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EDUCATOR’S PRACTICE GUIDE
A set of recommendations to address challenges in classrooms and schools
WHAT WORKS CLEARINGHOUSE™
Teaching Secondary Students
to Write Effectively
NCEE 2017-4002
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
About this practice guide
The Institute of Education Sciences (IES) publishes practice guides to provide educators with the best
available evidence and expertise on current challenges in education. The What Works Clearinghouse
(WWC) develops practice guides in conjunction with an expert panel, combining the panel’s expertise
with the ndings of existing rigorous research to produce specic recommendations for addressing
these challenges. The WWC and the panel rate the strength of the research evidence supporting each
of their recommendations. See Appendix A for a full description of practice guides and Appendix D
for a full list of the studies used to support the evidence rating for each recommendation.
The goal of this practice guide is to offer educators specic, evidence-based recommendations
that address the challenges of teaching students in grades 6–12 to write effectively. This guide
synthesizes the best publicly available research and shares practices that are supported by evi-
dence. It is intended to be practical and easy for teachers to use.
The guide includes many examples in each recommendation to demonstrate the concepts dis-
cussed. Throughout the guide, examples, denitions, and other concepts supported by evidence
are indicated by endnotes within the example title or content. For examples that are supported by
studies that meet WWC design standards, the citation in the endnote is bolded. Examples without
specic citations were developed in conjunction with the expert panel based on their experience,
expertise, and knowledge of the related literature. Practice guides published by IES are available
on the WWC website at http://whatworks.ed.gov.
How to use this guide
This guide provides secondary teachers in all disciplines and administrators with instructional
recommendations that can be implemented in conjunction with existing standards or curricula.
The guide does not recommend a particular curriculum. Teachers can use the guide when plan-
ning instruction to support the development of writing skills among students in grades 6–12 in
diverse contexts. The panel believes that the three recommendations complement one other and
can be implemented simultaneously. The recommendations allow teachers the exibility to tailor
instruction to meet the needs of their classrooms and students, including adapting the practices
for use with students with disabilities and English learners. While the guide uses specic examples
to illustrate the recommendations and steps, there are a wide range of activities teachers could
use to implement the recommended practices.
Professional development providers, program developers, and researchers can also use this guide.
Professional development providers can use the guide to implement evidence-based instruction
and align instruction with state standards or to prompt teacher discussion in professional learning
communities. Program developers can use the guide to create more effective writing curricula and
interventions. Researchers may nd opportunities to test the effectiveness of various approaches
and explore gaps or variations in the writing instruction literature.
IES Practice Guide
Teaching Secondary Students
to Write Eectively
November 2016
Panel
Steve Graham (Chair)
ArizonA StAte UniverSity
Jill Fitzgerald
the UniverSity of north CArolinA At ChApel hill
MetAMetriCS
Linda D. Friedrich
the nAtionAl Writing projeCt
Katie Greene
forSyth CoUnty SChoolS, georgiA
James S. Kim
hArvArd UniverSity
Carol Booth Olson
UniverSity of CAliforniA, irvine
Sta
Julie Bruch
Joshua Furgeson
Julia Lyskawa
Claire Smither Wulsin
MAtheMAtiCA poliCy reSeArCh
Project Ocers
Diana McCallum
Vanessa Anderson
Jon Jacobson
Christopher Weiss
inStitUte of edUCAtion SCienCeS
NCEE 2017-4002
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
This report was prepared for the National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance,
Institute of Education Sciences, under the What Works Clearinghouse contract to Mathematica
Policy Research (Contract ED-IES-13-C-0010).
Disclaimer
The opinions and positions expressed in this practice guide are those of the authors and do not
necessarily represent the opinions and positions of the Institute of Education Sciences or the U.S.
Department of Education. This practice guide should be reviewed and applied according to the
specic needs of the educators and education agency using it, and with full realization that it
represents the judgments of the review panel regarding what constitutes sensible practice, based
on the research that was available at the time of publication. This practice guide should be used
as a tool to assist in decision making rather than as a “cookbook.” Any references within the
document to specic education products are illustrative and do not imply endorsement of these
products to the exclusion of other products that are not referenced.
U.S. Department of Education
John B. King, Jr.
Secretary
Institute of Education Sciences
Ruth Neild
Deputy Director for Policy and Research, Delegated Duties of the Director
National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
Joy Lesnick
Acting Commissioner
November 2016
This report is in the public domain. Although permission to reprint this publication is not necessary,
the citation should be as follows:
Graham, S., Bruch, J., Fitzgerald, J., Friedrich, L., Furgeson, J., Greene, K., Kim, J., Lyskawa, J.,
Olson, C.B., & Smither Wulsin, C. (2016). Teaching secondary students to write effectively (NCEE
2017-4002). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance
(NCEE), Institute of Education Sciences, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from the NCEE
website: http://whatworks.ed.gov.
The citation for this What Works Clearinghouse practice guide begins with the panel chair, fol-
lowed by the names of the panelists and staff listed in alphabetical order.
This report is available on the IES website at http://whatworks.ed.gov.
Alternate Formats
On request, this publication can be made available in alternate formats, such as Braille, large print, or
CD. For more information, contact the Alternate Format Center at (202) 260-0852 or (202) 260-0818.
Table of Contents
( iii )
Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively
Table of Contents
Introduction to the
Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively
Practice Guide
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
1
Recommendation 1. Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies using
a Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Recommendation 1A. Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies . . . . . . . . . 7
Recommendation 1B. Use a Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle
to teach writing strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Recommendation 2. Integrate writing and reading to emphasize key writing features . . . 31
Recommendation 3. Use assessments of student writing to inform instruction
and feedback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Glossary
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
56
Appendix A. Postscript from the Institute of Education Sciences . . . . . . . . . . . . 59
Appendix B. About the Authors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 63
Appendix C. Disclosure of Potential Conicts of Interest . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 65
Appendix D. Rationale for Evidence Ratings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 66
References
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
80
Endnotes
. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
84
( iv )( iv )
Table of Contents (continued)
List of Tables
Tabl e 1. Recommendations and corresponding levels of evidence. . . . . . . . . . . . . 4
Tabl e A .1. Institute of Education Sciences levels of evidence for What Works Clearinghouse
practice guides . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61
Tabl e D.1. Description of outcome domains . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 67
Tabl e D.2. Studies providing evidence for Recommendation 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70
Tabl e D.3. Studies providing evidence for Recommendation 2 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 74
Tabl e D.4. Studies providing evidence for Recommendation 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . . 78
List of Figures
Figure 1.1. Components of the writing process . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Figure 1.2. The Model-Practice-Reect cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Figure 2.1. Shared knowledge for writing and reading . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
Figure 3.1. The formative assessment cycle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43
Figure 3.2. Tailoring instruction at different levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 50
Figure 3.3. Levels of feedback . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 52
List of Examples
Example 1.1. How using the K-W-L strategy during the writing process supports
strategic thinking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Example 1.2a. Sample writing strategies for the planning component of the writing process . . 9
Example 1.2b. Sample writing strategies for the goal setting component of the writing process. . 11
Example 1.2c. Sample writing strategies for the drafting component of the writing process . . . 12
Example 1.2d. Sample writing strategies for the evaluating component of the writing process .12
Example 1.2e. Sample writing strategies for the revising component of the writing process . . . 13
Example 1.2f. Sample writing strategies for the editing component of the writing process . . .14
Example 1.3. Questions to guide strategy selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Example 1.4. Questions for understanding the target audience . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Example 1.5. Questions for understanding purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Example 1.6. Adapting an evaluating strategy when writing for different purposes . . . . . 16
Example 1.7. Adapting a persuasive writing strategy when writing essays
for different audiences . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Example 1.8. Types of modeling statements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
Example 1.9. Thinking aloud to model a planning and goal setting strategy . . . . . . . 21
Example 1.10. Practicing modeled writing strategies . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
Example 1.11. Model-Practice-Reect using book club blogs . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24
Table of Contents (continued)
( v )
Example 1.12. Using color-coding to evaluate student writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Example 1.13. Using rubrics to evaluate writing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
Example 2.1. Using cognitive-strategy sentence starters to generate or respond to texts . . 34
Example 2.2. Story impressions for English language arts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Example 2.3. A writing and reading activity for synthesizing multiple texts . . . . . . . 35
Example 2.4. A writing and reading activity for synthesizing multiple perspectives . . . . 36
Example 2.5. Key features of exemplars for different text types . . . . . . . . . . . . 36
Example 2.6. Using editorials as peer and professional exemplars of persuasive texts . . . 38
Example 2.7. Teaching features distinguishing strong and weak student exemplars . . . . 38
Example 2.8. Demonstrating that key features of exemplars vary by form, purpose,
and audience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Example 2.9. A Copy/Change activity to help students emulate specic features . . . . . 40
Example 2.10. A sample student-created rubric from strong and weak exemplar texts . . . 41
Example 3.1. Sample on-demand prompts for different disciplines . . . . . . . . . . . 46
Example 3.2. A graphic organizer to assess learning and determine action steps . . . . . 47
Example 3.3. Sample regular classroom writing tasks for assessment, by genre . . . . . . 48
Example 3.4. Math teachers in different grades collaborate on assessment . . . . . . . . 49
Example 3.5. Teacher teams in the same grade collaborating to analyze student work . . . 51
Example 3.6. A sample tracking sheet to monitor student progress over time . . . . . . . 54
( 1 )
Introduction
Introduction to the Teaching Secondary Students to Write Effectively
Practice Guide
Improving students’ writing skills helps them succeed inside and outside the classroom.
Effective writing is a vital component of students’ literacy achievement, and writing is a
critical communication tool for students to convey thoughts and opinions, describe ideas and
events, and analyze information. Indeed, writing is a life-long skill that plays a key role in post-
secondary success across academic and vocational disciplines.1
The nature of writing and writing instruction
is changing. Technology, such as word pro-
cessing and other forms of electronic commu-
nication, plays an increasingly important role
in how students learn and practice writing in
and out of the classroom. In addition, best
practices in writing instruction have shifted to
include integrated interventions that involve
many complementary instructional practices.
