From Hand to Eye: a Meta-Analysis of the Benefit from Handwriting Training in Visual Graph Recognition

Araújo, Susana & Domingues, Miguel & Fernandes, Tânia. (2022). From Hand to Eye: a Meta-Analysis of the Benefit from Handwriting Training in Visual Graph Recognition. Educational Psychology Review. 10.1007/s10648-021-09651-4. 

Handwriting (HW) training seems to boost recognition of visual graphs (letters) and learning to read more than other learning experiences. However, effects across studies appear to be variable and the underlying cognitive mechanism has been elusive. Researchers conducted a meta-analysis to determine the magnitude of this HW benefit in letter recognition, while better understanding the underlying cognitive mechanism. The benefit from HW training was moderate-to-large and significant and was also modulated by the type of control training (larger relative to motor than to visual control), phonological training (larger when it was absent than present), and granularity of visual discrimination (larger for fine-grained than coarse-grained). These results seem consistent with other observations that the advantage from HW training in letter recognition is about perceptual learning rather than the motor act. Researchers conclude that HW training is effective to improve letter recognition, and is still relevant for literacy instruction in the present digital era.

The Rising Star Scaffolding Guide: Supporting Young Children’s Early Spelling Skills

Copp, S.B., Cabell, S.Q., Gabas, C., Slik, D. and Todd, J. (2022), The Rising Star Scaffolding Guide: Supporting Young Children’s Early Spelling Skills. The Reading Teacher. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.2156

Encouraging pre-kindergarten children to write affords teachers the opportunity to provide scaffolds to improve spelling development. Teachers, however, tend to provide more support than necessary to guide children's early spelling, which may stifle children's opportunities to engage in important thinking that helps them to grow in their literacy knowledge. In this article, researchers introduce the Rising Star Scaffolding Decision Guide, a step-by-step framework for teachers to use when selecting instructional moves to support spelling development while engaging in one-on-one writing interactions with children. They describe the types of scaffolds that teachers can use with children, with an emphasis on low-support scaffolds (RISE) and high-support scaffolds (STAR). We include examples of teacher–child interactions to illustrate specific scaffolding techniques based on children’s writing attempts.

The Effects of Writing on Learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis

Steve Graham, Sharlene A. Kiuhara, and Meade MacKay. The Effects of Writing on Learning in Science, Social Studies, and Mathematics: A Meta-Analysis. March 2020. Review of Educational Research 90 (2), pages 179-226. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654320914744

This meta-analysis examined if students writing about content material in science, social studies, and mathematics facilitated learning. Studies in this review were conducted with students in Grades 1 to 12 in which the writing-to-learn activity was part of instruction. As predicted, writing about content reliably enhanced learning (effect size = 0.30). It was equally effective at improving learning in science, social studies, and mathematics as well as the learning of elementary, middle, and high school students. Writing-to-learn effects were not moderated by the features of writing activities, instruction, or assessment. Furthermore, variability in obtained effects were not related to features of study quality. Directions for future research and implications for practice are provided.

The Sciences of Reading and Writing Must Become More Fully Integrated

Graham, S. (2020). The Sciences of Reading and Writing Must Become More Fully Integrated. Reading Research Quarterly, 55(S1), S35– S44. https://doi.org/10.1002/rrq.332

Science has greatly enhanced what we know about reading and writing. Drawing on this knowledge, researchers have proffered recommendations for how to teach these two literacy skills. Although such recommendations are aimed at closing the gap between research and practice, they often fail to take into account the reciprocal relation that exists between reading and writing. Writing and writing instruction improve students’ reading and vice versa. Theory and evidence that support this reciprocal relation are presented, and implications for the scientific study of reading and writing, policy, and practice are offered, including the proposal that the sciences of reading and writing need to be better integrated.

