Advancing civics-specific disciplinary writing in the elementary grades
Keywords:civics instruction, elementary social studies, perspective-taking, student writing, argumentation
Students need support through intentional writing instruction to develop their discipline-specific writing skills outside of Language Arts. Yet, we argue not all writing instruction provides the same opportunities for student learning. In this study, with the support of professional development, teachers engaged students in civic perspective-taking through writing, focusing on locally relevant public issues. Drawing from disciplinary literacy and genre pedagogy, our research team conducted a descriptive study where thematic analysis was applied to examine second and third graders’ civics writing samples. Our findings indicate that students’ engagement with key civic concepts became more complex and purposeful as they practiced argumentative writing. Development continued from second to third grade in both the sophistication of their civic perspective-taking as well as their writing. Additionally, we found that student motivation to engage in argumentative writing increased in all classrooms across both grade levels when engaging with locally relevant public issues. This article provides details about the elementary civics writing curriculum and the students’ writing outcomes as well as includes the two graphic organizers used in the curriculum.
Anderson, T., & Shattuck, J. (2012). Design-based research: A decade of progress in education research? Educational Researcher, 41(1), 16-25.
Bangert-Drowns, R. L., Hurley, M. M., & Wilkinson, B. (2004). The effects of school-based writing-to-learn interventions on academic achievement: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 74(1), 29-58.
Bieber, F. (2018). Is nationalism on the rise? Assessing global trends. Ethnopolitics, 17(5), 519-540.
Blas, T. (2019 October 23). “Latinx” is growing in popularity. I made a comic to help you understand why. Vox. https://www.vox.com/the-highlight/2019/10/15/ 20914347/latin-latina-latino-latinx-means.
Carruthers, P., & Smith, P. K. (Eds.). (2011). Theories of theories of mind. Cambridge University Press.
Cho, M., Kim, Y., -S., G., & Olson, C. B. (2021). Does perspective taking matter for writing? Perspective taking in source-based analytical writing of secondary students. Reading and Writing, 34, 2081-2101.
Crowe, T., & Hodges, T. S. (2021). Elementary education and perspective-taking: Developing a writing rubric to nurture creativity and empathy in children. In A. G. Raj (Ed.) Creativity as progressive pedagogy: Examinations into culture, performance, and challenges (pp. 351-367). IGI Global.
De La Paz, S., & Felton, M. K. (2010). Reading and writing from multiple source documents in history: Effects of strategy instruction with low to average high school writers. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 35(3), 174-192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cedpsych.2010.03.001
Dyson, A. H., & Freedman, S. W. (1990). On teaching writing: A review of the literature. Center for the Study of Writing.
Enright, E. A., Toledo, W., Drum, S., & Brown, S. (2022). Collaborative elementary civics curriculum development to support teacher learning to enact culturally sustaining practices. The Journal of Social Studies Research, 46(1), 69-83. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jssr.2021.11.007
Fitzgerald, J. C., Cohen, A. K., Maker Castro, E., & Pope, A. (2021). A systematic review of the last decade of civic education research in the United States. Peabody
Journal of Education, 96(3), 235-246.
Gibbs, G. R. (2007). Thematic coding and categorizing. Analyzing Qualitative Data, 703, 38-56. https://doi.org/10.4135/9781526441867.n4
Gill, A. A., & Janjua, F. (2020). Genre pedagogy and ELLs’ writing skills: A theme analysis. English Language Teaching, 13(8), 141-151.
Giroux, H. A. (2017). White nationalism, armed culture and state violence in the age of Donald Trump. Philosophy & Social Criticism, 43(9), 887-910. https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453717702800
Graham, S., & Perin, D. (2007). What we know, what we still need to know: Teaching adolescents to write. Scientific Studies of Reading, 11(4), 313-335. https://doi.org/10.1080/10888430701530664
Graham, S., & Hebert, M. (2011). Writing to read: A meta-analysis of the impact of writing and writing instruction on reading. Harvard Educational
Review, 81(4), 710-744. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.81.4.t2k0m13756113566
Graham, S., Kiuhara, S. A., & MacKay, M. (2020). The effects of writing on learning in science, social studies, and mathematics: A meta-analysis. Review of Educational Research, 90(2), 179–226.
Hayes, J. R. (2000). A new framework for understanding cognition and affect in writing. In R. Indrisano & J. R. Squire (Eds.), Perspectives on writing: Research, theory and practice (pp. 6 – 44). International Reading Association.
Hillocks, G. (1986). Research on written composition: New directions for teaching. National Council of Teachers of English.
Hodges, T. S., McTigue, E., Wright, K. L., Franks, A. D., & Matthews, S. D. (2018). Transacting with characters: Teaching children perspective taking with authentic literature. Journal of Research in Childhood Education, 32(2), 343-362. https://doi.org/10.1080/02568543.2018.1464529.
Hyland, K. (2003). Genre-based pedagogies: A social response to process. Journal of Second Language Writing, 12(1), 17-29. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1060-3743(02)00124-8
Journell, W., Beeson, M. W., & Ayers, C. A. (2015). Learning to think politically: Toward more complete disciplinary knowledge in civics and government courses. Theory & Research in Social Education, 43(1), 28-67.
Lewis, C. C., Perry, R. R., & Hurd, J. (2009). Improving mathematics instruction through lesson study: A theoretical model and North American case. Journal of Mathematics Teacher Education, 12(4), 285-304.