This practice guide presents three evidence-
based recommendations for helping students
in grades 6–12 develop effective writing skills.
Each recommendation provides teachers with
specic, actionable guidance for implement-
ing practices in their classrooms. The guide
also provides a description of the evidence
supporting each recommendation, examples
to use in class, and the panel’s advice on
how to overcome potential implementation
obstacles. This practice guide was developed
in conjunction with an expert panel, combin-
ing the panel’s expertise with the ndings of
existing rigorous research. Throughout the
guide, statements supported by evidence are
denoted with references.
See the Glossary for a full list of key terms
used in this guide and their denitions.
These terms are bolded when rst intro-
duced in the guide.
Look for this icon for ways to
incorporate technology during
writing instruction.
Overarching themes
Each recommendation provides instructional
advice on a specic topic; together, the three
recommendations presented in this practice
guide highlight two important themes for
delivering effective writing instruction.
Writing encourages critical thinking.
Constructing, articulating, and analyzing
their own thoughts in writing requires
students to think critically about their ideas
and how to convey them based on their
What is effective writing?
Effective writing:
Achieves the writer’s goals. These goals can be set by the writer or teacher, or through col-
laboration between the writer, teacher, and/or peers.
Is appropriate for the intended audience and context. For example, a persuasive text
written for a school newspaper may look different than one written for an online forum.
Presents ideas in a way that clearly communicates the writer’s intended meaning and
content. The writer’s ideas are well-organized and clear to the reader, and expressed effectively.
Elicits the intended response from the reader. For example, a persuasive text compels
the reader to take action, whereas a mystery novel elicits feelings of suspense or surprise from
th e reade r.
( 2 )
Introduction (continued)
goals and the intended audience. Writing
challenges students to understand, evaluate,
and synthesize text, ideas, and concepts.2
Furthermore, approaching writing tasks stra-
tegically (that is, with a series of structured
actions for achieving their writing goals)
facilitates the development of sound argu-
ments supported by valid reasoning.
Writing occurs in every discipline.
Writing spans classrooms and discipline
areas. Writing is a key component of Eng-
lish language arts classrooms, and second-
ary students on average write more for
their English classes than they do for any
other class.3 However, students write more
for other disciplines combined than they
do for English language arts.4
The panel believes these two themes are
related—critical thinking occurs in every
discipline and writing leads students to think
critically about content and ideas presented
in all classes. These themes underlie the
recommendations in this practice guide.
"Scientists, artists, mathematicians,
lawyers, engineers—all 'think' with pen
to paper, chalk to chalkboard, hands on
terminal keys."
Young and Fulwiler (1986)
Overview of the recommendations
Recommendation 1. Explicitly teach appro-
priate writing strategies using a Model-Practice-
Reect instructional cycle.
Recommendation 1a. Explicitly teach
appropriate writing strategies.
1. Explicitly teach strategies for planning
and goal setting, drafting, evaluating,
revising, and editing.
2. Instruct students on how to choose and
apply strategies appropriate for the
audience and purpose.
Recommendation 1b. Use a Model-
Practice-Reect instructional cycle to teach
writing strategies.
1. Model strategies for students.
2. Provide students with opportunities to
apply and practice modeled strategies.
3. Engage students in evaluating and
reecting upon their own and peers
writing and use of modeled strategies.
Recommendation 2. Integrate writing and
reading to emphasize key writing features.
1. Teach students to understand that both
writers and readers use similar strategies,
knowledge, and skills to create meaning.
2. Use a variety of written exemplars to
highlight the key features of texts.
Recommendation 3. Use assessments of
student writing to inform instruction and
feedback.
1. Assess students’ strengths and areas for
improvement before teaching a new strategy
or skill.
2. Analyze student writing to tailor instruction
and target feedback.
3. Regularly monitor students’ progress while
teaching writing strategies and skills.
Summary of supporting research
Practice guide staff conducted a thorough
literature search, identied eligible studies,
and reviewed those studies using the What
Works Clearinghouse (WWC) group design
standards. The literature search focused on
studies published between 1995 and 2015.
This time frame was established so that the
review would examine practices conducted
under conditions similar to those in schools
today and to dene a realistic scope of work.
In addition to the literature search of electronic
databases and the WWC studies database,
members of the expert panel recommended
additional studies for review.
( 3 )
Introduction (continued)
A search for literature related to secondary
writing instruction published between 1995
and 2015 yielded more than 3,400 citations.
Panelists recommended approximately 300
additional studies not identied in the lit-
erature search. The studies were screened
for relevance according to eligibility criteria
described in the practice guide protocol.5
Studies that did not include populations
of interest, measure relevant outcomes, or
assess the effectiveness of replicable prac-
tices used to teach secondary writing were
excluded. Of the eligible studies, 55 studies
used randomized controlled trials or quasi-
experimental designs to examine the effec-
tiveness of the practices found in this guide’s
recommendations.6 From this subset, 15
studies met the WWC’s rigorous group design
standards. Studies were classied as having a
positive or negative effect if the ndings were
either statistically signicant (unlikely to occur
by chance) or substantively important (pro-
ducing considerable differences in outcomes).
Consistent with the panel’s belief that the
recommended practices should be integrated
with one another, many studies examined
multi-component interventions. These
interventions included practices from multiple
recommendations or practices not recom-
mended in the guide. Studies of these inter-
ventions typically cannot identify whether
the effects of the intervention are due to one
of the practices within the intervention or all
of the practices implemented together. All
studies used to support Recommendation 3
examined interventions that included compo-
nents related to other recommendations or
components unrelated to any recommenda-
tion. However, most studies used to support
Recommendations 1 and 2 examined prac-
tices related to only one recommendation.
Throughout the guide, bolded citations
indicate that a study meets WWC group
design standards.
The studies examined interventions appropri-
ate for general education students. Five stud-
ies included ability or language subgroups,
but the interventions in these studies were
carried out in general education classrooms
or were determined by the panel to be appro-
priate for general education students.
Study Eligibility Criteria
For more information, see
the review protocol.
Time frame: Published between January
1995 and March 2015; earlier or later work
was reviewed if recommended by the panel
Location: Study could have been conducted
in any country
Sample requirements:
Students in second-
ary schools in grades 6–12
While the great majority of reviewed studies
were conducted within the United States and
with English speaking students, three studies
were conducted outside the United States,
with non-English speaking students. The panel
believes that the locations of the studies (Ger-
many and Portugal) have educational systems
and contexts similar to the United States, and
that writing strategies in German and Portu-
guese in these settings are similar to those
used in English in the United States. The panel
believes that conclusions from these studies
may be relevant to U.S. schools and students.
Studies supporting the recommendations exam-
ined writing knowledge and skill outcomes
in the following nine domains: (1) audience,
(2) genre elements, (3) organization, (4) sen-
tence structure, (5) use of evidence, (6) word
choice, (7) writing output, (8) writing processes,
and (9) overall writing quality. (For more informa-
tion about the domains and how outcomes were
classied into the domains, see Appendix D.)
Studies showed that practices in all three
recommendations improved outcomes in
the overall writing quality domain. The
( 4 )
Introduction (continued)
supporting studies also found that practices
in each of the recommendations improved
outcomes in other writing domains. Practices
in Recommendation 1 improved outcomes
in the genre elements, organization, word
choice, writing processes, and writing output
domains. The evidence supporting Recom-
mendation 2 included positive effects in the
genre elements and word choice domains.
One study that supported Recommendation
1 found indeterminate effects for an outcome
in the audience domain,7 and one study that
supported both Recommendations 1 and 2
found inconclusive evidence for an outcome
in the sentence structure domain.8 Practices
in Recommendation 3 improved outcomes in
three additional domains: audience, organiza-
tion, and use of evidence.
The level of evidence assigned to each
recommendation indicates the strength of
the evidence for the effect of the practices
on student achievement, based on studies
published since 1995 or published prior to
1995 and recommended by the panel.
The panel and Mathematica WWC staff
assigned a level of evidence to each recom-
mendation based on an assessment of the
relevant evidence supporting each recom-
mendation. Table 1 shows the level of evi-
dence rating for each recommendation as
determined by WWC criteria outlined in Table
A.1 in Appendix A. (Appendix D presents
more information on the body of evidence
supporting each recommendation.)
Table 1. Recommendations and corresponding levels of evidence
Levels of Evidence
Recommendation
Strong
Evidence
Moderate
Evidence
Minimal
Evidence
1. Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies using a Model-
Practice-Reect instructional cycle.
2. Integrate writing and reading to emphasize key writing
features.
3. Use assessments of student writing to inform instruction and
feedback.
How to use this guide
This guide provides secondary teachers
in all disciplines and administrators with
instructional recommendations that can be
implemented in conjunction with existing
standards or curricula. The guide does not
recommend a particular curriculum.
Teachers can use the guide when planning
instruction to support the development of
writing skills among students in grades 6–12
in diverse contexts. The panel believes that
the three recommendations complement one
another and can be implemented simultane-
ously. The recommendations allow teachers
the exibility to tailor instruction to meet
the needs of their classrooms and students,
including adapting the practices for use with
students with disabilities and English learners.9
While the guide uses specic examples to illus-
trate the recommendations and steps, there
are a wide range of activities teachers could
use to implement the recommended practices.
Professional development providers, program
developers, and researchers can also use this
guide. Professional development providers
can use the guide to implement evidence-
based instruction or to prompt teacher discus-
sion in professional learning communities.
Program developers can use the guide to
( 5 )
Introduction (continued)
create more effective writing curricula and
interventions. Researchers may nd oppor-
tunities to test the effectiveness of various
approaches and explore gaps or variations
in the writing instruction literature.
