Progressive Writing Instruction

Empowering School Leaders and Teachers

Becky Brady, September 10th 2015, Teaching Literacy 3-6, Section D.

Lacina, Jan & Block, Cathy Collins. (2012). Progressive Writing Instruction: Empowering School Leaders and Teachers. Voices from the Middle. 19: 3 (10-17).

Summary

This article, written by Jan Lacina and Cathy Collins Block, touches on all aspects of what is currently happening in writing instruction and also projects what the future might look like in writing classrooms. The main ideas of the article is to pin point specific perspectives that school districts have on writing instruction in the classroom. The article begins by saying, "the chances are that when they graduate they will be unable to write ordinary, expository English with any real degree of structure and lucidity. "(Lacina, 2012, p. 10) The article focuses on current data that is being produced from schools based on writing instruction and also new teaching strategies that will increase the implementation of successful writing and comprehension in the classroom.

There is ample amount of research that shows how instructional scaffolding, modeling, "process-based approach", and new literacy techniques are being implemented into the classroom in many urban school districts. Many classrooms have adopted a plethora of progressive, researched- based strategies to help improve writing skills in grade school classrooms. Some of these new techniques focus on everything from collaborative group writing to simple sentence combination. Research on these strategies was collected from 17 large school districts and the conductors of this research formulated a series of questions that would indicate the effectiveness of said strategies.

The questions inquired if administrators felt that middle school students' writing has become more proficient over the years, are the districts actually implementing these new strategies, and if the districts felt that future students would be more proficient in writing than current students today. Research shows that 72.7% of students are not writing more proficiently than in years past (Lacina, 2012, p. 12). The people that provided these statics indicated that for the students writing abilities to improve, there needs to be more time spent on teaching and instructing writing. The first table below shows the numerical breakdown of writing practices and strategies and the effect they have on the classroom. When asked how large school districts are using research based instruction and learning in the classroom, 50% of them indicated that technology is the biggest contributor to their means of incorporating research based learning (Lacina, 2012, p. 13). The administrators indicated that most of the plans to improve writing in the future are focused on incorporating more technology based discovery learning and research in the classroom.

Technology is a main resource that school districts plan to use in the incorporation of new writing strategies and instruction. The article touches on the thoughts of administrators mentioning the actual means of this integration of technology. Wiki pages and blog posts, using real- time text books, guided writing procedure and learning logs are some of the ideas that districts have to increase the proficiency of todays writers (Lacina, 2012, p. 15). The article concludes by stating that all of these action plans have the potential to be effective and supplemental, but before they can take place the policymakers must set them in place and require their implementation.

Opinion

This article was very insightful for me. I have always thought about writing instruction and how it is typically always paired with reading, yet this article taught me to view writing with a different perspective. Writing proficiency should continually be improved among the grade levels, which makes complete sense, yet right now that is not happening. 72% of teachers say that their students are not more proficient writers than the ones they had in years past, that is scary! The article specifically touched on a handful of new writing strategies, while also talking about the importance of the time that is spent on teaching those strategies, and it is critical. I enjoyed reading the explicit examples of what students in classrooms today are writing and how they are doing with these strategies.

It was not surprising to me that technology is one of the main means of integration of writing in the classroom. It seems like so many things are centered around technology and this is such a benefit for the students because in my eyes, technology is a natural language for many of the students in classrooms today. Not only did the article provide concrete details about what district administrators are seeing in schools today, the article is a rescue for me personally because it explains many new progressive writing techniques that I was not already aware of, and will absolutely use in my future classrooms.

It is concerning that the students today are struggling with writing, yet it is assuring to read that there are many means of improving their writing. The last sentence of the article really solidified the importance of writing for me, it says, "empowering our students as writers transforms writing instruction and reinvigorates the educational community as a whole- and in the end, the students themselves are transformed into better writers. (Lacina, 2012, p. 16).

Questions

1. For writing proficiency to improve in the future, what are some of the classroom teacher and student needs indicated in the article?

2. What are some of the strategies and approaches that the article outlined that have potential to improve this generations writing proficiency?

3. How can these stated strategies be integrated into the classroom? (ie. cross curricular integration, as a stand alone subject, collaboratively, etc.)