Developing fluency in writing
How features of speech can support acts of writing
Keywords:Discourse, Discussion Groups, Book Clubs, Construction of Meaning, Writing, Argument, orality
Grounded in the work of Ong’s (1982) theory of the ‘internalization of the technology of writing’ (p. 437), this study sought to understand the application of oral language skills to writing. Contextualized in a South Texas urban setting, five elementary students participated in an after-school book club over the course of six months. During this time, the participants engaged in discursive activities in the form of response sheets, discussions, communal meaning statements, and reflective journal entries. Using seminal research by Elbow (1985) that supports how writing is similar to speech, findings showed that seven of the nine characteristic features of speech were also evident in the writing acts engaged by the participants. Those characteristics were: spontaneity; responding, replying, and two-way communication; voice, participation in meaning making; and organization and structure. This context for writing removed many of the threats commonly associated with the traditional unidirectional approach to writing. Overall, the participants merged the speech acts into the writing acts, moving seamlessly through the processes of communication.
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