Research Synthesis: Writing Instruction K-12
Writing well is not just an option for young people; it is a necessity. Along with reading comprehension, writing skill is a predictor of academic success and a basic requirement for life in the global economy. The National Council of Teachers of English states three fundamental beliefs in relation to writing: everyone has the capacity to write, writing can be taught, and teachers can help students become better writers (“NCTE Beliefs about the Teaching of Writing”). It is from this perspective that the North Allegheny Communication Arts/English Department makes the critical decisions about the instruction of writing.
Improving the consistency of a K – 12 writing approach was a Major Consideration of the Curriculum Review Process. Since each building and grade level provides writing instruction differently, there is no consistent approach for teaching writing that prepares students for the PSSA Writing Assessment or that prepares students for writing outside of school. Though the majority of our students are performing at a proficient level on standardized testing, the Department believes that many more students are capable of writing at the advanced level. By developing and implementing a consistent, sequential, research-based writing program, the English Language Arts Department can continue to increase student achievement in writing within the District.
In order to resolve these problems, the English Language Arts Curriculum Review Team reached consensus on many of the major issues surrounding writing. The North Allegheny English Language Arts Department will use the Stages of the Writing Process as the standard approach for writing instruction with the primary grades focusing on a developmentally appropriate introduction to process writing. The writing process is dynamic in nature and consists of five steps that will be termed prewriting, drafting, revising, proofreading, and publishing. Assessment of writing will be based on the key traits of writing that are aligned with the scoring guidelines of the state writing assessment—focus, content and development, organization, style, and conventions. These traits will be taught and assessed using the concept of focus correction areas which focus both students and teachers on specific skills within an assignment.
Each course will consist of required core essays that include but are not limited to the state tested modes of writing--narrative, informational, and persuasive. In-class portfolios will be used to maintain writing pieces and to support process writing throughout the year. Other resources that will aid both teachers and students in the articulation of the writing program will include a standard set of graphic organizers, posters in every English Language Arts classroom K-12, and a Department style book given to all students in grades 6-12 and teachers K – 12. Professional development to support this program will be provided on an on-going basis to all teachers of writing and will become part of the professional development program for new teachers of writing entering the District.