Date Approved

4-10-2000

Embargo Period

6-17-2016

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A. in Learning Disabilities

Department

Interdisciplinary and Inclusive Education

College

College of Education

First Advisor

Urban, Stanley

Subject(s)

English language--Rhetoric--Study and teaching (Elementary)

Disciplines

Disability and Equity in Education

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to provide valuable information regarding the assessment and teaching of writing skills. Although students spend time writing stories, they do not write frequently enough to learn the basic skills of writing. Just as teachers learned that children needed direct instruction in reading skills to make "Whole Language" successful, similarly writing must be taught utilizing direct instruction of specific skills.

There are few reliable and valid assessment tools in the written language domain. A comprehensive assessment tool is needed at the beginning of the school year to help the teacher focus on the individual student needs. In addition, a rubric of skills or "Writing Checklist" needs to be utilized for each piece of writing during the teacher and student writing conference. A cumulative chart of skills should be kept by the student so they may easily focus on "improved" and "new" skills in writing. Thus the student becomes an active participant in the learning of skills and composition in writing.

The children who participated in this study are eight year old third graders in an upper middle class suburban district. The treatment group consisted of two boys and two girls who had been recommended for the Instructional Support Program (ISP) by their second grade teachers for support in writing. The control group consisted of three ISP students in another third grade class in the same school. A two-fold assessment tool consisting of contrived and spontaneous writing was used in September to ascertain the individual writing needs.

The daily curriculum was embedded with writing activities in spelling, phonics, usage, and dictionary assignments. The children responded to literature in complete sentences. They wrote journals, monthly stories and newspapers, and conducted research on Native Americans and the history of their community. On each major piece of writing, they conferenced with the teacher and used writing rubrics, or the "Writing Checklist" developed for this study, to focus and improve their writing skills.

All four children in the treatment group experienced substantial growth in writing ranging from one grade level to two grade levels. They became more comfortable with the writing process and more confident sharing their writing with peers. The control group experienced no growth or a half year of growth in writing skills.

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