Target

Improving writing and revising performance

Participants

67 students with learning disabilities in Grades 4 through 6

Technique

Students were assigned to one of three groups: general goal, goal to add information, and add information with a procedural facilitator. All students wrote a narrative and were encouraged to plan and make notes before beginning the writing process. During the revision session, students were asked to make revisions to make it better. In the goal to add information group, the students were told to add at least 3 things to their narrative to make it better. In the goal to add information with procedural facilitator group, students were told to add at least 3 things to make their paper better and were told that adding information would improve their papers. This group was further directed to use the following procedure which was modeled by the facilitator: (1) write down 5 items to add to the story, (2) think of as many things as you can including what happened, descriptions, or details, (3) evaluate possible additions and check the 3 which would best help the story.

Evaluation

A holistic rating scale to assess quality of writing, word counts to assess length, and the counting and categorization of revisions were used to evaluate the student writings. Papers written by the students in each of the goal to add groups received higher quality ratings. There was no difference in quality ratings of the two goal-to add information groups. Length was not affected by any of the groups. The goal-to add-information groups resulted in more meaning-changing revisions. The number of meaning-changing revisions made by students were not significantly enhanced by using the procedural facilitator when adding information. The research demonstrated that goal setting can be used to improve writing performance.

Source

Schwartz, S., Graham, S., & MacArthur, C. (1995). Effects of goal setting and procedural facilitation on the revising and writing performance of students with writing and learning problems, Journal of Educational Psychology, 87, 230-240.

Developer

Susan M. Hubley, ETSU


Target

Improving writing skills

Participants

Elementary and secondary school students with learning disabilities

Technique

A technique useful in developing writing skills for students is character development. Explaining and helping a student define his character will help him to see the character as a real person, therefore identifying with him. There are three different character attributes students need to examine as they write stories. Physical appearance. The teacher describes this to the student as the way their character looks. How tall they are as well as the color of their hair or the clothes they are wearing. The teacher can then write "physical appearance" on a large sheet of paper of chalkboard. Proceed to read a story aloud in class and let students use the authors description of the person in the story to draw their own pictures of the subject. Next, let the students listen to dialogue from a story to see what actions and speech a character may have. Explain that what characters say and do, is called their speech and actions. Thoughts and emotions are the next character attributes to explain. Have students think of their friends and why they are different from others. Knowing how someone will act in certain situation is knowing their thoughts and emotions. Write "Thoughts and Emotions" on a large sheet of paper and let students give a list of "thought words" and words that describe emotions. Have these lists that have been given, posted in the room for the class to refer to. Remind students to use character attributes when writing their stories and to think of their characters while they write. Encourage students to express their own feelings and reactions to situations as examples of how characters might act.

Evaluation

When evaluating the stories, students can determine whether their characters and storylines are well developed, by giving them questions to answer. Have students read final draft of stories, and post following questions on the board. Students can answer questions on characters to determine their development.

Source

Leavell, A., & Ioannides, A.(1993). Using character development to improve story writing. Teaching Exceptional Children, 25, (4), 41-45.

Developer

Bryan T. Dance, ETSU


Target

Improving story writing

Participants

Elementary and secondary school students with learning disabilities

Technique

Improving story writing skills may be increased by using cues and prompts. This is simply a checklist that the students use in identifying story elements. These elements include the setting (where and when the story takes place), the main and supporting characters, the problem presented in the story and a plan to solve it, and the ending or resolution. The teacher can implement this by explaining to the students that a story usually has certain parts that are listed on this card. The teacher should have a sample checklist already printed on a separated sheet of paper to demonstrate this to the class. The teacher will then explain to the students what each element is and give an example of each. The teacher will have the story check also on the board. A model approach may be used to let students identify elements of a story. The teacher will read a story and explain each element as it is identified. As the elements are identified place a check in the appropriate area of the story check. Have students use the story check list in developing their own stories. The teacher should explain the use of the story check as an instrument used to formulate ideas in story. The student should check items off of list as they plan their story, and also check items off as they write their stories.

Evaluation

The Story Element Scale uses a numerical rating scale to determine the presence of story elements. The Story Quality Scale assesses coherence, organization, sequencing, goals and outcomes, and the students' ability to develop objectives.

Source

Graves, A. & Hauge, R. (1993) Using cues and prompts to improve story writing.Teaching Exceptional Children, 25, (4), 38-40.

Developer

Bryan T. Dance, ETSU


Target

Improving composition, particularly writing stories using more sentences, with more action words, and with more describing words

Participants

Elementary third grade students in a regular classroom

Technique

The teacher wrote on the board some examples of sentences with describing and action words. A "Good Writing Chart" was used to remind the students to write sentences with adjectives and adverbs. Students were given a set writing period each day. A timer was set for twenty-five minutes. When the bell rang, the students stopped writing. The students then had an additional eight minutes to record the number of sentences they used, on their counting sheets. The students' work was collected and kept in their folders with no feedback from the teacher. (The teacher only intervened if the students had questions about spelling during their writing time). Students received one point on their counting sheets for every sentence that met the criteria, (first every sentence, then sentences with action words, and then sentences with describing words). Every eight days, the teacher changed the criteria for the task. Students were given one minute of free time for every sentence on their counting chart. Students were able to choose what they did during their free time from the following options: reading, using art materials, or being clock monitor.