Improving reading comprehension, science domain knowledge, and reading engagement through a first-grade content literacy intervention

Kim, J., Burkhauser, M., Mesite, L., Asher, C., Relyea, J., Fitzgerald, J. & Elmore, J. (2020). Improving reading comprehension, science domain knowledge, and reading engagement through a first-grade content literacy intervention. Journal of Educational Psychology. 113. 10.1037/edu0000465. 

In this study, classroom teachers taught first-grade children about science knowledge while they conducted literacy instruction. Grounding literacy instruction in science content is called content literacy instruction. The aim of content literacy instruction is to help young children acquire conceptually related vocabulary while learning science (and history) content. Results indicate that content literacy instruction can improve first-graders’ science domain knowledge (as measured by vocabulary knowledge depth, listening comprehension, and argumentative writing) and reading comprehension outcomes. Furthermore, there were no negative or adverse effects on first graders’ reading engagement or basic literacy skills. The study suggests that content literacy instruction can improve the rigor, quality, and effectiveness of whole class literacy instruction in the early elementary grades.

A Quantitative Synthesis of Research on Writing Approaches in Grades 2 to 12. Best Evidence Encyclopedia (BEE)

Slavin, R.E., Lake, C., Inns, A., Baye, A., Dachet, D., & Haslam, J. (2019). A quantitative synthesis of research on writing approaches in grades 2 to 12. London: Education Endowment Foundation.

This paper reviews research on outcomes of writing programs for students in grades 2 to 12. Studies had to meet rigorous standards of research including use of randomized or well-matched control groups, measures independent of the program developers, researchers, and teachers, and adequate sample size and duration. Fourteen studies of 12 programs met the standards. Twelve (86%) were randomized, two matched. Programs were divided into three categories. Student achievement effects on writing were positive on average in all categories, with similar outcomes for writing programs focused on the writing process, those using cooperative learning, and those focusing on interactions between reading and writing.

Improving Kindergarten Students’ Writing Outcomes Using Peer-Assisted Strategies

Cynthia S. Puranik, Yaacov Petscher, Stephanie Al Otaiba, and Christopher J. Lemons. Improving Kindergarten Students’ Writing Outcomes Using Peer-Assisted Strategies. The Elementary School Journal, Volume 118, Number 4, June 2018. 

This study looked at the feasibility of teacher implementation of peer-assisted writing strategies (PAWS) in improving the writing outcomes of kindergarten children. Results indicated that the content, length, and formatting of the lessons were adequate for the teachers to deliver the lessons with fidelity. Students enjoyed PAWS, as reflected in the end-of-the-year surveys. Statistically significant differences between the experimental and control classrooms were noted for punctuation and sentence writing quality. In addition, preliminary results with our small sample size suggest that differences in writing performance between the PAWS and control classrooms were moderated by school type. In the medium-performing schools, differences between pre- and posttest scores were statistically significant for alphabet-writing fluency, punctuation, and sentence and essay curriculum-based writing measures, with effect sizes ranging from 0.69 to 1.96.

Effectiveness of Literacy Programs Balancing Reading and Writing Instruction: A Meta-Analysis

Graham, S., Liu, X., Aitken, A., Ng, C., Bartlett, B., Harris, K. R., & Holzapfel, J. (2018). Effectiveness of Literacy Programs Balancing Reading and Writing Instruction: A Meta-Analysis. Reading Research Quarterly, 53(3), 279–304. 

Reading and writing are critical to students’ success in and outside of school. Because they draw on common sources of knowledge and cognitive processes, involve meaning making, and can be used conjointly to accomplish important learning goals, it is often recommended that reading and writing should be taught together. This meta-analysis tested this proposition by examining experimental intervention studies with preschool through high school students to determine whether literacy programs balancing reading and writing instruction strengthen students’ reading and writing performance. To be included in this review, no more than 60% of instruction could be devoted to either reading or writing. As predicted, these programs improved students’ reading, resulting in statistically significant effects when reading measures were averaged in each study or assessed through measures of reading comprehension, decoding, or reading vocabulary. The programs also statistically enhanced writing when measures were averaged in each study or assessed via writing quality, writing mechanics, or writing output. These findings demonstrated that literacy programs balancing reading and writing instruction can strengthen reading and writing and that the two skills can be learned together profitably.

