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The Effects of Intergrating Writing Into the Writing Process

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Submitted By blaine
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Abstract: This study was conducted over an 8- week period with 20 first graders in an urban school setting. Students simply wrote on self-selected topics without drawing. During the first week students were limited to writing in a 30 minute time frame. Two weeks later students were timed for 30 minutes again and they were asked to draw and then write. Results showed that when students draw and then write their stories, their writing performance increased. Changes to their writing center occurred during this 8-week period. Hence, their feelings toward writing also increased at the end of this study as measured with a survey and informal observations.

Introduction:
It seems that the Visual Arts is often a neglected aspect of the elementary school curriculum and frequently at the top of the elimination list. According to Norris (1997) teachers are often reluctant to bring art into the classrooms because they are faced with pressure to improve their students’ standardized test scores. Norris (1997) also points out that some teachers don’t view themselves as being artistic, complicated by seldom having the benefit of an art teacher. Unfortunately, as I’ve seen it, art becomes an add on activity “saved” only for Friday afternoons or bad weather days when the students can’t go outside for recess. In addition, if “art” is used, it is used in coordination with writing as an “after-the-fact” activity, as decoration, or illustration when stories are completed.
As a first grade teacher I can attest to my students’ enjoyment of classroom time devoted to art activities. However, I ,like many teachers in my school, found art difficult to incorporate daily. The very few times that children had to draw were after they’ve written a story. Children seemed to enjoy this time of drawing but were often rushed to finish in order to share their writing. Many times I found myself saying, “When you are finished writing you may draw a picture.” Drawing was not stressed and at times not even required. However, Graves (1983) describes drawing as an important component in children’s writing development. Lucy Calkins (1989) also remarks: “The act of drawing and illustration itself provide a supporting scheme inside which writing can be built.” (p.66)
In addition, the only art media available on their desks were the basic eight crayons. This didn’t allow for much creativity or expression in their drawing. I found their drawing to be simple and very small. Although my school doesn’t have a prescribed way of teaching writing, I’ve taught writing using the knowledge I had from books or few workshops that I attended. Many workshops stressed the use of graphic organizers as a prewriting strategy. I’ve modeled using various graphic organizers but even with the use of these organizers I’ve had many students express their frustration. I noticed some children struggle to get ideas to begin writing. Often I heard students say, “I don’t know what to write.” or “I hate writing”. This is not to say that children “hate” writing. On the contrary, Graves (1983) affirms the importance of children’s desire to write when he insisted,
“Children want to write. They want to write the first day they attend school. This is no accident. Before they went to school they marked up wall, pavement, newspaper with crayons, chalk, pens, or pencils…anything that makes a mark.”
(p. 21)
Therefore, these levels of expressed frustration urged me to change my classroom into a more developmentally appropriate classroom. I combined both art and writing by creating a Writing/Illustration Center since I didn’t have an art center. This center would make writing and art materials more available to them. I incorporated various art media. I also allowed my students the freedom to draw or create prior to writing.
Therefore, this study attempted to answer the following questions: When writing is combined with art, would writing be improved? Will drawing before writing make writing an easier process? If so, would enthusiasm for writing be improved as well? I found this study important and valuable to teachers who are interested in searching for ways to inspire and encourage their students, especially those students who write reluctantly.
Literature Review
I’ve found very few researchers whom have done in depth study on the combination of drawing and writing. One of the main researchers in this area is Janet Olson (1992) a professor in art education. Her extensive research and work with the young has suggested many benefits to the integration of drawing and writing. I find her research to be valuable in my own study because she explains how teachers can give students with various learning styles an opportunity to express themselves. She calls her version of this solution “the visual–narrative approach,”(1992, p.51) and feels that children can be trained to move back and forth between realms of writing and drawing with little trouble. Olsen (1992) explains that children’s difficulty to write may stem from the fact that they are visual learners. According to her study if a child happens to be more “visual “ than “verbal” he or she will find drawing a more enjoyable and suitable means of story –telling than writing. She says it best when she states:
“Visual and verbal modes of learning can indeed be woven together in the classroom. Language need not and should no be separated from its initial component – the way, all types of learners can benefit.” (1992, p.6)
Karnoski (1996), to, suggested drawing as one of the primary ways young children communicate and should use their communication potential to make sense of the writing process. In an article written by Karen Ernest (1997) she states that in her study, when children were allowed to draw, there was an increased enthusiasm for writing and the writing was more descriptive. In addition, Norris (1997) states that the integration of drawing and writing resulted in more motivation for students to write and had fun doing it. She also pointed out that drawing before writing tended to produce more words, sentences, and idea units, and their overall writing performance was higher. Another researcher whom found drawing prior to writing was Bea Johnson (1999). Johnson (1999) remarks: “Drawing pictures first seems to help the children focus their thoughts and actually enhances their ability to create written responses. “ (1999, p.93) According to DuCharme (1991) her study supported her hypotheses that the role of drawing in the writing process is important. Even many authors draw first to help them get their ideas. According to Hubbard (1989) she says: “Many classrooms deny to children the very tools that adult authors find helpful in their work. Many writer, not just picture- book authors, rely on drawing to help them.” ( p.150)

