Learning About Learning Disabilities || Writing Instruction

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<ul><li><p>243Learning about Learning Disabilities 2012 Elsevier Inc.</p><p>All rights reserved.2012</p><p>Writing InstructionCharles A. MacArthur1, Zoi Philippakos1, Steve Graham2, and Karen Harris21University of Delaware, Newark, DE 19716, USA 2Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ 85069-3151, USA</p><p>9</p><p>Chapter Contents</p><p>Introduction 243Goals of Writing Instruction 244</p><p>Writing Tasks 244Writing Processes 245Writing to Learn 246Basic Skills and Conventions 247</p><p>General Recommendations for Writing Instruction 248Provide Time for Writing 248Create a Supportive Social Environment 249Integrate Writing and Reading 249</p><p>Writing Instruction for Students with LD and other Struggling Writers 250Explicit, Systematic Instruction in Self-Regulated Strategies 251Explicit, Systematic Instruction in Basic Skills 257Application of Technology in Writing Instruction 260Computer Support for Planning Processes 265</p><p>Concluding Comments 266References 267</p><p>CHAPTER</p><p>INTRODUCTION</p><p>Writing is a complex cognitive and social process. Proficient writ-ing requires awareness of the audience and purpose for particular tasks, knowledge of content, effective strategies for planning and revising, criti-cal reading, language ability, motivation, and self-regulation, as well as flu-ent text production. Even for skilled adults, writing is challenging, and most students find writing difficult. The most recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (Salahu-Din, Persky, &amp; Miller, 2008) reported that only 33% of eighth-grade, and 24% of twelfth-grade students were proficient. Among special education students at eighth grade, only 6% scored proficient, </p><p>http://dx.doi.org/ </p></li><li><p>Learning about Learning Disabilities244</p><p>and 46% were below basic. Students with learning disabilities (LD) perform more poorly than their normally achieving peers on all aspects of writing. They have less knowledge about writing, fewer skills with language, greater difficulties with spelling and handwriting, and less effective strategies for writing (Troia, 2006).</p><p>The purpose of this chapter is to review research relevant to the writ-ing needs of students with LD and struggling writers and to provide specific instructional recommendations to educators. We begin with a dis-cussion of the goals of writing instruction for all students and classrooms. Next, we provide general recommendations for a sound program of writ-ing instruction for all elementary and secondary students. The largest part of the chapter focuses on instructional approaches that have been studied intensively with students with LD and other struggling writers. We focus on three instructional approaches: instruction in self-regulated strate-gies for planning and revising; instruction in the basic skills of handwrit-ing, spelling, and sentence writing; and assistive technology for writing. Throughout the chapter, whenever possible, recommendations are based on empirically validated procedures. However, we have not limited our discussion just to evidence-based practices. Promising practices are empha-sized as well.</p><p>GOALS OF WRITING INSTRUCTION</p><p>A reasonable place to begin a discussion of writing instruction is with the desired outcomes. What do students need to know and be able to do in order to be successful in later education and in the workplace? Desired outcomes include knowledge about writing tasks, proficiency with cogni-tive strategies and processes, ability to use writing to support learning, and skills with writing conventions and fluent text production.</p><p>Writing TasksStudents need to learn to write for a wide range of audiences and purposes in a variety of forms. The Common Core State Standards (2010) organize writing outcomes according to three tasks with associated communicative purposes that are common to writing in school and the workplace: argu-ments to persuade; informative/explanatory texts to convey information clearly; and narratives to convey experience, real or imagined. The Writing Framework for the National Assessment of Educational Progress (National Assessment Governing Board, 2007) specifies the same three writing purposes: to persuade, to </p></li><li><p>Writing Instruction 245</p><p>explain, and to convey experience. Within these broad purposes, there are many specific purposes and forms of writing that differ in text structure, content, language, tone, style, and other characteristics. For example, per-sonal narratives, fables, adventure stories, and mysteries are all narratives with characters and problems, but they differ in content, structure, language, and style. For older students, science reports, literary analyses, and interpre-tations of historical events all seek to explain, but have dramatically different conventions for content, organization, and style. If the writing curriculum in a school focuses on a relatively narrow range of writing tasks, such as the five-paragraph essay, then students may not be prepared for the wide vari-ety of writing tasks they will encounter in later schooling and employment. One way to broaden the range of writing tasks is to teach writing in all content-area classes, so that students learn some of the purposes and con-ventions of writing in the disciplines (Shanahan &amp; Shanahan, 2008).