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Posted at 9:03 AM ET, 04/19/2010

How writing improves reading skills--study

By Valerie Strauss

Reading has long been recognized as a way to improve a student’s writing. A new study says the reverse -- that writing can improve reading skills as well as content learning -- is equally true, and identifies three ways that teachers and even parents can help students make the connection.

The study, published by the Alliance for Excellent Education, comes at a time when many students are not reading and writing well enough to meet grade-level expectations. Recent results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, the national standardized test sometimes called “the nation’s report card,” showed that nearly 70 percent of the nation’s eighth graders do not read at the proficient, or highest level.

“Poor reading and writing skills not only threaten the well-being of individual Americans, but the country as a whole,” said Bob Wise, alliance president and former governor of West Virginia. “Ensuring that adolescents become skilled readers and writers is not merely an option for America — it is an absolute necessity.”

The study, conducted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York, is called “Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading, identifies the following three related instructional practices that are effective in improving reading skills:

1) Have students write about the texts they read. Writing about a text enhances comprehension because it provides students with a tool to visibly and permanently record, connect, analyze, personalize, and manipulate key ideas in text. Students’ comprehension of science, social studies, and language arts is improved specifically when they:
--Respond to a text in writing
--Write summaries of a text
--Write notes about a text
--Answer questions about a text in writing, or create and answer written questions about a text.

2) Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text. Students’ reading skills and comprehension are improved by learning the skills and processes that go into creating text specifically when teachers”
--Teach the process of writing, text structures for writing, paragraph or sentence construction skills
--Teach spelling and sentence construction skills
--Teach spelling skills.

3) Increase how much students write. Students’ reading comprehension is improved by having them increase how often they produce their own text. The process of creating a text prompts students to be more thoughtful and engaged when reading text produced by others. The act of writing also teaches students about the importance of stating assumptions and premises clearly and observing the rules of logic. Students also benefit from using experience and knowledge to create a text as well as building relationships among words, sentences, and paragraphs.

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By Valerie Strauss  | April 19, 2010; 9:03 AM ET
Categories:  Reading, Research, Writing  | Tags:  new study on reading, new study on writing, reading research, study in reading, study on writing, teaching reading skills, teaching writing skills, writing research  
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