Writing & Pedagogy, Vol 6, No 3 (2014)

Improving Writing Instruction in Second and Third Grade Classrooms The Fossil Creek Writing Project

Jana Hunzicker, Cecile Arquette, Ann Quinzio-Zafran
Issued Date: 5 Dec 2014


This article presents research findings from a professional development project initiated by one rural Illinois primary school to improve writing instruction in 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms. During the 2010–11 academic year, the school partnered with a private university to provide customized, year-long professional development that integrated preparation for the state writing assessment and a writing process approach. Simultaneously, a study was conducted to identify and describe teacher thinking and practices related to writing instruction during participation in the project. Data were collected through a pre/post teacher survey and written teacher reflections. Participating teachers indicated 15 improvements in their thinking and practices related to writing instruction. However, confidence in their students’ likelihood to perform well on the state writing assessment decreased during the project, and changes in thinking and practices varied from teacher to teacher, possibly due to varying levels of teacher readiness to change.

Download Media

PDF (Price: £17.50 )

DOI: 10.1558/wap.v6i3.497


Brashears, K. (2006) I know this to be true…: Perceptions of teachers in one
rural elementary school regarding writing scores. The Rural Educator 27(2):
19–27. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.ruraleducator.net/
Bratcher, S. and Stroble, E. (1993) After the summer institute: Longitudinal
follow-up of fellows in the classroom. The Quarterly 15(4): 6–16. Retrieved on
12 October 2014 from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/print/resource/1094.
Bridge, C. A., Compton-Hall, M. and Cantrell, S. C. (1997) Classroom writing
practices revisited: The effects of statewide reform on writing instruction. The
Elementary School Journal 98(2): 151–170. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/461889.
Collopy, R. M. B. (2008) Professional development and student growth in writing.
Journal of Research in Childhood Education 23(2): 163–179. http://dx.doi.
Cooter, Jr., R. B. (2003) Issues in urban literacy: Teacher “capacity-building” helps
urban children succeed in reading. The Reading Teacher 57(2): 198–205. Print.
Corgill, A. M. (2008) Of Primary Importance: What’s Essential in Teaching Young
Writers Portland, Maine: Stenhouse.
Creswell, J. W. (2003) Research Design: Qualitative, Quantitative, and Mixed
Methods Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2007) Qualitative Inquiry and Research Design: Choosing among
Five Approaches (2nd edition). Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Cutler, L., and Graham, S. (2008) Primary grade writing instruction: A national
survey. Journal of Educational Psychology 100(4): 907–919. http://dx.doi.
Desimone, L. M., Porter, A. C., Garet, M. S., Yoon, K. S. and Birman, B. F. (2002)
Effects of professional development on teachers’ instruction: Results from
a three-year longitudinal study. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis
24(2): 81–112. http://dx.doi.org/10.3102/01623737024002081.
Drago-Severson, E. (2009) Leading Adult Learning: Supporting Adult
Development in Our Schools. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin.
Flint, A. S., Zisook, K. and Fisher, T. R. (2011) Not a one-shot deal: Generative
professional development among experienced teachers. Teaching and Teacher
Education 27(8): 1163–1169. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2011.05.009.
Gallagher, K. (2012, February 21) Re: ‘Write Like This’ by Kelly Gallagher [Online
forum comment]. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.edweek.
Gilbert, J. and Graham, S. (2010) Teaching writing to elementary students in
grades 4–6: A national survey. The Elementary School Journal 110(4): 494–518.
Glaser, B. (1965) The constant comparative method of qualitative analysis. Social
Problems 12(4): 436–445. http://dx.doi.org/10.2307/798843.
Gradwohl, J. M. and Schumacher, G. M. (1989) The relationship between content
knowledge and topic choice in writing. Written Communication 6(2): 181–195.
Graves, D. H. (2003) Writing: Teachers and Children at Work (20th anniversary
edition). Portsmouth, New Hampshire: Heinemann.
Grbich, C. (2007) Qualitative Data Analysis: An Introduction. London: Sage.
Guskey, T. R. (1995) Professional development in education: In search of the
optimal mix. In T. Guskey and M. Huberman (eds.) Professional Development
in Education: New Paradigms and Practices 114–131. New York: Teachers
College Press.
International Reading Association and National Council of Teachers of
