Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Teaching Writing with an "Optimal Mix"

Consider the following:
  • 70% of 4th-12th grade students are considered low-achieving writers
  • college professors estimate that 50% of college freshmen are unprepared for college-level writing
  • nearly 40% of college students and high school graduates in the workforce view their own writing as not meeting expectations of quality
The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement cited these in a research brief entitled “Writing Next.” The brief overviews a meta-analysis of research on effective writing instruction.

The report advocates the following instructional methods:

  1. writing strategies: explicitly teaching students strategies for planning, revising, and editing—processes that significantly influence writing quality
  2. summarizing: teaching students to effectively summarize material
  3. collaboration: engaging students in student to peer and student to teacher interaction focused on improving writing quality
  4. specific tasks: engaging students in specific but varied writing tasks that have a well-defined outcome
  5. construction instruction: explicitly teaching students how to form effective sentences, including more complex and sophisticated ones
  6. prewriting: aiding students in generating and structuring ideas before the first draft is attempted
  7. inquiry: engaging students in prewriting research to develop ideas, identify questions, and secure reliable information sources
  8. process writing: recognizing and engaging students in all the phases of writing with special emphasis given to those that significantly increase quality (prewriting and revising)
  9. models: engaging students in analysis of excellent writing models for the genres in which they also will be writing
  10. writing to learn: engaging students in writing throughout all disciplines
An "optimal mix" of these methods improves student writing. This is the emphasis of the Writer’s Stylus instructional program. Find information on this “revolutionary” program and its upcoming professional development events here.

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