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 students 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 writing 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, cognitive resources are not available for other important aspects of writing, such as planning, 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.