National Writing Project

Writing to Read: A Collection of NWP Articles

Date: May 13, 2010

Summary: NWP has published a number of articles about the need to have students write about text, learn skills to create text, and write regularly to develop literacy—strategies in support of the recommendations of Writing to Read, a report from the Carnegie Corporation.


The authors of Writing to Read: Evidence for How Writing Can Improve Reading call for writing to complement reading instruction because each type of practice supports and strengthens the other.

Of special note, the report identifies three core instructional practices that have been shown to be effective in improving student reading:

  1. Have students write about the texts they read.
  2. Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text.
  3. Increase how much students write.

The NWP has published many articles that address those practices over the years. We've collected a selection of them for each practice below.

Have students write about the texts they read

Reading Researcher Advocates Strengthening Literacy Programs Through Reading-Writing Synergy

Reading researcher and NWP Board member P. David Pearson shares his thoughts about how the synergy between reading and writing holds implications for developing literacy in classrooms.

Mining Texts in Reading to Write

Stuart Greene proposes a set of strategies for connecting reading and writing, discussing ways writers read and select information from source texts when they have a sense of authorship.

Responsive Writing: Connecting Literature and Composition

Helen C. Lodge, former co-director of the Northridge Writing Project, describes several kinds of responsive writing as means of connecting literature and composition, among them dialogue writing, letter writing, imitation, and personal definition.

Creating Empathetic Connections to Literature

Taken aback by her eighth grade students' dry-eyed response to The Diary of Anne Frank, Lesley Roessing, a teacher-consultant with the Pennsylvania Writing and Literature Project, finds a way to help students convert the "them" they encounter in multicultural literature into "us."

Readers as Writers Composing from Sources

This study by James R. King and Nancy Nelson Spivey examines the report-writing of sixth-, eighth-, and tenth-graders, showing how accomplished and less-accomplished readers work with source texts and compose their own new texts.

Writing and Reading Working Together

Drawing on their teaching experience and research perspectives, Rebekah Caplan, Linnea C. Ehri, Mary K. Healy, Mary Hurdlow, and Robert J. Tierney discuss specific classroom practices in which writing and reading work together.

Writing and Reading in the Classroom

James Britton discusses strategies teachers have developed for encouraging children to learn to write-and-read—activities that together create a literacy learning environment.

Writing from Sources: Authority in Text and Task

Author Stuart Greene reports on a study in which fifteen undergraduates were asked to write either a report or a problem-based essay, integrating prior knowledge with information from six textual sources. The groups differed significantly in their interpretation and performance of the two tasks.

Book Review: Opening Texts: Using Writing to Teach Literature, by Kathleen Andrasick

Reviewing Opening Texts: Using Writing to Teach Literature, Tom Romano asserts that "for teaching students to write critical, literary inquiry, Andrasick's fusion of writing process strategies and reader response theory seems right on the mark."

Teachers' Perceptions of the Role of Process in Writing about Literature

Phyllis MacAdam, former co-director of the Blue Grass Writing Project, and George Newell, former BGWP co-director and current co-director of the Columbus Area Writing Project, make a case for fostering "student ownership of their own experience" when teaching literature, in the same way that many teachers do when they teach writing.

Note-Taking and Note-Making in Freshman Composition

Teaching writing in a college class linked to a psychology course, Mike Farrington of the Northern Virginia Writing Project discovers that by requiring students to read the text before they attend the lecture he can convert them from "note-takers" to "note-makers."

Book Review: The Write to Read: Response Journals That Increase Comprehension

Lesley Roessing, co-director of the Coastal Savannah Writing Project in Georgia, has provided readers with thoughtful, sequenced, and creative strategies to direct students toward deeper and more personal responses to literature.

Teach students the writing skills and processes that go into creating text

Dancing with the Authors: Teaching Sentence Fluency

By making use of a new "featured sentence structure" each week, Bev Matulis of the Saginaw Bay Writing Project demonstrates strategies that model and reinforce varied sentence constructions.

The Problem-Solving Processes of Writers and Readers

Authors Betsey Bowen, Bertram C. Bruce, Linda Flower, Margaret Kantz, Ann M. Penrose, and Ann S. Rosebery focus on writing and reading as forms of problem solving that are shaped by communicative purpose—for example, problems incurred in writing for a specific audience or reading to interpret text.

Growing Writers: Considering Talk, Time, Models, and Purpose

Renee Webster of the Red Cedar Writing Project describes how she supplements her first grade writing workshop by using the text of picture books to provide models of techniques—such as "sound words"—which students integrate into their writing.

Beyond Primer Prose: Two Ways to Imitate the Masters

Writing teachers commonly provide students with models for imitation. Romana Hillebrand of the Northwest Inland Writing Project adds a level of analysis to her imitation exercises that helps students understand the nuts and bolts of what they are doing.

Style Study: One Connection Between Reading and Writing

Rebekah Caplan describes how she works with concepts of "telling" and "showing" in writing, as she introduces models from professional writers and asks students to put these concepts to work as they develop their own styles.

Teaching Writing: Analyzing the Craft of Professional Writers

William Winston of the Bay Area Writing Project details how he puts to work the sentence and paragraph modeling strategies of Francis Christiansen in a junior high school classroom.

Imitation as Freedom: (Re)Forming Student Writing

Paul Butler of the National Writing Project of Acadiana argues that, although the use of imitation to develop good writing has been waning in the composition classroom, this approach still has beneficial applications and "we should look to see the general value of using model and imitation."

Imitation in Progress

Sherry Swain provides a poem generated by teachers at a workshop in Mississippi who used Nancy Wood's poem "The Way to Hair Silence" to study its devices and then applied her form to their own content.

Book Review: The Write to Read: Response Journals That Increase Comprehension

Lesley Roessing, co-director of the Coastal Savannah Writing Project in Georgia, has provided readers with thoughtful, sequenced, and creative strategies to direct students toward deeper and more personal responses to literature.

Increase how much students write

Lifebook Journals Help Students Write Fluently

Tricia Hall of the Southern Nevada Writing Project inspires her second grade students to write by having them keep "Lifebooks" modeled after Marissa Moss' Amelia's Notebook. They love it, and their entries later become the bases of longer pieces

Hey Matt! There's a Reason We Write Like Every Day!

This article by Denver Writing Project's Molly Toussant is directed toward one of her students, who wonders why he has to write every day. She shows him how her teaching practices result from her five guiding beliefs about writing.

NWP Collaborates to Publish Early Literacy Activity Book—Our Book By Us!/Nuestro Libro ¡Hecho Por Nosotros!

This hands-on book for preschoolers, by Peter H. Reynolds and Paul A. Reynolds, provides parents and caregivers with a resource in English and Spanish that engages young children in reading and writing to support their early literacy development.

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