Thesis Title

Curriculum Based on Student Narrative Writing Designed to Affect Engagement and Writing Proficiency in an Urban High School

Graduation Date

Fall 2008

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Program Name

Education

Program Director

Madalienne Peters, EdD

Abstract

The purpose of this study is to explore a potential solution to the challenge of creating curriculum in an urban high school that engages all students and improves writing skills. Many students, but particularly students of color, are entering high school with writing skills that are far below grade level and do not receive the skills needed to write at a proficient level; there exists an achievement gap between students of color and white students (Noguera & Akon, 2000). There are many factors and reasons behind this problem (Noguera, 2007), but there are also teachers who have found ways to reach these low-achieving students (Langer, 2002).

This study examines how to improve or create curriculum that promotes a change in the student attitude towards writing, giving the students personal motivation to learn as well as the tools to succeed. Using narrative writing as a starting point, students learn how to express themselves through writing in Standard English, improving both student engagement and writing proficiency. The study took place in a large urban high school with approximately 1700 students, comprised mainly of students of color in a ninth grade English class room. Students completed questionnaires and wrote essays before and after the study, which was comprised of daily writing prompts and journal writing focusing on their life experiences and opinions. The results indicated that students who are traditionally reluctant to write in school are more apt to write about themselves; a curriculum based on narrative writing engages students and increases proficiency among students in an urban high school setting.

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