English (1996) Standards for the English Language Arts. Newark, Delaware:
International Reading Association and Urbana, Illinois: National Council of
Teachers of English. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.ncte.org/
library/NCT EFiles/Resources/Books/Sample/StandardsDoc.pdf.
Jasmine, J. and Weiner, W. (2007) The effects of writing workshop on abilities
of first grade students to become confident and independent writers. Early
Childhood Education Journal 35(2): 131–139. http://dx.doi.org/10-1007/
Karsbaek, B. (2011) Writer’s workshop: Does it improve the skills of young
writers? Illinois Reading Council Journal 39(2): 3–11. Retrieved on 12 October
2014 from http://www.illinoisreadingcouncil.org/images/IRC JSpring2011.pdf.
King, B. and Newmann, F. (2004) Key link: Successful professional development
must consider school capacity. Journal of Staff Development 25(1): 26–30.
Lambert, M., Wallach, C. and Ramsey, B. (2007) The other three Rs: Small schools
project examines instructional change through relationships, relevance, and
rigor. Journal of Staff Development 28(4): 36–38. Print.
Lieberman, A. and Pointer Mace, D. (2008) Teacher learning: The key to
education reform. Journal of Teacher Education 59(3): 226–234. http://dx.doi.
Lustick, D. and Sykes, G. (2006) National Board certification as professional
development: What are teachers learning? Education Policy Analysis Archives
14(5). Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/
McCarthey, S. J. (1992) Teachers’ Changing Conceptions of Writing Instruction.
National Center for Research on Teacher Learning. East Lansing, Michigan:
Michigan State University. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://ncrtl.
Miles, M. B. and Huberman, A. M. (1994) An Expanded Sourcebook: Qualitative
Data Analysis. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Moffett, J. (1979) Integrity in the teaching of writing. Phi Delta Kappan 61(4):
276–279. Print.
Morrow, L. M. (2012) Literacy Development in the Early Years: Helping Children
Read and Write (7th edition). Boston: Pearson.
Morse, J. M. and Richards, L. (2002) Readme First for a User’s Guide to
Qualitative Methods. Thousand Oaks, California: Sage.
Mundry, S. (2005) Changing perspectives in professional development. Science
Educator 14(1): 9–
15. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://files.eric.
National Writing Project (2011) Invitational summer institute. National Writing
Project. Retrieved on 12 October 2014 from http://www.nwp.org/cs/public/
Nauman, A. D., Stirling, T. and Borthwick, A. (2011) What makes writing good?
An essential question for teachers. The Reading Teacher 64(5): 318–328.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1598/RT .64.5.2.
Porter, A., Garet, M., Desimone, L. and Birman, B. (2003). Providing
effective professional development: Lessons from the Eisenhower
program. Science Educator 12(1): 23–40. Retrieved on 12 October 2014
from http://www.andyporter.org/sites/andyporter.org/files/papers/
Quick, H., Holtzman, D. and Chaney, K. (2009) Professional development and
instructional practice: Conceptions and evidence of effectiveness. Journal of
Education for Students Placed at Risk (JESPAR) 14(1): 45–71. http://dx.doi.
Roberts, C. (2009) Professional development and high stakes testing: Disparate
influences on student writing performance. Writing & Pedagogy 1(1): 63–88.
Scott, C. and Sutton, R. E. (2009) Emotions and change during professional
development for teachers: A mixed methods study. Journal of Mixed Methods
Research 3(2): 151–171. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1558689808325770.
Strickland, D., Bodino, A., Buchan, K., Jones, K., Nelson, A. and Rosen, M. (2001).
Teaching writing in a time of reform. The Elementary School Journal 101(4):
386–397. http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/499677.
Tate, M. L. (2009) Workshops: Extend learning beyond your presentation with
these brain-friendly strategies. Journal of Staff Development 30(1): 44–46.
Tienken, C. H. and Achilles, C. M. (2003) Changing teacher behavior and improving
writing achievement. Planning and Changing 34(3/4): 153–168. Retrieved on 12
October 2014 from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/EJ826264.pdf.
Tompkins, G. E. (2008) Teaching Writing: Balancing Process and Product
(5th edition). Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Pearson, Merrill Prentice Hall.
Varlas, L. (2011, September 16) Re: Better student writing through
better formative assessments [Web log message]. Retrieved on
12 October 2014 from http://inservice.ascd.org/in-the-news/


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Equinox Publishing Ltd - 415 The Workstation 15 Paternoster Row, Sheffield, S1 2BX United Kingdom
Telephone: +44 (0)114 221-0285 - Email: [email protected]

Privacy Policy