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A better way to teach writing

Posted 8 a.m. Monday, June 12, 2023

Leslie Rogers, associate professor of educational studies, presented strategies to enhance writing education at last fall's American Middle Level Education Conference in Orlando..

Leslie Rogers shares best practices with fellow educators

UW-La Crosse Educational Studies Associate Professor Leslie Rogers is sharing new ways to mold students into successful, independent writers. 

Rogers presented last fall at the American Middle Level Education Conference in Orlando. She discussed an initiative she’s been pursuing for five years with teachers from Logan Middle School in La Crosse, which seeks to enhance writing education through evidence-based practices. 

“This has been one of my research interests, and one day, I got a question from an in-service teacher: ‘How do we teach writing better?’” Rogers says. “That question blossomed into this relationship with Logan Middle School. It just happened organically.” 

Rogers notes that many teachers feel a lack of support and resources as it relates to teaching writing explicitly. This has created a similar lack of confidence among both teachers and students in the classroom. 

“I think writing has historically taken a backseat in many professional learning initiatives,” Rogers explains. “There hasn’t always been implicit and explicit instruction about how to navigate the writing process. And so some students have a hard time starting, self-regulating what to include and what not to include, and seeing the process through.” 

Rogers’ investigation at Logan has found that effective writing instruction can be achieved by promoting metacognition, fostering academic skills and encouraging students to use positive, self-affirming statements, all components of the Self-Regulated Strategy Development model. 

Providing students and educators with a roadmap of the writing process as well as the tools to navigate it not only makes students better writers, Rogers says — it makes them more confident and independent. 

These skills can be applied in English Language Arts classrooms, as well as any subject that involves writing or self-expression. 

And while the work at Logan Middle School was developed with middle school students in mind, research has shown that the foundation for successful writing can be laid much earlier. 

“I was recently part of professional learning with kindergarten teachers, and they were teaching their students to use empowering self-talk,” Rogers says. “This is definitely something that can be addressed and encouraged at an earlier age, and then developed further in a way that’s age appropriate.” 

Rogers hopes to provide continued in-class support for teachers looking to implement these teaching practices, because doing so can take considerable time and coordination. She is also covering these topics with pre-service teachers at UWL, who will have the chance to apply them in their future classrooms. 

But Rogers’ ultimate goal, once teachers have the necessary training, is to take a step back and allow the techniques to work as intended. 

“It’s really important to have champions within a school who are interested and supportive of evidence-based practices,” she explains. “These should resemble whatever meets the teachers’ and the students’ needs in a local context.” 


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