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Research Basis Supporting Craft Plus

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Research Basis Supporting CraftPlus


Jean Piaget
Marcia Freeman’s CraftPlus K-8 Program applies Piaget’s principles of brain maturation, notably the difference between the concrete operational thinker (ages 5-10) and the abstract thinker (age 10 and above). CraftPlus:
  • Uses physical sorting of listed details about a topic to scaffold organizing informational writing
  • Introduces abstract graphic planners age-appropriately
  • Introduces fictional narrative when students can sequence events in time
Noam Chomsky
Chomsky, a linguistic researcher, showed that children acquire syntactical knowledge as early as their sixth month. The CraftPlus program emphasizes oral writing instruction and editing for punctuation for emergent writers (Syntactical Structures, Mouton, 1957).

Brian Cambourne
Certain conditions are necessary for language and literacy acquisition, Cambourne’s research found. CraftPlus applies these findings to writing instruction during and after the engaging lesson with clear explanations, modeling, demonstration, clear expectations, responsibility, practice time, freedom to approximate, and timely response (The Whole Story: Natural Learning and the Acquisition of Literacy in the Classroom, Scholastic, TAB Publications, 1988).

Donald Graves
Researcher Donald Graves defined the writing process as the sequence of steps that all effective writers go through, and he introduced schools to the concept of the daily writing workshop. CraftPlus incorporates writing process, which is used in parts and as a whole, as students apply, practice, and demonstrate targeted writing skills that they are explicitly taught in a daily workshop setting (Writing: Teachers and Children at Work, Heinemann Educational Books, 1983).

Douglas Fisher
The CraftPlus K-8 Writing Program applies many of the points about developing an integrated framework for oral, written, and reading literacy that Fisher raised in an article that appeared in Reading Teacher in 2007. In the late 1900s, Fisher also reported that writing and high performance in other academic disciplines is one of five common characteristics of high-performing schools, irrespective of demographics. Emphasis on writing as used in this research includes a focus on informational writing, using written responses in testing across the curriculum, and clearly established high standards of “good writing,” all characteristics of the CraftPlus Program (The Reading Teacher, Volume 61, No. 1, September 2007).

Other Supporting Research

Study Groups:
Murphy, Carlene, “Study Groups Foster Schoolwide Learning,” Educational Leadership, November 1992, Volume 50, Number 3.

Andrew Croft, et. al. “Job-Embedded Professional Development: What It Is, Who is Responsible, and How to Get It Done Well,” Learning Forward Issue Brief, April 2010.

Best Practices in Writing:
“Learning to Read and Write: Developmentally Appropriate Practices for Young Children,” A joint position statement of the International Reading Association and the National Association of Education of Young Children. May 1998.

“The National Commission on Writing in America’s Schools and Colleges,” The College Board, April 2003. This study reported inadequate teaching training in writing, inadequate time for writing in the classroom, an under-emphasis on expository writing, and the need to fully exploit the power of writing in the content areas. CraftPlus addresses all those points.

Selected States’ Research

Leon County Public Schools District
Hawks Rise Elementary School

In 2003, Hawks Rise Elementary noted a tendency for fourth-grade students to score at middle ranges on the FCAT Writing Assessment rubric. While no students scored in the lowest ranges, only a small percentage scored at the highest points. An average of 20 percent of fourth-grade students scored at levels five and six on the rubric (18 percent for the expository prompt and 22 percent for the narrative). The majority of students scored at levels three and four.

During the 2003-2004 school year, CraftPlus was implemented. The 2004 FCAT writing assessment scores reflected a significant rise in the percentage of students scoring at levels five and six. In 2004, no students scored at the lowest levels. FCAT Writing Assessment results shows a 10 percent gain in the number of students scoring at the highest levels. An average of 30 percent of students scored at levels five and six (31 percent for the expository prompt and 28% for the narrative). The mean school score rose from 4.2 in 2003 to 4.4 in 2004.

During the first year of implementation, teachers at all grade levels reported a notable increase in students understanding and applying writing craft skills. They noted that the focus on descriptive Target Skills, genre-appropriate organization, and high-quality literature models took writing “to the next level.”

Monroe County
Bedford Public Schools

This graph represents the scores of five Bedford schools on the Michigan state assessment (M.E.A.P.) before CraftPlus in 2003, and after a year of CraftPlus, to an expository prompt.
MEAP 2003 Before-After CraftPlus

Green Bay Public School District

In 2010-2011, Amy Quinn, a first-grade teacher in Wisconsin’s Green Bay Public School District, implemented CraftPlus in her classroom, then wrote up results as part of her university professional development certificate requirements. Her student’s’ writing showed marked improvement, especially in the areas of ideas, organization, and conventions. Her students’ attitudes toward themselves as writers also improved, too.

View her full results and report.
Green Bay Public Schools Before-After CraftPlus