Relevant Research

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


We hope you were able to join us for last week's webinar, “A Closer Look at Analyzing CIRCLE Progress Monitoring Classroom Data.” If you would like to watch the recorded webinar or share the information with colleagues, please click here to access the recording. This information will also be posted on the Resources page on CLI Engage (available in the website navigation after login).

TEA recently released the application for the high quality prekindergarten grant program, established by HB4 in the 84th Texas Legislature in 2015. We are preparing an alignment of our resources, including those available on CLI Engage, to the application requirements. It is our hope that this information will be helpful to the school districts and charter schools applying for the grant program. This alignment will be available no later than March 18, 2016 on our website:

We are also happy to announce that the CIRCLE Progress Monitoring System, available on CLI Engage, was approved for the 2016-17 Commissioner’s List of Approved Prekindergarten Progress Monitoring Instruments.

We have several roadshow events on the horizon. If you are interested in attending, please contact your ESC. 

  • March 23, Beaumont, ESC 5
  • March 29, Victoria, ESC 3
  • April 6, Dallas, ESC 10
  • April 8, Corpus Christi, ESC 2
  • April 14, Midland, ESC 18 (Register here for this event!)
  • April 15, Lubbock, ESC 17
  • April 20, Wichita Falls, ESC 9
  • April 27, San Antonio, ESC 20

Registration for TSR Summer Institute will open on April 27 for TSR Comprehensive participants and on May 4 for the public. Learn more at our new website!

Want to exhibit at the TSR Summer Institute? Visit our website to learn about our exhibitor and sponsorship opportunities

Interested in presenting at the Institute? Submit a presenter proposal! The deadline for proposals is April 13.

TX-KEA is hosting a webinar, "Exploring the Ins-and-Outs of the Texas Kindergarten Entry Assessment." We'll be showcasing test items, describing our scaling study, and outlining our outreach and training plans! Register here.

CLI Engage Website

Texas School Ready Website

Children's Learning Institute Website

Infant, Toddler, and Three-Year-Old Early Learning Guidelines

Texas Prekindergarten Guidelines

Texas Early Childhood Professional Development System (TECPDS)

Interactive Writing

This month we are focusing on the interactive writing process, when the child "shares the pen." Interactive writing makes the writing process visible to the whole class. This process is used with pre-kindergarten children who are familiar with some print concepts, letters, and letter formation.

Interactive writing provides a model for children so they will know what to do when writing on their own. Interactive writing is a joint effort as the teacher and the children create the writing together. The teacher guides the lesson by writing on chart paper or a dry erase board in a large or small group setting. Any type of writing can be done in the interactive setting, such as writing a letter, a narrative piece, or an informational piece (McCarrier, Pinnell, & Fountas, 2000).

The goal of interactive writing is to end up with a well-written text in context and form. Topics might include:

  • An interesting event that has occurred, such as a new class pet
  • A special activity
  • A guest speaker who visited the class
  • A field trip
  • A change in the weather
  • A special event the child was part of, such as a trip, family visitor, or new baby

It is also beneficial to select writing which has a purpose for the class and is theme-related. If the class is studying a construction theme, for example, making a list of items found at a construction site would be a good interactive writing activity. In addition to recording what they have learned, the children will also learn how to make a list.

Teachers can also begin the interactive writing process by writing "Today is …" on a piece of chart paper. Then, a child can come up and write the day on the board, following an example that the teacher already clipped to the top of the board. 

Students participate by giving the teacher ideas and also by "taking the pen" and writing words, phrases, or sentences with the teacher's guidance (Button, Johnson, & Fergerson, 1996).

Reading literature is also an excellent way to initiate interactive writing in the preschool classroom. The teacher can use books as a springboard for many interactive writing activities. After reading a book in large or small group, the teacher uses interactive writing techniques to elicit responses from the children and allows them to share the pen. This type of story extension increases comprehension and creates a personal connection to the story. Examples of interactive writing responses to literature might include: creating a predictable chart, making lists, rewriting the ending of the story, writing a letter to one of the story characters, or writing a letter to the author of the book.

The Gradual Release Model Applied to Writing

As teachers write for and with children, they have the unique opportunity to provide different levels of scaffolding or support, from the initial understanding of constructing the message all the way to inventive spelling or even some conventional spelling. This scaffolding can best be understood by applying the gradual release model. There are four instructional techniques teachers can use: modeled, shared, interactive, and independent writing. In preK, the independent stage often requires teacher scaffolding. The chart below describes the gradual release model as it applies to writing.


  • McCarrier, A., Pinnell, G. S., & Fountas, I. C. (2000). Interactive Writing: How Language & Literacy Come Together, K-2. Heinemann, 361 Hanover Street, Portsmouth, NH 03801-3912.
  • Button, K., Johnson, M. J., & Furgerson, P. (1996). Interactive writing in a primary classroom. The reading teacher, 49(6), 446-454.
  • Cox, C. (2011). Literature-based Teaching in the Content Areas: 40 Strategies for K-8 Classrooms. SAGE.
  • Morrow, L. M. (2012). Literacy Development in the Early Years Helping Children Read and Write. Pearson 7th edition.
Teaching Tips

Interactive writing includes exposing children to routine modeled writing, asking children to share ideas and writing down these ideas for all to see, and encouraging children to be interactive by “sharing the pen.”  

Teachers scaffold individual children’s abilities by giving them opportunities to write through engaging activities, such as adding letters, words, or punctuation to large or small group writing activities.

The child does the writing!

By being given a chance to demonstrate their understanding, children can enhance their knowledge of print concepts and writing conventions.

Some basic print concepts are:

  • Writing begins at the top left side of the paper.
  • Writing moves from left to right.
  • A space is required between each word.
  • To start a new line, you must return to the left of the next line. 
  • The left page is written/read before the right page.
  • Print is what we read while a photo is what we see.
  • The order of the letters within a word is important.
  • The first word of each sentence is capitalized.
  • Sentences require punctuation at the end.

Interactive writing is generally introduced once children have a basic grasp of letter-sound connections. Children can be given a pen and asked to capitalize the first letter of the sentence or add punctuation to the end of it.

See a full script for an interactive writing activity in the CIRCLE Activity Collection Section 5.6. (Please note this link will only work after you are logged into CLI Engage.)

Teachers can include time each day for the Daily News to ensure there is regular interactive writing. Watch an exemplar video demonstration of interactive writing using the Daily News in the CIRCLE Activity Collection Section 5.6.1.


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