Academic journal article Exceptional Children

TWA + PLANS Strategies for Expository Reading and Writing: Effects for Nine Fourth-Grade Students

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

TWA + PLANS Strategies for Expository Reading and Writing: Effects for Nine Fourth-Grade Students

Article excerpt

Content literacy--interpreting and applying knowledge from expository text--has been referred to as the "quiet crisis" in American education (Gunning, 2003, p. 7). National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) results indicate that approximately 30% of all middle and high school students in the United States have difficulties in comprehending expository text and, therefore, do not perform competently in content (science and social studies) classes (Campbell, Hombro, & Mazzeo, 1999). Over half of 4th-, 8th-, and 12th-grade students, furthermore, have some difficulty in expressing their ideas on paper (Greenwald, Persky, Campbell, & Mazzeo, 1999). Moreover, as noted by researchers, students with learning disabilities (LD) and other special needs have even greater difficulty with reading comprehension and writing than their peers without disabilities (Harris, Graham, & Mason, 2003; Swanson, Hoskyn, & Lee, 1999). Compounding the problem, many teachers teach around the text and avoid writing assignments to compensate for students' poor reading and writing, sending a message to their students that reading and responding in writing to textbook material is not necessary.

The positive attitude towards learning with which children begin school often deteriorates during the elementary years. The difficulties that many students with and without disabilities have in comprehending expository text and writing informative responses, consequently, begin in elementary school (Harris et al., 2003; Saenz & Fuchs, 2002). The resulting comprehension deficits and inability to produce written responses to text, by and large, limit student learning and application of content material (Snow, Burns, & Griffin, 1998). It is essential, therefore, that elementary students master expository reading comprehension and informative writing prior to middle and high school, before the general education curriculum shifts to predominantly content text-based instruction (Baker, Gertsen, & Scanlon, 2002). Establishing effective interventions for content literacy with young low-achieving students, including those with disabilities, has been recognized as a research priority (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000; RAND Reading Study Group, 2002).

Foundational research in teaching low-achieving students when and how to use reading and writing strategies has indicated that students' independent and successful strategy use can be cultivated (Bereiter & Scardamalia, 1982; Pressley, Brown, El-Dinary, & Afflerbach, 1995; Sinatra, Brown, & Reynolds, 2002). Furthermore, teaching students to use multiple strategies for reading comprehension or for writing has proven to significantly improve their reading comprehension or writing performance (Harris et al., 2003; Swanson et al., 1999; Tracey & Morrow, 2002). Effective methods for teaching reading comprehension strategies in tandem with writing strategies for expository text comprehension and informative writing to low-achieving elementary students with and without disabilities have not been as well established. This multiple probe design across students study examines the effective ness of Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD; Harris & Graham, 1996) instruction for a multiple-strategy approach for expository reading comprehension and informative writing for students with and without disabilities who are at risk for failure in content classrooms. The effectiveness of instruction on students' reading comprehension and writing performance as well as the acceptability of treatment is assessed.

SELF-REGULATED STRATEGY DEVELOPMENT

SRSD provides a pedagogical framework for teaching strategies to low-achieving students who struggle with learning. SRSD instruction embeds explicit procedures for teaching students to self-regulate strategy use throughout lessons. Graham, Harris, their colleagues, and other researchers have validated SRSD instruction for students with and without disabilities in over 25 intervention studies in the past 20 years (Graham & Harris, 2003; Harris & Graham, 1999). …

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