Modeled Writing

Write Aloud

UDL 3.2 UDL 6.2

Modeled Writing is an instructional strategy used to pre-teach and reinforce specific writing skills or concepts. Modeled writing can be used to illustrate a wide range of skills related to writing from grammar and conventions to crafting a piece for a specific purpose and audience. During this activity, students are primarily listening and watching. As they observe the teacher’s decision-making process and internal dialogue while writing, students gain knowledge of strategies to use in their own writing. Modeled writing helps make the cognitive processes going on inside a writer’s head visible, and therefore, can help demystify the writing process. Modeled writing can be used as a scaffolded step to support writers of all ages with the goal of helping students move toward independently applying targeted skills.

Implementation Tips

Selecting a Skill to Model
Modeled writing lessons are generally 10-15 minutes long. Choose a specific skill or concept (e.g. punctuating dialogue) to focus on and plan a short writing example that will allow you to demonstrate the targeted skill. Since it is important for students to be able to see the text being written, consider using an overhead projector, document camera or a large flip chart during the lesson.
Small Group
Modeled writing is a great strategy to use with a small group while the rest of the class is engaging in independent writing activities (e.g. during writing workshop or literacy centers). Group students based on the writing skills that they need additional support in and plan modeled writing lessons targeting these skills. After working with an individual or group, remind the student(s) to try out the strategy during their next independent writing time.
Student Modeling
Choose a student to teach a modeled writing lesson reinforcing a skill that has been previously taught. For example, after working on writing introductory paragraphs for an essay, ask a student who has demonstrated a strong understanding of this skill to give a modeled writing lesson for the class or a small group. Similar to the teacher’s lessons, the student expert should try to share his or her thinking while composing the paragraph. Observing modeled writing performed by a knowledgeable peer can increase students’ confidence in their writing abilities, because observers are better able to see themselves as accomplishing similar tasks.
Additional Tips for Implementing Modeled Writing
For more ideas about using this strategy and a modeled writing lesson plan template, check out Educational Impact's: [[ | Planning: Modeled Writing]]
For students who are under-aroused or experience frustration while writing, modeled writing can be used to increase engagement and motivation. With an individual student or small group, model writing a text while focusing on "What to do when I feel stuck.” Provide clear examples of ways to prompt and focus yourself as a writer. Modeling strategies to employ in this situation builds students’ confidence and lowers barriers they may have when engaging in the writing process.


Lower Elementary
When teaching book and print awareness skills during modeled writing, the teacher’s modeled writing might begin like this: “I am going to write about my weekend. First, I need to figure out where to start writing on the page. Should I start from the top or the bottom? [Teacher points to top and bottom of the page.] If I start at the bottom, I will run out of space, so I’ll start at the top. Now, I need to decide which direction I should write. From the books I’ve read, they start writing on the left and go to the right, so I’ll do that too…”
Upper Elementary
During a lesson on using quotations marks to mark direct speech, the teachers' modeled writing might sound like: “I will include a lot of dialogue in my narrative to make my characters come to life and show how they interact with one another. This means that I will need to correctly use quotation marks to indicate when a character is speaking. In my story, the main character has just arrived for her first day of school. I would like to include some dialogue between the teacher and student. [Teacher writes: The teacher smiled warmly and said, "Welcome to our class! You must be Alex."] Since I am including some information before writing what the teacher says, I will make sure to include a comma before my first quotation mark. Next, I will use a quotation mark to surround the actual words of the teacher. The sentence ends with the teacher's words, so I'm going to make sure that I include a period before the closing quotation mark."
Middle School
When teaching using descriptive details during modeled writing, the teacher’s modeled writing might sound the following way: “I’m getting to the climax of my story. [Teacher writes: Karen saw a strange creature out the window.] Hmm...I’m looking at the sentence that I just wrote. It’s a pretty good sentence, but it doesn’t really paint a picture for the reader. How else can I describe what she saw? I know, I’ll compare the creature to something the reader can relate to. [Teacher adds: “It looked like a large, hairy dog walking on its back feet with two long fangs hanging from its mouth.”] That’s perfect! Now, I’ll add some details about what she hears as the creature approaches the house…”
High School
When teaching students to check for relevant supporting details while revising an informative essay, part of the teacher’s think aloud might sound like this: “I finished writing my essay about the three branches of the U.S. government. Now, I’m going to go through it one paragraph at a time to see if each one has good supporting details. The first body paragraph is about the legislative branch. [Teacher starts reading paragraph: The legislative branch, or Congress, is responsible for making the laws of the United States. It consists of two houses -- the House of Representatives and the Senate. The Senate is the most important one. Both the Senate and the House of Representatives vote on whether proposed bills should become laws…] I’m going to stop right there for moment. Since this is an informative essay, I know I should only include facts and details that I can support with evidence. I don’t think the statement “The Senate is the most important one” is a fact. Since it’s an opinion, I’ll take that out... “

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