Tag Archives: SRSD Writing Instruction

SRSD Writing in History

This post is a follow up to my earlier lecture on SRSD writing instruction. Although, these lectures are meant for course participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers that will take place between January 12, 2015 – February 24, 2015, feel free to make comments, or join our Twitter conversations under the #HistRW.

Students writing


Studies of history classrooms reveal that writing instruction of any kind is uncommon, even among exemplary teachers. Thus, student essays tend to list facts rather than argue claims, leave arguments unexplained, and only draw on evidence sporadically. A majority of adolescent writers struggle in writing a simple argument in history. Recently, research has focused on the discipline-specific demands of history writing. Most specifically, how students construct a complex argument from smaller arguments from historical documents that reflect how they read, understand and cite evidence from multiple sources.

Previous research suggests that students do not learn to explain quotations or other types of evidence in their papers. Students do not develop interpretations that are supported with evidence. DBQ instruction may help students improve their persuasive essays, but not their ability to write evidence-based arguments. Explicit methods and direct instruction are needed for this. These researchers developed a Self Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) intervention. This study measured the effectiveness of the intervention on students’ abilities to write evidence-based arguments using a cognitive apprenticeship model for instruction.

Thinking w hist docs


H1 Students who receive instruction in analyzing sources and planning argumentative essays will demonstrate greater use of evidence from documents than students in the comparison group.

H2 Students will write more advanced claims and rebuttals, after instruction.

H3 Students will write longer and qualitatively better essays with greater factual accuracy and overall persuasiveness.


160 11th-grade students received instruction from four US history teachers at two schools. Scores on the written expression subtest of the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test, administered before the study began, were compared to determine whether the two groups differed in initial writing ability. The students initially performed at the same levels. Argumentative essays that involved historical interpretation were used for the writing task in this study.

Instructional Framework

(1) develop background knowledge, (2) describe it, (3) model it, (4) support it, and (5) independent performance (Harris & Graham, 1996).

The mnemonic STOP reminded students to consider and generate ideas on both sides of an argument before deciding which side to support in their essay. The steps of the mnemonic prompted them to Suspend judgment, Take a side, Organize (select and number) ideas, and Plan more as you write. Teachers modeled self-regulatory statements such as, ‘‘Since I decided to put my thesis statement first, I will write it as the beginning of my introductory paragraph.”

Student essays were coded to identify all claims in favor of or against the position. The study counted the total number of claims, but controlled for the length of essay. The researchers counted and analyzed the number of rebuttals that students wrote, then explored their level of development by ranking rebuttals according to degree of sophistication.

Doc Use Means


In comparison to a control group (N = 79), essays written by students who received SRSD instruction (N = 81) were longer, were rated as having greater historical accuracy, were more persuasive, with detailed claims and rebuttals. This study suggests that with explicit instruction, teachers can shape new understandings for what students expect to write and how they perform in history classrooms. Thus, numerous writing from sources assignments, paired with direct instruction in historical thinking processes, appears to move low to average high school writers to demonstrably higher levels of writing proficiency.

The big takeaway is that History instructors now have a framework for how to compare measures of quality in student essays across grade levels. Effective writing instructors will concentrate on one or two elements per assignment, give students regular feedback, and report their growth.


Reading and writing from multiple source documents in history: Effects of strategy instruction with low to average high school writers (2010). By Susan De La Paz, Ph.D., Associate Professor, University of Maryland, College Park 
& Mark Felton, Associate Professor, San Jose State University.