The Right Tool for the Job: Improving Reading and Writing in the Classroom

Melody Arabo, Jonathan Budd, Shannon Garrison, and Tabitha Pacheco (March 2017). The Right Tool for the Job Improving Reading and Writing in the Classroom. Washington, DC: The Thomas Fordham Institute.

This report presents in-depth reviews of nine promising online reading and writing tools for ELA classrooms. Overall, reviewers found these new resources mostly reflect the instructional shifts called for by Common Core (such as including a balance of text types and text-dependent questions for reading and writing). They also lauded the innovative nature and usefulness of text sets as instructional tools, as well as online resources’ student assessment and data reporting capabilities. However, our reviewers cite a lack of information regarding accessibility and accommodations for students with learning disabilities.

Designing an Assistive Learning Aid for Writing Acquisition: A Challenge for Children with Dyslexia

Latif, Seemab; Tariq, Rabbia; Latif, Rabia. Designing an Assistive Learning Aid for Writing Acquisition: A Challenge for Children with Dyslexia. Studies in health technology and informatics, 2015 Vol. 217, pp. 180-8.

This article highlights the benefits of using the modern mobile technology features in providing a learning platform for young dyslexic writers. An android-based application is designed and implemented to encourage the learning process and to help dyslexic children improve their fundamental handwriting skill. In addition, a handwriting learning algorithm based on concepts of machine learning is designed and implemented to decide the learning content, evaluate the learning performance, display the performance results, and record the learning growth to show the strengths and weaknesses of a dyslexic child. The results of the evaluation provided by the participants revealed that application has potential benefits to foster the learning process and help children with dyslexia by improving their foundational writing skills.

Reading for Writing: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Reading Interventions on Writing

Graham, S., Liu, X., Bartlett, B., Ng, C., Harris, K. R., Aitken, A., Barkel, A., Kavanaugh, C., & Talukdar, J. (2018). Reading for Writing: A Meta-Analysis of the Impact of Reading Interventions on Writing. Review of Educational Research, 88(2), 243–284. https://doi.org/10.3102/0034654317746927

This meta-analysis examined if students’ writing performance is improved by reading interventions in studies where students were taught how to read and studies where students’ interaction with words or text was increased through reading or observing others read. As predicted, teaching reading strengthened writing, resulting in statistically significant effects for an overall measure of writing and specific measures of writing quality, words written, or spelling. The impact of teaching reading on writing was maintained over time. Having students read text or observe others interact with text also enhanced writing performance, producing a statistically significant impact on an overall measure of writing and specific measures of writing quality or spelling. These findings provide support that reading interventions can enhance students’ writing performance.

Young Children's Knowledge of the Symbolic Nature of Writing

Treiman, R., Hompluem, L., Gordon, J., Decker, K. and Markson, L. (2016), Young Children's Knowledge of the Symbolic Nature of Writing. Child Development. doi: 10.1111/cdev.12478.

This research study shows that even before learning their ABCs, youngsters start to recognize that a written word symbolizes language in a way a drawing doesn't — a developmental step on the path to reading. Two experiments with one hundred and fourteen 3- to 5-year-old children examined whether children understand that a printed word represents a specific spoken word and that it differs in this way from a drawing. When an experimenter read a word to children and then a puppet used a different but related label for it, such as “dog” for the word ‹puppy›, children often stated the puppet's label was incorrect. In an analogous task with drawings, children were more likely to state that the puppet was correct in using an alternative label. The results suggest that even young children who cannot yet read have some understanding that a written word stands for a specific linguistic unit in a way that a drawing does not.

A Comprehensive Meta-Analysis of Handwriting Instruction

Santangelo, T., & Graham, S. (2016). A Comprehensive Meta-analysis of Handwriting Instruction. Educational Psychology Review, 28(2), 225 - 224.

