Progressive Writing Instruction:

Empowering School Leaders and Teachers

Graham and Perin

These two leading experts set off to study effective writing instructional strategies that were supported by strong scientific research.
The study identified 11 research-based classroom practices to improve adolescent writing.
  1. Collaborative Writing
  2. Specific Product Goals
  3. Word Processing
  4. Sentence Combining
  5. Prewriting
  6. Inquiry Activities
  7. Process Writing Approach
  8. Study of Models
  9. Writing for Content Learning
  10. Summarization
  11. Writing Strategies

Research and Findings

  • Picked 17 most populous school districts through the US to survey district literacy coordinators/directors
  • asked 4 open ended survey questions and two rating scale questions
  • 13 district administrators completed the online survey

Question: Are middle school students of this generation writing more proficiently, according to district administrators?

Findings: 72.7% of middle school students are not writing more proficiently than prior generations because little time is invested in the teaching of writing

Most/only Identified writing practices out of the 11 practices to improve adolescent writing in 50% of their district: 100% prewriting, 75% of classrooms are teaching sentence combining and process writing

Question:How are large school districts across the country using researched-based instructional strategies to prepare 21st century writers?

Findings: 50% of respondents said the introduction of technology was the most important action taken by their school districts over the past decade

Teachers need: Teachers need to take these findings into consideration. Teachers should increase the use of mentor texts as models for effective writing and intensify the use of writing for content learning.

Many of the school district leaders maintained a non-progressive view about the teaching of writing within schools. Several leaders said that writing is still not a priority in their school districts.

Recomendations to Teachers:

  1. Use authors and their text as mentors.
  2. Consider implementing peer response groups using wikis or blogs.
  3. Use real-time text tools to promote collaborative writing.
  4. Include content area writing strategies throughout the curriculum.


  • An increase in students’ writing proficiency will only occur when educational policymakers and national education leaders making writing a priority across all content areas.
  • Think of more innovative, research-based strategies for teaching writing.
  • Writing educators must find ways to teach writing everyday for longer time periods and must focus on the writer and the writer's words and ideas.


This article was very surprising to me as a student and as a future educator. I feel like in elementary through high school I was expected to write very well. My teachers, especially my English teachers, spent many hours dedicated to our writing, always wanting to hear our voice come out through the paper. I understand teaching and learning has dramatically changed over the years with the ever-changing technology, yet, I am still amazed teachers are not making writing a priority in their students’ learning. In the article, one respondent said, “I am saddened to say that writing does not seem to be a priority in the district I work in, or most colleges.” I can see where the respondent is coming from when talking about college, because through college I have only had to write a few papers and they are all for a grade and not graded on voice. In elementary and middle schools, I believe teachers should invest time into their students writing learning process, because it will reflect on them in their future when applying for scholarships, jobs, etc. Teachers should not only care about the grammar and the correct punctuation, but focus also on, the students’ voice coming through the paper giving the student a way to stand apart and communicate through their own writing.


  1. How would you, as a future educator, make sure your students' writing skills are above extraordinary compared to prior generations?
  2. How could you make sure to include all of the 11 research-based classroom practices throughout your lessons during the school year?


Lacina, J & Collins Block, C (2013). Progressive Writing Instruction: Empowering School Leaders and Teachers. Voices from the Middle, 19(3). retrieved February 2, 2014, from

By: Krystal Clamors
Section A
February 4th, 2015