Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Child's Image of Self as Writer- Week 5 Already Ready Book Study

Chapter 5 focuses solely the child's image of self as a writer and its importance. There were a few important points made in the chapter about writing as an act of initiative, but the bulk of the chapter focuses on problematizing the practice of dictation. Since Wood's thoughts on dictation are controversial for some and a change in perspective for most, I have chosen to focus on it for this chapter's post.

A few thoughts on writing as an act of initiative...

Remember from an earlier chapter- The child is a writer and the child is 3 years old or 4 years old or 5 or 6 years old. The child being a writer and his age do not cancel each other out. They are equally true.

Teachers need to support a child's desire and initiative to write.

The Writing Center
This does not occur by simply putting a writing center in the classroom. I love it when Katie writes- You can't just "build it and they will come" (p. 91). How often do teachers do this??? set up a writing center filled with all sorts of tools and possibilities, but it never gets used
How can teachers help children believe they want to write and build that desire in them?

How can teachers move children to choose writing over all of the other possibilities offered to them in the classroom?
1) Create energy through Read-Alouds- read aloud lots of professionally published picture books- give children a vision of what a book would look like if they made one
2) Invite children to make books
-when they are excited about something that happened to them
-if they act out a story in the dramatic play area
-after a classroom activity
-when they know a lot about something
3) Have children share their books with others

Problematizing the Practice of Dictation

As I mentioned in a previous book chapter post, Wood and Glover do not view dictation as a best practice that supports young writers. The information in this chapter also addresses the question I had after the first post about parents being able to "read" their child's writing.

When a child initiates the writing and an adult writes the words for him, it conveys the message "adults, not children, are the ones who really know how to write". When the message we really want to send is you're a writer and you're writing just like someone your age should be writing and we think it is amazing.

When teachers use dictation they often fail to see the beginning of transcription development because their students do not have to try very hard to get their own words down. Teachers aren't really looking for transcription development either because as long as they are taking dictation, they're not thinking about how they might help the child figure out how to get the words on the page.

Wood and Glover suggest that helping children develop new strategies for spelling and understandings about how the spelling system works is a much better way to move students' development forward.

There are a handful of arguments for dictation that Wood and Glover address in the chapter.

Honoring Words

Argument- Taking dictation show children that their words are honored and should be read. 
Their words can be honored by the teacher saying them back to them in their best read-aloud voices, by asking questions about them, and by responding to them.

Helping with a Difficult Task

Argument- Taking dictation keeps children from being frustrated over the task of writing. 
If your student is frustrated with writing, it might be because what you are asking him to do or what he believes you are asking him to do is too difficult. The task is outside his Zone of Proximal Development (Vygotsky, 1978).

Knowing it Isn't Right

Argument- Some children know what "real writing" looks like and are frustrated because their writing looks different. 
Children might be better served by understanding why their writing looks the way it does and why it looks different than their own writing. Their writing looks like it should for their age. They will grow as writers with time and practice.

Capturing Rich Writing

Argument- Taking dictation captures the richness of a child's oral language and storytelling. 
Teachers can encourage children to use those rich words and to tell their stories over and over again. It is ok for the talk to be bigger than the writing itself.
When adults are concerned with capturing the words for children, we have to ask "capture for whom?" Oral language outpaces reading development for some time, therefore children can't even begin to read back the words they've dictated for some time.

Making Sense of Their Writing

Argument- Taking dictation helps parents to read and make sense of their children's writing.
As long as the child is present to share the writing, it can be shared the same way as it was shared at school. As children share their writing with their parents they can help them understand what they are writing as well as their writing development.
Wood and Glover suggest sending a regular newsletter that helps parents understand literacy development- what to look for and how to support their interactions with their child

Helping them Know How to Write

Argument- Taking dictation shows children how writing goes down on the page, as well as how it should look (letter formation, spelling, directionality, punctuation, etc.)
If you are working with preschoolers then taking dictation shows children about writing far outside of the Zone of Proximal Development.
A demonstration with transcription better serves children who are further along in their development. Adults initiating the writing  and using practices such as shared and interactive writing are far more valuable processes.
Teachers can initiate writing using shared and interactive writing through experience charts, brainstorming, recording class news or the morning message, making a list,etc.

**This not only applies to PreK teachers. It also applies to kindergarten teachers as well as first and second grade teachers who have students who are writing far below grade level.

I think this thought sums it all up-
"Our teaching practices do matter, not only for the content they provide but also for the messages they send children about who we believe them to be." (p. 102)

Pause and Ponder- Do you see your students as writers? If not, what do you need to do to change that? What are you doing to reinforce to your students that you see them as writers?

No comments:

Post a Comment