While there are many ways to author text today, writing with paper and pen (or pencil) is still quite common at home and work, and predominates writing at school. Because handwriting can bias readers' judgments about the ideas in a text and impact other writing processes, like planning and text generation, it is important to ensure students develop legible and fluent handwriting. This meta-analysis examined true- and quasi-experimental intervention studies conducted with K-12 students to determine if teaching handwriting enhanced legibility and fluency and resulted in better writing performance. When compared to no instruction or non-handwriting instructional conditions, teaching handwriting resulted in statistically greater legibility and fluency. Motor instruction did not produce better handwriting skills, but individualizing handwriting instruction and teaching handwriting via technology resulted in statistically significant improvements in legibility. Finally, handwriting instruction produced statistically significant gains in the quality, length, and fluency of students' writing. The findings from this meta-analysis provide support for one of the assumptions underlying the Simple View of Writing (Berninger et al., Journal of Educational Psychology, 94, 291-304, 2002): text transcription skills are an important ingredient in writing and writing development.

Common core writing and language standards and aligned state assessments: a national survey of teacher beliefs and attitudes

Troia, G.A., Graham, S. Common core writing and language standards and aligned state assessments: a national survey of teacher beliefs and attitudes. Reading and Writing 29, 1719–1743 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11145-016-9650-z

A random sample of 482 teachers in grades 3 through 8 from across the United States were surveyed about (a) their perceptions of the version of the Common Core writing and language standards adopted by their state and their state’s writing assessment, (b) their preparation to teach writing, and (c) their self-efficacy beliefs for teaching writing. Regardless of grade, a majority of teachers believed that the adopted standards are more rigorous than prior standards, provide clear expectations for students that can be straightforwardly translated into activities and lessons, and have pushed them to address writing more often. However, many surveyed felt the new writing and language standards are too numerous to cover, omit key aspects of writing development, and may be inappropriate for struggling writers. Moreover, most did not feel that professional development efforts have been sufficient to achieve successful implementation.

Writing and Reading: Connections Between Language by Hand and Language by Eye

Berninger, V. W., Abbott, R. D., Abbott, S. P., Graham, S., & Richards, T. (2002). Writing and Reading: Connections Between Language by Hand and Language by Eye. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 35(1), 39–56. https://doi.org/10.1177/002221940203500104

Four approaches to the investigation of connections between language by hand and language by eye are described and illustrated with studies from a decade-long research program. In the first approach, multigroup structural equation modeling is applied to reading and writing measures given to typically developing writers to examine unidirectional and bidirectional relationships between specific components of the reading and writing systems. In the second approach, structural equation modeling is applied to a multivariate set of language measures given to children and adults with reading and writing disabilities to examine how the same set of language processes is orchestrated differently to accomplish specific reading or writing goals, and correlations between factors are evaluated to examine the level at which the language-by-hand system and the language-by-eye system communicate most easily. In the third approach, mode of instruction and mode of response are systematically varied in evaluating effectiveness of treating reading disability with and without a writing component. In the fourth approach, functional brain imaging is used to investigate residual spelling problems in students whose problems with word decoding have been remediated. The four approaches support a model in which language by hand and language by eye are separate systems that interact in predictable ways.

Research-Based Writing Practices and the and the Common Core: Meta-analysis and Meta-synthesis

Graham, S., Harris, K.R., & Santangelo, T. (2015). Research-Based Writing Practices and the and the Common Core: Meta-analysis and Meta-synthesis. Elementary School Journal, 115(4), 498-522.

