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Research Report

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

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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.


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.

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