Beacon Lesson Plan Library

Small Group Shared Writing

Jay Babcock
Colleges and Universities - Florida


Small cooperative groups will compose a text and have the process modeled for them as part of a weekly writing curriculum. Students can practice writing, hear your thoughts as an expert writer and have the support of others in their group.


The student generates ideas before writing on self-selected topics and assigned tasks.

The student writes and revises a variety of simple texts (for example, sentences, paragraphs, stories, letters, explanations telling why or how, picture books, poems).

The student revises writing to improve supporting details and word choice by adding or substituting text.


-Chart Paper
-Blue Marker
-Green Marker
-Red Marker


1.You will need to create a list of topics for students to select from. These can be random, or something that you have talked about in class previously. Don't allow students to write on the same topic time and time again, but don't take topics off of the list either. Students should always be allowed to write on a topic not on the list.

2.You may want to divide students into groups that will be more effective to teach certain skills. For example, you could split groups based on ability, so that specific concepts could be focused on with certain groups.

3. Gather supplies.


1. Divide students into groups of 3-4. Begin with a quick cooperative actity to get students excited and interested in this week's writing lesson: “Today you are going to write a story in your groups that shows the best that you can do. I am going to write one at the same time so I can show you what to do and you will write one with the other people sitting at your group. The first thing we will need to do is decide on a topic. Here is a list of possible topics to get you started (show list).” Give students about 2 minutes to talk to their neighbors about what they would like to write about. “I have picked this topic to write about. What did your group pick?”

2. Students will brainstorm ideas for supporting details for the teacher's writing. Then, they will repeat the process for their topics. Remind students to use concept maps to organize their thoughts. Demonstrate this process on the chart paper. From this point on in the lesson there will be some modeling of procedures followed by the students doing the action for their own writings. This will be a good time to circulate around the room and work on the assessment.

3. Have students move on to composing a good introductory sentence. Demonstrate by writing your sentence on the chart paper with the blue marker. Some examples would be: "My favorite...."; "I wonder....."; "Yesterday....."; "Did you know....", or even beginning with a question.

4. Remind students to think about how they would like to organize their writing, and what order they would like their details to be in, reminding them that it has to make sense and who their audience is.

5. Have students come up with their first supporting sentence. Model this process out loud and on the chart paper, making sure to have details, (i.e. NOT "The cat ate his food.", rather, "After giving himself a bath, the black cat jumped up on the kitchen counter to eat his food."). Reminding them to do the same. Use alternating colors of ink to set off the new sentences.

6. Repeat steps 4 and 5 until the first paragraph is completed. Circulate during this time to make sure that students are participating in the group discussion and nobody is dominating the group. Model the next two sentences on the chart paper thinking through the process out loud.

7. Prompt students to form a sentence to close the paragraph and transition to the next one, or if this is the desired length move on to step #8. Repeat steps 3 through 6 if more paragraphs are needed.

8. Tell students to pick one person in the group to read the story out loud to the other group members.

9. Ask students if there are any ways to make the writing clearer by adding, deleting or changing words; revising sentences to give more information, and fixing any punctuation errors. Do the same with your story and make any corrections in red ink. Recopy the story using your best handwriting. Demonstrate all of these steps as you say them. Students may then illustrate their text.


Some assessment for this lesson is based on teacher observations of students in group work. Individual writings would also be good projects to be inserted into portfolios.

Individual assessment:
1.) Students can copy either the group writing, or the teacher's writing in pencil skipping lines. They will then insert sentences or change words using a different color of ink on the alternate lines using proper editing techniques (another idea for a mini-lesson). When they are finished, they will recopy the writing in their neatest handwriting and this will be assessed and evaluated.

2.) Group projects can end at any point (for example following the creation of the concept map, or after the first two supporting sentences). Students will then need to, individually, complete the text and this is assessed.


A quick mini-lesson on a specific topic, such as how to use quotation marks, could precede this lesson and students asked to incorporate it into their writing.

Topic can be limited to the current science or social studies unit and information from that unit be included in the rubric.

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