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Professional Development & Research

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Developing Reading and Writing

At the request of the U.S. Department of Education, the National Research Council convened a committee of experts from many disciplines to synthesize research on literacy and learning in order to improve instruction for those served in adult education in the U.S. Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Developing Reading and Writing, is based on this 2012 report and presents an overview of what is known about how literacy develops the component skills of reading and writing, and the practices that are effective for developing them. It also describes principles of reading and writing instruction that can guide those who design and administer programs or courses to improve adult literacy skills. Although this is not intended as a "how to" manual for instructors, teachers may also find the information presented here to be helpful as they plan and deliver instruction.

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Just Write! Guide

This public domain, printable resource from Teaching Excellence in Adult Literacy (TEAL) “aims to help adult education instructors improve the writing instruction they already use in their programs” (page 6). It is not a curriculum, but a guide to increase familiarity with evidence-based writing instruction and translate research findings into teaching practices.

The organization includes three parts and ten fact sheets:

  1. Introduction: project background and research-based information
  2. Research-Based Interventions: writing practices and activities to support the writing process
  3. Enhancing Teaching Practices: best practice approaches to improve existing writing instruction


And check out this article for some tips on using Just Write! quickwrites as a strategy in your instruction.

Online Writing Lab (OWL)

The Online Writing Lab (OWL) at Purdue University houses FREE writing resources and instructional materials for FREE. Students, members of the community, and users worldwide will find information to assist with writing instruction or projects. This professional development link offers resources for understanding and teaching prewriting, outlining, paragraphing, quoting, paraphrasing, summarizing, avoiding plagiarism, and many other writing skills for students at grade levels 7-12.

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Teaching Academic Writing to Adult English Learners

This PDF from Literacy Information and Communication System (LINCS) includes 52 Power Point slides from a March 2, 2018 webinar called Teaching Academic Writing to Adult English Learners. It was facilitated by Rebeca Fernandez from Davidson College in North Carolina, Joy Kreeft Peyton from the Center for Applied Linguistics in Washington, DC, and Kirsten Schaetzel from Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. The three major questions the facilitators asked and answered during the 90-minute webinar were:

  1. Why focus on academic writing?
  2. What is the state of writing instruction in adult ESL classes?
  3. What are some promising approaches to academic writing?

The slides share the importance of teaching academic writing in the 21st century, report on a 2014-2015 survey of adult ESL writing instruction, briefly describe ten approaches that are better aligned with academic writing skill development, and conclude with references for exploration by ABE/ESL writing teachers.


Writing Next

This 2007 report identifies 11 elements of current writing instruction found to be effective for helping adolescent students learn to write well and to use writing as a tool for learning. It is important to note that all of the elements are supported by rigorous research, but that even when used together, they do not constitute a full writing curriculum.


Writing to Read

This 2010 research report builds upon Writing Next and provides evidence for the theory that writing can improve and enhance reading. Specifically, it asks and answers three questions:

1. Does writing about material students read enhance their reading comprehension?
2. Does teaching writing strengthen students’ reading skills?
3. Does increasing how much students write improve how well they read?


Writing Workshops & Seminars

Do you need to brush up your own writing skills before teaching your students how to write more effectively? If so, Dr. Stephen Wilbers hosts a website that provides hundreds of FREE writing resources, columns, and exercises for writers and teachers of writers. 

From his homepage, click on Topics & exercises; here you will find a long list of his humorous newspaper columns in alphabetical order. A few examples include apostrophes, capitalization rules, commas, editing, hyphens, letter writing, persuasive writing, punctuation FAQs, and verbs. There are also exercises linked to the columns and challenges on grammar, proofreading, punctuation, and word choice.

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