Writing refers to the multiple, coordinated processes, and skills teachers and students use in a certain context to create a written product. Various cognitive processes include long-term and working memory, planning, text generation, evaluating, revising, metacognition (Berninger, Abbott, Whitaker, Sylvester, & Nolen, 1995), and employing technologies (Graham, Harris, & Larsen, 2001). Writing skills include proper use of phonology, morphology, orthography/spelling, syntax, handwriting, and vocabulary. The social context of the classroom and motivation of the students can be capitalized on to enhance the students’ abilities to acquire effective writing processes and skills.

Evidence-based practices for writing typically include those that emphasize learners’ needs; elements of the writing process; use of various texts; technology; feedback; goal-setting for composing, monitoring, evaluating, and automaticity; and supportive writing environments. For example, teachers can implement strategy instruction to make the processes of writing explicit, employ activities in which students compare and contrast texts and specific attributes of texts, facilitate students’ reading and responding to texts, use rubrics, engage in peer and teacher conferencing, and assist students in creating and attaining goals for writing. According to Troia (2014), teachers may consider differentiated instruction through strategic instructional grouping arrangements (i.e., whole class, small group, and individual teaching during writing conferences); the application of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles (i.e., providing multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement); and learner-centered adaptations” (p. 35).

For more information, please see the Innovation Configuration developed by Troia on our website.

Rationale

Writing skills are crucial for several reasons. Students’ competence with writing tasks improves performance on high-stakes achievement tests (Graham & Perin, 2007), influences entrance and completion of a college degree (Graham & Perin, 2007; National Commission on Writing for America’s Families, Schools, and Colleges [NCWAFSC], 2006), and employment and promotion in the workplace (NCWAFSC, 2004). Yet, the average American student lacks proficiency in writing (ACT, 2005; De La Paz & Graham, 2002; National Center for Education Statistics, 2012; Salahu-Din, Persky, & Miller, 2000). Furthermore, results from a study by the National Center for Education Statistics (2003) revealed about one-fourth of freshman entering public two-year postsecondary institutions enroll in remedial writing courses. For students with learning difficulties, writing is even more challenging (Monroe & Troia, 2006) because they often lack coordinated cognitive processes and strategies. This gap leads to deficiencies in planning, organizing, and revising their own writing (Graham & Harris, 2005; Monroe & Troia, 2006; Reid & Lienemman, 2006; Torrance & Galbraith, 2006). Additionally, students with learning difficulties face increased expectations as they move into secondary education (Swanson & Hoskyn, 2001). Finally, the Common Core State Standards (CCSS; National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010) emphasize increasing sophistication in the demonstration of a range of writing skills and applications.

Objectives

After studying these materials, users will be able to:

  1. Explain why writing is important
  2. Understand why writing may be difficult for students with and without disabilities
  3. Note how the CCSS address writing
  4. Articulate what teachers and students need to be able to know and do to understand evidence-based practices for writing
  5. Discern 10 evidence-based instruction and assessment practices for writing
  6. Select evidence-based practices for implementing writing in the classroom
  7. Plan effective, evidence-based scaffolds for students with learning difficulties

Writing skills include proper use of phonology, morphology, orthography/spelling, syntax, handwriting, and vocabulary. The social context of the classroom and motivation of the students can be capitalized on to enhance the students’ abilities to acquire effective writing processes and skills.

OSEP LogoThis website was produced under U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, Award No. H325A120003. David Guardino serves as the project officer. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the positions or polices of the U.S. Department of Education. No official endorsement by the U.S. Department of Education of any product, commodity, service, or enterprise mentioned in this website is intended or should be inferred.