A fifth-grade narrative writing curriculum: a cognitive and psycholinguistic approach

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The purpose of this study was to develop a theoretically-based writing curriculum for fifth-grade students that incorporated research related to writing instruction. Cognitive developmental and psycholinguistic theories were used as the theoretical foundation for the curriculum. The study utilized a unique curriculum development format which included the presentation of the theories and research; the derivation of learning and instructional principles, and the development of an instructional model. The curriculum was then developed using the instructional model, and finally, the curriculum was analyzed according to the theoretical foundation.

Six learning principles were derived from the theoretical review. These principles addressed how children learn and how children learn language. Seven instructional principles were derived from the writing instruction research. The instructional principle and the learning principles were used to formulate an instructional model for the curriculum. The rationale for the model, the rationale for the content of the curriculum, the procedures for selecting materials, and, the procedures for developing an evaluation component for the curriculum were also explained.

The fifth-grade curriculum included the following five units: (1) Plot; (2) Setting; (3) Point of View; (4) Character; and (5) Style. Each of the units contained an overview, objectives, the instructional model, evaluation suggestions, and a list of materials. The curriculum was designed to be complete and ready for classroom use.

The curriculum was analyzed to see if it reflected the theoretical base. The learning principles, the instructional principles, and the composing process were reviewed and analysis criteria established. The units of the curriculum were analyzed according to this criteria. And the results of the analysis indicated that the curriculum did reflect the theoretical foundation. Conclusions and curriculum development and research possibilities were discussed. The need to field test the curriculum, to use a review panel in the analysis, to develop writing curricula for other grades and areas, and to compare this curriculum to other approaches to writing were identified.