Promoting Writing Instruction in Early Childhood Classrooms (PWI): A Professional Development Model of Daily Routinized Writing Instruction
Chenyi Zhang

About the research


NAEd/Spencer Postdoctoral Fellowship

Award Year



Georgia State University

Primary Discipline

Early Childhood Education
Despite the importance of preschool children’s early writing skill (e.g., name writing, letter writing and spelling) to their concurrent and later literacy development (Dickinson et al., 2003; NELP, 2008), teachers’ writing instruction occurs at a low frequency in preschool classrooms (Gerde et al., 2012). Utilizing an experimental design, the Promoting Writing Instruction (PWI) project is a professional development intervention for embedding scientifically based writing instructional practices into preschool teachers’ daily practices in early childhood centers serving high percentages of children at risk for early learning challenges (i.e., serving low-income children). Given the bi-directional relation between early writing and letter/sound (decoding) skills (Diamond et al., 2008), PWI will provide PD workshop and onsite coaching to guide teachers to infuse writing and decoding instruction into existing daily routine activities in explicit and meaningful ways. For example, writing will be incorporated into morning meeting time, when reading a morning message and discussing daily calendar activities. Including writing opportunities in routine activities is an effective approach because it adds little additional teaching and lesson planning burden (Chien et al., 2010) and, because it occurs daily, provides an effective context for explicit and repeated teaching (Zhang et al., 2015). PWI’s theory of change posits that teachers who incorporate interactive and explicit writing and decoding instruction into their daily routine activities will lead to significant improvements in children’s writing and decoding skills. The specific aims of this research project are: 1. Investigate the impact of a routine activity-based PD intervention on teachers’ writing and decoding based, and, subsequently children’s writing skills and other related literacy skills (e.g., letter, sound and vocabulary). 2. Explore the relations between different types of teachers’ writing instruction, and children’s writing development. 3. Explore other malleable factors (i.e., children’s self-regulation skills, teachers’ beliefs about teaching early literacy and writing skills) that may contribute to teachers’ classroom instruction and children’s writing development.
About Chenyi Zhang
Dr. Chenyi Zhang is an Assistant Professor at Georgia State University in the Department of Early Childhood and Elementary Education. Dr. Zhang’s research examines the interplay between teachers’ classroom instruction and young children’s early literacy development with consideration of environmental factors in classroom. His research aims to understand how high quality teacher-child interactions (i.e., emotionally and instructionally sensitive interactions) at school influence young children’s literacy, language, and socio-emotional development. Dr. Zhang completed his PhD in Human Development and Family Studies (emphasis: Early Childhood Education) at Purdue University in 2013.

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