What we know about teaching writing

Part of : Προσχολική & σχολική εκπαίδευση ; Vol.1, 2013, pages 22-40

The teaching of reading is the subject of much national and international study and the focus of considerable attention from education administrators and politicians, as well as educators. The teaching of writing receives less attention. Yet it is both complex and an essential part of education. This paper presents an overview of research into the teaching of writing in Anglophone countries from the last 40 years or so. Unlike the teaching of reading, there appears to be little controversy over the most effective approaches: researchers in the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia appear to be in broad agreement about the most effective ways of going about this complex task. While those learning to write in English have to struggle with a particularly opaque orthography, the findings from the studies cited below could also apply to teaching in other languages, particularly those with alphabetic orthographies.
Subject (LC):
Writing, primary, composition
References (1):
  1. Andrews, R. C. (2008). Getting going: Generating, shaping and developing ideas in writing. London: Department for Children, Schools and Families. Andrews, R. C., Torgerson, S., Beverton, A., Freeman, T., Lock, G., Low, G., Robinson, A., & Zhu, D. (2006). The effect of grammar teaching on writing development. British Education Research Journal, 32, 39-55.Au, K. (2005). Negotiating the slippery slope: School change and literacy achievement. Journal of Literacy Research, 37, 267-286.Baker, C. (2006). Foundations of Bilingual Education and Bilingualism (4th ed.). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.Barrs, M., & Cork, V. (2001). The reader in the writer: The links between the study of literature and writing development at Key Stage 2. London: Centre for Language in Primary Education. Bearne, E. (2005). Making progress in writing. London: Routledge.Bearne, E., Chamberlain, L., Cremin, T., & Mottram, M. (2011). Teaching writing effectively: Reviewing practice. Leicester: United Kingdom Literacy Association.Bearne, E., Ellis, S., Graham, L., Hulme, P., Meiner, J., & Wolstencroft, H. (2005). More than words 2: Creating stories on page and screen. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Royston: United Kingdom Literacy Association.Bearne, E., Ellis, S., Graham, L., Hulme, P., Merchant, G., & Mills, C. (2004). More than words: Multimodal texts in the classroom. London: Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, Royston: United Kingdom Literacy Association.Bearne, E., & Wolstencroft, H. (2005). Playing with possibilities: Children and computer texts. In J. Marsh & E. Millard (Eds.), Popular literacies, childhood and schooling (pp. 72-92). London: Routledge & Falmer.Bearne, E., & Wolstencroft, H. (2007). Visual approaches to teaching writing: Multimodal literacy 5 - 11. London: Sage with UKLA.Bereiter, C., & Scardamalia, M. (1982). From conversation to composition: The role of instruction in a developmental process. In R. Glaser (Ed.), Advances in Instructional Psychology, 2 (pp. 1-64). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Berninger, V. W., & Amtmann, D. (2004). Preventing written expression disabilities through early and continuing assessment and intervention for handwriting and/or spelling problems. In L. Swanson, K. Harris, & S. Graham (Eds.), Handbook of research on learning disabilities (pp. 345-363). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Berninger, V. W., & Graham, S. (1998). Language by hand: A synthesis of a decade of research on handwriting. Handwriting Review, 12, 11-25.Berninger, V. W., Rutberg, J., Abbot, R., Garcia, N., Anderson-Youngstrom, M., Brooks, A., & Fulton, C. (2006). Tier 1 and tier 2 early intervention for handwriting and composing. Journal of School Psychology, 44, 3-30.Bissex, G. (1980). GNYS AT WRK: A child learns to write and read. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Block, C. C., Oakar, M., & Hurt, N. (2002). The expertise of literacy teachers: A continuum from preschool to grade 5. Reading Research Quarterly 37, 178-206.Block, C. C., & Pressley, M. (2000). It’s not scripted lessons but challenging and personalized interactions that distinguish effective from less effective primary classrooms. