The relationship of writing instruction to grade 4 to 6 students' reflective accounts and their written products




Bright, Robin M.

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The research documented in this dissertation examined the language-related instructional contexts for writing in two intermediate classrooms spanning grades four to six. In addition, students' understanding of those contexts and the nature of the writing produced therein were studied. The three areas explored through this research include: (a) the teacher's instructional language during writing events (what was said), (b) the nature of the writing produced by the students (what was done), and (c) the students' reflective accounts about writing (what was understood). Specifically, this inquiry investigated the writing-related activities of two teachers and twelve students from two elementary classrooms spanning grades four to six over a five-month period (October, 1991 to February, 1992). The students were selected in consultation with the teachers on the basis of providing a group in each class representing both genders at various levels of writing development. Guided by previous research findings, the study documented students' evident understanding of: (a) what good writers do, (b) principal audience for their writing, (c) the goals and purposes of writing tasks, (d) themselves as writers, and (e) the value of writing. Data collection procedures included formal and informal interviews, extensive classroom observations, and attention to the writing produced by the students throughout the study. By documenting students' evident understanding of specific aspects of their teachers' instructional language, it was concluded that one's perception of instruction is a valuable and necessary source of information and one that appears to mediate between teaching and learning how to write. On the basis of the evidence provided here, an interplay between instructional language and students' level of writing development contribute to students' evident understanding of the nature of instruction. These results suggest that teachers need to employ procedures that reveal or make transparent students' understanding of their writing instruction. Such procedures may be valuable for teachers and students alike. For students, as they become aware of their own thoughts about writing and its instruction, they may begin to see what they are able to do and what they might do. Hearing what students say about writing and how it is taught permits teachers to better assess students' needs in order to provide useful instruction that builds on their students' evident understanding of writing.



Language arts (Elementary), English language, Study and teaching (Elementary)