Writing During Roaming Around the Known

“The teacher works mostly with reading text and writing messages.  This seems to give the child the feeling that he is really reading and writing”

~Clay, LLDI, p. 30

Marie Clay’s words remind us that during roaming around the known we should spend the bulk of our time reading and writing.

For this blog post, I will be focusing on the writing that happens during roaming.  Through multiple opportunities to write during each lesson students will be able to grow in their self-confidence, become fluent and flexible with their known and, if we set the stage right, make new discoveries.

Many of our Reading Recovery students have negative feelings about writing and may be resistant to participating in writing activities. When planning for writing experiences, during roaming, I think about how I can use what I know about each of my students to provide writing activities that they will be eager to participate in.

“The child needs to take ownership of part of the tasks during this period, to feel confident to do things, and to know that the teacher will support his efforts.”

~Clay, LLDI, p. 30

We should allow the child to independently do what they know.

When we encourage a child to work independently with what they can do the child develops a sense of ownership and agency.

In his article, Promoting Discovery During Roaming Around the Known, James Schnug notes that it is helpful to track your students’ growth in what they are able to control with independence.

Here’s an example of tracking independence in writing from one of my current Reading Recovery students.  The underlined letters/words are what the student was able to do independently.

Roaming Lesson  Story
1 I can play the Nintendo Switch.
3 I can play on my XBox.
5 James said, “I like my baby kittens.”
7  They are going to throw him to California.
 9  I want to keep the dog, mommy.

“Choose what you know will interest him.  Make up stories with him about things that catch his interest and act as the scribe who writes them down.”

~Clay, LLDI, p. 33

We need to be creative and catch our student’s attention.

We should talk, talk, talk and talk some more with our students.  It is helpful to have conversations about their families, their interests, loves and hates.  All that we know about our students will help us in creating motivating and engaging writing activities.  Jotting down a student’s longest utterance will help us think about what our student controls in his/her oral language.

We can be creative with the medium we have students record their message on. We can use:

  • a chalkboard
  • a whiteboard
  • decorative stationary
  • construction paper
  • bound/stapled booklets

We can be creative with what we have our students record their message with:

  • colored chalk
  • wipe-off markers
  • Smelly markers
  • Felt tip pens
  • Twistable crayons

We can also be creative with the types of writing we have our students do:

  • a narrative about an experience that had
  • an informational piece about something they know a lot about
  • a response to a book they read
  • an alternate ending to a story
  • a book that imitates the language structure of a book they read previously
  • speech bubbles for characters in the story
  • directions on how to do something
  • a story created about a sticker, picture, or clip art chosen by the student


The “silliest” part in Look at Pickles (Pioneer Valley)


Learning about each other

Adding speech bubbles for Bella and Rosie (Bath Time for Bella and Rosie)

Using a familiar language structure from I Can Paint (The Book Bank Collection 1)

Writing about a favorite video game character

Tip: Type up your student’s writing on the computer if it is something the student will be reading over and over again.

Remember: The student’s writing should match the complexity of books they are reading.

Writing is an important component of our roaming lessons.  It should be interspersed throughout each lesson (read-write-read-write-read-write).  Writing during roaming around the known is a great way to reinforce and extend all that your students know in reading.  Being creative during roaming can inspire our reluctant writers and help them to see that they can be writers too.

Interested in reading more on the topic of Roaming Around the Known?

Preparing for Roaming Around the Known

What Do I Do During Roaming Around the Known?



Clay, M. (2016).  Literacy Lessons Designed for Individuals.  Portsmouth, NH:  Heinemann.

Schnug, James R. “Promoting Discovery During Roaming Around the Known.” Journal of Reading Recovery. Fall 2015:  21-29. Print.


3 thoughts on “Writing During Roaming Around the Known

  1. Pingback: What Do I Do During Roaming Around the Known? – Literacy Pages

  2. Pingback: Reading Recovery: Second Round Roaming – Literacy Pages

  3. Pingback: The Keynotes of Roaming Around the Known: Confidence, Ease, Flexibility, & Discovery – Literacy Pages

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