Evaluation

The teacher compares the number of sentences before self-reinforcement and after self-reinforcement strategies are employed. When students use self-reinforcement, there is an increase in the number of sentences, number of action words, and number of describing words that students use in their writing. Students who were not self-reinforced did not show an increase. Teaching students to record their responses and to reinforce themselves reduces the demands set upon the teacher.

Source

Ballard, K. D., & Glynn, T. L. (1975). Behavioral self-management in story writing with elementary school children. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 8, 387-398.

Developers

Patricia Luke, Melissa Markowski, and Nicole Frye, UVA


Target

Improving students' composition through action verbs, action helpers, and describing words

Participants

Twelve year old students with Learning Disabilities

Technique

Each student worked with an instructor alone for 45 minutes at a time. The instructor showed the students a multi-step strategy for composition.

Step 1 - Task Specific Strategy: The student was taught one target composition skill at a time. The skill was first introduced on a small chart which provided a definition and examples. After discusssion, the student suggested further examples independently, provided examples appropriate for a stimulus picture and used 3 examples in a sentence.

Step 2 - Review Current Performance Level: Instructor and student reviewed students past performance on composition skill targeted for instruction. Then the instructor and student discussed the goals of training, why this skill is important and how action words improve a story.

Step 3 - Describe Learning Strategies: Five step strategy for writing good stories was introduced on a chart. (A) Look at picture and write down action words. (B) Think of good story idea to use my words in. (C) Write my story--make sense and use good action words. (D) Read my story and ask "Did I write a good story? Did I use action words?" (F) Fix my story--can I use more action words? After discusiing this strategy, the instructor modeled several creativity self-statements that he or she found helpful in thinking of good words. The students was then asked to make up 2-3 creativity self-statements that the student would like to use. These were recorded on paper. The student practiced using these self-statements, generating several more for the stimulus picture.

Step 4 - Model the Strategy and Self-Instructions: The two charts, the list of creativity self-statements and a new stimulus picture were set out. The instructor modeled the the learning strategy, writing a story, and "thinking out loud". In addition to the creativity self-statements, the instructor modeled four types of self-instruction: (1) Problem definition, (2) Self-evaluation, (3) Planning, and (4) Self-reinforcement

Step 5 - Mastery of Strategy Steps: The student was required to memorize the five step strategy for writing good stories. Once the student had memorized the five steps,paraphrasing was allowed as long as the meaning remained intact.

Step 6 - Controlled Practice of Strategy Steps and Self-Instruction: Together, the student and the instructor set a goal for the number of action words included in the story. Then the student practiced the learning strategy and self-instructions as he/she wrote a story in response to a new stimulus picture. Positive and corrective feedback was given as needed. The charts and list were intially available, then faded and memorization took place. The step was repeated until mastery occurred (covert self-instruction and the use of the strategy).

Evaluation

After each practice, the student and instructor evaluated the number of action words in the story and graphed that number on a chart. The number of action words was used as a method of evaluation.

Source

Harris, K. R., & Graham, S. (1985). Improving learning disabled students' compostion skills: A self-control strategy training approach. Learing Disablility Quarterly, 8, 27-36

Developers

Rebecca Kettinger and Kathy Miner, UVA


Target

To improve the completeness and quality of story compositions

Participants

13 and 14 year old 7th graders with learning and behavior problems in need of writing instruction and support

Technique

Students were given "The Story Planner" to help them to write a story composition from beginning to end. "The Story Planner" is a chart of story composition elements for students to use during the writing process. The elements included on the planner were (a) main character, (b) other characters, (c) setting, (d) problem, (e) plan or action, and (f) ending. The elements were listed on the chart in the first column. The second column was called "Write as I Plan" and the third was titled "Check as I Write." Students were instructed to use the second column as a planning column, for making brief notes as they wrote, and the third column as a record of each element's inclusion in the composition.

Teachers gave each student a training session to explain "The Story Planner." Students were instructed in the parts of a story composition and shown examples of how to use the planner to plan a story and ensure that all elements were included. Pictures were provided as writing prompts and were chosen from a large set of pictures rated by peers as "Interesting and I CAN write about it." In this study students were given fifteen minutes for writing each composition.

During the first few days immediately following strategy training, students were carefully monitored to ensure that they used the form correctly; planning ahead and checking off elements as they were included.

Evaluation

Evaluation could be on the basis of coherence; all elements included, temporally sequenced and logically connected. A second evaluation could be of organizational elements of writing projects. Teachers could track both evaluation areas for improvement, over time.

Source

Martin, K. F., & Manno C. (1995). Use of a check-off system to improve middle school student's story compositions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28, 139-149.

Developer

Brenda E. Fogus, UVA