Methodology
My study took place in an urban school setting with a culturally diverse population. The study consisted of 20 first graders. None of the students were identified as learning disabled or had any specific learning problems or handicapped conditions. Nine boys and eleven girls participated in this study. 3 of the girls and 4 boys received basic skills instruction in Reading. This study was conducted over an 8-week period. . I began the study with a kid-friendly survey. My intentions were to identify their feelings toward writing. The survey also contained questions on their feelings toward reading what they wrote and their feelings toward sharing what they wrote. My study only focused on their feelings toward writing. (See figure1.1) I also conducted a study with 20 first graders to measure what their writing product would be like without any drawing and done in a 30 minute time frame. I told the students that they may write about any self-selected topic. They may edit their work as well. This writing activity was measured by using a 6-point criteria rubric. (See figure 1.2) Three dependent variable were selected as measures of the students’ writing performance: organization, mechanics, and creativity. I observed some children moan and groan when I passed out lined paper to begin their writing. I told them that it would be timed and they must be quiet. I noticed some just staring at their papers before they even got started. Some just began writing right away. Yet others finished before the thirty-minute time frame.
The second week was devoted to changing my current writing center and incorporating an art center since I didn’t have one. I renamed this center to the Writing/Illustration Center. The student helped list all the items that they thought could go into a writing and illustration center. (See figure 1.3) I added more items to the list. As a class we came up with rules. We decided to make a few good rules and simple enough to remember. The children came up with 4 rules for their center. (See figure 1.4) I spent the next few days gathering writing and art materials that the children and I suggested.
On the third week I introduced a new set of 16-crayon box for child as opposed to their 8 basic crayon box. I introduced these with a book by Tommie De Paola called The Art Lesson. I allowed them to explore their crayons by having them draw. They were now able to use these crayons for any art activity that we did in class. I also introduced the use of markers with the book called Purple, Green, and Yellow by Robert Munsch. This week, I also conducted the same study as week 1. This time children were given 30 minutes to draw a picture of their self-selected topic first. Then they were given another 30 minutes to write about what they had drawn. They were allowed to edit their work and it was measured by the same writing rubric as week 1.
The fourth week I introduced paint. The children were so excited because they had never painted in my class. I introduced the paint with a book called The Dot by Peter M. Reynolds. I also modeled how to use the paint and mix the colors. I allowed them to explore this on their own in the Writing/ Illustration center. The children also had the opportunity to show off their painting skills by working on our first class mural on the Rainforest.
The fifth week I introduced the collage materials which was introduced with the book by Eric Carl called The Art of Eric Carl. Children made various designs some were convergent and others were divergent creations. For the next three-week children worked on creating books in their art center using all the art materials introduced. I gave them the freedom to make their own books therefore combining drawing and writing. According to DuCharme((1991) she states: “Choice and self selection are two key factors that contribute to a broad-based learning environment. Children need to be able to choose their drawing and writing purposes and activities. Given choices, children can self-select drawing and writing activities that are appropriate to their needs and desires.” (p.37) I observed children make various types of books from accordion books, cloud books, heart books etc… The children enjoyed this freedom and therefore expressed their enjoyment with the new center. I ended the study with the same survey as week 1, with the exception that I added one more question about drawing. (See figure 1.5) My focus was still on their feelings toward their writing now that the writing center had changed. I wanted to see if their feelings toward writing had changed since the beginning of this study.

