Drop Everything and Write (DEAW): an innovative program to improve literacy skills Academic Article uri icon


  • It is believed that language is an innate ability and, therefore, spoken language is acquired naturally and informally. In contrast, written language is thought to be an invention and, therefore, has to be learned through formal instruction. An alternate view, however, is that spoken language and written language are two forms of manifestations of the same inner language and that under certain circumstances, they both are acquired the same way. Nevertheless, in reality, the motor mechanisms for speech mature earlier than the ones needed for reading and writing, and, therefore, spoken language gains precedence and is acquired earlier than the written language. Based on this rationale, it is hypothesized that if the option to communicate through oral language is restricted, and children are made to communicate only through written language, we can expect written language skill to emerge with greater force. This hypothesis was put to test by conducting a pilot study in which children's option to communicate with each other in the classroom was limited to written language for brief periods. One group of fourth graders were allowed to communicate with each other for half an hour a day, 4 days a week, for a period of one semester only through written language. No talking was allowed during this period. A comparison group of children were not restricted in this way. We labeled this project "Drop Everything and Write" (DEAW). Both the groups were administered pre- and post-tests of reading and spelling. After one semester of this program, children in the DEAW program achieved significantly higher scores on tests of vocabulary, reading comprehension, and spelling than the comparison group. The DEAW group also improved greatly in written language use. The results are interpreted to support the hypothesis. 2007 Springer Science + Business Media, LLC.

published proceedings

  • Learning Inquiry

author list (cited authors)

  • Joshi, R. M., Aaron, P. G., Hill, N., Ocker Dean, E., Boulware-Gooden, R., & Rupley, W. H.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Joshi, R Malatesha||Aaron, PG||Hill, Nancy||Ocker Dean, Emily||Boulware-Gooden, Regina||Rupley, William H

publication date

  • April 2008