</p><p>Knowledge of genres develops gradually over the school years (Donovan &amp; Smolkin, 2006). Cognitive studies (Hayes &amp; Flower, 1980; Torrance &amp; Galbraith, 2006) have found that expert writers have considerable knowl-edge of common text structures and genres, which they use in generating and organizing content. In contrast, struggling writers have limited knowl-edge of and sensitivity to such text structures (Englert &amp; Thomas, 1987).</p><p>Writing ProcessesIn addition to knowledge about types of writing, students need to acquire strategies for planning and revising. Proficient writers use a range of strate-gies to manage the complex processes of planning and revising. In gen-eral, younger and less skilled writers engage in far less planning than older and more proficient writers. One key difference between proficient and novice writers is that proficient writers engage in task analysis and goal setting during planning (Bereiter &amp; Scardamalia, 1987; Hayes &amp; Flower, 1980). Writers begin with general tasks but need to set sub-goals to direct their planning. In the process, they analyze the task, using knowledge about audience, purpose, and content. Experimental studies of goal set-ting have shown that directing students to set goals for planning an argu-ment (Ferretti, MacArthur, &amp; Dowdy, 2000) or for revising an argument to consider audience (Midgette, Haria, &amp; MacArthur, 2008) can improve the quality of their writing.</p><p>In addition to goal setting, proficient writers engage in a variety of planning strategies to generate and organize content, including brain-storming, outlining, mapping, free-writing, self-questioning, and using </p></li><li><p>Learning about Learning Disabilities246</p><p>text structure. Recent reviews of research on cognitive strategy instruction show that teaching planning strategies, especially strategies based on text structure with mnemonics or graphic organizers as scaffolds, can have sub-stantial effects on the organization and overall quality of written products (Graham, 2006; Graham &amp; Perin, 2007).</p><p>Proficient writers also differ from less skilled writers in revising pro-cesses. Expert writers evaluate their texts throughout the writing process and revise to improve meaning, organization, language, and conventions, whereas, novice writers typically revise primarily for mechanical prob-lems (Fitzgerald, 1987). Revision is dependent on critical reading and self-evaluation processes. Prompting writers to ask evaluative questions, directly teaching evaluation criteria, and instruction in peer review all have been shown to support increased revision and improved writing quality (MacArthur, 2012).</p><p>Students also need to learn self-regulation strategies. Self-regulation is important in all areas of academic performance, but it is especially so in writing because of its complexity and challenge. Use of strategies clearly helps writers to self-regulate the writing process, and self-regulation has been recognized as a critical aspect of strategy development since the 1980s (Brown &amp; Palincsar, 1982). In addition to writing strategies, spe-cific self-regulation processes play an important role in proficient writing (Graham &amp; Harris, 2005; Schunk &amp; Zimmerman, 2007). Several types of self-regulation strategies have been studied with regard to writing, includ-ing self-monitoring, self-instructions, goal setting, self-reinforcement, and management of time and environment. Further discussion of strategies and self-regulation is included in a later section on strategy instruction.</p><p>Writing to LearnOne of the main purposes of writing in school settings is to support learning. Teachers ask students to summarize reading assignments, analyze texts or learning activities, take essay exams, and write research papers, all with the purpose of enhancing content learning. Research reviews show that writing activities do enhance content learning (Bangert-Drowns, Hurley, &amp; Wilkinson, 2004). Furthermore, writing about texts that have been read supports enhanced reading comprehension (Graham &amp; Hebert, 2010). Graham and Hebert found moderate to strong effects on reading comprehension from responding to a text in writing (e.g., personal reac-tions, analysis), summarizing texts, writing notes, and answering ques-tions about a text in writing. Writing about texts one has read involves </p></li><li><p>Writing Instruction 247</p><p>substantial skills that go beyond writing activities based on personal expe-rience or existing knowledge. For example, summarizing requires compre-hension of the main ideas in a text and skill in paraphrasing those ideas in ones own words, and responding to a text requires comprehension plus some critical analysis. This reprocessing of information enhances under-standing of the content of the reading and increases future ability to read that type of text. Learning to write a research paper requires many addi-tional skills, such as searching for information, selecting and evaluating the information, taking notes, integrating information from multiple sources, and developing a main idea or thesis that integrates the information effec-tively. A solid writing instruction program should provide ample opportu-nities for students to write about what they read in the service of learning.