Guidelines for Making
Reading-Writing
Conections
Timothy Shanahan
University of Illinois at Chicago
[email protected]
www.shanahanonliteracy.com

Of the “3 Rs,” writing has been accorded
the least attention

Notion has been that reading is a widely
needed skill, but that writing is an elite
skill

The National Reading Panel did not
examine writing research (though it
considered reviewing it)
Writing: The Neglected “R”

More than 90% of mid-career professionals
indicate that writing is important in their
work

Writing is essential for success in higher
education, yet more than 50% of college
freshmen have serious writing problems

Fewer than 30% of elementary and high
school students meet NAEP’s writing
proficiency standards
According to the National
Commission on Writing…
National Assessment
Grade
Below
Basic
Basic
Proficient
Advanced
4
16%
60%
23%
1%
8
16%
56%
27%
1%
12
22%
55%
22%
1%

Students can write, but they cannot
produce writing at high levels of skill,
maturity, and sophistication

Few students can produce precise,
engaging, and coherent prose

Fewer than a quarter can write
convincing, elaborated responses with
compelling language
According to NAEP…
Given the high profile of reading, writing
must be considered relative reading
 Writing and reading depend on a common
core of knowledge
 Writing requires deeper processing than
reading
 But how can reading and writing be best
combined for efficiency and effectiveness?

Reading-Writing Relationships
Shanahan, T. (2008). Relations among oral
language, reading, and writing development. In
C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald
(Eds.), Handbook of Writing Research (pp. 171186). New York: Guilford Press.
Tierney, R. J., & Shanahan, T. (1991). Research on
the reading-writing relationship: Interactions,
transactions, and outcomes. In R. Barr, M. L.
Kamil, P. Mosenthal, P. D. Pearson (Eds.),
Handbook of Reading Research (pp. 246-280).
New York: Longman.
Research Sources
Statistical analyses show that the
relationships between reading and writing
are bidirectional
 To fully exploit the relationships, reading
and writing BOTH must be taught
 Writing instruction and practice daily and
of sufficient duration to develop quality
writers

Principle 1:
Teach both reading and writing
To maximize literacy learning and to take
advantage of the relationships across
reading and writing it is essential to teach
both reading and writing
 Since every school stresses reading my
emphasis here is on adding writing to the
equation
 The next several slides are about what we
know about the teaching of writing

Unfortunately, writing is not being taught
 NCLB did not require it
 State curricula do include writing, but
without much emphasis
 Efforts like Reading First downplayed the
role of writing to “protect” the place of
reading in the school day

Status of writing instruction





2-3 hours of daily instruction in literacy
Word knowledge (phonological awareness,
letters, phonics, sight vocabulary,
spelling, meaning vocabulary)
Fluency (accuracy, rate, expression)
Reading comprehension (important
information, genre/text structure,
strategies)
Writing
Chicago Reading Framework
The P3A Writing Curriculum
Purpose
Writers need to write for a variety
of purposes
Process
Writers need to engage
successfully in the writing process
Product
Writers need to produce effective
pieces of writing
Audience
Writers need to meet the needs of
a variety of audiences

Best review of writing instruction research
in the past 20 years:
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). A metaanalysis of writing instruction for
adolescent students. Journal of
Educational Psychology, 99, 445–476.
Research Review

Synthesized results from 123
experimental and quasi-experimental
studies of writing instruction grades 4-12

Studies covered 11 different approaches
to the teaching of writing

Quality of writing was the outcome
measure
Graham & Perin Review

Extended writing opportunities

Writing for real audiences

Engaging in the writing process

High levels of student interaction and
ownership

Personalized individual feedback and
(perhaps) some systematic instruction
Approaches: Process-Writing
Explicit Instruction
Grammar
Explicit systematic instruction of parts of
speech and sentences
Sentence combining
Creating more sophisticated sentences
through combination of sentences
Strategy instruction
Teaching strategies for planning,
revising, editing
Summarization
Explicit systematic instruction in how to
summarize text
Text structure
Explicit systematic instruction in text
organization
Scaffolding
Prewriting
Engaging students in prewriting
practice
Inquiry
Helping students plan by analyzing
data
Procedural facilitation
Peer assistance
Models
Product goals
External prompts: guides, heuristics
Feedback
Information is provided on the
adequacy of the writing
Having students work together
Examinations of specific types of text
Assigning writing goals
Alternative Models
Word Processing
Provides technological support for
students to use computers for writing
and revising
Extra writing
Increased opportunities to write or to
engage in a particular type of writing
Graham & Perin Results
d
n
Strategy instruction
.82
20
Summarization
.82
4
Peer assistance
.75
7
Product goals
.70
5
Word processing
.55
18
Sentence combining
.50
5
Prewriting
.32
5
Process approach
.32
21
Inquiry
.32
5
Models
.25
6
Grammar
-.43
11

Process writing had moderate effect on
student writing in grades 4-6 when teachers
received professional development, and no
effects in grades 7-12

Though grammar instruction was not
effective in any study, it was the control
group treatment in all but one of the studies
in this set

Strategy instruction was effective across all
grade levels, but biggest effects on struggling
students
Graham & Perin Results (cont.)

