The Teaching of Writing and Its Assessment: Case Studies of the Effect of Direct Writing Strategy Instruction Integrated with Writer’s Workshop on the Development of Young Writers

This research study examines the effect of explicit direct strategy instruction in writing integrated with a Writers Workshop instructional format on young writers of mature, average, and low ability. Participants included students in a general education third grade classroom in a California public school. Case study participants included six students with two representing writers of mature ability, two representing writers of average ability, and two representing writers of low ability. All participants experienced a series of explicit lessons in multiple-paragraph narrative composition supported by regular individual student-teacher conferences. Each of four writing compositions composed by the six case study participants were analyzed according to the Writing Tool Analysis created by the researcher. The Writing Analysis Tool examined inclusion of narrative elements, use of sensory detail, and structural fluency including sentence length and complexity. The six case study participants also participated in a Writing Knowledge Interview created by the researcher conducted at both baseline and post assessment to measure participant’s self-perception as a writer and individual knowledge of the writing process. Each case study participant demonstrated growth in writing ability from baseline to post assessment. The greatest gains demonstrated by all case study participants included use of complex and compound sentences, overall organization of the composition, and correct use of paragraphing. Writers of low ability demonstrated the greatest gains in time spent pre drafting, overall organization of events, and inclusion of greater detail leading to longer and more informative compositions. Compositions produced during Writers Workshop in which participants conferred regularly with the teacher demonstrated the greatest gains in both sensory detail and overall structural fluency. Further research is needed regarding the alignment and distribution of state writing standards in grades kindergarten through fifth, and instructional intervention practices that support the development of low ability writers.