Saturday, April 23, 2016

Understanding Dimensions of Composition Development- Week 4 Already Ready Book Study

The purpose of Chapter 4 is to examine the different dimensions of composition development within the context of children's composing.

Important Point- As you read through each question related to development, it is important to remember that the answers to the questions cannot be found in the books alone. Some of the questions can only be answered by observing the child as he writes. If the child has already finished the book, the opportunity to see the child's development in some areas has been lost.

The book organizes the dimensions of composition development into 3 broad categories- 
1) understandings about text
2) understandings about process
3) understandings about what it means to be a writer

Important Point- Composition development is multidimensional. It does not have to follow a line of logical progression. The three dimensions are not hierarchical.

Understandings About Texts
Is the child's book about something?
- When children start making books, each page of their book will most likely be
about something different
- In the next phase of development the book will be all about something, but
written in a loosely connected way (for example: things a child likes)
- Over time the writing will have more focus with strong meaningful
connections between ideas

How has the child organized the book?
- Does the book move through time (narrative, telling what happened next) or
through a list of ideas (non-narrative, a list of ideas that tell about something
and connect them in a logical way)
-Oftentimes young writers mix the kinds of connections they make between ideas
(for example: a book that tells about a trip to the zoo through a list of things the
writer did at the zoo as opposed to a story of unfolding events)

Does the child ready the book basically the same way every time?
- Over time, inexperienced writers grow to understand that meaning should stay
the same over time
- Growth in this area also includes a child's drawings becoming more
representational so that they too hold their meaning more efficiently

Is this book made in the manner of other picture books?
- Young writers show that they understand the particular formats of publishing
when they add features such as titles, bylines, dedications, table of contents,

What in the book shows the child understands genre?
- "Genre is the writer's sense of what he is making with writing" (Ray, 2006)
- When young children begin talking about the different kinds of books they can
compose, they are developing a sense of genre (for example: writing a funny
book about a family member, making up a story about a turtle, etc.)
- Young writers will broaden their repertoire of possibilities as teachers read a
variety of texts to them

How is the child representing meaning?
- How does the child represent meaning in the text (is all of the meaning in the
illustrations or does the written word hold most of the meaning)
- Do the art and writing extend each other's meaning or are the words just labels
or words that simply narrate the same meaning found in the illustrations)

Understandings About Process
Is the child intentional about what is being represented on the pages?
- Is the child intentional about what he is drawing and writing on each page
- A child who is writing without intention may ask the teacher what he's drawn
- Some children draw something first and then decide what it is after the fact
- Does the child set out to make meaning and then move the piece purposefully
in that direction

Does the child engage in revision while composing?
- Young children mostly revise their illustrations
- Development in this dimension ranges from no revision at all, to revising one
thing, to being able to explain the revisions made
- Allow students to hold markers when they are telling you about what they
- Conversations with and feedback from the teacher helps students to think about
and see what else they need to do to make meaning clearer

Is there any evidence the child is thinking ahead about what to write?
- Young writers begin by living in the moment of the page they are composing
rather than thinking ahead to the end

Has the child made any intentional crafting decisions?
- Teacher need to show students what other writers do to make books interesting
(speech bubbles, the size and color of illustrations, circular or repetitive text)

How long has the child worked on the book?
- Stamina includes- writing in one sitting as well as going back and working on
the same writing for more than one day
- Working alongside another child and interacting with an adult helps a young
writer stay with a book a little longer

Does the child exhibit a willingness to solve problems while writing?
- Young writers will certainly encounter "technical" difficulties through the
writing process- a marker may not work, they run out of pages in their pre
stapled book, the book is not finished but it is time to leave for lunch or go
home, etc.)
- The act of learning how to solve problems productively is an important part of
writing development

Understandings About What it Means to Be a Writer
How has the child decided what to write about?
- The topic may come from whatever the child drew on the first page, from
something the child saw another child write about, from a read-aloud the
teacher shared, or something they are interested in

How interested in the child in an audience's response?
- The more young writers experience the response of real listeners, the more they
will develop the sense of audience and an interest in the responses they receive

Has the child composed in a way that led to new meanings?
- The act of writing is as much a process in finding meaning as it is in expressing
- Composition should lead to new understandings about the topic

Does the book show that the child willingly took compositional risks?
- Most of the decisions made by inexperienced writers involves risk-taking
- Development in this dimension ranges from not knowing how to do something
and avoiding it, to not knowing how to do something and trying it anyway, to
showing great confidence as a writer

Does the child seem to have a sense of self as a writer?
- Proficient writers know the things they write about, why they write about them,
how they write best, and the conditions that matter
- When a child can respond to questions about his writing and the decisions he
made in the process, he is developing a sense of self as a writer

Does the child show he understands his powerful position as author of the book?
- The child owns what is in the book and knows it is up to him to make all of the
decisions about everything in it

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