Writing Next: Effective Strategies to Improve Writing of Adolescents in Middle and High Schools

By: LD OnLine

This report offers eleven recommendations to teachers on how they can instruct 4th to 12th grade students to write well. The recommendations are effective for all students. Specific information applies to low achieving writers, which includes students with learning disabilities.

The authors summarized a large-scale statistical review of research on the effects of specific types of instruction on the writing ability of adolescents. They used meta-analysis which allows researchers to determine the strength and consistency of particular teaching practices and highlights those that appear the most promising. Specific strategies are provided for the recommendations.

Eleven elements of writing instruction were found to improve writing skills of adolescents. Steve Graham, first author of the report, identified three elements which are particularly critical to improving the writing of students with learning disabilities.

They are:

  • Writing Strategies: Teaching students strategies for planning, revising, and editing their compositions
  • Specific Product Goals: Specific, reachable goals for the writing they are to complete
  • Word Processing: Using computers and word processors as instructional supports for writing assignments

The other eight recommendations are also helpful to students with learning disabilities.

They are:

  • Summarization: Explicitly and systematically teaching students how to summarize texts
  • Collaborative Writing: Instructional arrangements in which adolescents work together to plan, draft, revise, and edit their compositions
  • Sentence Combining: Teaching students to construct more complex, sophisticated sentences
  • Prewriting: Engaging students in activities designed to help them generate or organize ideas for their composition
  • Inquiry Activities: Engaging students in analyzing immediate, concrete data to help them develop ideas and content for a particular writing task
  • Process Writing Approach: Interweaving a number of writing instructional activities in a workshop environment that stresses extended writing opportunities, writing for authentic audiences, personalized instruction, and cycles of writing.
  • Study of Models: Providing students with opportunities to read, analyze, and emulate models of good writing
  • Writing for Content Learning: Using writing as a tool for learning content material.

Research shows that these recommendations improve writing skills of students when teachers use them consistently and well.

Click here to read or watch a video of the full report.

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