This phrase is so familiar with me as it’s always ringing in my head. Different ways in which we can share the pen with our students to encourage side-by-side writing. Every time I pull a group, we start with the same question, “what is today’s date?” Depending on the group’s abilities, the students help me spell out the day, month, and year. I demonstrate how we can stretch out words to help with spelling like Feb-bru-ary. This breakdown allows us a better chance to hear all the sounds in each word. We take turns whether I right out the date or if a student writes it.
We share the pen in other ways too, especially with my beginner students. One strategy we use of sharing the pen is that physical exchange of the pen. I’ll write a sentence on the whiteboard and then hand over then pen for a student to copy. I write a sentence, we read the sentence, and then take turns writing it out and reading it on their own. When the students take the pen, they are more aware of their writing. They notice where the letters should be touching the lines on their paper, capitalization, and punctuation. These students are still very new to us as well as to the United States. As they progress, our writing turns more into them forming the sentences with some scaffolding by giving them a word list, writing prompts, and their own illustrations to encourage more structure and fluidity in the writing process.