Increasing Student Success by Combining the Science of Reading and the Science of Writing
How linked are the sciences behind reading and writing?
In Season 2, Episode 3 of All For Literacy, Dr. Young-Suk Kim joins host Dr. Liz Brooke for a technical, in-depth conversation about the interconnectedness of the two skills.
Kim, a professor and senior associate dean at the University of California at Irvine School of Education, focuses on understanding language and literacy development and effective instruction for racially, ethnically, economically, and linguistically diverse students.
Dr. Kim is the author of the Direct and Indirect Effects Model of Writing (DIEW). The DIEW model breaks down the individual components needed to master writing skills, which includes key reading skills. The DIEW model paints an enlightening picture of the relationship between learning to read and learning to write.
The synergistic relationship between reading and writing
Kim emphasizes that “reading comprehension and written composition are built on the same skills” and that “when you teach reading very well, students' writing will improve. And when you teach writing very well, students' reading will improve.”
The same can be said for how struggles with either can influence the other. “If students have difficulty reading words, they don't have strong text reading influence or reading comprehension, [and] the quality of writing will be impacted because they cannot generate high-quality ideas,” Kim says.
She also explains how the writing process includes several components that rely heavily on reading. When it’s time to revise a written piece, students who have “difficulty in reading your own words or text reading fluency and comprehension” will struggle to develop an accurate idea or mental model of what [they] have written. This results in the revision process being negatively impacted.
Educators can support student success by using both reading and writing practice in the curriculum to reinforce the other. “When you teach word reading, incorporate spelling, when you teach spelling, incorporate word reading, when you teach reading comprehension, link it to written composition and vice versa,” Kim explains.
Making the relationship between reading and writing explicit
Studies have shown that the two sciences are heavily linked, and implementing evidence-backed exercises for each skill simultaneously often leads to greater student success in reading and writing. To start, “teachers really have to be very consciously making it visible to the students that link between reading and writing,” Kim says. Making this relationship explicit and weaving the two together whenever possible supports student learning in both areas.
For example, when classes are reading a text, the teacher will often guide students through a discussion about the author’s intentions and strategies. At this point, to strengthen writing skills at the same time, the teacher can link this discussion to the writing process. “In writing, students are authors and they have to be mindful of the goal of their writing and how to best convey their message,” Kim explains. This requires students to use certain types of vocabulary and rhetorical and organizational structures to achieve. Pointing out this link makes the connection between reading and writing explicit to students, which may help them recognize patterns and strengthen their skills in the long run.
Another way to integrate these two skills is by including studies into text structure during both the reading and writing blocks. For example, while reading a narrative, students can identify the different parts of a story—characters, settings, problems, resolutions—and organize this information in a graphic organizer. Then, the teacher can have the class complete the same exercise for their own planning process and writing exercises. This creates an explicit link between reading and writing and will help students strengthen both skills.
Linking reading and writing supports student growth
“When you teach reading and writing in an integrated manner, when you do that very well, it [will] have a synergistic effect on both reading and writing outcomes,” Kim says in the episode.
The mutual reinforcement of reading and writing in the classroom strengthens student skills better than siloed studying. Learning the components of reading while practicing writing and writing while practicing reading provides students with helpful context and explicit relationships between skills that often lead to greater growth over time.
Listen to Kim’s All For Literacy episode to understand the integral relationship between the science of reading and the science of writing. Listeners will also learn how to shape instruction planning around foundational skills, optimize student success by integrating reading and writing instruction, and implement differentiated instruction using screeners and assessments. Tune in today and subscribe to All For Literacy to stay up to date on new episodes.
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