Thursday, August 2, 3:30-4:00, SUB Ballroom C, Theme: Practice

Due to the importance of writing and the lack of proficiency nationwide, further research to inform practice is necessary. Unfortunately, the depth of writing research is limited, particularly at the middle grades where students are at a pivotal point in their educational careers. Therefore, this sequential explanatory mixed methods study was designed to identify patterns of writing proficiency across Montana's middle-grade students and explore successful writing instruction for students who historically struggle. The focus of this presentation will be the second phase, where qualitative data were gathered from a Montana middle school where students achieved proficiency on the Smarter Balanced Assessment English Language Arts Performance Task to examine the way writing instruction is approached in the school. From the teacher's perspective at the case study school those results are attributable to several areas: relationships (students and teachers), student motivation, which is based on relationships, engagement (tech, topic, authenticity), and extrinsic rewards, co-teaching, and standards-based teaching and grading.  Several recommendations in the areas of administrator and teacher practice emerged based on the study.

Findings offer a holistic picture of a contextually responsive system of writing instruction that resulted in positive outcomes for students and illuminated four systemic factors that may contribute to their success: the role of co-teaching, the rules of standards-based classrooms, the community of students and teachers, and the tools of engaging writing instruction. The significance of the exploration was that it could inform an understanding of how teachers influence writing outcomes with diverse populations.