A recent New York Times article titled Why Kids Can’t Write explores the reasons behind U.S. students’ poor writing skills.  The article asserts that the root of writing problems lies with teachers, most of whom have not been trained in how to teach writing, and who are not confident writers themselves. The article goes on to cite specific efforts, such as the National Writing Project and The Writing Revolution, that are focused on training educators how to teach writing skills, as well as the research on effective writing instruction, which suggests a few concrete strategies. For example, students should learn to transcribe by hand and using a computer. Instruction should teach students to write strong sentences before introducing paragraphs. Students benefit when writing instruction integrates grammar, includes models of good writing, and provides frequent feedback about the students’ own writing.

At Learning List, we believe that high-quality, standards-aligned instructional materials, including writing materials, are critical to teachers’ effectiveness in the classroom. In our work this summer, we have reviewed several supplemental products that focus on teaching writing skills and preparing Texas students for the grade 4 STAAR Writing test. These products use different approaches, but each strives to improve students’ writing skills: [Read more…]