Alignment with existing
practice guides
The recommendations in this guide are
appropriate for secondary teachers in all
disciplines in grades 6–12. Teachers in ele-
mentary grades should review the Teaching
Elementary Students to be Effective Writers
practice guide that focuses on students in
kindergarten through 5th grade (or 6th-grade
students in an elementary school setting).10
Although both guides recommend similar
broad approaches—for example, writing
strategies are helpful for both elementary
and secondary students—the specic recom-
mended practices, examples, and potential
obstacles are targeted for the respective
student populations. In contrast to the Teach-
ing Elementary Students to be Effective Writers
practice guide, which in part focuses on basic
skills and fostering a supportive environment
for writing, this practice guide recommends
practices appropriate for secondary school,
where writing is a common component of
diverse disciplines. The supporting evidence
for each guide does not overlap, as the evi-
dence in this guide is based only on studies
with secondary students.
( 6 )
Recommendation 1
Explicitly teach appropriate writing strategies using
a Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle.
This recommendation suggests teaching
writing strategies in two ways: (a) through
explicit or direct instruction and (b) through
a Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle.
Recommendation 1a suggests explicitly teaching
students different strategies for components of
the writing process. Students learn how to
select a strategy, how to execute each step of the
strategy, and how to apply the strategy when writing for different audiences and purposes.
Recommendation 1b discusses using a Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle to teach
writing strategies. Students observe a strategy in use, practice the strategy on their own,
and evaluate their writing and use of the strategy. Teachers should use both approaches
when teaching students to use writing strategies.
Writing strategies are structured series of
actions (mental, physical, or both) that writ-
ers undertake to achieve their goals. Writing
strategies can be used to plan and set goals,
draft, evaluate, revise, and edit.
Summary of evidence: Strong Evidence
Eleven studies contributed to the level of
evidence for this recommendation.11 Six
studies meet WWC group design standards
without reservations,12 and ve studies meet
WWC group design standards with reserva-
tions (see Appendix D).13 All of the studies
found positive effects on at least one writing
outcome: positive outcomes were found in
the overall writing quality, genre elements,
organization, word choice, writing output,
( 7 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
and writing process domains. The evidence
largely supports both parts of the recom-
mendation, with eight studies examining
both the explicit instruction of writing strate-
gies (Recommendation 1a) and the use of a
Model-Practice-Reect instructional cycle for
teaching writing strategies (Recommendation
1b).14 Seven studies provided a direct test of
the recommendation, examining some or
all of the recommended practices without
other important practices.15 The other four
studies examined interventions that included
additional practices such as the integration
of reading and writing instruction (Recom-
mendation 2),16 but the panel determined that
the practices from Recommendation 1 were a
critical part of the interventions. The studies
were conducted in regions across the United
States and in countries with similar educa-
tional contexts and written languages. The
participating students were in grades 6–12,
and the samples were diverse, including
general education students, English learners,
and students with learning disabilities.
This recommendation has a strong level of
evidence because the supporting studies have
high internal and external validity, and they
found consistent positive effects on writing
outcomes. More than half of the studies sup-
porting this recommendation provided a direct
test of the recommendation, while the others
examined interventions in which the recom-
mended practices were critical components.
Recommendation 1a.
Explicitly teach appropriate writing
strategies.
Effective writers use strategies during all
components of the writing process (Figure
1.1).17 An individual strategy can support
one component of the process or span mul-
tiple components. Throughout this process,
strategies help students organize the ideas,
research, and information that will inform
Figure 1.1. Components of the
writing process
Identify objectives
for writing effectively,
and link those ideas to
plans and strategies.
Generate content by
gathering information
from reading, prior
knowledge, and
talking with others
to help organize
writing.
Make changes
to the text based
on self-evaluation
and feedback
from others.
Based on self-review
or external feedback,
determine whether
the text matches
the writer’s goals.
Select words and
sentences that most
accurately convey ideas,
and transcribe those
words and sentences
into written
language.
Make changes
to ensure that the
text correctly adheres
to the conventions
of written English.
The components may be repeated, implemented simultaneously,
or implemented in different orders, keeping audience and
purpose in mind throughout the writing process.
THE
WRITING
PROCESS
P
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p
o
s
e
a
n
d
A
u
d
i
e
n
c
e
DRAFTING
EVALUATING
REVISING
EDITING
PLANNING
GOAL
SETTING
their writing. During the drafting stage, strat-
egies help students create strong sentences
and well-structured paragraphs. Strategies
provide students with tools to evaluate,
revise, and edit their plans and their writing.
This part of the recommendation focuses on
teaching cognitive strategies, both to improve
students’ writing and encourage strategic
thinking. Teaching students to use cognitive
strategies is one way to develop their strate-
gic thinking skills, ultimately helping them to
write more effectively. Example 1.1 illustrates
how using one cognitive strategy (Know-Want
to Know-Learn or K-W-L) can lead to strategic
thinking. Teachers need to explicitly instruct
students on writing strategies and how to
select the most appropriate strategy. Eventu-
ally, as students become experienced writers,
they will use these strategies automatically to
write effectively.
( 8 )
E X A M P L E 1.1.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
How using the K-W-L strategy during the writing process supports strategic thinking18, 19
The cognitive writing strategy K-W-L helps students identify the gaps in their prior knowledge
and guides them through what they are reading and writing. When using a K-W-L strategy to
plan a research paper, students can complete the rst two columns while doing their research
and the last column after completing their research.
K W L
What I Already Know About
This Topic
What I Want to Know
About This Topic
What I Learned
About This Topic
Using a strategy such as K-W-L fosters students’ strategic thinking by enabling them to approach
a research paper in a purposeful way. They can summarize their prior knowledge (K column),
develop research questions (W column), and track new information they gather (L column).
How to carry out the recommendation
1. Explicitly teach strategies for planning and goal setting, drafting, evaluating, revising,
and editing.
To write effectively, students must implement a
writing process involving several components.
Because writing is an iterative process, students
may implement these components in a different
order and may implement some of the com-
ponents simultaneously (as illustrated by the
clockwise and counter-clockwise arrows in
Figure 1.1). Strategies help students direct
their thinking as writers.
Introduce students to different strategies for
each component of the writing process so
they understand there is more than one way
to approach each component. Students do
not need to memorize all the possible writing
strategies and their steps. Instead, students
should understand the purpose of writing
strategies and know how to select an appro-
priate strategy.
Teach students the steps of a strategy and
how to execute each step. Teachers can iden-
tify effective strategies through professional
learning communities, like the National Writing
Project and National Council of Teachers of
English, or publications like Writing Next.20
Example 1.2 presents several writing strate-
gies for each component of the writing pro-
cess. The example describes how to execute
each strategy and, when available, includes a
reference to studies or other resources where
that strategy was used. The example also
notes whether a strategy is relevant to all
types of writing or particular types or genres
(e.g., persuasive or narrative). Genre-specic
strategies help students focus on the basic
purpose, structure, and elements of a specic
type of writing, whereas general strategies
can be used more broadly. Both types of
strategies can be useful to students.
Modify strategy instruction based on skill
level. For example, when working with strug-
gling students or students who are new to
a particular strategy, begin by presenting a
basic version of a strategy (e.g., setting one
goal for essay length). When students become
( 9 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
more comfortable with a strategy, challenge
them to extend the strategy further (i.e., set-
ting additional or more difcult goals.)
Teach students how the different components
of the writing process work together so that
they can exibly move between components of
the process, returning to earlier components as
needed to improve their writing. For example,
students may change their goals after evaluat-
ing their rst draft, or they may go back to
drafting after revising their writing. Or, after a
peer revising activity, students may discover
they need to plan for and draft additional text.
EXAMPLE 1.2a.
Sample writing strategies for the planning component of the writing process21
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
STOP22
Persuasive genre
Suspend judgment and brainstorm ideas for and against the topic.
Take a side on the topic.
Organize ideas. Place a star next to the ideas you plan to use and those you
plan to refute. Number the order in which you want to introduce them.
Plan more as you write.
STOP and AIM23
Persuasive genre
Narrative genre
Apply STOP (see above) and determine how to:
Attract the reader’s attention at the start of the paper.
Identify the problem so the reader understands the issues.
Map the context of the problem. Provide background information needed to
understand the issues.
Venn diagram
Any genre
Use a Venn diagram as a planning tool when writing a compare/contrast
essay. Each circle can represent a dierent topic, character, or position. The
parts of the diagram that overlap can represent the similarities between the
two, while the parts of the diagram that do not overlap can represent the
dierences. Use the main ideas in each section to guide the major topics in
the essay.
PLAN25
Informational
genre
Persuasive genre
Pay attention to the writing assignment by identifying what you are asked to
write about and how you should develop your essay.
List your main ideas after gathering and evaluating ideas.
Add supporting ideas (e.g., details, examples, elaborations, evidence) to
each main idea. Consider whether each main idea is still relevant.
Number the order in which you will present your ideas.
(continued)
( 10 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Do/What24
Any genre
Create a Do/What chart to thoroughly examine a writing prompt before
beginning an assignment. Circle all verbs in the writing prompt that
describe what you are being asked to do. Underline the words that describe
what the task is. Then, create a chart to generate a roadmap for the writing
assignment.
Select one important current event to write a news article about. Describe what
happened during the event, who was there, and when it occurred. Your lead
statement will communicate the most important points to the reader. Use quotes
from eyewitnesses to support your reporting.
DO WHAT
Select One important current event
Write A news article
Describe What happened during the event, who was there, and when it
occurred
Use Quotes from eyewitnesses
K-W- L
Informational
genre
Create a K-W-L chart using a word processing program, where the rst col-
umn represents what you already know about your topic, the second column
represents what you want to know about the topic, and the third column
represents what you learned about the topic. For example, when planning to
write a paper on genetics for biology class, you can begin by recording what
you know about genetics. Then, record what you want to know about genet-
ics and use those questions to guide your research. After completing your
research, compile what you learned while collecting additional information.