In order to meet writing objectives specified in the Common Core State Standards (CCSS), many teachers need to make significant changes in how writing is taught. While CCSS identified what students need to master, it did not provide guidance on how teachers are to meet these writing benchmarks. This article presents research-supported practices that can be used to meet CCSS writing objectives in kindergarten to grade 8. Researchers identified these practices by conducting a new meta-analysis of writing intervention studies, which included true and quasi-experiments, as well as single-subject design studies. In addition, they conducted a meta-synthesis of qualitative studies examining the practices of exceptional literacy teachers. Studies in 20 previous reviews served as the data source for these analyses. The recommended practices derived from these analyses are presented within a framework that takes into account both the social contextual and cognitive/motivational nature of writing.

A Written Language Intervention for At-Risk Second Grade Students

Hooper, S. R., Costa, L. C., McBee, M., Anderson, K. L., Yerby, D. C., Childress, A., & Knuth, S. B. (2013). A written language intervention for at-risk second grade students: A randomized controlled trial of the process assessment of the learner lesson plans in a tier 2 response-to-intervention (RtI) model. Annals of Dyslexia, 66(1), 44–64.

The study examined the effects of Process Assessment of the Learner (PAL), a writing expression curriculum. The program was tested with second grade students in a suburban–rural school district in the southeastern United States. Three sections of PAL lessons were implemented in the district as a small-group curriculum supplement — Talking Letters, Spelling, and Handwriting and Composition. The study found that the average written expression skills of the PAL intervention group were higher than those of the comparison group at the beginning of third grade. However, a review of the findings by What Works Clearinghouse did not confirm that the observed effect of the PAL intervention on growth in written expression skills was statistically significant.

Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers

Graham, S., Bollinger, A., Olsen, C.B., D'Aoust, C., MacArthur, C., McCutchen, D., Olinghouse, N. (2012). Teaching Elementary School Students to Be Effective Writers. Washington, DC: What Works Clearinghouse, Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education.

This practice guide provides four recommendations for improving elementary students' writing. Each recommendation includes implementation steps and solutions for common roadblocks. The recommendations also summarize and rate supporting evidence. This guide is geared toward teachers, literacy coaches, and other educators who want to improve the writing of their elementary students.

Writing Instruction for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders

Robert C. Pennington and Monica E. Delano. Writing Instruction for Students With Autism Spectrum Disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, Vol 27, Issue 3, pp. 158 - 167, August 9, 2012.

Historically, learners with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have not had access to the general education curriculum. Current legislation mandates that all children, including children with ASD, have access to and make progress in the general education curriculum. This article contains a review of the literature on writing instruction for children with ASD. Investigation yielded 15 studies with 29 participants with ASD ages 4 to 21 years. Based on the studies reviewed, we concluded that students with ASD benefit from explicit writing instruction, but more research is needed to establish an evidence-based set of practices to guide educators in the development of effective writing programs for this population of students. Strategies that are particularly promising and suggestions for future research are given.

Writing in Early Childhood Classrooms: Guidance for Best Practices

Gerde, H.K., Bingham, G.E. & Wasik, B.A. Writing in Early Childhood Classrooms: Guidance for Best Practices. Early Childhood Education Journal 40(6) 351–359 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-012-0531-z

Writing is a critical emergent literacy skill that lays the foundation for children’s later literacy skills and reading achievement. Recent work indicates that many early childhood programs offer children materials and tools for engaging in writing activities but teachers rarely are seen modeling writing for children or scaffolding children’s writing attempts. Early childhood educational settings hoping to support children’s literacy development should provide multiple opportunities for children to observe teachers model writing, provide teacher support and scaffolding for children’s writing attempts and engage children in meaningful writing in their play. This paper provides twelve research-based guidelines for supporting children’s writing development in early childhood classrooms.

Informing Writing: The Benefits of Formative Assessment

Graham, S., Harris, K., and Hebert, M. Informing writing: the benefits of formative assessment (2011). Vanderbilt University and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

This report examines the effectiveness of formative writing assessment and answers two questions: (1) does formative assessment enhance student writing, and (2) how can teachers improve formative writing assessments in the classroom. Writing is a critical literacy component for the achievement of the Common Core State Standards and college and career readiness. Based on the findings of a meta-analysis, authors of this report Steve Graham, Karen Harris, and Michael Hebert provide three recommendations for all schools, including those receiving School Improvement Grants (SIG), and describe examples of classroom application

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading

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.

