The Reading and Writing Connection

By: Kristine Burgess, M.S.Ed. (Reading Department Head at Landmark High School)

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Reading and writing largely depend upon the same skills. Spelling and single-word reading rely on the same underlying knowledge, and instruction and practice in one should aid the development of the other. For instance, the ability to link sounds together to construct words is reinforced when students read and write the same words. Furthermore, writing instruction improves reading comprehension and the teaching of writing skills — such as grammar and spelling lessons — reinforce reading skills. Research suggests that reading and writing skills are best developed when taught and practiced in conjunction.

Strategy Suggestions

Here are suggestions of activities that educators can incorporate into their lessons to support literacy development through reading and writing.

  • Decoding/Encoding Word Lists

    In order to build phonemic awareness and phonics skills, students should be exposed to a variety of word list activities that develop and strengthen these underlying skills.Word lists that require students to both read and spell words containing specific patterns are one way to enhance the reading and writing connection. As students read the words, they need to rely upon their phonics and phonemic knowledge to identify what each letter says. Similarly, as they spell the words, students need to rely upon the same foundational knowledge in order to determine what letters should represent the sounds they hear. With this practice, visual-phonological connections enable readers to find specific words in memory and connect those words to spelling and pronunciation. In this process, students can be cued to sound out the word using specific phonemes.

  • Sentence Strips

    Another activity that can be used to support the development of reading and writing skills is sentence strips. In this activity, the educator would create a sentence that is an appropriate level of challenge for each student and cut up each individual word. Students then need to use context, syntax, grammar, and background knowledge to construct the sentence correctly using the cut-up words. Educators should determine whether or not they include cues such as capitals and punctuation. Here is an example sentence with punctuation and capitalization.

  • Writing about Literature

    According to a meta-analysis carried out by Steve Graham and Michael Hebert in 2010, students who wrote about what they read in a variety of ways had improved comprehension and learning over students who read alone, reread for clarification, or participated in discussions after reading. The benefits of writing about literature are two-fold. First, as stated, writing about a text can enhance comprehension of that text. For instance, written reflections of specific passages guide students to make stronger connections between what they read, know, understand, and think. As students continue to develop their comprehension, writing about the text can help them to analyze the language, text structure, and content of what they are reading. In addition to improving comprehension, writing about literature can strengthen students’ fluency, decoding, and spelling skills. Furthermore, writers can gain insight into reading by creating texts intended for an audience to read. Reaction Journals are one example of how to incorporate writing about literature into a lesson (prompts can be changed to fit specific skills or content).

  • Syntax and Parts of Speech

    Grammar knowledge is another underlying foundational skill for improving reading comprehension. During reading instruction, educators should be encouraged to spend time teaching and dissecting syntax and parts of speech from the text being read. As students are taught patterns and strategies for constructing appropriate sentences (grammar and syntax), their reading comprehension should also improve. For example, providing instruction in the purpose and usage of commas is one example of how to incorporate grammar into reading instruction. When students understand the purpose and use of punctuation marks like the comma, they become more aware of how these grammar cues affect pauses and intonation while reading. Simultaneously, they are being exposed to how to properly punctuate their own writing.


Ehri, Linnea C. (1992). Reconceptualizing the development of sight word reading and its relationship to reading. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.

Graham, S. and Hebert, M.A. (2010). Writing to Read: Evidence for how writing can improve reading. A Carnegie Corporation Time to Act Report. Washington, DC: Alliance for Excellent Education.

IDA. (2015). Starting with the Test: Teaching Writing to Enhance Reading Comprehension.

K12 Reader: Reading Instruction Resources.(2018). “The Relationship Between Reading and Writing.” Retrieved from:https://www.k12reader.com/the-relationship-between-reading-and-writing/

Matulis, Bev. (2007). Writing Intention: Prompting Professional Learning through Student work: Dancing with the Authors. p. 36-40.

Shanahan, Timothy. (2017). “How Should We Combine Reading and Writing?” Reading Rockets. Retrieved from: http://www.readingrockets.org/blogs/shanahan-literacy/how-should-we-combine-reading-and-writing

Woodson, Linda. (October 1979). A Handbook of Modern Rhetorical Terms. National Council of Teachers.

Kristine Burgess, M.S.Ed. (Reading Department Head at Landmark High School) (2018)