Impossible to draw meaningful conclusions
on text structure instruction (too few
students, results too varied, etc.)

Inquiry studies were all done at grades 7-12
and had small-to-moderate effects

All peer assistance studies had significant
outcomes (grades 4-12)

Lots of unexplained variability in size of effect
for word processing
Graham & Perin Results (cont.)

Many approaches have sizable and
reliable impacts on students’ writing
quality (strategy teaching most effective,
but many other things work, too)

Combinations might be best: explicitly
teach writing strategies, involving
students in peer guidance, using word
processors, along with many of the other
smaller-effects approaches might merit
inclusion
Graham & Perin Conclusions
Historically, instruction has treated
reading as the enabling skill for writing
 National Early Literacy Panel (Pre-k and
K) findings
 National Reading Panel (invented spelling)
 Role of oral language

Guideline 2: Begin early with both
reading and writing
Because it is possible to draw benefits
from combining reading and writing early
on, the emphasis here is on how to
facilitate early writing
 The next several slides focus on how to
engage even very young preschoolers in
oral composition
 And on the importance of encouraging
kids to write early (not just compose)
through “invented spelling”
 The goal in these early years should be on
fluency







Shared experience with lots of discussion
(opportunity to build knowledge and to
enhance oral language)
Children dictate sentences about the
shared experience
Teacher transcribes the text
Teacher reads the text
Children “read” along with the teacher
Children copy and illustrate the story or
article
Language-Experience Approach
sep
sek
egliow
fes
wel
letl
taddebar
alls
fall
pan
git
scichtap
ricet
clic
cidejches
bopy
nubrs
grapo
staps
attept
adsavin
kd
Invented spelling: Letter name
Stage 1: Precommunicative Spelling
 Scribbles, letter-like forms, letters,
numbers to represent message
 May write from left-to-right, right-to-left,
top-to-bottom, or randomly
 No understanding of phoneme-grapheme
relationships
 May mix upper and lower case letters but
preference is for upper case
Invented spelling
Stage 2: Semiphonetic Spelling
 Shows awareness of the alphabetic
principle, that letters represent sounds
 Uses abbreviated one, two, or three letter
spellings to represent entire words
 Child uses letter-name strategy to
represent sounds
Invented spelling
Stage 3: Semiphonetic Spelling
 Represents all essential sound features
 Uses particular spellings for long and
short vowels, plural and past tense
markers, and other aspects of spelling
 Child chooses letters on basis of sound,
but without regard for English letter
sequences or other conventions
Invented spelling
Stage 4: Transitional Spelling
 Uses basic spelling conventions
 Begins to use morphological and visual
information along with sounds
 May include all appropriate letters but
reverse some
 May use alternate spellings for the same
sound in different words, but only partially
understands the rules
 High percentage of accurate spellings
Invented spelling
Stage 5: Correct Spelling
 Applies basic rules of the English spelling
system
 Growing accuracy with silent consonants,
double consonants before affixes
 Can recognize that a word doesn’t look
right
 Spells irregular spelling patterns correctly
 Can spell a large number of words
Invented spelling

Difficulties in processing text as a reader
or writing sufficient amounts as a writer

Fluency should be an early goal

Peter Elbow’s work on turning off your
editor (limit the amount of early editing)

Writing marathons
Fluency instruction
Research shows that young children’s
writing quality, quantity, and motivation
are limited by handwriting
 Some instruction in how to print or write
cursive are beneficial to composition
 Spelling inventions are a useful process,
but these inventions are based on student
knowledge from reading, phonics, spelling
instruction

Handwriting and spelling
Memory tends to be function-specific
 Teaching can help students to generalize
or to apply in other settings
 To do this instruction should highlight
models of clear connections between
reading and writing
 And instruction should encourage
reflection on reading-writing connections