Use all three columns to organize your ideas for your paper.
K W L
What I Already Know
About This Topic
What I Want to Know
About This Topic
What I Learned
About This Topic
Plot diagram/
Freytag pyramid
Narrative genre
To develop the plot of a story, complete each section of a Freytag pyramid
prior to writing: the exposition or introduction, inciting incident, rising
action, climax, falling action, and resolution or conclusion.
introduction
inciting incident
climax
resolution
conclusion
rising action
falling action
(continued)
( 11 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Outline
Any genre
Use the outline feature in a word processing program to organize main ideas
and supporting details. Use the rst-level headings of the outline to write
out your main ideas and arrange them in a logical order. Use second-level
headings to include supporting details, gures, tables, and other points to
support each main idea.
1. Main idea 1
a. Supporting idea 1
b. Supporting idea 2
c. Figure 1
2. Main idea 2
a. Supporting idea 1
b. Supporting idea 2
c. Supporting idea 3
3. Main idea 3
a. Supporting idea 1
b. Supporting idea 2
c. Table 1
EXAMPLE 1.2b.
Sample writing strategies for the goal setting component of the writing process26
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
Set goals27
Any genre
Provide students with a list of writing goals that represent the qualities of
good writing and the criteria on which they will be evaluated. This might
include goals for maintaining control of the topic, organization, voice, use
of mature vocabulary, and use of varied and complex sentences to meet the
writing purpose. Students should choose one or more goals to work on as
they write.
Individualize
goals28
Any genre
Provide students with a list of individualized writing goals and have them
select one or more goals to focus on while writing. For a persuasive essay,
for example, one student’s goal may be to write an essay that includes three
reasons to support his or her point of view. Alternatively, the goal might be
to reject three reasons that are not consistent with his or her point of view.
The goals should be individualized so that they are more ambitious than the
student’s performance on a previous essay, but not so high as to be outside
the student’s capabilities.
SCHEME29
Any genre
Skills check. Complete an inventory that focuses on what you are currently
doing well when writing and what you need to improve on.
Choose goals. Based on the skills check, develop goals for your next writing
assignment (e.g., nd a quiet place to write, reread my paper before turning
it in, and get all the information I need before I write).
Hatch a plan for how to meet your specied goals.
Execute the plan for achieving your goals.
Monitor progress toward achieving your goals.
Edit. If you experience diculty in achieving a goal, put actions into place
to remedy this situation.
( 12 )
EXAMPLE 1.2c.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Sample writing strategies for the drafting component of the writing process32
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
WRITE30
Informational
genre
Persuasive genre
Work from the ideas you developed during the planning component to
develop your thesis statement or claim.
Remember to use the writing goals you established before starting to write.
Include transition words for each paragraph.
Try to use dierent kinds of sentences.
Use Exciting, interesting words.
DARE31
(used with STOP
or STOP and AIM)
Persuasive genre
Argumentative
genre
Develop a topic statement to support your thesis as you write.
Add supporting ideas to support your thesis.
Reject possible arguments for the other side.
End with a conclusion.
Mini arguments
Persuasive genre
Argumentative
genre
When drafting an argumentative essay, begin by drafting a claim and identi-
fying two to four pieces of evidence to support that claim. This will serve as
the rst draft for the essay. Write a second draft after using the Ranking the
Evidence strategy (see Example 1.2d ).
3-2-1
Informational
genre
Persuasive genre
Use a 3-2-1 strategy to develop a rst draft of a paper. Write out three things
you learned, two things you would like to learn more about, and one ques-
tion you have on the topic.
EXAMPLE 1.2d.
Sample writing strategies for the evaluating component of the writing process33
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
Rank the evidence
Persuasive genre
Argumentative
genre
After drafting a mini-argument “(see Example 1.2c), trade your draft with a
peer. Your peer will rank the evidence from 1 to 4 based on how logical and
relevant each piece is. You will then meet in pairs to discuss the ranking
prior to writing a second draft.
CDO—sentence
level34
Any genre
Compare, Diagnose, and Operate by reading a sentence and deciding if the
sentence works. If not, diagnose the problem by asking why the sentence
doesn’t work. For example:
• Does it not sound right?
• Is it not communicating the intended meaning?
• Is it not useful to the paper?
• Will the reader have trouble understanding it?
• Will the reader be interested in what it says?
• Will the reader believe what it says?
Next, decide how you will change the sentence.
(continued)
( 13 )
CDO—text level35
Any genre
Compare, Diagnose, & Operate by reading through the paper and asking
if any of the following example diagnoses apply:
• There are too few ideas
• Part of the paper doesn’t belong with the rest
• Part of the paper is not in the right order
Next, decide how you will rectify each situation identied.
Color coding36
Any genre
Using dierent colored fonts in a word processing program or using dierent
highlighters, color code your essay to identify the use of dierent writing
elements. For example, use dierent colors to note where you summarize the
plot, use evidence, and use commentary.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
EXAMPLE 1.2e.
Sample writing strategies for the revising component of the writing process40
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
Peer feedback37
Any genre
Read another student’s paper and identify your favorite sentence and favorite
word in the paper. Identifying a favorite sentence or word supports the
writer on the kinds of sentences and word choices that he or she should
continue to make. This type of peer response emphasizes the importance
of oering specic feedback.
WIRMI38
Any genre
After composing an essay, write a “What I Really Mean Is…” statement and
keep a copy of it. Have a partner read the draft and write a “What I Think
You Really Meant to Say Was…” statement in response to the essay. Compare
your WIRMI statement to your peer’s response to determine whether the
paper communicates eectively. Make revisions accordingly.
STA R39
Any genre
Reread your essay and code any necessary corrections with S, T, A, or R,
as follows:
Substitute overused words with precise words, weak verbs with
strong verbs, weak adjectives with strong adjectives, and common
nouns with proper nouns.
Take out unnecessary repetitions, irrelevant information,
or information that belongs elsewhere.
Add details, descriptions, new information, gurative language,
clarication of meaning, or expanded ideas.
Rearrange information for a more logical ow.
Then, make revisions accordingly.
( 14 )
EXAMPLE 1.2f.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Sample writing strategies for the editing component of the writing process41
Writing strategy
Most relevant genres How to execute the strategy
COPS42
Any genre
Have I Capitalized the rst word of sentences and proper names?
How is the Overall appearance?
Have I put in commas and end Punctuation?
Have I Spelled all words correctly?
Job cards43
Any genre
Divide students into small groups and assign each student in the group a
dierent “job card.” The card will describe that student’s job when editing
the papers of the other students in the group. For example, one person’s job
may be to look for spelling errors, another person’s job may be to ensure
the paper contains strong verbs and consistent verb tense, and a third per-
son’s job may be to verify that the paper uses quotation marks properly
throughout. Students should continue to trade papers within their small
groups until they have performed their job on each student’s paper.
Peer editing
Any genre
Trade papers with a classmate and edit your peer’s paper. Focus on one or
two key areas during your review. For example, you may focus on whether
the writer’s ideas are well-organized and clear, word choice is appropriate
for the target audience, or thesis statement makes a strong claim.
2. Instruct students on how to choose and apply strategies appropriate for the audience
and purpose.
After students learn different strategies,
teach them to evaluate the available strate-
gies and choose the most appropriate one
for each situation. Provide students with a
list of questions to consider when evaluating
and selecting a writing strategy (see Example
1.3). Consider adding an exercise to a writing
assignment that prompts students to describe
the strategy they used for the assignment,
what inuenced their selection, and how the
strategy helped them (or failed to help them)
to write for their audience or purpose.
To promote the critical selection of strategies
instead of the rote use of strategies, identify
opportunities for students to use writing
strategies in new ways and in different con-
texts. For example, challenge students to use
a familiar strategy for a writing assignment in
another discipline or at home. Have students
discuss and think about how they need to
modify a strategy for a new task, discipline,
or situation. Students can then try their
modied strategy and consider how well
their adaptation worked.
EXAMPLE 1.3.
Questions to guide strategy selection
What goals do I need to set and accom-
plish to write for this audience or
purpose?
What writing strategies do I know work
well when writing for this audience or
purpose?
What do I know about this assignment
that would help inform my strategy
selection?
When do I use this strategy? When I am
planning? Drafting? Revising?
( 15 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
After students have chosen a strategy, teach
them how to implement it with the specic
audience and purpose in mind. Although a par-
ticular strategy might be most effective when
writing for a specic audience or purpose,
typically strategies can be effective with diverse
audiences and purposes. Because the audience
and purpose inuence many components of the
writing process, students should identify them
prior to applying their writing strategies.
Audience. Before a new writing assignment,
prepare students to write for the target audi-
ence. Have students identify the target audi-
ence and engage them in brainstorming what
they know about writing for that audience.
Then, have students discuss how this knowl-
edge will affect their writing and why.
When students are writing for a new audience,
provide opportunities to learn about that audi-
ence rst. For example, if students are writing
an opinion piece for the local newspaper, teach-
ers can present demographic information of
the newspaper’s readership to the class, invite
a newspaper subscriber to talk with the class,
or hold a discussion on how this audience
may differ from a familiar audience. Students
may need to conduct additional background
research on the target audience prior to devel-
oping their writing plans.
If students have written for an audience previ-
ously, they can use those experiences to inform
the current writing assignment. Example 1.4
provides questions students can ask themselves
to conrm their understanding of the audience.
EXAMPLE 1.4.
Questions for understanding the target audience
Who is my audience?
What does my audience already know or
understand about this topic?
What does my audience need to know?
What type of information or argument
would my audience respond to?
What visual media might help me to
persuade my audience?
Where in my writing might the audience
be misled?
