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Monday, 13th December 2010

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading

Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading (PDF)
Source: Alliance for Excellent Education/Carnegie Corporation of New York

One often-overlooked tool for improving studentsí reading, as well as their learning from text, is writing. Writing has the theoretical potential for enhancing reading in three ways. First, reading and writing are both functional activities that can be combined to accomplish specific goals, such as learning new ideas presented in a text (Fitzgerald and Shanahan, 2000). For instance, writing about information in a science text should facilitate comprehension and learning, as it provides the reader with a means for recording, connecting, analyzing, personalizing, and manipulating key ideas from the text. Second, reading and writing are connected, as they draw upon common knowledge and cognitive processes (Shanahan, 2006). Consequently, improving studentsí writing skills should result in improved reading skills. Third, reading and writing are both communication activities, and writers should gain insight about reading by creating their own texts (Tierney and Shanahan, 1991), leading to better comprehension of texts produced by others.

This report provides evidence answering the following three questions:

  1. Does writing about material students read enhance their reading comprehension?
  2. Does teaching writing strengthen studentsí reading skills?
  3. Does increasing how much students write improve how well they read?


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