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Teaching Tip: Guided Writing: Learning about the Main Idea and Key Details

Guided writing is a powerful part of the guided reading lesson. Evidence shows that high-quality writing instruction can improve students’ reading comprehension, reading fluency, and word-solving skills. Guided writing can help students integrate what they have been taught in word study by giving them the opportunity to utilize what they have learned. It can also improve students’ writing skills, provide them with instruction in the craft of writing, and help them dig deeper into the meaning of the text.

To illustrate this, I am sharing here a video of a Literacy Footprints guided writing lesson that Jan Richardson did with a group of students in Virginia. The day before, they had read a Level K story I had written called Quack the Brave Duck with their classroom teacher. You can read the book online here.

Jan’s comprehension focus for the lesson involved identifying the main idea and key details using the V.I.P. (Very Important Part) strategy. You can read about Jan’s progressive steps for using the V.I.P. strategy on page 267 of The Next Step Forward in Guided Reading.

Jan starts by having students develop a plan for their writing. As you observe the lesson, you will see how see how Jan and the group of students create a list of key details that will help the students as they write about the story. As they write, they are learning how to organize their ideas and how to apply word-solving strategies and writing skills, as well as gaining a deeper understanding of the text. Jan follows the lesson with two teaching points: using the top of your pencil to reread and check that you have all the words you need, and using a caret to insert a missing word. Watching this lesson will give you a good idea of how powerful a guided writing lesson can be and what a great opportunity it provides to improve not only writing skills but reading skills as well!

Here is Jan’s guided writing lesson.

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