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, Phoenix, Arizona.Bryant, P. E., Maclean, M., Bradley, L., & Crossland, J. (1989). Nursery rhymes, phonological skills and reading. Journal of Child Language, 16, 406-428.Cairney, T. (1990). Intertextuality: Infectious echoes from the past. The Reading Teacher, 43, 478-484.Calkins, L. (1980). When children want to punctuate: Basic skills belong in context. Language Arts, 57, 567-573.Calkins, L. (1994) The Art of Teaching Writing. Portsmouth N.H.: Heinemann.Christie, F. (2003). Writing the world. In N. Hall, J. Larson, & J. Marsh (Eds.), Handbook of early childhood literacy (pp. 287-298). London: Sage.Clark, C. (2012). Young people's writing in 2011: Findings from the National Literacy Trust's annual literacy survey. London: National Literacy Trust.Clark, C., & Dugdale, G. (2009). Young people's writing: Attitudes, behaviour and the role of technology. London: National Literacy Trust.Cohen, D. (1968). The effect of literature on vocabulary and reading achievement. Elementary English, 45, 209-213.Connelly, V., Gee, D., & Walsh, E. (2010). A comparison of keyboarded and handwritten compositions and the relationship with transcription speed. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 77, 479-492.Corden, R. (2000). Literacy and learning through talk. Buckingham: Open University Press.Coyne, E., Farrington-Flint, L., Underwood, J., & Stiller, J. (2012). Sensitivity to rime unit frequency and children’s early word-reading strategies. Journal of Research in Reading, 35, 393-410.Cremin, T. (2006). Creativity, uncertainty and discomfort: Teachers as writers. Cambridge Journal of Education, 36, 415-433.Cremin, T., & Baker, S. (2010). Exploring teacher-writer identities in the classroom: Conceptualising the struggle. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 9, 8–25.Cremin, T., Goouch, K., Blakemore, L., Goff, E., & Macdonald, R. (2006). Connecting drama and writing: Seizing the moment to write. Research in Drama in Education, 11, 273–291.Cremin, T., & Myhill, D. (2011). Writing voices: Creating communities of writers. London: Routledge.Cremin, T., Reedy, D., Sprackland, J., & Starling, I. (2010). Writers in schools. Leicester: United Kingdom Literacy Association. Crumpler, T., & Schneider, J. (2002). Writing with their whole being: A cross study analysis of children’s writing from five classrooms using process drama. Research in Drama Education, 7, 61-79.Cummings, R. (2007). Language play in the classroom: Encouraging children’s intuitive creativity with words through poetry. Literacy, 41, 93-101.Cunningham, P. M., & Allington, R. L. (1999). Classrooms that work: They can all read and write. New York, NY: Longman.Davidson, C. (2007). Independent writing in current approaches to writing instruction: What have we overlooked? English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6, 11–24.Dix, S. (2006). What did I change and why did I do it? Young writers' revision practices. Literacy, 40, 3–10.Elley, W. B. (1989). Vocabulary acquisition from listening to stories. Reading Research Quarterly, 24, 174-187.Feigenbaum, F. (2010). Development of communicative competence through private and inner speech. In A. Winsler, C., Fernyhough, & I. Montero (Eds.), Private speech, executive functioning, and the development of verbal self-regulation (pp. 102-20). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Fisher, R. (2002). Shared thinking: Metacognitive modelling in the literacy hour. Reading, 36, 63-67.Fisher, R, Myhill, D., Jones, S., & Larkin, S. (2010). Using talk to support writing. London: Sage.Fleming, M., Merrell, C., & Tymms, P. (2004). The impact of drama on pupils’ language, mathematics and attitude in two primary schools. Research in Drama Education, 8, 221-230.Fodor, E. (1966). The effect of the systematic reading of stories on the language development of culturally deprived children. Unpublished Doctoral dissertation, Cornell University, New York, USA.Frater, G. (2001). Effective practice in writing at Key Stage 2. London: The Basic Skills Agency. Gannon, G., & Davies, C. (2007). For the love of the word: English teaching, affect and writing. Changing English, 14, 87–98.Geekie, P., Cambourne, B., & Fitzsimmons, P. (1999). Understanding literacy development. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.Gentry, J. (1982). An analysis of developmental spelling in GNYS AT WRK. The Reading Teacher, 36, 192-200.Gorman, T., & Brooks, G. (1996). Assessing young children’s writing. London: Basic Skills Agency.Goswami, U. (1999). Causal connections in beginning reading: The importance of rhyme. Journal of Research in Reading, 22, 217-240.Graham, S., Berninger, V., Abbot, R., Abbott, S., & Whittaker, D. (1997). The role of mechanics in composing of elementary school students: A new methodological approach. Journal of Educational Psychology, 89, 170-182.Graham, L., & Johnson, A. (2012). Children’s writing journals (Rev. ed.) Leicester: United Kingdom Literacy Association.Grainger, T. (2001). Crick crack chin, my story’s in: Stories and storytelling. In P. Goodwin (Ed.), The Articulate Classroom (pp. 109-118). London: David