategy wherein teachers use a "think aloud" strategy to share their thinking as they compose a piece of writing in front of students, helping make the writing process visible and concrete.
The writing can be about anything—a short piece about a shared experience that happened yesterday in the classroom, a list of supplies needed to set up an aquarium, directions for taking care of the class's pet rabbit, or a longer piece about an early memory that may take several days to complete. The important point is that the teacher makes his or her thought process visible to students as he or she proceeds through the writing process. In this way the teacher is able to explicitly demonstrate the writing process and directly teach key writing skills and concepts.
Why Is It Important?
Cunningham and Allington (1999) believe that teacher demonstration of the writing process is the critical factor in establishing a successful writing workshop. Just as reading aloud, shared reading, and guided reading strategies are steps in the process of moving young children toward independent reading, writing aloud and other collaborative writing strategies help developing young writers move toward independence. Writing aloud is an early step in a scaffolded approach to teaching writing to very young writers, yet it can also be an effective strategy for older writers. Regie Routman (1994) states, "Writing aloud is a powerful modeling technique at any grade level for getting students' attention and demonstrating various aspects of writing."
When Should It Be Used?
Writing aloud is a useful tool at any grade level and can be used throughout the school year with the whole class or with smaller groups who may need a little more support. It will be used more often at early grade levels and early in the year when developing writers are in more need of support and modeling in a variety of aspects of the writing process. Don Graves (1994) discusses these and other teacher demonstrations and states that students need this kind of instruction not once but at least once a week in short, focused lessons.