close read questions

How to Turn First Grade Close Read Questions Into Interactive Writing Activities

During writer’s workshop, especially at the beginning of the year, my students biggest problem was getting started. No matter how many close read questions I asked, “I don’t know what to write about” was the most popular response.

And I bet you’ve heard that a time or twelve. 

My solution was to give my kiddos strategies to come up with topics using interactive writing. 

And today I’m going to show you how to take a close reading passage and turn it into an interactive writing lesson.

Turning Close Read Questions Into Writing Activities

close read questions

We’re going to look at a different type of writing in this blog. Interactive writing. Interactive writing differs from writer’s workshop in that you are writing together with the majority of the work being done by your students. You are sharing your marker with your students so they  can practice the skills you’d like them to work on. Here’s a blog for interactive writing if you need more direction.

Interactive writing is great for beginning writers because you’re doing it together. You’re showing your kiddos how to take your close read questions and turn them into writing pieces.

What Topics Work For Interactive Writing?

You can use interactive writing for ANYTHING remotely related to your topic. For example, you can pull spelling skills from your reading passage and do a making words activity. Or you can write a fictional story with new characters in the same setting. You get the idea, right?

I really liked interactive writing because it was my chance to teach creativity, and my students were motivated to participate because they knew they’d have a chance to write on my chart.

close read questions

You can do interactive writing any time of  the day. It can be a stand alone writing lesson, but it’s better if you use a topic you’re teaching for extra practice.

That’s why I like using interactive writing during my close reading time. I’m still looking at the structure of the reading passage, but we’re taking what we learned to practice our writing skills.

Turning Close Read Questions Into Interactive Writing

Here’s what I do to turn our close reading passages into a writing activity.

If you recall from the close reading vocabulary blog, having leading “how” and “why” questions are important to draw information out of your students.

Keep those close reading questions in mind as you plan for this activity. Your students can respond to the questions in list form or full sentences if you’re practicing sentence structure.

close read questions

Here are some more ideas for turning your close reading passages into interactive writing lessons.

Reading Comprehension Strategies

Look for reading skills you can review.

When planning for close reading, look over your text passages and decide what to focus on. Refer back to those “how” and “why” close reading questions. That way, you’ll get more than a one word answer.

Take those questions and come up with writing topics. If you have a non-fiction passage, ask “Why did this happen?” Your students can make a list of the steps that occurred, or a chart for cause and effect.

Here’s the great part, it doesn’t even have to be ABOUT the topic. Remember, you’ve wanted to really look beyond the words on the page. Your interactive writing introduction could look like this:

close read questions

“Do you remember from our close reading passage about erosion when we learned that a flood causes soil to wash away? Today, during interactive writing, we are going to write about some other things that cause something to happen. I will write the first part, and you will come up to my chart to finish.”

Taking Close Reading Questions Further

Your goal is for your kiddos to have a deeper understanding of cause and effect. You can make these much more simple. Use close read questions such as “What would happen if I carried a full glass of water with one hand?” Your students will write, “The glass spilled.”

Or, “Why did my car fill up with snow?” Your students can write, “You left your window open during a snowstorm.

Can you see how this extends their learning beyond the one passage? And it’s something that THEY understand in a context they know about.

Interactive Writing And Making Lists

That was an idea to focus on reading strategies. Here s another idea.

Interactive writing is a great way to practice list writing. I love making lists. As I sit here writing this blog, I have a pretty hefty list of things I want to include. But your kiddos are little, and don’t know HOW to write lists. We learned how to write lists and we can even categorize the information on our lists. But we weren’t born knowing how to do this.

Great lists for fictional close reading text might be:

  • A list of characters to practice story elements
  • Sequential lists that tell the story in order.
  • Things in the close reading passage that you visualized while you read.
  • Similarities and differences between two characters in the passage.
close read questions

Other Genres Of Writing For Interactive Writing

Don’t forget to use ANY genre of writing you’d like for your students to practice.

  • Write a letter to the main character.
  • If the passage mentions food, write a recipe.
  • Focus on vocabulary and write silly sentences with your new words.
  • Write a “how-to” expository piece based on something that happened in your text.
close read questions

Of course, when you’re done, and you have reread your writing piece with your students, build that hype and tell your students that we are going to hang this in the hallway so everyone sees how much they learned about x, y, z, and how hard they worked this week on close reading.

They’ll have pride for their work and the more you showcase their writing, the more they’ll see that they can write about a topic.

Final Thoughts On Interactive Writing And Close Reading

During your next close reading lessons, make sure to add interactive writing to your plans. It’s a great way to showcase what your students have learned while you’re teaching them the art form of writing.

If you need more help with close reading, make sure to look over the rest of the close reading blogs right here on Teaching Firsties.


This FREE guide will teach you the close reading strategies that will make a close read lesson successful.

As an elementary teacher, it’s hard to adapt close reading successfully for younger readers. I didn’t have a manual when I began, but I wish I had an easier start. So I wanted to give teachers like you a head start when you’re teaching close reading to beginning readers.

With this free guide, you’ll know what to do to keep your kiddos engaged all week.

You will learn what supplies and materials you need for a successful close reading lesson. You’ll learn what to do on each day during your week of close reading. This was another struggle for me.
I read through the text passage with my students, NOW WHAT? 

You’ll have vocabulary ideas to boost your students’ mastery of words and phrases, imagine how great it would be to have time for vocabulary instruction! I’ll show you how it works!

Comprehension is hard for younger readers. They learn to decode words and now they have to understand what everything together means too?

With how much we have to teach in a week, the idea of “Fun Fridays” went out the window years ago. At least it did for me. I didn’t have time to do the fun crafts and activities that first-graders love and frankly deserve to do! I always thought this was so sad, and I wanted to bring it back somehow. So I devoted the last day of close reading to a fun extension activity about the topic of our close reading passage. I’ll show you how to find time for a fun activity, where your students are still learning in the FREE guide for close reading!

I also added the best classroom management tips I used during our close reading week, so you can actually teach your students, rather than correcting unwanted behavior or trying to keep your kiddos attention.

And best of all? I’ve added two close reading passages WITH lesson plans to get you started.

close reading large cover 1

When you download the FREE Guide For Teaching Close Reading To Younger Readers, you’ll learn:

  • How to teach your students to annotate.
  • Which supplies you need and which ones you don’t!
  • What you need to know about the best reading passages for close reading.
  • What to teach on each day of a close reading week.
  • How to improve your student’s vocabulary with close reading.
  • Techniques to improve your student’s reading comprehension skills.
  • Extension activities that take the topic of your close reading passage further.
  • Classroom management during close reading, including partner activities and effective transitions.

You’ll also get two close reading text passages with TWO WEEKS of lesson plans! 

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Rachael Hull

Rachael Hull

Teaching literacy and facilitating literacy stations has been a passion of Rachael's and she wants to help you gain confidence in your classroom!


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