Fulton.Graves, D. (1983). Writing: Teachers and children at work. Portsmouth, N.H.: Heinemann. Gregory, E. (1996). Making sense of a new world: Learning to read in a second language. London: Paul Chapman.Grugeon, E. (1999). The state of play: Children’s oral culture literacy and learning. Reading, April, 13-16.Hall, K. (2013). Effective literacy teaching in the early years of school: A review of the evidence. In J. Larson & J. Marsh (Eds.), The Sage handbook of early childhood literacy (Rev. ed.) (pp. 523-540). London: Sage.Hall, N. (2001). Developing understanding of punctuation with young readers and writers. In J. Evans (Ed.), The writing classroom: Aspects of writing and the primary child 3-11 (pp. 143-153). London: David Fulton.Hayes, J., & Flower, L. (1980). Identifying the organization of writing processes. In L. Gregg & E. Steinberg (Eds.), Cognitive processes in writing (pp. 3-30). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Hillocks, G. (1986). Research on written composition: New directions for teaching. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.Hilte, M., & Reitsma, P. (2011). Activating the meaning of a word facilitates the integration of orthography: Evidence from spelling exercises in beginning spellers. Journal of Research in Reading, 34, 333-345.Hunt, G. (2001). Raising awareness of grammar through shared writing. In J. Evans (Ed.), The writing classroom: Aspects of writing and the primary child 3-11 (pp. 228-237). London: David Fulton.Kellogg, R. (2008). Training writing skills: A cognitive developmental perspective. Journal of Writing Research, 1, 1-26.Kenner, C. (2004). Becoming biliterate: Children learning different writing systems. Stoke on Trent: Trentham Books.Knapp, M. S. and associates (1995). Teaching for meaning in high-poverty classrooms. New York, NY: Teachers’ College Press.Kress, G. R. (1997). Before writing: Re-thinking the paths to literacy. London: Routledge.Kress, G. R. (2008). Reading Images: Multimodality, representation and new media. Retrieved September 2013 from: http://www.knowledgepresentation.org/BuildingTheFuture/Kress2/Kress2.htmlLankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2003). New literacies: Changing knowledge and classroom learning. Buckingham: Open University Press.Latham, D. (2002). How children learn to write: Supporting and developing children’s writing in schools. London: Paul Chapman.Laycock, L. (2011). Shared reading and shared writing at Key Stage 1. In P. Goodwin (Ed.), The Literate Classroom (3rd ed.) (pp. 75-84). London: David Fulton.Lenhart, A., Arafeh, S., Smith, A., & Rankin Macgill, A. (2008). Writing, technology and teens. Washington DC: Pew Internet and American Life Project. Retrieved August 2013 from: http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2008/Writing-Technology-and-Teens.aspxLouden, W., Rohl, M., Barrat-Pugh, C., Brown, C., Cairney, T., Elderfield, J., House, H., Meiers, M., Rivaland, J., & Rowe, K. J. (2005). In teachers’ hands: Effective literacy teaching practices in the early years of schooling. Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 28, 173-252.Manak, J. (2011). The social construction of intertextuality and literary understanding: The impact of interactive read-alouds on the writing of third grade writers during writing workshop. Reading Research Quarterly, 46, 309-311.Marsh, J. (2012). Purposes for literacy in children’s use of the online world ‘Club Penguin’. Journal of Research in Reading. Advance online publication. Retrieved September 2013 from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9817.2012.01530.x/fullMcKinney, M., & Giorgis, C. (2009). Narrating and performing identity: Literacy specialists' writing identities. Journal of Literacy Research, 41, 104-149.Medwell, J., & Wray, D. (2007). Handwriting: What do we know and what do we need to know? Literacy, 41, 10-16.Medwell, J., Wray, D, Poulson, L., & Fox, R. (1998). Effective teachers of literacy. Exeter: The University of Exeter for the Teacher Training Agency.Mercer, N., & Littleton, K. (2007). Dialogue and the development of children’s thinking. London: Routledge.Myhill, D. A., Jones, S. M., Lines, H., & Watson, A. (2012). Re-thinking grammar: The impact of embedded grammar teaching on students’ writing and students’ metalinguistic understanding. Research Papers in Education, 27, 139-166.Neuman, S. B., & Roskos, K. (1997). Literacy knowledge in practice: Contexts of participation for young readers and writers. Reading Research Quarterly, 32, 10-32.Nixon, H., & Comber, B. (2006). Differential recognition of children’s cultural practices in middle primary literacy classrooms. Literacy, 40, 127-136.Nixon, J., & Topping, K. (2001). Emergent writing: The impact of structured peer interaction. Educational