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Teachers' orientations towards writing

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Author(s): Sarah J. McCarthey & Dumisile Mkhize

Journal: Journal of Writing Research
ISSN 2030-1006

Volume: 5;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 1;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: teachers | orientations | writing | beliefs | influences

ABSTRACT
This study of 29 teachers from four states in the US investigated teachers' orientations towards writing and the influences on their beliefs. Through interviews about writing instruction, the researchers found significant differences between teachers in high and low-income schools. While teachers in high-income schools valued rhetorical style, developing voice, and reading-writing connections, teachers in low-income schools focused on grammar, mechanics and sentence structure. Teachers in high-income schools appear to be exercising more choice in curricular materials and valuing quality of writing beyond grammar and mechanics, whereas teachers in low-income schools are using specific curriculum mandated by the districts. Influences on teachers' orientations included school context, programs and materials, and assessments. The study raises concerns that students in low-income schools are missing out on authentic, challenging, and meaningful writing opportunities since the focus is on skills-based instruction. The findings point to the need for teachers to provide all students with opportunities to develop rhetorical style, voice, and reading-writing connections in addition to grammar, mechanics, and sentence structure.
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