Purpose. Help students identify the pur-
pose for their writing during the planning
component. Teach students to look for clues
in the assignment’s prompts or instruc-
tions that signal the purpose of the writing
assignment. Share examples of written
work to illustrate text written for different
purposes. Example 1.5 provides questions
students can ask themselves to conrm their
understanding of purpose.
EXAMPLE 1.5.
Questions for understanding purpose
What are the aspects of effective writing
for this purpose?
What are my goals for this writing
assignment?
Am I writing to inform or persuade?
If I’m writing to be informative, is the purpose
to reflect, explain, summarize, or analyze?
—If I’m writing to be persuasive, through what
channel am I to persuade my audience: an
editorial, a speech, a blog, an essay, or some-
thing else?
( 16 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Finally, teach students to adapt their strategies
depending on the audience and purpose. For
example, when students use a planning strat-
egy to write a persuasive essay, they should
keep in mind that the appropriate support-
ing evidence will depend upon the audience
and thus, they should carry out the planning
strategy differently based on the audience.
For a writing assignment in a social studies
class, the strongest supporting evidence may
be quotes from historical gures and events,
while the strongest supporting evidence for an
assignment in a science class may be results
and statistics from a science experiment
(rather than, for example, quotes from a scien-
tist). Example 1.6 challenges students to use
the same strategy to evaluate an informa¬tive
essay and a persuasive essay. Example 1.7
illustrates an assignment that challenges
students to write two persuasive essays on the
same topic for two different audiences.
EXAMPLE 1.6.
Adapting an evaluating strategy when writing for different purposes
Writing prompt: Evaluate an informative essay and a persuasive essay that you completed this
semester. Use the Compare-Diagnose-Operate strategy to evaluate both essays.
Informative essay
Read through your paper and ask if any of the
following apply (Compare):
The main topic of my paper is unclear.
I present too few ideas on the topic.
Part of my paper goes off topic.
I don’t provide enough information about
some ideas.
Next, decide how you will rectify each issue
identified (Diagnose) and implement your
revision (Operate).
Persuasive essay
Read through your paper and ask if any of the
following apply (Compare):
My claim or position is unclear.
Some of the ideas supporting my position
are not convincing.
I do not address ideas that refute my claim.
Part of my paper doesn’t belong with the rest.
Next, decide how you will rectify each issue
identified (Diagnose) and implement your
revision (Operate).
EXAMPLE 1.7.
Adapting a persuasive writing strategy when writing essays for different audiences44
Writing prompt: Take a stand on an issue that is important to you. Write two brief essays: one to
persuade your friends of your position and one to persuade the local city council of your position.
Use the same planning strategy (PLAN) for both essays.
PLAN
Pay attention to the writing assignment by identifying your topic and how you should
develop your essay.
List your main ideas after gathering and evaluating ideas.
Add supporting ideas (e.g., details, examples, elaborations, and evidence) to each main idea.
Consider whether each main idea is still relevant.
Number the order in which you will present your ideas.
A student’s use of the PLAN strategy is illustrated for each essay on the next two pages.
(continued)
( 17 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
 
John Smith, local
sports legend,
supports the park.
The park will be
a great place to
practice sports
and hang out
after school.
 
He promised he
would come to the park’s
ribbon-cutting ceremony
when it opened.
The park will
offer running and
biking trails, as well
as athletic fields,
basketball courts, and
tennis courts.
Students could
meet him and get
his autograph at the
ribbon-cutting
ceremony.
The high school
doesn’t allow students
to practice sports past
4:00 p.m. or on the
weekends; the park
would be open until
9:00 p.m. each day.
P
L
A
N
PAY attention to the
writing assignment by
identifying what you
are to write about and
how you should
develop your essay.
LIST your main ideas
after gathering and
evaluating ideas.
NUMBER the order in
which you will present
your ideas.
Key topic
Creation of a new community park
Audience: My friends
You can
demonstrate
your support by writing
letters to the city council
and/or signing the
park petition.
ADD supporting ideas
(e.g., details, examples,
elaborations, and
evidence) to each main
idea. Consider whether
each main idea still
is relevant.
For the last four
community proposals, the
city council approved the
two that had community
support and voted down
the two that did not have
community support.
The park will not
be built without
community support.
My friends may not know much about
the process for creating a new park or the
funding required. I need to persuade them to
take action and give them clear directions on
how to do so: sign the petition and write
personal letters to the city council.
(continued)
( 18 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Most high school
students support
the park proposal.
 
Other groups
are willing to split
the cost of the
park with the
city council.
The proposed
location is very
convenient.
Recreation is key
to maintaining a
healthy lifestyle.
  
The class of
2016 voted to
direct the funding
for its class gift
to the park.
The only other
park in town is
located in a
completely different
neighborhood,
so this new park
could serve a
different
geographic area.
According to
the Centers for
Disease Control,
heart disease is
one of the leading
causes of death in
the United States.
Daily exercise is
one way to combat
heart disease.
Even though the
park will cost
$2 million, a
neighboring town
is willing to split
the cost if their
residents can
have access to
the park too.
 
Figure: map of
proposed park
location.
Health is a key
priority in the
council’s strategic
plan for the city.
P
L
A
N
PAY attention to the
writing assignment by
identifying what you
are to write about and
how you should
develop your essay.
LIST your main ideas
after gathering and
evaluating ideas.
NUMBER the order in
which you will present
your ideas.
Key topic
Creation of a new community park
Audience: The city council
According to a
recent survey,
82% of local high
school students
support the park
proposal.
ADD supporting
ideas (e.g., details,
examples, elaborations,
and evidence) to each
main idea. Consider
whether each main
idea still is relevant.
The city council knows about the process
for creating a new park and how much it
would cost, but they may want to know more
about the community’s recreational needs and
how many people support this idea. I need to
persuade them to vote to approve the
proposal to build the park.
( 19 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Recommendation 1b.
Use a Model-Practice-Reect instructional
cycle to teach writing strategies.
A Model-Practice-Reect approach allows
students to observe the thinking and actions
of a strong writer, attempt to emulate the
features of effective writing, and then evalu-
ate their writing according to those features
(as illustrated in Figure 1.2). By learning from
teachers, peer models, and their own written
work, students can internalize the features of
effective writing and develop effective writ-
ing strategies, skills, and knowledge. Writing
practice without reection does not provide
students with opportunities to internalize
important features of writing or think about
how to apply learned skills and strategies
effectively in new situations.
Teachers should employ a Model-Practice-
Reect approach during writing instruction
and classroom activities, gradually transition-
ing responsibility until students are using
writing strategies independently.
Figure 1.2. The Model-Practice-Reect cycle
PRACTICE
“We do”
Students practice writing and
using a strategy independently,
with a teacher, or with a peer.
REFLECT
“You do”
Students evaluate their
writing and strategy use.
MODEL
“I do”
Teachers model
their writing or
strategy use.
How to carry out the recommendation
1. Model strategies for students.
Teachers and peers can demonstrate and
verbally describe the use of effective writing
strategies during components of the writing
process. This type of modeling illustrates to
students the thought process behind select-
ing and applying each strategy, and it high-
lights why or how that strategy will help them
write effectively. Example 1.8 lists six types
of statements that teachers can use when
modeling to share their thinking.
Include modeling statement examples with
identied errors and corrections to demon-
strate the common challenges students may
encounter when implementing a writing
strategy and solutions to those challenges.
( 20 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
For example, when using the DARE strategy,
the following modeling statements may be
used: “It looks like I identied a possible
opposing viewpoint, but I didn’t refute that
viewpoint. I need to reject that argument to
strengthen my own thesis.” When modeling
an error, clearly explain to students what is
incorrect in the example so they are able to
distinguish between the correct and incorrect
use of a writing strategy.
EXAMPLE 1.8 .
Types of modeling statements45
Type of statement Example
Dening the
problem
“What is it I have to do here?”
“The assignment is to write a narrative essay.”
“How should I begin? Maybe I’ll begin by setting the scene.
Focusing attention
and planning
“I need to develop a plan for approaching this assignment.
“What steps can I take to achieve my goals?”
Choosing a strategy
and implementing it
“What strategy should I use?”
“I’m going to use the STOP strategy. The rst step is to…
“My goals for this essay are…
Self-evaluating and
error correcting
“How many pieces of supporting evidence have I used?”
“Oh, my thesis statement isn’t very strong. I need to improve it.
“I should revisit my goals from the planning phase.”
“I need to conrm I refuted that argument.”
“The evidence I identied to support my thesis isn’t factual; I need to
replace it with real data.”
Coping and
self-control
“I can do this. I just need to focus.
“These revisions aren’t too bad. I can address them if I take my time.”
Self-reinforcement “I really improved my supporting evidence.”
“This is a strong conclusion.”
When explaining the steps of a new writing
strategy, carefully model how to execute each
step (as in Example 1.9). If students struggle
with different aspects of the strategy, more
modeling may be necessary to demonstrate
specic steps. To supplement the modeling,
teachers can post lists of strategies and their
steps in the classroom or encourage students
to maintain lists of strategies they use.
( 21 )
EXAMPLE 1.9.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Thinking aloud to model a planning and goal setting strategy
A science teacher models her thought process as she sets goals and plans for an essay on
animal and plant cells.
Modeled question Modeled response
Who is my target
audience?
“I am writing for a 7th-grade audience, a class that has not yet learned
about animal and plant cells. I should be sure to explain terms that the
audience may not know.”
What goals am I try-
ing to accomplish in
my writing?
“I need the reader to understand the similarities and dierences between
animal and plant cells. When planning my essay, I need to think about all
of the things I know about animal and plant cells.
What strategy could I
use to accomplish my
goals?
“I could make a Venn diagram to organize my thoughts and compare and
contrast those kinds of cells. The headings from the diagram could then
be separate points in an outline.”
How should I carry
out the strategy?
“I think I will list the similarities rst and then focus on the dierences.”
