Improving Writing Instruction in Second and Third Grade Classrooms
The Fossil Creek Writing Project
Keywords:professional development, writing process, writing workshop, young writers, state writing test, writing instruction, school-university partnership
This article presents research findings from a professional development project initiated by one rural Illinois primary school to improve writing instruction in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. During the 2010–11 academic year, the school partnered with a private university to provide customized, year-long professional development that integrated preparation for the state writing assessment and a writing process approach. Simultaneously, a study was conducted to identify and describe teacher thinking and practices related to writing instruction during participation in the project. Data were collected through a pre/post teacher survey and written teacher reflections. Participating teachers indicated 15 improvements in their thinking and practices related to writing instruction. However, confidence in their students’ likelihood to perform well on the state writing assessment decreased during the project, and changes in thinking and practices varied from teacher to teacher, possibly due to varying levels of teacher readiness to change.
Bratcher, S. and Stroble, E. (1993) After the summer institute: Longitudinal follow-up of fellows in the classroom. The Quarterly 15(4): 6–16. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/1094.
Bridge, C. A., Compton-Hall, M. and Cantrell, S. C. (1997) Classroom writing practices revisited: The effects of statewide reform on writing instruction. The Elementary School Journal 98(2): 151–170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/461889.
Collopy, R. M. B. (2008) Professional development and student growth in writing. Journal of Research in Childhood Education 23(2): 163–179. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/02568540809594653.
Cooter, Jr., R. B. (2003) Issues in urban literacy: Teacher “capacity-building” helps urban children succeed in reading. The Reading Teacher 57(2): 198–205. Print.
Corgill, A. M. (2008) Of Primary Importance: What’s Essential in Teaching Young Writers Portland, Maine: Stenhouse.
Creswell, J. W. (2003) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed Methods Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among Five Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Cutler, L., and Graham, S. (2008) Primary grade writing instruction: A national survey. Journal of Educational Psychology 100(4): 907–919. http://dx.doi. org/10.1037/a0012656.
Desimone, L. M., Porter, A. C., Garet, M. S., Yoon, K. S. and Birman, B. F. (2002) Effects of professional development on teachers’ instruction: Results from a three-year longitudinal study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 24(2): 81–112. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/01623737024002081.
Drago-Severson, E. (2009) Leading Adult Learning: Supporting Adult Development in Our Schools. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.
Flint, A. S., Zisook, K. and Fisher, T. R. (2011) Not a one-shot deal: Generative professional development among experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher Education 27(8): 1163–1169. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2011.05.009.
Gallagher, K. (2012, February 21) Re: ‘Write Like This’ by Kelly Gallagher [Online forum comment]. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.edweek. org/tm/section/bookclub/index.html.
Gilbert, J. and Graham, S. (2010) Teaching writing to elementary students in grades 4–6: A national survey. The Elementary School Journal 110(4): 494–518. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/651193.
Glaser, B. (1965) The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social Problems 12(4): 436–445. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/798843.
Gradwohl, J. M. and Schumacher, G. M. (1989) The relationship between content knowledge and topic choice in writing. Written Communication 6(2): 181–195. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0741088389006002003.
Graves, D. H. (2003) Writing: Teachers and Children at Work (20th anniversary edition). Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.
Grbich, C. (2007) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Introduction. London: Sage.
Guskey, T. R. (1995) Professional development in education: In search of the optimal mix. In T. Guskey and M. Huberman (eds.) Professional Development in Education: New Paradigms and Practices 114–131. New York: Teachers College Press.
International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of English (1996) Standards for the English Language Arts. Newark, Delaware: International Reading Association and Urbana, Illinois: National Council of Teachers of English. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.ncte.org/ library/NCT EFiles/Resources/Books/Sample/StandardsDoc.pdf.
Jasmine, J. and Weiner, W. (2007) The effects of writing workshop on abilities of first grade students to become confident and independent writers. Early Childhood Education Journal 35(2): 131–139. http://dx.doi.org/10-1007/ s10643-007-0786-3.
