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Scaffolding Strategies for Guided Writing Lessons

Literacy, Small Groups & Literacy Centers, Writing & Language, Writing Instruction

Written by: Katie Palmer

Helping students become authors can be challenging. Many students struggle with content ideas, getting started and lack interest or confidence in writing. However, there is a solution that helps students overcome these writing hurdles: guided writing! Keep reading for tips & tricks (as well as resource ideas) to implement guided writing in your classroom and watch student writing soar!

What is guided writing?

You might be asking, what is guided writing? So, before we dig in, let's take a deep dive into the definition.

Guided Writing is a bridge between shared writing and independent writing, a scaffold that supports students with helpful tools as they move into writing on their own. Guided writing lessons may occur with the whole class or in small teacher led groups. Students contribute to a group practice piece of writing before writing on their own.

Lori Oczkus, author of Guided Writing: Practical Lessons, Powerful Results

In other words, it is a type of writing instruction that fits between teacher modeled writing and independent writing. Implementing guided writing into your writing block can allow for small group or one-on-one instruction. This individualized instruction will benefit writing confidence and skills.

1st & 2nd grade opinion writing prompt - Where is your favorite place to swim? Why do you like it?

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So, how to start guided writing? What lessons to teach? What materials are needed? Read on!

Guided Writing How To

Some teachers prefer to teach guided writing whole group. For the sake of differentiation, I recommend teaching it small group! Set up your guided reading groups with these steps:

  • Choose a writing skill for students to focus on
  • Choose which students will benefit from honing in on that skill
  • Meet with this group while others students are working on other writing tasks. Ideas for independent work during guided writing: editing or proofreading assignments, working on the writing focus skill (if they have already had their group time), prompted journal time or free writing in journals.

Each group might have a different skill they are focusing on, and this is okay! Each student is at a different writing skill level and needs different instruction.

Sample Weekly Guided Writing Schedule

Let's take a look at how writing groups could look in your classroom. In this example, the teacher is teaching a personal narratives unit. She is focusing on choosing what to write about and the drafting process.

sample week-long guided writing schedule with plans for whole group, guided writing, and independent work
Download the schedule

This schedule would continue into week two, with students finished drafting, editing, publishing and sharing.

Here are a couple useful links from the lesson plan:

Ralph Tells His Story read aloud:

Sentence Scrambles for Independent Work

Read about them here: Practice Writing Sentences with Sentence Scrambles

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Graphic Organizers

There are a lot of formats available for writing graphic organizers available to teachers. Here are my favorites:

Lucky little Toolkit

This HUGE resource includes writing graphic organizers perfect for narrative, informative, persuasive and really any kind of writing!

narrative writing graphic organizer

Read about it here: Lucky Little Toolkit (Lifesaver!)

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Library of Graphic Organizers

Check out this large collection of graphic organizers from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: Free Graphic Organizer Templates

Other Writing Group Ideas

It is a great idea to hold guided writing groups for ALL types of writing! Writing groups ensure students can feel success and get teacher instruction in their individual areas of need.

As shown in the example lesson above, follow this model for guided writing:

  • Model the chosen focus skill or writing type
  • Have resources for students to use: graphic organizers, mentor texts
  • Meet with students based on skill needs
  • Teachers demonstrate how to edit
  • Students continue to work on sentence writing skills/editing throughout the writing units


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