Psychology, 21, 41-58.Office for Standards in Education. (2011). Excellence in English: What we can learn from 12 outstanding schools. Retrieved September 2013 from: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/resources/excellence-englishOpie, I. (1993). The People in the Playground. Oxford: Oxford University Press.O’Sullivan, O., & Thomas, A. (2007). Understanding Spelling. Abingdon: Routledge. Pantaleo, S. (2007a). The reader in the writer: Exploring elementary students’ metafictive texts. The Journal of Reading, Writing and Literacy, 2, 42-74.Pantaleo, S. (2007b). Writing texts with radical change characteristics. Literacy, 41, 16-25.Parr, J., & Limbrick, L. (2010). Contextualising practice: Hallmarks of effective teachers of writing. Teaching and Teacher Education, 26, 583-590.Peters, M. L. (1970). Success in spelling. Cambridge: Cambridge Institute of Education.Pressley, M., Rankin, J., & Yokoi, L. (1996). A survey of the instructional practices of outstanding primary-level literacy teachers. Elementary School Journal, 96, 363-384.Pressley, M., Wharton-Mcdonald, R., Allington, R., Block, C. C., Morrow, L., Tracey, D., Baker, K., Brooks, G., Cronin, J., Nelson, E., & Woo, D. (2001). A study of effective firstgrade literacy instruction. Scientific Studies of Reading, 5, 35-58.Pritchard, R. J. (1987). Effects on student writing of teacher training in the National Writing Project Model. Written Communication, 4, 51-67.Read, C. (1971). Children’s Creative Spelling. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.Robertson, L. (2004). Multilingual flexibility and literacy learning in an Urdu community school. In E. Gregory, S. Long, & D. Volk (Eds.), Many Pathways to Literacy (pp. 171-181). London: Routledge & Falmer.Rowe, D. W., & Neitzel, C. (2010). Interest and agency in 2- and 3-year-olds’ participation in emergent writing. Reading Research Quarterly, 45, 169–195.Sipe, L. (1993). Using transformations of traditional stories: Making the reading-writing connection. The Reading Teacher, 47, 18-26.Smith, F. (1982). Writing and the writer. London: Heinemann.Snowling, M. (1994). Towards a model of spelling acquisition: The development of some component skills. In D. G.A. Brown, & N.C. Ellis (Eds.), The Handbook of Spelling, Theory, Process and Intervention (pp. 111-128). Chichester: Wiley.Taylor, B. M., Pearson, D. P., Clark, K. F., & Walpole, S. (1999). Effective schools/accomplished teachers. The Reading Teacher, 53, 156-159.Taylor, B. M., Pearson, P. D., Clark, K., & Walpole, S. (2000). Effective schools and accomplished teachers: Lessons about primary-grade reading instruction in lowincome schools. The Elementary School Journal, 101, 121-165.Teale, W. H., & Gambrell, L. (2007). Raising urban students' literacy achievement by engaging in authentic, challenging work. The Reading Teacher, 60, 728-739.Treiman, R. (1994). Sources of information used by beginning spellers. In D. Gordon, A. Brown, & N.C. Ellis (Eds.), The handbook of spelling, theory, process and intervention (pp.75-91). Chichester: Wiley.Vivas, E. (1996). Effects of story reading on language. Language Learning, 46, 189-216.Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The development of higher psychological processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. (original work published 1930)Waller, M. (2010). It’s very very fun and exciting – using Twitter in the primary classroom. English Four to Eleven, 39, 14-16.Walsh, C. (2007). Creativity as capital in the literacy classroom: Youth as multimodal designers. Literacy, 41, 74-80.Warrington, M., Younger, M., & Bearne, E. (2006). Raising boys’ achievement in primary schools. Buckingham: Open University Press.Wharton-Mcdonald, R., Pressley, M., & Hampston, J. M. (1998). Literacy instruction in nine first-grade classrooms: Teacher characteristics and student achievement. Elementary School Journal, 99, 101-128.Wilkinson, I., & Townsend, M. (2000). From Rata to Rimu: Grouping for instruction in best practice New Zealand classrooms. The Reading Teacher, 53, 460-471.Williams, G. (1995). Learning systemic functional grammar in primary schools. Macquarie: Macquarie University Style Council.Wood, D. J., Bruner, J. S., & Ross, G. (1976). The role of tutoring in problem solving. Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, 17, 89-100.Wyse, D. (1998). Primary writing. Buckingham: Open University Press.Yarrow, F., & Topping, K. (2001). Collaborative writing: The effects of metacognitive prompting and structured peer interaction. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 71, 261-282.Yeo, M. (2007). New literacies, alternative texts: Teachers’ conceptualisations of composition and literacy. English Teaching: Practice and Critique, 6, 113-131.