</p><p>Basic Skills and ConventionsIssues of grammar and writing conventions are critical to any discussion of struggling writers. Berninger and Swanson (1994) modified Hayes and Flowers (1980) model of writing, elaborating the empty transla-tion component to include sentence production and transcription com-ponents. Transcription factors, including handwriting, spelling, typing, and punctuation, have a significant impact on writing quality for young writers (Graham, Berninger, Abbott, Abbott, &amp; Whitaker, 1997) and older struggling writers. Graham et al. (1997) found that handwriting fluency and spelling accounted for 25 to 42% of variance in writing quality for elementary school children, and there is evidence that typing fluency similarly affects quality for secondary students (Christensen, 2004) and primary students (Connelly, Gee, &amp; Walsh, 2007). Many struggling writers have difficulties with handwriting that interfere with fluent writing and affect motivation and writing quality.</p><p>In addition, ability to write correct Standard English is important in its own right because errors can interfere with understanding and can affect the judgments of others about ones ability. Students with LD and other struggling writers, of course, make far more errors than proficient writers. Unfortunately, problems with grammar can be persistent and difficult to remediate. Some difficulties stem from the fact that written text is more complex than oral text, so students need to learn more complex sentence structures for writing than they use in speaking. In addition, students who speak nonstandard English and non-native speakers have additional sources of difficulty with the complexities of English syntax. Despite the difficul-ties, the ability to write using correct and varied sentences and the ability </p></li><li><p>Learning about Learning Disabilities248</p><p>to produce text with reasonable fluency via handwriting and typing are important outcomes of writing instruction.</p><p>GENERAL RECOMMENDATIONS FOR WRITING INSTRUCTION</p><p>Before considering the special needs of students with LD and other strug-gling writers, we would like to present briefly some recommendations about writing instruction for all students. The first step in preventing writ-ing problems is to provide a solid general writing curriculum based on research, where available, and recommendations of expert practitioners. The elements of effective writing instruction will vary by grade, but some key principles remain the same. From the goals discussed above, it follows more or less directly that a sound writing curriculum should include:l Instruction in writing for a wide range of audiences and purposes in a </p><p>variety of forms.l Instruction in the writing processes involved in planning, drafting, and </p><p>revising as well as strategies for self-regulation of the overall process.l Instruction in writing that is integrated with learning in content areas.l Instruction in the basic skills required for fluent text production and </p><p>use of standard English.In addition, we would like to make three other general recommenda-</p><p>tions for a sound writing curriculum:l Provide ample time for writing.l Create a supportive social environment.l Integrate writing and reading.</p><p>Provide Time for WritingOne essential element of an effective writing instruction program is ade-quate time for students to write. They need time to learn and practice the basic skills required. They need time to learn strategies for planning, draft-ing, and revising. They need time to learn about the various purposes that writing can serve. They need time to learn to evaluate their writing. And they need time to develop motivation and confidence in their ability.</p><p>Teachers should establish regular routines for writing instruction and practice that include daily opportunities for students to practice writing. In elementary school classes, teachers should set aside time devoted spe-cifically to writing plus arrange opportunities to write across the school day as part of instruction in reading and the content areas. Students should </p></li><li><p>Writing Instruction 249</p><p>spend time during the school day writing in class as well as writing for homework. In-class writing is important because it provides opportuni-ties for teachers to observe and evaluate students writing processes and difficulties as well as time to assist individual students. At the secondary level, writing assignments may be divided across many content area classes, which requires coordination by grade-level teams of teachers to ensure that students are receiving ad...</p></li></ul>