Pedagogic antecedents of classroom writing

  • Patricia Bennett

    Student thesis: Master's Thesis


    This thesis reports on aspects of a large observational study of writing lessons in a range of ACT primary classrooms. The observational study followed students at risk of failure, who had made literacy gains through the Scaffolding Literacy pedagogy developed at the Schools and Community Centre, with a view to investigating their subsequent interactions in mainstream writing classrooms. This thesis is concerned with the extent to which teaching in these classrooms supported the children's access to literate discourse. In order to ascertain the pedagogic antecedents of the lessons, this study focuses on the section of the lessons prior to children being asked to write. It explores two areas of preparation for writing: the first regarding building of the field of enquiry (what to write about); the second, the extent to which children are shown how to write an appropriate text. The study proposes a level of explicitness that delivers a fine degree of knowledge about language while supporting students who might otherwise be disadvantaged in the classroom. The analysis in this study attempts to categorise the different kinds of interactions within the discourse of representative lessons by applying a framework for the pedagogic register of writing lessons proposed by Christie (1991, 2002) with particular reference to convergence of instructional and regulative registers. It was found that convergence alone was insufficient to C Patricia Bennett 4 provide explicitness in teaching. However, when convergence was combined with a particular form of classroom interaction as developed in Scaffolding Literacy pedagogy a high degree of explicitness was made available to promote learning. Little effective preparation for writing was found in classrooms dominated by 'whole language' orientations, especially where writing lessons were based on personal experience. However, use of literate texts provided more powerful access than personal experience to effective writing. The most productive classroom teaching resulted from building shared experience based on a model text which itself provided the resources for the teaching of writing. The study raises questions about the importance of access to literate language when teaching writing and the role of constructive, purposeful questioning to build the knowledge of field as well as modelling features of language necessary for children to produce their own written texts.
    Date of Award2007
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorMary MACKEN-HORARIK (Supervisor) & Christine Jack (Supervisor)

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