Western New York Education Associates: My Fellowship Project: Improved student writing leads to improved reading. (Part 1)

I’m probably undertaking the longest fellowship research project known to Angela Stockman. Deciding what to research when I have so many ideas has been the hardest thing. Nailing down something that I felt could make a difference and reaffirm something I have believed for some time has been the key to my moving forward.

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Is there a positive impact on reading standards when students understand there are different writing genres and each genre has its own structure?

My answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as just saying that!

What I know!  When young children come to school many start writing and can read back their writing at the time of writing. However, many of these very young learners struggle to read back what they have written when presented with their writing at a later time.

What I know!  When is the shift ? Once students have learnt basic reading strategies and can read simple books (PM Level 5 or Fountas & Pinnell Level D) we have  shift. When combined with a core sight word list comprising of 30 words learners start moving rapidly.  Further vocabulary is learnt during the reading and writing process (context). These young learners are now learning about writing genres and how a text is written. They are connecting writing to reading and reading to writing…. and when they start seeing themselves as authors and sharing their writing with others they have purpose which means shift.

What I know! Focussing on teaching genres has an impact on a student’s understanding of how authors follow a set genre plan when writing. Once young learners are writing they are  initially  introduced to a Recount structure with the Narrative genre following soon after.

When young learners understand  genre structure  and start using  structures when composing their reading comprehension soars.

Example: Students who know there is a problem and solution in a narrative will look for the problem and solution when reading a text. Students who are learning the 6 Traits of Writing (Ideas and Content, Organization, Sentence Fluency, Voice an Word Choice) will be making connections to these when reading.

When young learners make the following connections – reading to writing and writing to reading their comprehension improves rapidly.

Young learners need to connect writing to reading and reading to writing and understand how each is reliant on the other. Reading skills need to be explicitly taught but not taught in isolation. Reading and writing sessions need to link prior learning to new learning including reading and writing small group teaching and assessment strategies.

Recently Angela Stockman sent me a link to The Writing Revolution.  This article was reaffirmed the learning trends I have been recording.

For years, nothing seemed capable of turning around New Dorp High School’s dismal performance—not firing bad teachers, not flashy education technology, not after-school programs. So, faced with closure, the school’s principal went all-in on a very specific curriculum reform, placing an overwhelming focus on teaching the basics of analytic writing, every day, in virtually every class. What followed was an extraordinary blossoming of student potential, across nearly every subject—one that has made New Dorp a model for educational reform. (The Writing Revolution)

Next post: Show me the data!

Cheers Nina

1 Comment

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One response to “Western New York Education Associates: My Fellowship Project: Improved student writing leads to improved reading. (Part 1)

  1. Angela

    Thank you for sharing your thinking and your work, Nina. Like you, I notice that elevating students’ writing experiences empowers them as readers as well, and the effect is often dramatic. So much so that when the districts I serve strive to improve reading performance within the classroom or on assessments, I encourage them to substantially increase the amount and frequency of analytic writing across the curriculum. In nearly twelve years, I’ve never been regretted that advice. The Post article validates my thinking there. So glad to be connected to you, as always. I can’t wait to hear more about your ongoing discoveries! Love this blog. You too. 🙂

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