Why is writing so hard to teach?
The ability to write well strengthens student voice and agency: the ultimate goal of education. Unfortunately, teachers lack the resources to teach writing well. Unlike in mathematics, where there are cohesive, evidence-based sequences for effective teaching, there is currently no coherent, widely-used roadmap of writing skills that teachers can use to support their students. Similarly, gaps in data about how educators currently teach writing have inhibited the development of responsive guidance for the field.
How will The Writing Pathways Initiative help solve this problem?
The goal of the Writing Pathways Initiative, a project at Quill.org, is to bring coherence to writing instruction by:
- collecting daily data on the methods and tools used to teach writing from over 100 classrooms for a full academic year
- using this data to build a logical progression of writing skills—a writing pathway—that educators across the country can use in their classrooms
This will be the first major study to collect data about writing instruction from educators for a full school year. The data will illustrate which writing skills teachers prioritize, as well as how much time they are spending on each skill. Past efforts to improve writing instruction have been grounded in data derived from surveys or observations conducted a few times per year, leaving educators with a less-than-complete starting point for this key improvement effort. Using data collected daily as the starting point for the pathway grounds the project in the realities of writing instruction in our schools.
How does this project advance Quill's mission?
This research project extends Quill's mission to provide free and open source tools to help students become strong writers and critical thinkers. Quill’s tools automatically assess student writing and provide immediate feedback that enables students to revise their work and quickly build their skills. To date, the nonprofit organization has impacted more than four million students across the United States, with students writing and receiving feedback on more than 600 million sentences.