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Research in Written Composition

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Research in Written Composition Powered By Docstoc
					Research Behind Writing
  the Four Blocks Way

    James W. Cunningham
      Professor Emeritus,
       UNC-Chapel Hill
Reviews of Experimental
Research on Teaching Writing
Hillocks, G., Jr. (1986). Research on
  written composition: New directions for
  teaching. Urbana, IL: National
  Conference on Research in
  English/ERIC Clearinghouse on Reading
  and Communication Skills.
Hillocks, G., Jr. (1995). Teaching writing as
  reflective practice. New York: Teachers
  College Press.
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
 60
 50
 40
 30
 20
                               Effect
 10
 0
-10
-20
-30
Six Focuses of Writing Instruction
That Have Been Investigated

Free writing—Students write whatever they have on their
   minds in journals
Grammar—Students learn to identify parts of speech, parts
   of sentences, and kinds of sentences
Inquiry—Students explore a set of data to prepare to write
   about it
Models—Students are shown good examples of writing to
   exhibit what their characteristics are
Sentence combining—Students learn how to merge two or
   more short sentences into one longer sentence
Writing scales—Students learn to use specific criteria to
   evaluate and revise or edit a piece of writing
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
 60
 50
 40
 30
 20
                               Effect
 10
 0
-10
-20
-30
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
   60
   50
   40
   30
   20
   10
                               Effect
    0
  -10
  -20
  -30
        Gram-
         mar
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
   60
   50
   40
   30
   20
   10
                               Effect
    0
  -10
  -20
  -30
        Gram- Free
         mar  Wrt
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
   60
   50
   40
   30
   20
   10
                               Effect
    0
  -10
  -20
  -30
        Gram- Free   Mod-
         mar  Wrt     els
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
   60
   50
   40
   30
   20
   10
                                        Effect
    0
  -10
  -20
  -30
        Gram- Free   Mod- Sent   Wrt
         mar  Wrt     els Comb   Scls
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
   60
   50
   40
   30
   20
   10
                                                 Effect
    0
  -10
  -20
  -30
        Gram- Free   Mod- Sent   Wrt    Inqui-
         mar  Wrt     els Comb   Scls     ry
Average Effect Size
The effect size is how much of a standard
deviation on the dependent measure did
the experimental treatment move the
participants beyond the control group. The
average effect size is the average of the
effect sizes of all the studies that
investigated a particular treatment.
Focus of Writing Instruction
(Average Effect Size)
Grammar = -0.29
Free Writing = 0.16
Models = 0.22
Sentence Combining = 0.35
Writing Scales = 0.36
Inquiry = 0.56
 Interpretation

“It is interesting to note that the [three]
treatments with the largest gains all focus on
teaching procedural knowledge, knowledge
of how to do things. . . . [Free writing] does
not help students learn new . . . procedures.
Both grammar and models focus on learning
. . . declarative rather than procedural
knowledge” (Hillocks, 1995, p. 223)
Research-Based Writing
Instructional Principle #1

Students learn how to write better when the
focus is on teaching them procedural
knowledge, knowledge of how to do things
in writing, rather than on declarative
knowledge
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
45
40
35
30
25
                              Effect
20
15
10
 5
 0
Three Modes of Writing
Instruction
Presentational/Traditional—The teacher explains how
  to write well, takes students through the language
  book, shows them good models, gives specific
  writing assignments, and grades their papers
Natural Process—Self-selected writing, mini-lessons,
  peer conferencing, revision, editing, and publishing
Environmental—The teacher engages students in
  small-group activities that prepare them to succeed
  with each focused writing assignment, and teaches
  them to evaluate and revise their own papers in line
  with specified objectives
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
45
40
35
30
25
                              Effect
20
15
10
 5
 0
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
 45
 40
 35
 30
 25
 20                           Effect
 15
 10
  5
  0
      Pres/Trad
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
 45
 40
 35
 30
 25
 20                           Effect
 15
 10
  5
  0
      Pres/Trad   Nat Proc
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Hillocks, 1986/1995)
 45
 40
 35
 30
 25
 20                                       Effect
 15
 10
  5
  0
      Pres/Trad   Nat Proc   Environm'l
Mode of Writing Instruction
(Average Effect Size)
Presentational/Traditional = 0.02
Natural Process = 0.19
Environmental = 0.44
Research-Based Writing
Instructional Principle #2
Students learn procedural knowledge in
writing better when they are actively
engaged in relevant activities rather than
when they are listening or reading about
how to write
Research-Based Writing
Instructional Principle #3
Students learn procedural knowledge in
writing better when the relevant activities
they are actively engaged in are designed
and supervised by the teacher
Research on Marking Students’
Papers
“Teacher comment [written on students'
compositions] has little impact on student writing.
None of the studies of teacher comment ... show
statistically significant differences in the quality of
writing between experimental and control groups.
Indeed, several show no pre-to-post gains for
any groups, regardless of the type of comment.”
[emphasis is the author's] (Hillocks, 1986, p. 165)
Research-Based Writing
Instructional Principle #4
It is necessary to grade students’ writing
and mark their papers in order to give
them grades on their report cards and to
be able to defend those grades, but
grading and marking their papers teaches
them little or nothing
Research on Writing Fluency
Graham, S., Berninger, V., Abbott, R.,
 Abbott, S., & Whitaker, D. (1997). Role
 of mechanics in composing of
 elementary school students: A new
 methodological approach. Journal of
 Educational Psychology, 89, 170-182.
Research on Writing Fluency
Rate of writing predicts later writing
disability. Transcription skills (handwriting
and spelling) uniquely predict writing
fluency throughout the elementary grades
Research-Based Writing
Instructional Principle #5
We build students’ writing fluency when we
   teach them how to:
a) spell words phonetically when they
   write
b) spell high-frequency words correctly
   when they write
c) handwrite legibly when they write
Writing the Four-Blocks Way is
Research-Based Because It:
   Emphasizes self-selected writing in K-2
   Emphasizes focused writing in 3-5
   Makes self-selected writing more
    environmental than whole language
    does
   Teaches transcription (handwriting and
    spelling) skills systematically
Now is the time for all good
four-blocks teachers:
To teach writing the four-blocks way
instead of the “Write from the Beginning”
way or the “teach to the writing test” way
How to Make Self-Selected
Writing More Environmental
1. Make mini-lessons more environmental
2. Make conferencing more environmental
3. Make revision and editing more
   environmental
How to Make Mini-Lessons More
Environmental
1. Have fewer different kinds of mini-
   lessons and provide sufficient repetition
   on each kind of mini-lesson
2. Have each mini-lesson focus on a
   single teaching point
3. Actively involve the students in each
   mini-lesson
How to Make Conferencing More
Environmental
1. Teach your students how to
   conference effectively with each other
   in partners and small groups
2. Have students revise in pairs before
   teaching them to revise alone
3. Do teacher conferencing with each
   student before allowing him or her to
   revise alone
How to Make Revision and
Editing More Environmental
1. Teach students to use a writing scale
   (editor’s checklist) to proofread and
   correct their own papers during editing
2. Require students to have your
   approval on revisions before editing,
   and on edits before recopying

				
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