Writing Their Worlds

Young English Language Learners Navigate Writing Workshop


  • Amy Seely Flint Georgia Southern University
  • Teresa Renee Fisher-Ari Georgia Southern University




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.

Author Biographies

Amy Seely Flint, Georgia Southern University

Amy Seely Flint (Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley) is a former elementary classroom teacher in multilingual settings. She is currently a faculty member in the Middle and Secondary Education Department, College of Education, Georgia State University. Amy’s research interests include writing pedagogy, teacher professional development, and critical literacy. She was recently awarded a USAID All Children Reading Grant (2012), and is working extensively with teachers in rural communities outside of Cape Town, South Africa, on literacy development and technology integration. Amy has a number of publications in journals such as Elementary School Journal, Teacher and Teacher Education, Reading Teacher, and Language Arts.

Teresa Renee Fisher-Ari, Georgia Southern University

Teresa Fisher-Ari (Ph.D., Georgia State University) previously taught 1st and 2nd grade in a multilingual classroom, working alongside children to develop multiliteracy. Since joining the faculty at Georgia State University, she has coordinated, instructed, and coached in two alternative certification and Masters programs supporting novice PK–12 teachers working in urban classrooms with multilingual students. Her research focuses on teacher development as a means for social justice and critical change working with teachers serving diverse learners. Teresa’s research has been published in journals including Teachers College Record, The Journal of Early Childhood Literacy, and Teacher and Teacher Education.


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How to Cite

Flint, A. S., & Fisher-Ari, T. R. (2014). Writing Their Worlds: Young English Language Learners Navigate Writing Workshop. Writing and Pedagogy, 6(3), 633–648. https://doi.org/10.1558/wap.v6i3.633



Reflections on Practice