Using the methodology of a formative experiment (Reinking & Bradley, 2008), this study investigated how writing workshop using expository and informational texts could be implemented in a fourth-grade classroom to improve students' reading and writing abilities and attitudes.
Eighteen students from a fourth-grade class at a rural school in a large district participated in the study. Quantitative and qualitative data were collected prior to and after implementation of the intervention to establish a baseline of performance and to determine progress toward the pedagogical goal. Additionally, qualitative data were collected throughout the intervention. Quantitative data were analyzed using a paired-samples t-test for the following measures: student prompted writing sample, Stieglitz informal reading inventory, and Heathington Intermediate Attitude Scale. Qualitative data were coded for recurring themes derived from the following sources: classroom observation and field notes, teacher reflective journal, student and teacher interviews, classroom artifacts, and informal discussions with teacher. Analyses revealed that the success of the intervention was related mainly to the teacher's awareness of her students, her beliefs about her own self-efficacy, students' shared vocabulary, and students' use of strategies. Unanticipated effects and changes to the educational environment are also discussed.