Archive article #00–09

Variations in Interactive Writing Instruction:
A Study in Four Bilingual Special Education Settings

Anne Graves, Gene Valles, & Robert Rueda

This study is designed as a set of four case studies to investigate writing instruction in bilingual special education settings and the compositions of students with learning disabilities in those settings. Each case study is in a bilingual special education setting. Special education teachers who were prepared with bilingual authorization in California were the teachers studied in each of the four settings; their decisions about writing instruction and the type of writing program they implemented were recorded. Data on students' writing were collected over a ten-week period and one year later as a follow-up. Results indicated that teachers chose different approaches for teaching writing including:
1) interactive journals,
2) Optimal Learning Environment (OLE),
3) Writer's Workshop, and
4) a combination of journal writing, brainstorming/planning, and spelling practice.

Based on analyses of narrative compositions, each of the four types of writing instruction yielded significantly higher quality and number of words written after ten weeks. However, a year later only the students in the setting in which the elements of Optimal Learning Environment (OLE) were used appeared to demonstrate significant on-going improvements in writing performance on compositions. Limitations of the study, educational implications, and future research are discussed.

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