Results
The data obtained by the survey at the beginning of the study showed that 3 out of 20 felt that they liked writing, 14 out of 20 said that they felt O.K about writing and 3 did not like writing at all. At the end of the study their feelings changed results in 16 out of 20 students liked writing, 4 out of 20 felt O.K, and no one said that they did not like writing. (See figure 1.6) Another data obtained was the writing rubric on the first week with no drawing. This resulted in some interesting results. The number of available points for the writing rubric was 18 points. The writing was graded and averaged. The average of the writing with no drawing was 9.3 out of 18 available points. Then two weeks later I conducted the same study but this time students were to draw first then write. I used the same rubric and the scoring was the same. The class average this time was 13.6 out of 18 available points. This showed an increase in class’ writing average. This suggested that drawing prior to writing improved their writing performance.
The three dependant variables were organization, mechanics, and creativity in the student. I studied these results in depth by calculating how many students scored in each area they just wrote. The criterion was scored as: outstanding, very good, good, fair, weak, and poor. > Alexis this part sounds weird….based on the graph I’m not sure how to say this………

Discussion
This study suggested that there is a relationship between drawing and writing. First, this study answered my question if children would find enthusiasm with writing. The survey suggested that the students’ feeling toward writing the center changed at the end of the study. This suggested that the changes allowed students the freedom to create and draw on their own when the center was changed from simply a writing center to a Writing/Illustration center. This increased their feelings toward writing in general.
This study also answered if drawing prior to writing would make writing an easier process and if the writing would improve. The findings did show an increase in the class’ writing average. Children as well seemed to enjoy drawing their pictures and writing about them. The writing showed a wealth of information about how drawing made their writing an easier process. I found that a major increase was the organizational skills along with their creativity. I found this to be an interesting finding because many researchers stressed drawing as a pre-writing activity. (Olson ,1992; Norris, 1997; Ernst, 1997; Johnson,1999). This seemed to have benefited my students when I allowed them to draw first. The drawing seemed to increase their organization of ideas by allowing students to focus on having a good beginning, middle and end to their story. I also observed that children tended to write more and write more creatively. I accidentally found that most of my students when they were asked to write without drawing, their writings tended to be more non-fictional writing. On the contrary, when they drew first most of them wrote fictional stories.
These results changed my teaching and how I view the writing process. As Janet Olson ((1992) says: “Teachers need to understand and incorporate visual thinking and visual learning strategies in conventional teaching methods in order to make it possible for both types of learners to reach their full language potential.” (p.6) I have changed the writing center to a Writing/Illustration center and this change actually had a great impact on my students. The greatest impact that this study is the improvement in the attitude toward writing and the actual writing process. There was a particular child whom I thought could have a learning disability. He disliked writing and would hardly write at least 3 sentences. When I asked the class to draw and then write, a wonderful transformation occurred. He is a natural artist and is a visual learner. The drawing helped him organize his ideas and they became very creative. He also showed enthusiasm toward the new writing/ illustration center.
Limitation and Implications for Future Study
The findings in this study are limited to the classroom setting and the group of children I studied. This study was also conducted with very few students of varying writing abilities. A larger study should be looked at. Researchers should look at other grade levels and use an objective way to measure the students’ progress in writing rather than my own subjective writing rubric. Various writing samples should have been used.

References
Calkins, L. (1986). The art of teaching writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann
DuCharme C. (1991, March) The Role of Drawing in the Writing Processes of Primary Grade Children. Paper presented at the Annual Spring Conference of the National Conference of Teachers of English. Indianapolis, IN
Graves, D. (1983). Writing: Teachers and children at work. Exeter, NH: Heinemann
Hubbard, R. (1989). Authors of Pictures, Draughtsmen of Words. Portsmouth, New Hamshire: Heinemann
Johnson, B. (1999). Never Too Early to Write. Gainesville, FL: Maupin House
Karowski, L. (1986). How young writers communicate. Educational Leadership, 44, 58-60
Norris, E. (1997). The Influence of Drawing on Third Graders’ Writing Performance. Reading Horizon, 38, 13-35.
Olson, J. (1992). Envisioning writing: Toward an integration of drawing of drawing and writing. Portsmouth, NH: Heinmann

Effects of Integrating Drawing to Writing Process

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