Guideline 3: Make reading-writing
connections explicit







Writing imitating literary models
Select text with strong structure or style
(pattern books work great with younger
children, more subtle—but still clear–
structures for older students)
Read text to students to students
Discuss the pattern
Provide a structural prompt or frame
Group writing to start out
Read/write similar texts (process talks)
Text structure
“Whistle, Mary, whistle,
And you shall have a cow.”
“I can’t whistle, Mother,
Because I don’t know how.”
“Whistle, Mary, whistle,
And you shall have a …
Pattern writing
“Whistle Mary, whistle,
and you shall have a cow.”
_______ ________, ________,
verb
name
verb
and you shall have a ______.”
gift
I can’t ________, _________,
verb
name 2
because I _________________
rhyme reason
Whistle, Mary, Whistle frame
Structure
Definition
Key Words
Description
“list” of facts, characteristics,
traits, or features
Time sequence
facts, events, processes, or
concepts in temporal order
on (date), not long after, now,
as, before, after, when, finally
Enumeration
list of several descriptions,
usually organized in some
way
to begin with, first, secondly,
next, then, finally, most
important, also, in fact, for
instance, for example
Cause and effect
showing facts, events,
concepts occur because of
other facts, events or
concepts
because, since, therefore,
consequently, as a result, this
led to, so that, thus, if...then,
accordingly
Problem/
solution
development of a problem
(usually in form of cause and
effect) and events that can
interrupt this causal
connection
because, since, therefore,
consequently, as a result, this
led to, so that, thus, if...then,
accordingly
Comparison/
contrast
likenesses or differences
among facts, people, events,
concepts
however, but, as well as, on
the other hand, not only... but
also, either...or, while,
although, unless, similarly, yet
Character Change Chart
What is main character like at
the beginning of the story?
What is the main character like
at the end of the story? How
has he or she changed?
Crisis
Given this character change, what do you think the author wanted you to learn? ________
________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________
Reading and writing share a body of
underlying knowledge (letter-sound
relationships, vocabulary, text structures,
grammar, dependence on world
knowledge, etc.)
 Reading and writing also rely on a
collection of cognitive processes (recall of
prior knowledge, prediction, revision, etc.

Guideline 4: Emphasize content
and process relationships.
Reading
 Decoding
 Vocabulary
 Text organization
 Reading fluency
 Previewing/Predicting
 Reviewing prior
knowledge
 Revising
interpretations
Writing
 Spelling
 Vocabulary/diction
 Text organization
 Writing fluency
 Planning/Prewriting
 Reviewing prior
knowledge
 Revising text
Similar content/processes




Process similarities tend to be analogs (they
are similar, but not really the same)
Process talks across reading and writing can
be useful
Have students reflect on how reading and
writing are similar
Guide them to think about their writing
experiences during reading and their
reading experiences during writing
Process talks
Emphasis here is on communication
 Good reading instruction will foster author
awareness
 Good writing instruction will foster
sensitivity to the needs of an audience

Guideline 5: Emphasize readerwriter connections
Young children don’t know about authors
 By ages 5 or 6, readers construct an
egocentric author, but can recognize
common style across books
 By 12 or 13, readers recognize that
authors have intent (and can do some low
level text interpretation)
 Still later, readers learn to use the author
as an interpretive construct (e.g.,
sourcing)

Author awareness
Reflection (diaries, logs, daybooks)
 Conversation (dialogues, notes,
Twittering)
 Correspondence (letters, emails)
 Publication (reports, blogs, “books”)

Moffett’s Discourse Relations
Reading and writing differ in various
content areas
 Texts from different fields different in
content, structure, language, style,
density, social nature of discourse
 Kids need opportunities to read different
kinds of text
 Kids need opportunities to write different
kinds of text

Guideline 5: Literacy must be
learned across the curriculum





Modeling
Explicit explanation of what you are doing
(what, how, when, why)
Scaffolded practice
Collaborative practice
Individual/independent practice
Guideline 6: Provide explicit
instruction
Think Sheets: Ideas Section
Directions: How does Lydia Grace show strength during her year away?
While reading, answer the questions with evidence from the story. These
questions will help you to use narrative elements (plot, characters, and
setting) to understand the story. The narrative elements are highlighted
to assist you. The first one is done for you.
1. Page 25
Setting
Question
Evidence
When does story take place?
August 27, 1935
Where does Uncle Jim ask
Lydia to go?
Grandma told us after supper that
you want me to come to the city
and live there until things get
better.
How do we know the family is
facing tough times?
Did she tell you that Papa had
been out of work for a long time,
and no one asks Mama to make
dresses anymore?
2. Page 26
Characters
Question
How do we know Lydia Grace
likes to garden?
How does Lydia Grace feel
about cooking?
How does Lydia Grace feel
about Grandma?
Evidence
Graphic Organizer
Directions: You have gathered evidence based on the narrative elements of The Gardener. Now it
is time to plan. Select the 1 or 2 pieces of evidence for each of the elements below that you believe
will help you to write an essay to explain how Lydia Grace showed her strength in her year away.
You do not have to use complete sentences here.
Setting
Character
Plot
Extended Writing
Directions: Use the evidence you selected for the graphic organizer on
your planning page to write an essay responding to the question: How
does Lydia Grace show her strength during her year away? You may
continue writing on the next page.
Essay Writing Guidelines
Introduction: Tell what you are going to write about.
Body: Tell what happened to Lydia Grace acted during her
year away and how she reacted to these events. Reread to
make sure your evidence is logically connected.
Conclusion: Tell how you think Lydia Grace showed strength
during her year away.
Culham, R. 6+1 Traits of writing. New York:
Scholastic.
Fisher, D., & Frey, N. Scaffolded writing
instruction. New York: Scholastic.
Graham, S., et al. Best practices in writing
instruction. New York: Guilford.
Temple, C., et al. The beginnings of writing.
Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Some Useful Writing Resources
Timothy Shanahan
University of Illinois at Chicago
[email protected]
www.shanahanonliteracy.com
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Teaching Writing Effectively Research & Practice