Writing Aloud

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
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Updated on: March 8, 2007
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What Does It Look Like?

Writing aloud is a "think-aloud" strategy. The main idea of this strategy is to allow students to see, and hear, the teacher use the writing process. All aspects of the writing process are modeled during writing aloud, although not always all at once. Especially at the younger grade levels, teachers concentrate on key aspects of the writing process in short, focused lessons.

Teachers may first model the brainstorming, idea-generating stage, considering aloud which possible topics they may write about, what aspect of the chosen topic, who the audience might be, and the purpose of the writing, among other considerations. Next, teachers talk through their thought processes as they draft their pieces. The content will vary, of course, depending on the grade level. For very young children, teachers will be choosing simple, grade-appropriate vocabulary, sounding out words slowly and carefully. Other concepts touched upon can include sentence structure, word choice, detail, adjectives, spelling, and so forth. Some teachers include a few well-chosen, purposeful errors to facilitate the later editing stage. The content of the writing piece can, and should, vary tremendously. Students should see all types of text in the write-aloud lessons, including narratives, lists, poetry, nonfiction, instructions, and correspondence.

Some pieces should be short and completed in one lesson, while others may be longer and continue through several days' lessons. This allows students to see that writing can be an extended, ongoing process, and it also allows the teacher to model critical writing strategies such as rereading text you've already written before you continue to write. As teachers draft text in front of students, they also model the revision process-adding to the text, taking away, changing words or text order, and so forth. Often teachers ask themselves questions out loud to demonstrate their thought processes as they seek to add more detail to their texts.

Teachers also use the writing aloud strategy for editing text, focusing on mechanics and conventions such as spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar. The structure of text is also a focus in this stage. Teachers also emphasize the usage and concepts of sentence and paragraph, according to students' developmental level.

How Can You Make It Happen?

Writing aloud can occur with the entire class or with smaller groups, like in a writing workshop. In either case, students should be arranged so that they are as close to the writing as possible. Many teachers set up a comfortable area with a rug in a quiet corner of the room just for such purposes. There should be an easily visible writing surface such as an easel or stand with chart paper or an overhead projector and screen. The lesson is generally relatively quick and focused on one or two key elements of the writing process.

How Can You Measure Success?

Teachers can determine the effectiveness of writing aloud by checking to see if students are successfully adopting techniques and strategies featured in the writing aloud lesson during their independent writing time. For example, if the teacher stresses descriptive writing using carefully chosen "describing" words, students should show evidence of that technique in their writing. Over time, with lessons based on students' identified needs, in student writing should communicate the intended message with depth and clarity.

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