Center on Deafness

College of Education, Health and Human Sciences


Principles of Strategic and Interactive Writing Instruction (SIWI)

SIWI is comprised of three main components: (1) strategic instruction rooted in cognitive theories of composing, (2) interactive instruction based on sociocultural theories of teaching and learning, and (3) metalinguistic knowledge and linguistic competence drawn from first and second language acquisition theory. In addition to these three principles, there are four other subprinciples driving SIWI.


  • Strategic means explicitly teaching the processes of expert writers to students. This may involve the use of wordStrategic & Interactive Writing Instruction Logo or symbol procedural facilitators.
    • Visual Scaffolds means visually representing the writing processes, strategies or skills students are in the process of learning.
  • Interactive means that students and the teacher share ideas, build on each other’s contributions, and cooperatively determine writing actions when engaged in guided writing.
    • Guided to Independent reflects the different kinds of classroom writing formats from most supported (i.e., group guided writing), to moderately supported (i.e., small group or paired writing), to least supported environment (i.e., independent writing).
  • Metalinguistic Knowledge and Linguistic Competence are the two routes persons have in developing English language ability—acquiring implicitly and learning explicitly.  There are opportunities for both in every SIWI lesson.
  • Balanced represents how attention is given to word-, sentence-, and discourse-level writing skills.
  • Authentic means that writing activity has a real purpose and audience.

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