This report published by the Alliance for Excellent Education finds that while reading and writing are closely connected, writing is an often-overlooked tool for improving reading skills and content learning. Writing to Read identifies three core instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in improving student reading: having students write about the content-area texts they have read; teaching students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text; and increasing the amount of writing students do.

Teaching Writing to Elementary Students in Grades 4–6: A National Survey

Gilbert, J., & Graham, S. (2010). Teaching Writing to Elementary Students in Grades 4–6: A National Survey. The Elementary School Journal, 110(4), 494–518. https://doi.org/10.1086/651193

A random sample of elementary teachers in grades 4–6 from across the United States were surveyed about their writing practices. Their responses raised concerns about the quality of writing instruction in upper-elementary grades. Almost two-thirds of the teachers reported that the teacher education courses they took in college provided them with little preparation to teach writing. They also reported that they teach writing for only 15 minutes a day and their students spend just 25 minutes a day writing texts of paragraph length or longer. The writing activities they mostly assigned involved writing-to-learn activities, but other important types of writing like persuasive writing, writing to inform, writing to describe, and research reports were assigned infrequently. Teachers reported using a wide range of evidenced-based instructional practices, but most of these practices were used infrequently. They make a variety of different types of adaptations for weaker writers, and most of these adaptations were applied frequently.

Teaching Young Students Strategies for Planning and Drafting Stories: The Impact of Self-Regulated Strategy Development

Tracy, B., Graham, S., and Reid, R., Teaching Young Students Strategies for Planning and Drafting Stories: The Impact of Self-Regulated Strategy Development (2009). The Journal of Educational Research 102: 5.

In the present study, participants were 127 3rd-grade students, to 64 of whom (33 boys, 31 girls) the authors taught a general strategy and a genre-specific strategy for planning and writing stories; procedures for regulating the use of these strategies, the writing process, and their writing behaviors; and knowledge about the basic purpose and characteristics of good stories. The other 63 3rd-grade students (30 boys, 33 girls) formed the comparison group and received traditional-skills writing instruction (mostly on spelling, grammar, and so forth). Strategy-instructed students wrote stories that were longer, schematically stronger, and qualitatively better. Strategy-instructed students maintained over a short period of time the gains that they had made from pretest to posttest. In addition, the impact of story-writing strategy instruction transferred to writing a similar but untaught genre, that of a narrative about a personal experience. Strategy-instructed students wrote longer, schematically stronger, and qualitatively better personal narratives than did children in the control condition.

Procedural Facilitators and Cognitive Strategies:Tools for Unraveling the Mysteries of Comprehension and the Writing Process, and for Providing Meaningful Access to the General Curriculum

Baker, S., Gersten, R., & Scanlon, D. (2002). Procedural Facilitators and Cognitive Strategies: Tools for Unraveling the Mysteries of Comprehension and the Writing Process, and for Providing Meaningful Access to the General Curriculum. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 17, 65-77.

A solid, emerging research base exists to inform how we provide meaningful access to the general education curriculum for students with learning disabilities. For example, the presentation of challenging content to academically diverse learners can be demystified using content enhancement techniques. Additionally, a range of strategies can be taught to enhance reading comprehension and expressive writing abilities. Examples from several lines of research in comprehension and writing are used to highlight the underlying features of these empirically based approaches and to introduce the reader to the history of this expanding body of research.

Reconceptualizing Spelling Development and Instruction

Templeton, S., & Morris, D. (2001, October). Reconceptualizing spelling development and instruction. Reading Online, 5(3). Available: http://www.readingonline.org/articles/handbook/templeton/index.html.

