01 SES 03 D, Aspects of teacher growth
If you live in a literate society, literacy skills are critical to success at school and in life more generally. A person will be considered literate if they caninterpret and create messages using a range of meaning making modes (oral, written-linguistic, visual, audio, gestural, tactile and spatial) in “different cultural, social or domain specific situations” (Kalantzis & Cope, 2012, p. 1). The written-linguistic mode is still often used on its own (e.g. this proposal), although it is also often combined with one or other of the modes listed above.Approaches to the teaching of writing have changed over time, reflecting shifts in theoretical models and perspectives of teaching and learning. While the process of learning to write begins when we are quite young, it is understood that writing is a process that we continue to develop over a life time.
In this paper, writing will be discussed as a transition experienced by young children as they move from sign creation to sign use. Children’s drawings are an example of sign creation, while use of a written-linguistic mode is an example of sign use. In a world of multimodal texts and multiple modes the written-linguistic mode remains and important mode of meaning making.If teachers encourage and value sign creation, they can build a bridge between children’s current systems of meaning making and the new system of writing (Mackenzie, 2011). “In this way writing becomes a parallel means of meaning making rather than a replacement” (Mackenzie, 2011, p. 338) for sign creation processes like drawing.
Most Australian children learn to write in the written-linguistic mode during the period of time that includes the year before they start school and the first year of school (between ages 4 and 6). Therefore their writing transition often coincides with their transition to school. Further complexities may be created by what happens in the home, although this was not the focus of the study.
From an ecological perspective (Bronfenbrenner, 1994), learning takes place because of interactions between children and other children, children and adults, adults and other adults (e.g. teachers and parents), children and objects, and children and symbols within an environment.The interactions that promote learning may be further understood by reference to the work of Lev Vygotsky (1997).Children construct knowledge within social contexts, and language is central to mental development. Adult’s ideas therefore “mediate what and how the child will learn; they act as a filter in a sense,determining which ideas” (Bodrova and Leong2007, p. 9) the child will learn.How adults “respond and what they value helps to form children’s attitudes towards writing and determine the paths their learning journeys will follow” (Mackenzie, 2014, p. 189). In this paper, the adult under discussion is the preschool teacher.
Bodrova, E., & Leong, D. J. (2007). Tools of the mind: The Vygotskian approach to early childhood education (2nd ed.). Upper Saddle River: Pearson. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1994). Ecological models of human development (2nd ed., Vol. 3). Oxford: Elsevier. Einarsdóttir, J. (2006). From pre-school to primary school: When different contexts meet. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 50 (2), 165–184. Kagan, S. L., Carrol, J., Comer, J. P., & Catherine, S.-L. (2006). A missing link in early childhood transitions. Young Children, 61 (5), 26–30. Kalantzis, M., & Cope, B. (2012). Literacies. Port Melbourne: Cambridge University Press. Lynch, J. (2009). Preschool teachers’ beliefs about children’s print literacy development. Early Years, 29 (2), 191–203. Mackenzie, N. M. (2014). Transitions to school and emergent writers. In B. Perry, S. Dockett, & A. Petriwskyj (Eds.), Transitions to school: International research, policy and practice (pp. 89-102): Springer. Mackenzie, N.M. (2014) Teaching early writers: Teachers’ responses to a young child’s writing sample, Australian Journal of Language and Literacy, 37 (3), 182-191. Mackenzie, N. M. (2011). From drawing to writing: What happens when you shift teaching priorities in the first six months of school? Australian Journal of Language & Literacy, 34 (3), 322–340. Mackenzie, N. M., Hemmings, B., & Kay, R. (2011). How does teaching experience affect attitudes towards literacy learning in the early years? Issues in Educational Research, 21(3), 281-294. Vygotsky, L. S. (1997). The collected works of L. S. Vygotsky (Vol. 4). (R. W. Rieber & A. S. Carton, Trans.). New York: Plenum Press
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