Effective Writing Instruction

People write for a variety of purposes—including recording, persuading, learning, communicating, entertaining, self-expression, and reflection—and proficiency in writing for one purpose does not necessarily generalize to writing for other purposes. In today’s world, proficiency requires developing skills in both traditional forms of writing and newer electronic and digital modes.

In the last three decades, much more has become known about the components and processes of writing and effective writing instruction. As with reading, most of this research comes from K-12 settings. Figure 2 shows the component skills and processes of writing. As depicted in the figure, a writer manages and orchestrates the application of

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FIGURE 2: Component skills and processes of writing



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Effective Writing Instruction eople write for a variety of purposes—including recording, persuading, P learning, communicating, entertaining, self-expression, and reflec- tion—and proficiency in writing for one purpose does not necessarily generalize to writing for other purposes. In today’s world, proficiency requires developing skills in both traditional forms of writing and newer electronic and digital modes. In the last three decades, much more has become known about the components and processes of writing and effective writing instruction. As with reading, most of this research comes from K-12 settings. Figure 2 shows the component skills and processes of writing. As depicted in the figure, a writer manages and orchestrates the application of Basic Writing Skills Specialized Writing Knowledge Writing Motivation andwriting ttributes of good writing elf-efficacy pelling exture of specific types of text riting apprehension eyboarding inguistic knowledge ttitudes toward writing apitalization wareness of the audience ttributes for success/failure unctuation opic knowledge nterest entence construction ocabulary knowledge ntrinsic/extrinsic motivation oal orientation Executive Control Writing Strategies and Processes oal setting and planning elf-verbalization eeking information ehearsing ecord -keeping nvironmental structuring rganizing ime management ransforming elf-rewarding elf-monitoring ehearsing eviewing eeking assistance elf-evaluating and revising mulating FIGURE 2: Component skills and processes of writing

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Developing Reading and Writing 14 a variety of basic writing skills, specialized writing knowledge, writing strategies, and motivational processes to create a text. How the writer applies and combines these skills and processes will vary depending on the writer’s task and goal. Principles of Effective Writing Instruction A number of principles for effective writing instruction are supported by research, although the body of research is smaller than for reading. Explicitly and systematically teach the strategies, skills, and knowledge needed to be a proficient writer. Almost all of the effective writing practices that have been identified to date involve explicit instruction. These practices proved effective with a range of writers, from beginners to college students, as well as with those who had experienced difficulty in learning to write. What should be taught, however, depends on the writer’s developmental level, the skills he or she needs to develop for particular purposes, and the writing task. Instructors should model writing strategies and teach learners how to regulate their use of them—for example, how to monitor, evaluate, and adjust strategies as needed for particular tasks and goals. Skilled writing requires planning and revising. Whereas children and adolescents spend very little time planning and revising, more accomplished writers such as college stu- dents spend about 50 percent of their writing time planning and revising text. Combine explicit and systematic writing instruction with extended experience writing for a purpose. Learners need to devote considerable time to practicing writing for different purposes, such as recording (an event or idea), communicating, persuading, self-expression, and reflection, among others. Explicitly teach foundational writing skills to the point that they become automatic. For skilled writers, spelling, handwriting, and keyboarding are mostly automatic. Individual differences in the attention given to handwriting and spelling predict writ- ing achievement, even for college students. Thus, it is important that writers learn to execute these skills fluently and automatically, with little or no thought. When these skills are not automatic, as is the case for many developing and struggling writers, cog- nitive resources are not available for other important aspects of writing, such as plan- ning, evaluating, and revising. Some aspects of writing, such as planning or sentence construction, require decisions and cannot become fully automatic, but they can be taught and practiced so they become fluent, flexible, and effectively used.

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Developing Reading and Writing 15 Structure the instructional environment and interactions to motivate writing practice and persistence in learning new forms of writing. A small number of ex- periments show practices that improve the quality of writing and that reasonably could affect motivation. These practices include setting clear goals for writing; encouraging students to help each other plan, draft, or revise; using self-assessment; and providing feedback on progress. Several studies with adolescent learners have demonstrated that praise, tangible rewards, or both can improve students’ writing skills. Develop an integrated system of skills by using approaches that capitalize on the relationships between reading and writing. Reading and writing depend on similar knowledge and cognitive processes, so insights in one area can lead to insights in the other. Making this relationship explicit will aid learners’ skill development, contrib- ute to their awareness about language, and enhance their retrieval of text forms and meanings. For example, spelling instruction deepens awareness of the correspondences between letters and speech sounds, enabling faster word reading.

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Developing Reading and Writing 16 Practices for Effective Writing Instruction In addition to the principles of effective writing instruction, research has identified several key teaching practices to develop writing skills (listed roughly in order of effectiveness):