Maple, T. L. (2005). Beyond community helpers: The project approach in the early childhood social studies curriculum. Childhood Education, 81(3), 133-138. https://doi.org/10.1080/00094056.2005.10522256
Mar, R. A., (2011). The neural bases of social cognition and story comprehension. Annual Review of Psychology, 62, 103-134. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120709-145406
Mar, R. A., Oatley, K. & Peterson, J. B. (2009). Exploring the link between reading fiction and empathy: Ruling out individual differences and examining outcomes. Communication, 34(4), 407-428.
Martin, J. R. (2009). Genre and language learning: A social semiotic perspective. Linguistics and Education, 20(1), 10-21.
McTigue, E., Douglass, A., Wright, K. L., Hodges, T., & Franks, A. D. (2015). Beyond the story map: Inferential comprehension via character perspective. The Reading Teacher, 61(1), 91-101. https://doi.org/10.1002/trtr.1377
Miller, B. W., Anderson, R. C., Morris, J., Lin, T-.J., Jadallah, M., & Sun, J. (2014). The effects of reading to prepare for argumentative discussion on cognitive engagement and conceptual growth. Learning and Instruction, 33, 67-80. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.learninstruc.2014.04.003
Monte-Sano, C. (2010). Disciplinary literacy in history: An exploration of the historical nature of adolescents' writing. The Journal of the Learning Sciences, 19(4), 539-568. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508406.2010.481014
Morris, J. A., Miller, B. W., Anderson, R. C., Nquyen-Jahiel, K. T., Lin, T-.J., Scott, T., Zhang, J., Sun, J., & Ma, S. (2018). Instructional discourse and argumentative writing. International Journal of Educational Research, 90, 234-247. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2018.03.001
Mottart, A., Devos, F., Van Vooren, V., & de Ven, V. (2018). Writing across content areas in Dutch and Flemish secondary education. In Edulearn 2018 (pp. 3487-3494). International Academy of Technology, Education and Development (IATED).
National Governors Association Center for Best Practices & Council of Chief State School Officers. (2010). Common Core State Standards. Washington, DC: Authors.
Nussbaum, E. M., & Schraw, G. (2007). Promoting argument-counterargument integration in students' writing. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(1), 59-92. https://doi.org/10.3200/JEXE.76.1.59-92
Oatley, K. (2011). In the minds of others. Scientific American Mind, 22(5), 62-67. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0304-422X(02)00011-6
Paltridge, B. (2014). Genre and second language academic writing. Language Teaching, 47(3), 303-318. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444814000068
Purcell‐Gates, V., Duke, N. K., & Martineau, J. A. (2011). Learning to read and write genre‐specific text: Roles of authentic experience and explicit teaching. Reading Research Quarterly, 42(1), 8-45.
Reznitskaya, A., Anderson, R. C., & Kuo, L-.J. (2007). Teaching and learning argumentation. The Elementary School Journal, 107(5), 449-472. https://doi.org/10.1086/518623
Reznitskaya, A., Anderson, R. C., McNurlen, B., Nguyen-Jahiel, K. Archodidou, A., Kim, S-. Y. (2001). Influence of oral discussion on written argument. Discourse Processes, 32(2/3), 155-175.
Rose, D. (2009). Writing as linguistic mastery: The development of genre-based literacy. The SAGE handbook of writing development. Sage Publications, 151-166.
Saldaña, J., & Omasta, M. (2016). Qualitative research: Analyzing life. Sage Publications.
Sandahl, J. (2020). Opening up the echo chamber: Perspective taking in social science education. Acta Didactica Norden, 14(4).
Schall-Leckrone, L. (2017). Genre pedagogy: A framework to prepare history teachers to teach language. TESOL Quarterly, 51(2), 358-382. https://doi.org/10.1002/tesq.322
Seixas, P. (2017). A model of historical thinking. Educational Philosophy and Theory, 49(6), 593-605. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131857.2015.1101363
Selman, R. L. (2003). The promotion of social awareness: Powerful lessons from the partnership of developmental theory and classroom practice. Russell Sage Foundation.
Shanahan, T. (2006). Relations among Oral Language, Reading, and Writing Development. In C. A. MacArthur, S. Graham, & J. Fitzgerald (Eds.), Handbook of writing research (pp. 171–183). The Guilford Press.
Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2008). Teaching disciplinary literacy to adolescents: Rethinking content-area literacy. Harvard Educational Review, 78(1), 40-59. https://doi.org/10.17763/haer.78.1.v62444321p602101
Shanahan, T., & Shanahan, C. (2012). What is disciplinary literacy and why does it matter? Topics in Language Disorders, 32(1), 7-18.
Toledo, W. (2019). Civic perspective-taking: Examining how young children engage with locally relevant public issues. Citizenship Teaching & Learning, 14(3), 277-305. https://doi.org/10.1386/ctl_00011_1
Toledo, W. (2020). Civically minded: the types of knowledge teachers use to adapt a civics curriculum. Journal of Curriculum Studies, 52(1), 64-83. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220272.2019.1650118
Toledo, W., & Enright, E. A. (2022). Reconceptualizing Civic Perspective-Taking: An Analysis of Elementary Student Verbal and Written Contributions within a Curricular Intervention. The
van Drie, J., & van de Ven, P. H. (2017). Moving ideas: An exploration of students’ use of dialogue for writing in history. Language and Education, 31(6), 526-542. https://doi.org/10.1080/09500782.2017.1326504
Whitehead, A. L., Perry, S. L., & Baker, J. O. (2018). Make America Christian again: Christian nationalism and voting for Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election. Sociology of Religion, 79(2), 147-171.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2023 Esther A. Enright, William Toledo, Katherine Landau Wright
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 3.0 Unported License.