The effects of integrated reading and writing strategy instruction on struggling middle school students' expository reading and writing
Dwyer-Tower, Karen H.
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This study examines the effect of integrated teaching of vocabulary and main ideas and supporting details in expository text on struggling middle school students' ability to write extended summaries of expository text. The research was conducted in the literacy support classes in fifth and sixth grade in a suburban middle school in the Northeastern United States. The teacher/researcher conducted an intervention in the integration of reading and writing strategies to struggling middle school readers and writers. She examined the effect of explicit teaching of declarative, procedural, and conditional knowledge of reading and writing strategies on students' demonstration of comprehension of expository text through writing. Data were collected for five writing tasks, three of which were collaborative. The first and last were written independently. Each writing sample was scored using an analytic trait content area rubric for vocabulary and major ideas, which then informed the scoring of the holistic content area rubric. The teacher/researcher examined the students' writing samples through both quantitative and qualitative methods. In addition to the pre- and post-study writing by the participants, data from the Gates-MacGinitie vocabulary and comprehension tests were collected before and after the study. Findings indicate that struggling middle school readers and writers benefit from a comprehensive approach to building their literacy skills. Ninety percent of the fifth and 83% of the sixth grade participants improved either their reading or writing achievement or both. The analytic trait and holistic rubrics aided students' understanding of the requirements for grade appropriate writing and were effective diagnostic instructional tools to guide students' awareness of their abilities in content area writing and enabled targeted, individualized scaffolding of students' writing. The rubrics provided an effective intermediary step between the development of single paragraph and multiparagraph writing for struggling middle school students.
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