The following is a brief synopsis of the main ideas presented by Jones, Reutzel and Fargo (2010) in their scholarly treatise on the efficacy of two different methods of writing instruction on the reading skills of kindergarten students. The two methods explored are interactive writing and writing workshops. The former entails a teacher engaging his or her students in a collaborative writing assignment. For instance, a teacher can arbitrarily choose a topic for his or her students and then encourage them to each come up with their ideas of how best to represent the topic through writing. In essence, this topic can be on a specific children’s book that the class has previously covered. The teacher requires the students to share a pen and a writing pad on which to put down their respective ideas about the topic. The entire process entails full participation from all students and is therefore interactive as its name suggests.
Similarly, Jones, Reutzel and Fargo (2010) explore writing workshops as an alternative method of writing instruction for kindergarteners. This method is slightly different from interactive writing as it tends to be more competitive than interactive. For instance, the students are required to write individually on a topic selected by their teacher arbitrarily. The teacher can start the exercise by providing his or her students with an illustration from which to draw their ideas. The students then begin the writing exercise, with or without direct assistance from the teacher, before finally having the chance to present their ideas to the whole class either one at a time or in collaboration with a partner of their choice.
The authors (Jones, Reutzel, & Fargo, 2010) present their conclusions to the effect that the two methods of writing instruction are basically equally effective; this is with regard to the development of reading and writing skills among kindergarten students. I would say I agree with their conclusions up to the point that the instruction methods are both effective in achieving their main objective: developing reading and writing skills among kindergarten students.
Nevertheless, I think that this is too much of a generalization. For instance, the brief summary above clearly indicates that these two approaches are different and might therefore be better used in specific occasions to achieve specific objectives. Interactive writing can be an effective way of also fostering mutual cooperation and group formation among the students as a means of enhancing their studying capabilities. Similarly, writing workshops can be used quite effectively to develop analytical skills among students as they get to voice any concerns they might have regarding their colleagues’ presentations. As such, I think that the paper was too general in its conclusions and recommendations.
As indicated above, the two methods of instruction are quite broad and are thus capable of being replicated and applied in other ways than those presented by the authors (Jones, Reutzel, & Fargo, 2010). Nevertheless, the specific treatise is sufficient to convince kindergarten teachers that both interactive writing and writing workshops are effective ways of developing reading skills among kindergarteners. The fact that the authors present detailed scientific proof for the efficacy of the two methods is enough guarantee that these methods deserve to be developed further as means of instructing kindergarten students in various areas. I think that further research is indeed needed in the area of applying these two methods in ways other than just developing the students’ reading and writing skills.
Jones, C., Reutzel, D., & Fargo, J. D. (2010). Comparing two methods of writing instruction: Effects on kindergarten students’ reading skills. Journal of Educational Research, 103(5), 327-341.