Karsbaek, B. (2011) Writer’s workshop: Does it improve the skills of young writers? Illinois Reading Council Journal 39(2): 3–11. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org/images/IRC JSpring2011.pdf.
King, B. and Newmann, F. (2004) Key link: Successful professional development must consider school capacity. Journal of Staff Development 25(1): 26–30. Print.
Lambert, M., Wallach, C. and Ramsey, B. (2007) The other three Rs: Small schools project examines instructional change through relationships, relevance, and rigor. Journal of Staff Development 28(4): 36–38. Print.
Lieberman, A. and Pointer Mace, D. (2008) Teacher learning: The key to education reform. Journal of Teacher Education 59(3): 226–234. http://dx.doi. org/10.1177/0022487108317020.
Lustick, D. and Sykes, G. (2006) National Board certification as professional development: What are teachers learning? Education Policy Analysis Archives 14(5). Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ EJ806021.pdf.
McCarthey, S. J. (1992) Teachers’ Changing Conceptions of Writing Instruction. National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. East Lansing, Michigan: Michigan State University. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://ncrtl. msu.edu/http/rreports/html/pdf/rr923.pdf.
Miles, M. B. and Huberman, A. M. (1994) An Expanded Sourcebook: Qualitative Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Moffett, J. (1979) Integrity in the teaching of writing. Phi Delta Kappan 61(4): 276–279. Print.
Morrow, L. M. (2012) Literacy Development in the Early Years: Helping Children Read and Write (7th edition). Boston: Pearson.
Morse, J. M. and Richards, L. (2002) Readme First for a User’s Guide to Qualitative Methods. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Mundry, S. (2005) Changing perspectives in professional development. Science Educator 14(1): 9– 15. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://files.eric. ed.gov/fulltext/EJ740949.pdf.
National Writing Project (2011) Invitational summer institute. National Writing Project. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/ print/doc/nwpsites/summer_institute.csp.
Nauman, A. D., Stirling, T. and Borthwick, A. (2011) What makes writing good? An essential question for teachers. The Reading Teacher 64(5): 318–328. http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RT .64.5.2.
Porter, A., Garet, M., Desimone, L. and Birman, B. (2003). Providing effective professional development: Lessons from the Eisenhower program. Science Educator 12(1): 23–40. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.andyporter.org/sites/andyporter.org/files/papers/ EffectiveProfessionalDevelopment.pdf.
Quick, H., Holtzman, D. and Chaney, K. (2009) Professional development and instructional practice: Conceptions and evidence of effectiveness. Journal of Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR) 14(1): 45–71. http://dx.doi. org/10.1080/10824660802715429.
Roberts, C. (2009) Professional development and high stakes testing: Disparate influences on student writing performance. Writing & Pedagogy 1(1): 63–88. http://dx.doi.org/10.1558/wap.v1i1.65.
Scott, C. and Sutton, R. E. (2009) Emotions and change during professional development for teachers: A mixed methods study. Journal of Mixed Methods Research 3(2): 151–171. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1558689808325770.
Strickland, D., Bodino, A., Buchan, K., Jones, K., Nelson, A. and Rosen, M. (2001). Teaching writing in a time of reform. The Elementary School Journal 101(4): 386–397. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/499677.
Tate, M. L. (2009) Workshops: Extend learning beyond your presentation with these brain-friendly strategies. Journal of Staff Development 30(1): 44–46. Print.
Tienken, C. H. and Achilles, C. M. (2003) Changing teacher behavior and improving writing achievement. Planning and Changing 34(3/4): 153–168. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ826264.pdf.
Tompkins, G. E. (2008) Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product (5th edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall.
Varlas, L. (2011, September 16) Re: Better student writing through better formative assessments [Web log message]. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://inservice.ascd.org/in-the-news/ better-student-writing-through-better-formative-assessments-1/.
How to Cite
© Equinox Publishing Ltd.
For information regarding our Open Access policy, click here.