Writing instruction in ﬁrst grade: an observational
David L. Coker Jr.
Allison F. Jackson
Charles A. MacArthur
Austin S. Jennings
Published online: 13 October 2015
Ó Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015
Abstract As schools work to meet the ambitious Common Core State Standards in
writing in the US, instructional approaches are likely to be examined (National
Governors Association Center for Best Practices, Council of Chief State School
Ofﬁcers, 2010). However, there is little research on the current state of instruction.
This study was designed to provide a comprehensive analysis of ﬁrst-grade writing
instruction across 13 schools in one state in the US. Daylong observations were
conducted four times during the year in 50 ﬁrst-grade classrooms. Using a time-
sampled, observational protocol, observers coded multiple dimensions of instruc-
tion, including grouping, instructional focus, teacher instructional activity, and
student writing activity. Results revealed that writing was taught for less than
30 min a day on average, and instruction in skills or process writing was common.
Most instruction was organized in whole-class settings with teachers either pre-
senting information or asking students questions. Variability in the amount and
focus of writing instruction and in student writing activity was examined at the
classroom and school levels. A small number of classrooms and schools were
identiﬁed with distinctive patterns in their approach to instruction and writing
activity. Several moderate relationships were found between the writing instruc-
tional focus and the nature of student writing. These ﬁndings suggest that ﬁrst-grade
writing instruction is inconsistent across classrooms and schools and point to
instructional implications for teachers and schools in the US.
Keywords Writing instruction Á First grade Á Observation
& David L. Coker Jr.
School of Education, University of Delaware, 127 Willard Hall, Newark, DE 19716, USA
Rehabilitative Services and Special Education, University of Maine Farmington, 186 High
Street, Farmington, ME 04938, USA
Read Writ (2016) 29:793–832