Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Children's Sense of Being a Writer: Identity Construction in Second Grade Writers Workshop

Academic journal article International Electronic Journal of Elementary Education

Children's Sense of Being a Writer: Identity Construction in Second Grade Writers Workshop

Article excerpt

Introduction

Theories based on social constructivist and postmodern perspectives "emphasize the constructed and dynamic nature of identity" (McCarthey, 2001, p. 125). According to Norton (1997) identity refers to "how people understand their relationship to the world, how that relationship is constructed across time and space and how people understand their possibilities for the future" (p. 410). As literacy practices are also constructed by language learners' understanding of themselves, their social environment and their histories (Norton & Toohey, 2003), the relationship between identity and literacy as a social practice has been the subject of research, however, the literate identities of younger students, especially when they are beginning to learn how to write have been explored less compared to the identities of adolescents (Collier, 2010).

From a social and cultural perspective literacy is more than practicing skills and transferring knowledge because it requires that people are involved in interaction, participation and relation in which people's sense of themselves and others is identified, situated and mediated (Moje & Luke, 2009). Writing like any other forms of language is a "constitutive force" that creates "a particular view of reality and the Self" (Richardson & St. Pierre, 2005, p. 960).

Bakhtin (1981) states that identities are conceptualized in the nature of dialogue. Because of its dialogic nature, literate practices like reading, writing, talking, listening, and other forms of interaction with multimodal texts have an impact on one's identity construction (Collier, 2010). Children's understanding of the reading and writing process and their perception of themselves as readers and writers reflects their sense of identity as literacy users (Kauffman, 2006). According to Young (1996) young children's sense of being literate includes their understanding of what being literate means, competence in reading and writing, their sense of capability in reading and writing, and what behavior is valued, consistent with their interpretation of the literacy events and their own participation in those events. Beliefs about writing and interaction with others in writing activities shape students' identities. In their longitudinal study Laursen and Fabrin (2013) found that students' perception about reading and writing affects the individual children's commitment to language and literacy acquisition that is also an investment in their identity and social relations in which they take a part or wish to take a part. They also negotiate different identities available to them in which their investments have different consequences. It is also found that the voice they use in their writing and their social identity are inextricably linked (Flint & Cappello, 2003).

Students' literate identity development is a complex social process and influenced by a variety of factors (school practices, home literacy, practices, race, gender, second language learning etc.) however, schools, including the classroom teacher and literacy practices in the classroom, are the most influential factor in students' literacy learning life and identity (Smith, 2008; Martens & Adamson, 2001). Students' identities are reconstructed through the writing events in the classroom (Bourne, 2002; Compton-Lilly, 2006). Honoring and supporting children's identities, cultural recourses and literacy activities out of the classroom help them identify themselves as readers and writers (Compton-Lilly, 2006). Rowe, Fitch and Bass (2001) explored the power and identity that students embodied during a first grade writing class. According to the results students use a variety of roles in expressing their literate identity during the classroom activities. They are positioned in these roles by the formal classroom culture, teacher, peers and other communities in which they participated. On the other hand children's literate identity is an important factor that makes literacy activities at school an opportunity for literacy learning (Beach & Ward, 2013). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.