Teach Planning/Revising to Improve Writing

Our struggling writers are often ‘immature’ writers. In the article summary below, we learn that the writing of immature writers is not improved via opportunities for planning or revising their writing products.  Older writers, knowing what to look for, improve writing products via use of planning and revision strategies. This is why our Talk to Write program teaches an easy, intuitive, planning system so that students ‘say the steps and do the steps until they become habit.’


Title: Children’s High-level Writing Skills: Development of Planning and Revising and Their Contribution to Writing Quality

Author(s): Lempo, T; Alves, R.A; Fidalgo, R

Source: British Journal of Educational Psychology (2014), 84, 177–193

Abstract: The purpose of this study was to trace the development of planning and revising (which are both considered high-level writing processes) and test whether they affect writing quality in younger students (grades 4-6) and older students (grades 7-9). The three main cognitive processes used in writing include planning, translating, and revising; developing writers struggle with these processes, especially with planning and revising. Planning involves generating/organizing ideas and setting goals; translating includes the transformation of ideas into language and then into written language; revising involves evaluating and introducing changes. The students in this study were tasked with planning and writing a story and then with revising another story. By revising, students detected and corrected errors. The factors taken into account in this study were: gender, school achievement, age, handwriting fluency, spelling, and text structure. The study found that in the younger students, planning and revising skills had no effect on their writing quality, whereas in older students, both skills contributed to writing quality more so than was originally thought.

Type of Study: Random Controlled Trial

Participants: Students from grades 4-9 were used in this study and were then split into two groups: the younger student age group (grades 4-6) and the older students (grades 7-9). There were about 60 students from each grade level. 381 students were used in total, ranging from ages 9 to 15, and all 381 students were Portuguese native speakers.

Implications: The findings of the study support the belief that more needs to be done to support and develop the high-level writing skills of children. Because the skills were predictive of writing quality in grades 7–9 but not in grades 4–6, they should be targeted in the initial stages of writing learning. Teachers should be provided with evidence-based practices that they can use to foster young writers’ planning and revising skills. The high-level writing skills of planning and revision should hold a prominent place in the early stages of writing instruction.

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