RECOMMENDED: Writing Instruction that Works, Applebee and Langer

Anyone teaching first-year students in writing-intensive courses will benefit from understanding how writing is taught in middle and high school as well as what types of writing products and experiences students bring to their first-year classes. Of notable interest is that the last thirty years of high-stakes accountability and testing have profoundly and negatively impacted writing instruction as well as how often students compose and what types of writing students complete; the impact is disturbing.

The volume below is a powerful mix of research, vignettes, and contextualized examinations of the gap between the field of research in teaching writing as it contrasts with real-world practices.

Writing Instruction That Works: Proven Methods for Middle and High School Classrooms

Arthur N. Applebee and Judith A. Langer 

Backed by solid research, Writing Instruction That Works answers the following questions: What is writing instruction today and what can it be tomorrow? This up-to-date, comprehensive book identifies areas of concern for the ways that writing is being taught in today’s secondary schools. The authors offer far-reaching direction for improving writing instruction that assist both student literacy and subject learning. They provide many examples of successful writing practices in each of the four core academic subjects (English, mathematics, science, and social studies/history), along with guidance for meeting the Common Core standards. The text also includes sections on Technology and the Teaching of Writing and English Language Learners.

I also highly recommend linking to the sample Chapter Two: Writing Instruction in Schools Today

Look for my full review of this volume in Teachers College Record in early 2014.

The Future of Secondary Writing Instruction?

Freshman have always entered their undergraduate experiences with a wide range of backgrounds in terms of how often they have written and what type of writing instruction they have received.

As Common Core spreads across the U.S., faculty teaching first year seminars that are writing intensive or traditional freshman composition would be well advised to anticipate what students are being and will be taught as writers.

Here are a couple of places to start:

Common Core Sample Student Writing intended to guide teachers

Common Core’s Substandard Writing Standards by Anthony Esolen