Effects of a Content-Area Writing Lesson Cycle on English Language Learners' Writing Abilities and Content Knowledge

Katie Kasper

Abstract

This action research focused on assisting eighth grade English language learners (ELLs) with content area writing. In order to accomplish this, the researcher created and investigated the effectiveness of integrating content and language instruction within a content-area writing lesson cycle. The two questions guiding this study were 1.) How does a content-area writing lesson cycle containing reading and discussing an expository text, graphically organizing information, and examining an appropriate text structure affect students' abilities to write about content-area topics? 2.) Is content-area writing an effective way to learn subject-specific material as demonstrated by chapter or unit test/quiz scores? The researcher hypothesized that the content-­area writing lesson cycle would be an effective instructional method for increasing ELLs' writing abilities and learning content knowledge. Over the course of five weeks, students completed five writing lesson cycles. To evaluate the writing lesson cycle success, the researcher obtained data in the form of field notes, writing samples, and related science and social studies quiz/test scores. Writing samples were evaluated using a six point rubric and then compared to students previous ACCESS scores. Students' quiz/test questions were coded to determine whether students answered content questions addressed in the writing lesson cycle correctly more often than questions not addressed in the writing lesson cycle. The results of the action research indicated that the content-area lesson cycle was an effective way to improve aspects of ELLs' writing and well as increase their overall content-area knowledge.