Date of Award

1-1-2001

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Associate Professor Judith Rivalland

Abstract

This study is a 'snap shot' into the interactions and utterances of developing writers. It provides insight into the usefulness of talk, the need to model and encourage talk in the composing processes of children and also into the factors that impact on such talk making it more or less effective for young writers. The study observed six middle primary school students during the writing of two texts and recorded the accompanying talk. Classroom observations provided insight into the pedagogical and cultural influences within the writing contexts. Writing samples enabled each student's writing development to be analysed and became a point of reference for the analysis of the associated talk. These data were developed into a number of case studies enabling a thick description of the different contexts, each student, the writing activity, the written texts and most importantly the children's talk. The patterns that emerged as the talk was analysed indicated that the students engaged in a variety of talk while composing written texts. The talk of these more developed writers included private speech, conversations with peers, assertive regulatory talk aimed at managing the behaviour of other students to other talk that reflected the instructional discourse of the classroom. Three categories were established from the data analysis, capturing the essence of the talk. The categories describe the talk as 'Doing Writing', 'About Writing' and 'Outside Writing'. These categories enabled further analysis which indicated that talk supported the students as they worked through issues of content, form, genre and audience in their writing. Furthermore, some of the talk of these older writers was similar to the talk that emergent writers engage in as they seek to make meaning in the written form. However, important differences indicate that talk continues to be a scaffold for language learning, by enabling more capable writers to begin developing an awareness of audience or how their writing sounds to others. Talk also appears to help more developed writers gain a greater consciousness of the control of form and conventions and to maintain focus in a complicated and multi-faceted cognitive task.

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