Peers can also serve as models to other
students during both whole-class instruction
and small-group activities. After teachers
model their own strategy use during whole-
class instruction, have a student share with
the class how he or she could use that same
strategy for an upcoming assignment. Chal-
lenge the class to think of alternative writing
strategies and select a student to model a
different strategy to the class. To incorporate
modeling into small-group activities, pair
students after they have completed a writing
assignment. Encourage each partner to share
his or her writing strategy and model his or
her thought process during each component
of the writing process.
Adjust the intensity of the modeling to
accommodate the needs of students at dif-
ferent skill levels. For example, students who
are struggling may need additional one-on-
one modeling or modeling that is specically
related to the writing assignment at hand.
The focus of the modeling (such as den-
ing the audience, purpose, or task; walking
through the steps of a particular strategy;
explaining how to execute a strategy; or
reecting on their own writing) can vary
based on what skills and knowledge students
need to develop.
As students master writing strategies and
skills for the components of the writing
process (planning, goal setting, drafting,
evaluating, revising, and editing), teachers
should gradually lessen their modeling to give
students more opportunities to execute strat-
egies on their own. This gradual release of
responsibility can help students select and
implement strategies independently.
( 22 )
2. Provide students with opportunities to apply and practice modeled strategies.
Incorporate regular opportunities to practice
implementing writing strategies into class-
room activities. These opportunities can
occur across disciplines to allow students
to practice their writing for different topics,
audiences, purposes, and tasks. Example
1.10 illustrates how modeling and practicing
writing strategies could span different disci-
plines. Each activity illustrated can be easily
adapted for use in different discipline. For
example, the English language arts activities
could be used in any disciplines to model
planning for a writing assignment.
EXAMPLE 1.10.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Practicing modeled writing strategies
In each of the examples below, the teacher models the strategy for the whole class, and then stu-
dents practice and reect on the strategies individually or in small groups.
Discipline Strategy Writing activity
Math Compare-
Diagnose-
Operate—
text level
strategy
A math teacher models thinking about the problem and writing each
step of the geometric proof. She evaluates her proof using the Com-
pare-Diagnose-Operate (CDO) strategy. She then asks the students
to solve a second problem and to explain in writing how they solved
the problem. The teacher then models how she solved the second
problem. As a whole class, students discuss what they did well in
their written explanations and where they needed to re-think their
solution or written explanation using the CDO strategy. Teachers can
also share student exemplars.
Social
studies
3-2-1
summary
strategy
A social studies teacher models summarizing a recent political
debate that the class watched together online. He identies three
main points or ideas presented during the debate, two disagree-
ments between the candidates, and one question that he has for the
candidates. Students then write a summary of the debate using this
3-2-1 strategy and work in small groups to discuss their summaries.
Social
studies
Peer revising
strategy
A social studies teacher selects a student to model peer revising
with her at the front of the class. The teacher and the student review
each other’s summaries of current events to identify two strengths
and two areas for improvement. The teacher and student discuss
the strengths and weaknesses, including strategies for improving
the weaknesses. Then, students work in pairs to discuss and review
each other’s summaries of current events.
English
language
arts
Outlining
strategy
An English language arts teacher models using an outline to plan for
a descriptive analysis on a novel the class recently read. To structure
his outline, he creates major headings to discuss the primary char-
acters, setting, plot, themes, and symbolism. He discusses a few of
the minor points he will use to populate the section on characters.
He then asks the class to work in groups to populate key points for
the section on theme, including specic page references. Students
then select a book to read independently and are asked to produce
an outline for an accompanying descriptive analysis.
(continued)
( 23 )
English
language
arts
Freytag
Pyramid/
plot diagram
strategy
An English language arts teacher models using a Freytag pyramid to
diagram the plot of a story she is writing. To structure her diagram,
she follows a framework that includes an exposition or introduction,
rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution or conclusion.
She discusses how she might complete each section, using a book
the class recently read together as an example. Students then select
a book to read independently and are asked to produce a plot diagram
to analyze the structure and story.
Science Rank the
evidence
strategy
A science teacher models using evidence and statistics to support
a position paper on deforestation. He discusses how he identied
sources for his research and then ranks the supporting evidence he
collected to support his claim, designating the strongest and most
convincing evidence. Students spend the week conducting research
and collecting supporting evidence for their own position papers.
Students then work with a partner to rank each other’s evidence and
discuss how to craft a strong argument for their position papers.
Family
con-
sumer
science
Peer feed-
back strategy
A family consumer science teacher models her thought process
while writing a recipe for someone that has never cooked before.
She considers what concepts her audience may be familiar with
(mixing or combining ingredients) and what concepts may be unfa-
miliar (beating an egg). Students then write their own recipes and
later trade recipes with a partner. The partner follows the instruc-
tions in the recipe and gives feedback to the student, who then
revises his or her own recipe for clarity.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
3. Engage students in evaluating and reecting upon their own and peers’ writing and
use of modeled strategies.
Reection activities enable students to carry
out the evaluation component of the writing
process, and deepen their understanding
of their writing effectiveness and how well
they accomplished their goals and executed
their strategy. Reection also helps students
discover ways to improve their writing, and
reinforce the use of effective strategies in
future tasks. (Recommendation 3 discusses
formative assessment, a type of evaluation
and reection performed by teachers to
improve their writing instruction.) The goal is
the same: to support students in improving
the quality of their writing.
After students practice using a particular
strategy, have them ask themselves a series
of questions to reect upon their use of the
strategy, or challenge students to articulate
how the strategy worked for them (e.g., “How
did the strategy help you achieve your writing
goals?” or “What did you nd challenging about
using that strategy?”). Encourage students to
consider these reections when approaching a
component of the writing process in the future
to help them internalize how strategies can
facilitate effective writing.
Provide opportunities for students to evaluate
their own and others’ writing on a variety of
features, such as whether the piece:
achieves the author’s intended goals for
the assignment
incorporates a logical problem-solution
organization
( 24 )
establishes mood, tone, and style
(the writer’s voice)
has sufcient detail
is well-organized for the intended audience
uses strong and appropriate word choice
incorporates dialogue as appropriate
(e.g., when writing a ction short story)
presents evidence that is sufcient and
necessary (e.g., when supporting a claim
for a scientic argument)
As demonstrated in the last two points, the
evaluation characteristics will vary based on
the purpose and audience for the assignment.
Example 1.11 illustrates a classroom activity
that facilitates reection on student writing
and use of a writing strategy.
EXAMPLE 1.11.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Model-Practice-Reect using book club blogs46
Create an online blog space for students to post written content about books they
have read and comment on other students’ blog posts. Students should follow a set
of guidelines, established by the teacher and/or agreed upon by the class, when com-
menting on other students’ blog posts (see below for sample guidelines).
Model for students how to write a blog post that summarizes and analyzes a book of your
choice. Distribute blog posts from past students for the class to read and evaluate. Additionally,
model for students how to comment on another student’s blog post, incorporating the com-
menting guidelines.
Students can practice writing blog posts throughout the year. As students become more profi-
cient at writing summaries, the blog posts can take other forms (such as reflective writing or
argumentative writing) or focus on other objectives (such as summarizing or evaluating the use
of writing strategies). As students improve their blog posts and comments, highlight particu-
larly effective posts and constructive blog comments each week. Periodically ask students to
reflect upon how their writing changed throughout the course of the year based upon the peer
and teacher comments they received.
Sample guidelines for commenting on blogs
Comments will receive points according to how complete they are and how well these guidelines
have been followed.
1. Comment on what the writer wrote, not on the writer himself or herself.
2. Don’t put the writer down, even in a joking way. Humor does not always come across
effectively in blog comments.
3. Before submitting a comment, always consider whether you would find that comment
constructive if it were left as a comment on your own work.
4. Be specific in your comments. Don’t say, “Your post is really good.” Instead, refer to some-
thing specific that you like about it.
5. Don’t focus on the post’s grammar and spelling. Focus on ideas and organization instead.
6. Use polite language and academic vocabulary in your comments. Follow the rules of
grammar and spelling as much as possible.
7. Don’t use your comments as an opportunity to show how much smarter you are than the
writer of the blog.
8. Avoid the use of “ALL CAPS.” It may lead to the reader misunderstanding your tone.
( 25 )
Incorporate evaluation and reection compo-
nents into writing assignments of different types
and in different disciplines. For instance, in
Example 1.12, students are asked to write a
literary analysis essay and use a color-coding
strategy to evaluate that essay.
EXAMPLE 1.12.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Using color-coding to evaluate student writing47
Use the following color-coding strategy to evaluate your own paper. Highlight, under-
line, or change the color of the text using the colors below to identify dierent text
features. After color-coding, make a list of your reections based on your color-cod-
ing and discuss any revisions you plan to make to your paper.
Orange: plot summary (orienting the reader to the facts)
Green: supporting detail (examples, evidence, quotes)
Blue: commentary (deeper thinking, interpretations, conclusions, insights, opinions)
Sample color-coded paragraph
At the beginning of the story, we meet the seventeen-year-old Jimmy Baca working the graveyard
shift in an emergency room, “mopping up pools of blood” amidst the “screams of mangled kids
writhing on gurneys.” A high school dropout who is unable to read or write, he is ashamed of
himself and humiliated by his inability to articulate his feelings. On the outside, he wears the
“mask of humility, but on the inside, he “seethes with mute rebellion.” The word “mute” here sig-
nifies how voiceless and powerless he feels. Further, the word “seethes” suggests that he is boiling
with rage. Although he cannot read, he recognizes the word “Chicano” on a history book and he
is motivated to steal it because the visual images of Chicanos speak to him and connect him to
his culture. In essence, this empowers him and makes him proud.
When Baca steals the second book and teaches himself to read, a door begins to open for him.
He begins to rediscover the inner child who had been trapped inside. The soothing words create
a music and happiness inside him which comforts him and he feels “cured” as if from an illness.
