How We Created Self-Regulating Writers & The Improvements We Have Seen.

This article is written with the intention to inform and provide interested parties with the opportunity for reflection. All approaches to the teaching of writing come with their own advantages and disadvantages. Being aware of certain limitations in some pedagogies is not to dismiss certain practices in schools nor those employed by teachers. Rather, this article is only looking to seek a clearer definition of the circumstances in which learning to write is likely to arise in classrooms.

The Self-Regulated Strategy Development model can help teachers incorporate self-regulatory training into their writing pedagogy.

I think teachers learn to be more useful when it is clearer that they are not [always] necessary – Peter Elbow (1998)

Many children struggle to coordinate the multiple cognitive and self-regulatory demands of the writing process. Here we describe how the Self-Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) model of instruction, which combines the explicit teaching of writing strategies with instruction in self-regulatory skills has aided the children in our class.

The first thing to know is that self-regulation can be learned:

  • directly through instruction,
  • indirectly through sheer experience and practice.

What Has Been Given ‘Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction’ In Our Writing Classroom:

We teach children how to generate their own ideas for writing because if we didn’t we may inadvertently train the children in our class to be dependent rather than independent writers. Writing prompts, story starters and stimuli are just a few ways we may communicate to children that they are not capable of writing and thinking on their own. It could be argued that they are also incredibly inefficient ways of getting children to write. According to Jacobson (2000), they can waste valuable writing time.

How The ‘Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction’ Is Delivered

  • Discuss It (explain why authors use these techniques)
  • Model It (show them how it is done)
  • Support It (through Pupil-Conferencing)
  • Independent Performance (give children the resources to carry it out on their own for the whole year)
  • ‘Held’ understanding – adapt these resources in future year groups to make children’s transitions even easier. E.g. have ‘Boxing-Ups’, ‘The Vomit Draft Rules’, ‘Revision Tips Sheets’, ‘Editing Checklists’ ‘Writing Tricks Books’ and ‘Cursive Script Exemplars’ for every year group.

If you consider Malcolm Gladwell’s (2009) 10,000 hours rule, you can see how important it is that children get to repeatedly practise the acts of the writing process. Because, as Ron Berger (2003) has shown, when children have multiple opportunities to revisit the same area of learning, they do so at a more advanced, developed level – until they are at mastery.

Chamberlain (2016) makes it quite clear, the less time children are afforded to write ‘properly’, the less developed or finished their writing will be. This must therefore have some implications. Chamberlain (2016) may argue that one draft and one polishing session are sufficient may get some children to write, but where is the pursuit of excellence in this model? For mastery?

A great example is the story of Austin’s butterfly:


According to Jacobson (2000), the following can cause dependency in writing:

Creates Dependence

  • Teacher selects writing prompt.
  • Teacher is ‘keeper of supplies’
  • Teacher provides the spelling of words
  • Because writing is assigned, students brainstorm their ‘funds of knowledge’ – whatever comes to mind in the time allowed for planning and will just re-write whatever came to mind at the moment. They will then exclaim ‘I’ve finished‘.
  • Writing lasts as long as the sessions lasts.
  • The children are often minimally engaged in the writing task and therefore resist revision and editing.
  • All students ‘finish’ their work at the same time – regardless of whether they have finished or not.

Jacobson (2000) claims the following can promote independence in writing:

Fosters Independence

  • Children select the writing topic, genre or both.
  • Materials are freely available.
  • Students that they can attend to any ‘unsure’ spellings after they have finished drafting.
  • Children can work on a piece over more than one writing session.
  • In anticipation of sharing and publishing, children willingly and carefully revise and edit.
  • Students publish only when they feel they have written something worth sharing.

Therefore there is no such thing as ‘being done’.


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**Please note that the views expressed on this blog are informed by educational research and writings but may not represent our employer.**

Self-Regulated Strategy Instruction For Writing Development

  • Berger, R., (2003) An Ethic Of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students. London: Heinemann
  • Chamberlain, L., (2016) Inspiring Writing in Primary School London: SAGE
  • Gladwell, M., (2009) The Outliers: A Story of Success
  • Graham, S., Harris, K., Mason, L., (2011) Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Students With Writing Difficulties.Theory Into Practice. Vol. 50 Issue 1, p20-27
  • Graham, S., Harris, K., Mason, L., (2014) Improving the writing performance, knowledge, and self-efficacy of struggling young writers: The effects of self-regulated strategy development Contemporary Educational Psychology Volume 30, Issue 2, p. 207–241
  • Johnson, E., Hancock, C., Carter, D, Pool, J., (2012) Self-Regulated Strategy Development as a Tier 2 Writing Intervention Intervention in School and Clinic Vol 48, Issue 4, pp. 218 – 222
  • Lane, K., Graham, S., Harris, K., Little, M., Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., (2010) The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development for Second-Grade Students With Writing and Behavioral Difficulties The Journal of Special Education Vol 44, Issue 2, pp. 107 – 128
  • Zumbrunn, S,Bruning, R., (2013) Improving the Writing and Knowledge of Emergent Writers: The Effects of Self-Regulated Strategy Development Reading and Writing: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol.26(1), p.91-110


6 thoughts on “How We Created Self-Regulating Writers & The Improvements We Have Seen.”

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