The original of this article is available on the WritingCity website!
WritingCity is an elementary writing program which has been popular due to its ease of use. Teachers like the day by day lesson plans and the support by the technology program. A WritingCity efficacy study done with fourth graders in school in NJ showed an 11.2% improvement over the control group. More specifically, the WritingCity students’ scores increased by 6.6%, the control group’s scores declined by 4.6% for an overall improvement over the control group of 11.2%.
The Challenge of Effective Writing Instruction in Elementary Schools
Providing an explicit writing curriculum that embeds meaningful and appropriate student practice with writing conventions that include grammar, usage, and mechanics is difficult for most elementary teachers. In classrooms across the country, the writing process and conventions are each taught in isolation. However, educators know that the best place to practice these skills is while students are working on their own writing pieces as they learn about and work through the writing process.
WritingCity is a comprehensive, technology-enhanced K-5 writing program that also teaches grammar in the context of developing students’ writing ability. The program combines explicit writing instruction with the necessary foundational writing skills and strategies. Throughout the curriculum students have frequent opportunities to engage in guided writing assignments where they can apply GUM aspects to their own writing through proofreading, revising, and editing. WritingCity provides explicit instruction in the writing process across all text type (narrative, informative/expository, and opinion) and covers grade level writing and language standards.
Elementary Writing Skills Efficacy Study – Quasi Experimental Study Year-Long Study
A school in New Jersey agreed to participate in a small scale quasi-experimental study during the 2018-2019 school year to determine the effectiveness of explicit instruction of grade level writing conventions combined with independent practice within the student’s own writing.
With the school district’s superintendent, teachers, and parents’ consent, 4th and 5th grade teachers and classrooms at one school were divided into treatment and comparison groups. There were a total of four 4th grade classrooms and three 5th grade classrooms. The treatment group was provided access to the WritingCity curriculum, while the comparison group used writing lessons from the school district’s adopted literacy program.
Data collected from participating students included PARCC writing scores for the 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 school years and a writing conventions pretest in the Fall 2018 and posttest in the Spring 2019.
Results of Writing Efficacy Study
Significant increase in 4th grade student PARCC writing scores among students in the treatment group.
The increased writing scores between 2017-2018 and 2018-2019 among the 4th grade students in the treatment group showed a significant increase compared to those in the comparison group.
As a study, there is a low sample size for the fourth grade. Due to the smaller number of students in the 5th grade students, there was no significant findings between the PARCC scores from 2017-2018 to 2018-2019.
Greater improvement in writing convention skills among the students in the treatment groups. The increased scores between the pretest and the post test of the 4th grade students in the treatment group was significantly higher than the 4th grade students in the comparison group. For the students in 5th grade, both the treatment and comparison group showed improvement from the pretest to post test. The difference wasn’t as significant as the 4th graders, most likely due to the small counts. However, the trend indicates that the improvement of the treatment group would have been more significant if the count was larger.
For schools and districts (or teachers) that wish to implement an effective writing program, WritingCity is easy to implement.