But it is the act of writing, of putting words on paper, that ultimately sets him free. As he comes
into language and experiences its power, he is transformed. He writes, “But when at last I wrote
my first words on the page, I felt an island rising beneath my feet like the back of a whale….I had
a place to stand for the first time in my life.” The image of the island indicates that he is no longer
at sea. He finally feels grounded. No longer does he feel like a helpless victim, battling to stay
afloat. Writing is his lifeline. Instead, for the first time, Baca feels born anew, powerful, and free.
He states, “I crawled out of the stanzas dripping with birth-blood, reborn, and freed from the
chaos of my life.”
Sample color-coding reections
The piece begins with more plot summary and less commentary, but ends with more
commentary and analysis as the writer elaborates on his interpretations.
The use of quotes from the story helps tie the plot summary to the commentary.
Additional plot summary may be necessary to explain Jimmy’s background, such as why
he dropped out of school or how he taught himself to read.
( 26 )
Have students analyze how their strategy use,
writing knowledge, writing skills, and written
products have improved. Students can keep a
portfolio of their work throughout the school
year to facilitate this analysis. At different
points during the year, encourage students
to compare their most recent work to earlier
pieces of their writing. For example, students
can review work they wrote in the beginning
of the school year, compare it to work they
wrote in May, and answer reection questions
such as the following:48
After rereading drafts of your own work,
can you see any evidence of your growth
as a reader and writer? Please describe
what you notice about your performance.
If you saw growth between your drafts,
what do you think is responsible for your
progress? Be as specic as you can in your
an swe r.
If you did not mention this above, to what
degree did revising your rst draft prepare
you to write well on your nal draft?
Students can go through a similar exercise
when moving between a rst draft and sub-
sequent drafts for the same assignment. After
students have implemented their revisions,
ask them to explain the changes they made
to reach their nal draft and to articulate
how those changes helped make their writing
more effective.
Rubrics are tools students can use to facili-
tate the evaluation of their work. Use rubrics
to prompt students to identify ways in which
their writing could be improved, and ask
students to identify strengths in their writing
and others’ writing (see Example 1.13).
Teachers can nd many sample rubrics online
or through professional learning communities.
They can also create rubrics themselves or in
collaboration with other teachers. Teachers
may consider consulting their state writing
rubrics as well as exemplar papers when
developing rubrics from scratch. Teach stu-
dents how to use rubrics to assess how well
they met certain criteria and to inform their
plans for improving their writing.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
( 27 )
EXAMPLE 1.13.
Recommendation 1 (continued)
Using rubrics to evaluate writing49
Have students use rubrics to evaluate their own and classmates’ online restaurant reviews.
1. Share exemplars of written reviews with students and point out the key features of those
reviews.
2. Have students draft a review of a local restaurant.
3. Have students use the rubric below (or a rubric created by the class) to evaluate their reviews.
4. After revising their reviews based on their own rubric evaluations, students can rate their
peers’ reviews using the rubric.
1. The piece has a distinctive voice and point of view. The writer situates him/herself
in the story, and describes his/her relationship to the place, and establishes
his/her purpose for choosing this food establishment.
1 2 3 4 5
2. The piece has a catchy lead (or) opening paragraph that makes the reader want
to read on.
1 2 3 4 5
3. In the body of the food review, the writer approaches the subject from several
different perspectives (i.e., the writer offers details of the restaurant, the overall
atmosphere, descriptions of what he/she ordered; the writer provides a sense
of the menu, describes the service, ambiance and decor, describes his/her
favorite menu item, describes the food and presentation, answers the question
of whether or not this place is “vegetarian friendly,” and provides readers with
pricing information).
1 2 3 4 5
4. The writer provides a thoughtful and clear conclusion in which he/she offers
a summary of the overall dining experience.
1 2 3 4 5
5. The writing has been carefully edited line by line to correct spelling and punc-
tuation errors, to make sure there are consistent verb tenses, no confusing
shifts in the point of view, and all proper names have been capitalized.
1 2 3 4 5
6. Issues of style: This writing replicates the genre of restaurant reviews. Place
names are in italics (e.g., Latiff’s Diner), a minimum of one quality photograph
has been included, the title for this food review is in BOLD, with the writer’s
name underneath it in italics. The piece ends with an “Overall Product Rating:
1–5 stars)”.
1 2 3 4 5
( 28 )
Potential obstacles to implementing Recommendation 1 and the panel’s advice
Obstacle 1.1. I teach my students specic
writing strategies, but then they don’t seem to
use them while composing.
Panel’s advice. Teachers should explore why
students are not using writing strategies and
modify their instructional approach based on
what they learn.
If students have not internalized the strate-
gies they are taught, re-teach the specic
steps of the strategy. Consider posting lists
of strategies and their steps in the class-
room as a reminder, providing students
with laminated copies of strategies they
can keep at their desks, or encouraging
students to create a mnemonic to remem-
ber particular strategies.
If students are lacking condence in their
strategy use, provide opportunities for
them to make choices about which strate-
gies to use. This will help engage them in
strategy use and empower them to select
a strategy that works for them. Facilitate
one-on-one opportunities for students
to explain why they selected a particular
strategy, reect on their choice, and dis-
cuss how the strategy helped them.
If students are using strategies only
occasionally, look for opportunities to
recognize students’ progress toward using
strategies more consistently. Teachers can
support student writers by providing posi-
tive feedback when a student uses a strat-
egy correctly, ensuring that each student
has a voice during whole-class discussions,
and nding ways to value something in
every student’s writing, including strategy
selection and use.
If students aren’t visibly using strategies
or using them rarely, but their writing has
improved, they might be implementing
strategies automatically in a way that is
not visible to teachers. When students
do this, celebrate the internalization of
Recommendation 1 (continued)
a strategy becoming an automatic skill.
Continue to monitor students’ progress in
using strategies and writing effectively.
Students may no longer need to imple-
ment writing strategies if they are able to
write effectively without them.
Obstacle 1.2. For some of my students, strat-
egy instruction doesn’t seem to improve their
writing achievement.
Panel’s advice. Consider why specic
students are not benetting from strategy
instruction and think about ways to tailor
strategy instruction based on their skill levels:
For students who are struggling, strate-
gies can be made simpler by streamlining
steps or focusing on one step at a time.
For example, with the PLAN and WRITE
approaches described in Example 1.2a and
1.2c, respectively, simplify the strategy
by eliminating steps or goals. Consider
laminating sheets of paper that list strate-
gies and their steps so students can have a
quick reference guide at their desks.
For more advanced students, make strate-
gies more complex by adding more steps
or developing more challenging goals.
Obstacle 1.3. I struggle to be a strong
writer—how can I teach my students to be
effective writers?
Panel’s advice. There are many ways to
strengthen your own writing and, conse-
quently, your writing instruction:
Write the assignments that you are asking
your students to complete. This can help
you become more condent by engag-
ing yourself in writing more frequently.
It may also help you understand what
is challenging for students, clarify the
assignment’s instructions, and identify
the strategies that you used to complete
( 29 )
the writing task. This will help you plan
for strategy instruction.
• Simplify writing by thinking of it as the sum
of many components. Recognize that writ-
ing can be broken into manageable steps.
Understand that writing is not always a
complex report or long essay. Shorter writ-
ing assignments can offer valuable learn-
ing opportunities to students as well.
Join or develop a supportive group with
other teachers where you share your chal-
lenges and successes with your writing
and writing instruction. Group members
can provide feedback and support to one
another.
Share your writing with your students,
including your challenges. Students may
experience similar challenges and nd it
useful to listen to you model your thought
processes and solutions.
Continue to expand your writing instruc-
tion knowledge and skills by participating
in professional-development activities,
observing other teachers during writing
instruction, and/or developing and obtain-
ing feedback on a plan for teaching writing
in your class.
Obstacle. 1.4. I model the use of rubrics for
my students, but my students’ self-assessments
aren’t accurate.
Panel’s advice. Students may not under-
stand key text features well enough to make
accurate judgments about their own writing.
Generally, students who achieve higher-rated
compositions tend to have more awareness of
the strengths and weaknesses of their writing,
whereas students whose compositions score
lower tend to have less awareness.50 Consider
the following approaches for improving stu-
dents’ self-assessments:
Model the use of rubrics by taking two
pieces of student writing from a previous
year, one an exemplar of effective writing
and one an exemplar of ineffective writing,
and annotate each piece using a rubric. If
the rubric measures several aspects, con-
sider limiting the modeling to one attribute
at a time to help make the rubric criteria
more concrete. Students can then annotate
each other’s writing in pairs.
The rubric criteria may change, depend-
ing on the discipline or purpose for
writing. Ensure that students recognize
these changes and complete their self-
assessments with these differences in
mind. Discuss as a class how aspects of
the rubric are specic to the discipline,
audience, or purpose.
Have students complete a rubric prior to
submitting a writing assignment. During
their review of the assignment, teachers
can complete the same rubric side-by-side
with the student’s. Teachers can meet
with students individually to discuss any
discrepancies in the evaluations. Students
can also review both rubrics, summarize
the differences, and plan for how they
might revise the assignment based on
both evaluations.
After a specic writing assignment, ask
each student to rate his or her condence
that the composition will receive a high
mark for one facet of the composition
(e.g., character development). Then, pair
students and ask them to evaluate each
other’s compositions for the presence of
character development. After the evalua-
tion, have each student again rate his or
her condence that the composition will
receive a high mark. The focus on a par-
ticular feature, the peer evaluation, and the
nal rating of condence requires students
to think about how well they accomplished
the specic feature and to be more aware
of the features present in their writing.
