Writing Their Worlds
Young English Language Learners Navigate Writing Workshop
Keywords:Elementary school, writing process, writing workshop, English Language Learners, writing curriculum, Professional development
The growing disparity in the cultural and linguistic backgrounds in U.S. classrooms of teachers and students suggests that there is a critical need for teachers to be knowledgeable and prepared to effectively teach this diverse population of students. In a longitudinal research study conducted in two 3rd grade classrooms in the Southeastern region of the United States, researchers examined the impact of a sustained and generative model of professional development on teachers’ sense of agency and their understandings of what it means to be a writing teacher with multilingual students (Flint, Kurumada, Fisher, and Zisook, 2011; Flint, Zisook, and Fisher, 2011). In this article, we add to this empirical work by focusing on pedagogical practices that strengthened the writing curriculum and teachers’ understandings of the children they teach. The pedagogical shifts, which happened over an extended period of time, were marked by two distinct and interconnected processes: (a) teachers began to understand and adopt the discourse of writing workshop and then use it as a mediator of students’ thought to promote student voice; and (b) teachers gradually released their control over students’ authorial voice and agency for writing. These processes enabled students to share more about their lives, beliefs, and interests, and for their teachers to recognize the uniqueness and perspective each child brought to the classroom.
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