Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL): A study of teacher-child interactions that support the development of writing composition

Ramirez-Robertson, Juanita
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The purpose of this study was to look at the nature of teacher-child conversations when composing messages for writing in a bilingual intervention. Research participants were four at-risk first grade students in a bilingual intervention, Descubriendo la Lectura (DLL), with their DLL teacher, the participant researcher. The study was qualitative in nature (Denzin & Lincoln, 1998) and was composed of four case studies. Each case study contained a teacher-child dyad with the focus being the child. A cross-case analysis was conducted after the cases were coded for themes. This study’s data set included student writing journals, lesson records and field notes, and audio recordings that were transcribed each night.

The findings from the study indicate that conversations are key, and without conversations the teacher is unaware of the child’s thinking, especially a child who is at risk in his or her literacy development. Conversations prior to writing help the child co-construct and manipulate language for his or her message (Dyson, 1983). The time allotted before writing provides an opportunity for the teacher and the child to collaborate (Wells, 1986; Lindfors, 2008) in the negotiation of the child’s message. In this study each child was encouraged to select topics that were motivating and encouraging to him or her (Calkins, 1994; Clay, 1983, 2001; Graves, 1973, 1983). The child’s messages included personal language, his or her experiences, and prior knowledge (Clay, 1983). The co-construction of messages between teacher and child positively affected student participants as writers. The experiences with writing as co-constructors with the teacher revealed themes (child pride) and showed that what child writers learned in the intervention was transferrable to the classroom.

Education, Descubriendo la lectura, Early literacy intervention, Literacy development, Teacher-child conversations, Writing instruction