• Assess the degree to which students have
condence in their own self-assessments by
asking them to rate their condence in their
rubric evaluations. For instance, a teacher
can ask students to write by each section of
Recommendation 1 (continued)
( 30 )
Recommendation 1 (continued)
the rubric a 1, 2, 3, or 4, with 1 being “I’m
not condent at all in what I’m saying here,
and 4 being “I’m totally condent in this
judgment.” Students who make inaccurate
self-assessments and rate their condence
high may need a better understanding of
what the rubrics are focused on. Students
who make inaccurate self-assessments
and rate their condence low may need a
better understanding of how to address the
rubrics in their own writing.
Obstacle 1.5. How can I help my students to
feel comfortable reecting on their own work?
Panel’s advice. It will take time for nov-
ice writers to understand what qualies as
effective writing, build their writing skills,
and strengthen their condence to reect
upon and improve their own work. Gradually
transitioning responsibility to students helps
them build their skills and condence steadily.
Teachers might have to demonstrate the
reection process multiple times to illustrate
that reection and self-criticism are helpful
tools to improving one’s writing. Reection is
a cyclical process and should occur through-
out the writing process. Students should be
given multiple opportunities to reect on the
same piece of writing.
Teachers can also focus on creating a support-
ive and safe classroom environment for stu-
dents to self-critique their work. For instance,
after a student voices a self-critique in front of
other students, a teacher might say the follow-
ing so everyone can hear, “You showed good
awareness there when you criticized your
own work, Juan. It’s hard, but that’s how good
writers get to be good writers. I’m proud of
you for doing that.” By commenting positively
and publicly when students self-critique their
writing, teachers can help students build con-
dence in their reection skills.
( 31 )
Recommendation 2
Integrate writing and reading to emphasize key
writing features.
Combining reading and writing together in an
activity or assignment helps students learn about
important text features. For example, asking
students to summarize a text they just read
signals that well-written texts have a set of main
points, that students should understand main points while they read, and that when students
write certain types of compositions they should focus on main points. Reading exemplar texts
familiarizes students with important features of writing, which they can then emulate.
Exemplar texts are examples that clearly
illustrate specic features of effective writ-
ing for students.
Similarly, writing with a reader in mind and
reading with the writer in mind strengthens
both skills.51 Writers are more effective when
they tailor their writing to the reader and
anticipate the impact on their audience as
they write.52
Because reading and writing share four types
of cognitive processes and knowledge (see
Figure 2.1), integrating reading and writing
can also help students develop:53
1. Meta-knowledge, which involves under-
standing the reading and writing pro-
cesses in relation to goals and purposes.
For example, when reading or writing an
editorial, a student understands which
reading and writing strategies align with
this format.
2. Domain knowledge, which is about the
substance and content that is revealed
from reading and writing.
( 32 )
Recommendation 2 (continued)
3. Important text features, which include text
format, organization, and genre, as well as
spelling and syntactical combinations
that are accepted in a particular language
or culture.
4. Procedural knowledge, which includes
integrating complex processes to write
compositions and using strategies for
accessing information when reading text.
Combining writing and reading together in all
disciplines enables students to develop their
writing in diverse contexts. By practicing their
writing skills across the curriculum, students
have more opportunities to practice differ-
ent types of writing. For example, in science
class, students can write informational text
about their lab experiments; in history class,
students can write argumentative pieces
about different historical perspectives. More-
over, the panel believes that the benets of
writing across the disciplines extend beyond
the writing itself—writing can improve read-
ing comprehension, critical thinking, and
disciplinary content knowledge.54
Summary of evidence: Moderate Evidence
Eight studies contributed to the level of evi-
dence for this recommendation.55 Three studies
meet WWC group design standards without res-
ervations,56 and ve studies meet WWC group
design standards with reservations (see Appen-
dix D).57 Seven studies found positive effects
on at least one writing outcome;58 positive
effects were found in the overall writing quality,
genre elements, and word choice domains. The
evidence was largely aligned with both steps of
the recommendation, with six studies examin-
ing practices related to using exemplar texts
(step 1) and teaching students to understand
that writers and readers use similar strategies,
knowledge, and skills (step 2).59 Three studies
with positive effects provided a direct test of
the recommendation, examining the recom-
mended practices without other important
intervention components.60 The other four
studies that found positive effects examined
interventions that included other recommended
practices, but the panel determined that inte-
grated reading and writing instruction was a
critical component of the study interventions.61
All of the studies were conducted in the United
States except one, which was conducted in
Germany.62 The student samples were diverse,
including general-education students and Eng-
lish learners from 6th to 12th grade.
While the supporting evidence for this recom-
mendation had high internal and external
validity, and there was a preponderance of
positive effects on writing outcomes, this
recommendation has a moderate level of evi-
dence. One study found indeterminate effects
on writing outcomes63, and fewer than half of
the studies provided a direct test of the rec-
ommendation. Two of the three studies that
provided a direct test of the recommendation
had a very short duration.64
Figure 2.1. Shared knowledge for writing and reading
(Fitzgerald and Shanahan, 2000).
“The shared knowledge model conceptualizes
reading and writing as two buckets
drawing water from a common well or two
buildings built on a common foundation.”
Reading Writing
( 33 )
Recommendation 2 (continued)
How to carry out the recommendation
1. Teach students to understand that both writers and readers use similar strategies,
knowledge, and skills to create meaning.
Students spend more time reading than writ-
ing, so they are more familiar with the skills
required to read. Showing them the connec-
tion between reading and writing can help
them transfer their reading skills to writing
and vice versa.
Explicitly identify the connections between
reading and writing for students. For exam-
ple, to help students recognize a cause/effect
structure when reading and use the structure
when writing, ask them to read a science text
with this structure. Support students as they
identify key features of the cause/effect struc-
ture—for example, the use of signal words
such as because, cause, effect, if, and then.
Tell students, “So now you know some signal
words authors use when they want their
readers to understand causes and effects.
Now you can use that knowledge when you
are writing about a topic that includes cause-
and-effect relationships.” Explicitly stating
the connection between what students just
learned from reading and how they can apply
it in their own writing elevates their knowl-
edge about the connection between reading
and writing.
Help students understand that just as readers
use strategies to decipher text and meaning,
writers use strategies to infuse their text
with meaning. For example, when reading
a narrative, encourage students to visualize
the setting by creating mental pictures based
on the author’s use of sensory details. In the
same way, when creating their own narratives,
students can describe sights, smells, sounds,
tastes, touches, and movements to paint a
picture in their own words.
Show students how writers create meaning
for readers by providing annotations on the
margins of exemplar texts. The annotations
can highlight the ways writers engage readers
by setting up the context and focus of the
text; using concrete words and sensory
language to create pictures of characters,
events, and experiences; and providing a
conclusion that resolves conicts or problems.
Ask students to respond to something they
have read using cognitive-strategy sen-
tence starters. These tools help students
structure their thinking and writing, and focus
on key features. Cognitive-strategy sentence
starters help students write by modeling:
what writers might say to themselves
inside their heads when composing,
what readers think when annotating texts
they are reading, and
how writers generate ideas for texts they
are writing.
For example, have students read the rst
paragraph of an essay and complete the phrase
“At rst, I thought . . . , but now, I think . . .
in writing (see Example 2.1). Ask students
to continue using sentence starters to write
responses to each paragraph in the essay. As
students move through the paragraphs, they
should also note the author’s logical sequence
in the essay. When students have completed
writing using sentence starters, model and
discuss how the author may have used similar
strategies to develop the essay. For example,
the teacher may say, “What do you think the
author was aiming for in the rst paragraph?
( 34 )
Recommendation 2 (continued)
EXAMPLE 2.1.
Using cognitive-strategy sentence starters to generate or respond to texts65
Strategy to
practice Sentence starter
Revising meaning
At first, I thought . . . , but now, I think . . .
My latest thought about this is . . .
I’m getting a different picture here because . . .
Reecting and
relating
The big idea is . . .
A conclusion I’m drawing is . . .
The most important message is . . .
Evaluating This could be more effective if . . .
Analyzing
author’s craft
A strong or impactful sentence for me is . . .
This word/phrase stands out for me because . . .
I like how the author uses ___ to show . . .
How did the author’s vivid language in the
rst paragraph achieve that goal?” Similar dis-
cussions can occur when presenting exemplar
texts to students.
Use specic activities that integrate writing and
reading to enhance student skills and knowl-
edge in reading and writing across disciplines.
Activities that use key words and phrases
from a story (story impressions) help stu-
dents develop knowledge of text features
that writers use in drafting specic narrative
genres. The activity in Example 2.2 asks
students to create a narrative using a selec-
tion of words from a story, helping them
anticipate what they might read in that story.
When reading multiple texts on the same
topic, students can learn to evaluate and
synthesize information into a cohesive
summary. Teachers can also have students
work together to synthesize texts on the
same topic, then strengthen their learning
by writing their syntheses individually (see
Example 2.3).
A similar activity could be used to help
students develop extended research
arguments that incorporate opposing
perspectives. Students can read diverse
viewpoints, write a persuasive essay,
review and evaluate a peer’s writing, and
revise their own writing (see Example 2.4).
( 35 )
Recommendation 2 (continued)
EXAMPLE 2.2.
Story impressions for English language arts66
Instructions
1. Select “story impression” words and phrases from “The Tell-Tale Heart” by Edgar Allen Poe
that suggest a murder scenario. Story impressions are key words and phrases that drive a
narrative. They may include names, places, strong verbs, events, or other words that give
clues to what the poem is about.
2. Present the words to students in the exact order in which they appear in the text.
3. Direct students to write a narrative of the story using the story impressions.
4. Have students read the story and compare their writing to the actual content of the story.
Story impressions presented to students
house old man young man hatred ugly eye death tub blood knife buried
oor police heartbeat guilt crazy confession
A remedial 8th-grade student’s story based on the story impressions
There was a young man and his father, an old man. They lived in a house on a hill. The old man
hated his son because he had an ugly eye.
The young man was asleep in his bedroom when he was awakened by screaming. He went
to the bedroom and saw his father lying in the tub. There was blood everywhere and a knife
through him.