SRSD Instruction

This post describes a writing strategy for course participants in the MOOC Helping History Teachers Become Writing Teachers that will take place between January 12, 2015 – February 24, 2015. Regardless of if you are participating in the course or not, feel free to make comments, or click on the links for the original sources. SRSD Note

Integrating Self Regulated Strategy Development (SRSD) into History/Social Science writing instruction is not taught in many teacher credentialing programs, nor is it offered in professional development seminars. Long used in elementary and middle schools to help students with Learning Disabilities (LD), SRSD is now being used with English Language Learners (ELLs) in some high schools. More than 40 studies have validated SRSD as an instructional model for teaching writing to students with writing deficits. Developed by Harris & Graham (1992), this model integrates writing instruction, self-regulation strategies, and the development of positive student attitudes toward writing. SRSD Writing StratsWriting Strategies All SRSD writing strategies contain mnemonics for learning strategy steps. For instance, the narrative, or storytelling strategy utilizes POW. Each letter represents a step (a) Pick my idea; (b) Organize my notes; and (c) Write and say more. SRSD considers writing a problem-solving task requiring planning, knowledge, and skills. Planning includes pre-writing, drafting, and revising the essay.

Step 1 – Develop background knowledge. Increasing background knowledge. Purpose of writing. What skills are needed to achieve a writing goal?

Step 2 – Discuss it. The role of student effort in learning the strategy. The self-regulation procedures. Self-monitoring. identifying reasonable, measurable, and attainable goals.

Step 3 – Model it. Teachers model is completed. Students are taught how to count all the essay parts to determine whether all aspects of the prompt are answered in the essay. (Deconstructing prompt, Do-What chart).

Step 4 – Memorize it. Students practice the steps of the strategy. Meaning of mnemonics used to reinforce fluency. Teachers provide students with cue cards (described above), common think sheets, planning sheets, and graphic organizers. Reminders of the critical steps involved in writing compositions.

Step 5 – Support it. Teachers provide scaffolding and continuous feedback while students practice writing. Teachers may work collaboratively with the students following all of the planning and organizing steps. As students begin to master the essay writing process, scaffolds are removed. Step 6 – Independent Performance. Students write independently without graphic organizers. They user fewer audible self-statements, because they have internalized the strategy. SRSD Self-Reg Techniques

Self Regulation Strategies

Self-regulation refers to self-initiated thoughts, feelings, and actions that writers use to meet literary goals. When writers use self-regulation, they control their environment and behavior, including the time spent writing and organizing their ideas. Self-regulating writers develop goal-setting strategies, task-analyzing objectives, and self-reinforcement. Additional self-regulation techniques include: self-monitoring, self-instructions, self-reinforcement, metacognition, and self-assessment. Further techniques are embedded into each of the six stages of SRSD writing.

Development of positive attitudes toward writing

Environments that are supportive and pleasant develop students’ passion for writing and increase the odds that they will apply SRSD strategies. A few ways to create an inspiring classroom include: (1) establishing an exciting mood during writing time; (2) encouraging students to take risks when writing; (3) developing writing assignments that reflect students’ interests; (4) allowing students to select their own writing topics or modify assigned topics; (5) having students arrange their own writing space; and (6) encouraging students to help each other as they plan, write, and revise.

Additional Resources An outstanding tutorial on SRSD can be found at the IRIS Center for Training Enhancements. http://iris.peabody.vanderbilt.edu/module/srs/ The Power of SRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHTvJFaINqI SRSD PD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D0mw73aO9_k Kristy Currie – SRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=czNaUbeAZnA Modeling Story Writing https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-zVG38kBcU TIDE Mnemonic https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atBZUnyOnmI Long Lecture – thinkSRSD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QylROcPEDC8 Steve Graham bonus video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIxxSJ3pG_M


Regan, K., & Mastropieri, M.A. (2009) Current Practice Alerts: A focus on Self Regulated Strategy Development for Writing. Issue 17, Spring, 2009. Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) and Division for Research (DR) of the Council for Exceptional Children. http://www.teachingld.org.

Santangelo, T., Harris, K.R., and Graham, S. (2008). Using Self-Regulated Strategy Development to Support Students Who Have “Trubol Giting Thangs Into Werds”. Remedial and Special Education. Vol. 29, No. 2. March/April 2008. 78-89. DOI: 10.1177/0741932507311636