"Time" to look at grade six writing instruction: case studies of five middle-school english language arts teachers

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University of New Brunswick


Writing ability has implications for thinking and learning. Learning to write is relational to skilful instruction. Three decades of educational literature has changed expectations for writing instruction and learning. In the three years prior to this study, New Brunswick grade six writing assessment results were stalled at 50% of students achieving proficiency. While provincial results signal problems, they provide little insight about how to improve the situation. This multi-case study examined the knowledge and instructional practices of five teachers. Results revealed effective practices are present in writing programs; however, time, routines and mechanisms to collect and use formative assessment data are areas for potential improvement. The study highlights that writing is as complex to instruct as it is to learn. Since educators often teach outside of their own areas of expertise, mechanisms to identify effective practices and assess educators' knowledge gaps would benefit program planners, educators and ultimately student writers.