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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


Empowering Students' Writing: Cases from Migrant and Urban Classrooms

Dr Linda H. Mason.

Often students with learning difficulties do not know how to regulate performance before, during, and after writing. This results in writing that is shorter, less cohesive, and poorer in quality. A growing body of research indicates that students' writing can be improved with explicit instruction.

Writer's Workshop (WW) (Atwell, 1987) is an approach for teaching writing. Strategic lessons on fundamental principles of effective writing are built-in. This integrated approach allows for instruction in formal terminology while providing adequate student practice. Students are provided an opportunity for interacting with each other through peer conferencing and for sharing published works. The effects of this approach on students' writing in 3 studies will be discussed.

Fourth- and 5th- grade students in a migrant education program were taught strategies for improving writing through mini-lessons within WW. All the students fluently spoke Spanish; 75% fluently spoke English. About 75% of the students could read Spanish; 90% could read English with a range of ability pre-primer to 6th grade. Results indicated that the WW intervention improved performance.

Self-regulated strategy development instruction (Graham and Harris, 1996) has proven to be an effective tool for improving writing for students with low writing performance. This approach; within a WW framework, was used in 2 studies with 2nd- and 3rd-grade urban students. Two writing strategies (for stories and opinion essays) were taught. Students were instructed to self-regulate writing. Students' performance improved and results maintained and generalized.

An overview of the studies that includes a brief discussion of the theoretical and empirical basis for the interventions will be presented. The focus of the presentation will be on instructional delivery, tips for teaching, and evaluation of student performance. Participants will receive lesson plans and reproducible materials.


Dr Linda H. Mason  (United States)
Assistant Professor
Department of Special Education
University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign

Dr. Linda Mason received her PhD from the University of Maryland. Dr. Mason taught in an elementary school for six years and served as special education team leader for two of these years. Dr. Mason also served as project coordinator for a federally funded project, the Center for Accelerating Student Learning. Dr. Mason has co-authored three published articles. Currently, Dr. Mason is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education, University of Illinois, Urbana/Champaign.

  • Writing
  • Struggling learners
  • Strategies
  • Writers' workshop
  • Diversity

(60 min Workshop, English)