Progressive Writing Instruction

By:Nate Mitchell Section:D Date:February 11th, 2016


In this article they talk about the importance of writing instruction and how technology can enhance students' writing proficiency. They gather up a group of 13 administrators and other leaders in some of the biggest school districts around the United States and ask them questions about what their school does to teach writing to their students. The other questions that are asked during this article to the administrators/leaders is how they view middle school writing instruction for the 21st century.

Effective Writing Instruction for Young Adolescents

  • Many Recent publications have described writing as the neglected "r" (Alliance for Excellent Education, 2007; Biancarosa & Snow, 2004; Gilbert & Graham, 2010; National Writing Project & Nagin, 2003).

in 2006, the Carnegie Corporation of New York asked two experts to look into effective writing instructional strategies. Their names were Graham and Perin, and they were asked to publish their findings. The study identified 11 research-based classroom practices to improve adolescent writing.

  • Writing Strategies
  • Summarization
  • Collaborative Writing
  • Specific Product Goals
  • Word Processing
  • Sentence Combining
  • Prewriting
  • Inquiry Activities
  • Process Writing Approach
  • Study of Models
  • Writing for Content Learning


  • Selected the 17 most populous school districts throughout the United States
  • Asked survey questions using the 11 research-supported strategies for increasing writing proficiency. (four open-ended and two rating scales, and identifying any of the 11 writing strategies)

Research questions:

  • Are middle school students of this generation writing more proficiently, according to district administrators?
  • How are large school districts across the country using researched based instructional strategies to prepare 21st century writers?
  • How do large school districts project changes in the teaching of writing within the next decade?

Only 13 district administrators completed the online survey.


  • 72.7% indicated that middle school students are NOT writing more proficiently than prior generations
  • Respondents stated that there is little time invested in the teaching of writing, and that teachers focus on more on form than content.

Here is a picture of the table of results that article gave.

Big image

How school districts are getting prepared for 21st century writers

School districts have discovered that technology has played a huge role on helping students with their writing. The article states, "Fifty percent of the survey respondents cited the introduction of technology as the single most important action taken by their school districts over the past decade."

Ways to expand the teaching of writing and to increase student writing proficiency recommended by Graham and Perin.

  • Use authors and their texts as mentors
  • Implementing peer response groups using wikis or blogs
  • Use real time text tool to promote collaborative writing
  • Include content area writing strategies throughout the curriculum

Opinion Statement

I found this article very interesting. The opening statement, “If your children are attending college, the chances are that when they graduate they will be unable to write ordinary, expository English with any real degree of structure and lucidity. If they are in high school and planning to attend college, the chances are less than even that they will be able to write English at the minimal college level when they get there. If they are not planning to attend college, their skills in writing English may not even qualify them for secretarial or clerical work. (Sheils, 1975, p.58)” I found to be very hurtful because basically what this person is saying is that our education system has been failing our youth and I don’t agree with that. I remember learning about the importance of writing in grade school and I thought my teachers did a great job explaining the importance of it and teaching me how to write. I will say however, that I have never really thought about the lack of writing skills our students may have in the 21st century. It was very eye opening when reading some of the districts administrators’ responses to the survey questions saying that their district didn't focus on the content of writing. The results from the survey baffled me because it just shows the writing has basically been forgotten in districts. The recommendations that were given to enhance students writing proficiency, and also the use of technology are great ways to help teachers with their instruction on writing. After reading this article I now see the importance of teaching writing very seriously in my future classroom.

Open-Ended Questions

  • What are some writing strategies you will use in your classroom to show your students the importance of being a proficient writer?
  • What are your thoughts on the opening comment in this article? Do you believe that our teachers have failed our youth when it comes to being proficient writers?

Article Citation

Lacina, J., &Block, C. C. (2012). Progressive writing instruction: Empowering school leaders and teachers. Voices from the Middle, 19(3), 10-17.