Over the years, researchers' thinking about "spelling" has evolved. Once seen simply as a tool for writing, it's now acknowledged that spelling offers perhaps the best window on what an individual knows about words. Learn how spelling has been reconceptualized, and the implications for spelling instruction.

Writer's Workshop, Graphic Organizers, and Six-Trait Assessment: A Winning Writing Strategy Combo

James, L., Abbott, M., & Greenwood, C. R. (2001). Writer's workshop, graphic organizers, and six-trait assessment: A winning writing strategy combo. Teaching Exceptional Children, 33 (3), 30-37.

Adam is a 9-year-old fourthgrade boy from a low-income, two-parent home who receives special education services in the areas of speech/language and learning disabilities. He is withdrawn and quiet, typically speaking only when asked a question. Adam had little confidence in his overall academic ability and was leery of writing. At the beginning of his fourth-grade year, Adam scored at first grade, fifth month on the Individual Reading Inventory (Aoki et al., 1997); and his writing pretest was only five words long. During the writing workshop described in this article, Adam made substantial gains in all areas of the writing assessment. His posttest writing contained 54 words and showed marked improvement in content and form. His learning was no longer stagnant, but progressive and enthusiastic. In addition, the teacher and other staff members noticed a change in Adam’s demeanor. He initiated conversations; took a more active role in the larger classroom setting; and, for the first time, even made jokes. Adam continued to prosper academically and socially the following year. The writing workshop and its combination of strategies seemed to be the most beneficial of a number of alternatives the teachers had tried to facilitate Adam’s academic and social growth.

What's In a Name? Children's Name Writing and Literacy Acquisition

Bloodgood, J. (1999). What's in a name? Children's name writing and literacy acquisition. Reading Research Quarterly, 34, 342-367.

Literacy development among a group of preschool and kindergarten children was examined through changes in the form, function, and perception of their written names. Sixty-seven 3-, 4-, and 5-year-olds, their teachers, instructional aides, and six case-study parents participated in a yearlong qualitative and quantitative study. Literacy skills were assessed in the fall and spring; instructional methods, classroom interactions, and student writing efforts were observed. Preschool and kindergarten teachers and instructional aides as well as the parents of six case-study children responded to interviews and participated in informal discussions of children's early literacy growth.

In the Middle : New Understanding About Writing, Reading, and Learning

Atwell, N. (1998). In the Middle : New Understanding About Writing, Reading, and Learning. Upper Montclair, NJ: Boynton/Cook.

When first published in 1987, this seminal work was widely hailed for its honest examination of how teachers teach, how students learn, and the gap that lies in between. In depicting her own classroom struggles, Nancy Atwell shook our orthodox assumptions about skill-and-drill-based curriculum and became a pioneer of responsive teaching. Now, in the long-awaited second edition, Atwell reflects on the next ten years of her experience, rethinks and clarifies old methods, and demonstrates new, more effective approaches.

Literacy Instruction in Nine First-Grade Classrooms: Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement

Wharton-McDonald, R., Pressley, M., & Hampston, J.M. (1998). Literacy instruction in nine first-grade classrooms: Teacher characteristics and student achievement. The Elementary School Journal, 99, 101-128.

Classroom observations and in-depth interviews were used to study 9 first-grade teachers from 4 districts who had been nominated by language arts coordinators as outstanding or typical in their ability to help students develop literacy skills. Based on observational measures of student reading and writing achievement and student engagement, 3 groups of teachers emerged from the original 9. The following practices and beliefs distinguished the instruction of the 3 teachers (2 nominated as outstanding, 1 as typical) whose students demonstrated the highest levels on these measures: (a) coherent and thorough integration of skills with high-quality reading and writing experiences, (b) a high density of instruction (integration of multiple goals in a single lesson), (c) extensive use of scaffolding, (d) encouragement of student self-regulation, (e) a thorough integration of reading and writing activities, (f) high expectations for all students, (g) masterful classroom management, and (h) an awareness of their practices and the goals underlying them. Teaching practices observed in 7 of the 9 classrooms are also discussed. The data reported here highlight the complexity of primary literacy instruction and support the conclusion that effective primary-level literacy instruction is a balanced integration of high-quality reading and writing experiences and explicit instruction of basic literacy skills.

