Marrying Quality and Authenticity: One Teacher's Place-based Approach to Writing Instruction

Author: ORCID icon
Suriano, Jennifer, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Mintz, Susan, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

High school students need skills in writing, communication, and inquiry to be successful in college and careers. Although, many students graduate without proficiency in communicating knowledge and clearly expressing their ideas. Often times, traditional science and English curricula do not support students in addressing community issues or global humanitarian concerns. Thus, these students are ill-prepared to act as productive global citizens in the future. To illustrate this problem and explore a possible solution, I conducted a single case study of one high school teacher in an environmental studies academy who utilizes a place-based approach to writing instruction in order to prepare students as critical thinkers and effective communicators. Data were drawn from observations of instruction, interviews with the teacher, relevant documents, and a student focus group. Findings indicate that the teacher’s place-based approach to writing instruction included evidence-based writing practices such as: facilitation of the writing process, inquiry-based activities, collaborative experiences, and use of authentic audiences as part of a summative capstone project. The teacher’s focus on providing purpose and authenticity in instruction shaped important relationships and supported students in successfully communicating ideas. Students were provided opportunities to develop autonomy and utilize resources -- two important facets of future success. The teacher’s place-based approach included experiences in which students addressed problems, engaged in project-based learning, and pursued their own passions. Based on these findings, this report includes implications for practice and recommendations for future research.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
place-based education, writing instruction, environmental studies, capstone project
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