Emergent Literacy

Sulzby, E. & Teale, W.H. (1991). Emergent literacy. In R. Barr, M.L. Kamil, P. Mosenthal, and P.D. Pearson (Eds.) Handbook of Reading Research: Vol. 2 (pp. 727-757). New York: Longman.

Learning to Read and Write: A Longitudinal Study of 54 Children From First Through Fourth Grades

Juel, C. (1988). Learning to read and write: A longitudinal study of 54 children from first through fourth grades. Journal of Educational Psychology, 80, 243-255.

In this study, of particular concern were these questions: Do the same children remain poor readers year after year? Do the same children remain poor writers year after year? What skills do the poor readers lack? What skills do the poor writers lack? What factors seem to keep poor readers from improving? What factors seem to keep poor writers from improving? The probability that a child would remain a poor reader at the end of 4th grade if the child was a poor reader at the end of 1st grade was 0.88. Early writing skill did not predict later writing skill as well as early reading ability predicted later reading ability. Children who become poor readers entered 1st grade with little phonemic awareness. By the end of 4th grade, the poor readers had still not achieved the level of decoding skill that the good readers had achieved at the beginning of 2nd grade. Good readers read considerably more than the poor readers both in and out of school, which appeared to contribute to the good readers' growth in some reading and writing skills. Poor readers tended to become poor writers.

From Scribbles to Scrabble: Preschool Children’s Developing Knowledge of Written Language

Puranik, C.S. and Lonigan, C.J. From scribbles to scrabble: preschool children’s developing knowledge of written language (2011) National Institutes of Health.

This document discusses a research study focused on the emergent writing skills of young children. Investigators Cynthia Puranik and Christopher Lonigan found evidence to support the developmental progression of emergent writing skills. The findings also indicate that children as young as three years old have advanced knowledge of writing their own names when compared with other writing tasks. Implications of these findings include the recommendation that teachers should facilitate young children’s development of writing skills, using a differentiated approach to instruction.

Common Core State Standards, Writing, and Students with LD: Recommendations

Graham, S. and Harris, K. R. (2013), Common Core State Standards, Writing, and Students with LD: Recommendations. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 28: 28–37. doi: 10.1111/ldrp.12004

This article examines the Common Core State Standards as they apply to writing and students with learning disabilities (LD). We first consider why the implementation of these standards is advantageous to writing instruction for students with LD as well as the challenges in implementing them. Next, we make the following four recommendations in terms of their implementation: (1) increase general and special education teachers’ knowledge about writing development; (2) create a writing environment in which students with LD can thrive; (3) employ evidence-based writing practices in general education classes (where most students with LD are taught); and (4) use evidence-based writing practices effective with students with LD. We conclude by considering research that still needs to be undertaken to help educators maximize the probability that students with and without LD meet the writing benchmarks proposed in these Standards.

The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development on the Writing Performance of Second-Grade Students With Behavioral and Writing Difficulties

Lane, K.L., Harris, K.R., Graham, S., Weisenbach, J.L., Brindle, M. and Morphy, P., The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development on the Writing Performance of Second-Grade Students With Behavioral and Writing Difficulties (2008). Journal of Special Education 41: 234-253

The effects of a secondary academic intervention, embedded in the context of a positive behavior support model, on the writing of second-grade students at risk for emotional and behavioral disorder and writing problems were examined in this study. Students were taught how to plan and draft a story using the self-regulated strategy development model. Results of this multiple-probe design revealed lasting improvements in story completeness, length, and quality for all 6 students. Students and teachers rated the intervention favorably, with some indicating that the intervention exceeded their expectations. Limitations and directions for future research are discussed.
"Oh, magic hour, when a child first knows she can read printed words!" — A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, 1943