What is writing and why do we need it?
What is writing and why do we need it?
Questions to ask yourself:
- Why do we write? What are the functions and purposes of writing?
- How do our writing skills develop and how do we personalise these?
- How do we adapt our style of writing for different genres and in different registers?
Writing can be used to:
- Communicate with others for social, interactional and phatic purposes (text messages, letters, birthday cards).
- Referentially to record information (notes, lists, reminders, offical forms).
- Expressively (diaries, creative writing).
What is writing and why do we need it?- Continued
Writing often supports or replaces oral communication.
Writing is about:
- Combining words and sentences to convey ideas.
- Recognising discourse and genre conventions.
- Manipulating language to achieve specific purposes.
Children don't just experience written word in books, they also find it through television and computers.
Writing means being able to use:
- The vocabulary systems and associated meanings of words and phrases (lexis and semantics)
- Sentences to create meaning (grammar)
- Graphemes that relate to phonemes, and other devices to create prosodic effects, for example puncutation choices (phonology)
- Social conventions within certain texts (pragmatics)
- Cohesive structures (discourse)
- The layout of texts, the use of graphemes and images to create semiotic meaning (graphology)
- Variations in language to suit audience, purpose and context (register)
- Othography is also important- the study of spelling and the graphemes used (and sometimes capital letters)
Stages of writing
A major difference between reading and writing is that writing requires motor and mechanical skills. Children have to hold pencils and pens, controlling them in order to transfer their ideas onto paper.
Through increasing access to computers children can also combine letters and symbols on the keyboard to make words and sentences. Using computers introduces graphological and typographical choices that are unavailable when writing by hand.
Stages of writing:
- Letter-like forms
- Copied letters
- Child's name and strings of letters
Children's skills start with putting a writing instrument on paper (usually crayons and paints ). Images and shapes become words, sentences and whole texts.
Early writing & Khroll's stages of development
The term emergent writing is used to descirbe children's early scribbles or representations of the written word.
Khroll's four stages of development
Barry Khroll (1981) indentified four stages of children's development:
STAGE AGE CHARACTERISTICS
Preparation Up to 6 Basic motor skills are acquired alongside some principles of spelling.
Consolidaiton 7/8 Writing is similar to spoken language (including a more casual, colloquial register, unfinished sentences, and strings of clauses joined by the conjunction 'and')
Differentiation 9/10 Awareness of writing as separate from speech emerges. A stronger understanding of writing for different audiences and purposes is evident and becomes more automatic.
Intergration Mid-teens This stage heralds the 'personal voice' in writing and is characterised by evidence of controlled writing, with appropriate lingustic choices.
Rothery's categories for evaluating children's wri
Joan Rothery found that early writing withing school fell into some distinctive groupings:
Rothery's categories for evaluating children's writing
Observation/comment The writer makes an observation ('I saw a tiger') and follows this with either an evaluative comment ('it was very big') or mixes these in with the observation ('I saw a very big tiger')
Recount Usually a chronological sequence of events. A typical example would be a recount of a school trip, which children are often asked to do as a follow-up actitivity. It is written subjectively ('I'). The structure of a recount usually follow a set pattern: Orientation- Event- Reorinentation. The orientation sets the scene, perhaps the journey to the place or the name of the place visited. The reorientation at the end of the recount completes the writing.
Report A factual and objective description of events or things; it tends not to be chronological.
Narrative A story genre where the scene is set for events to occur and be resolved at the end. It also has a set pattern: Orientation-Complication-Resolution-Coda. The coda, which identifies the point of the story, is not always added. Because of the structural complexity few children will achieve the whole structure early on, despite their experience of reading stories that follow the narrative structure.
Other genre perspectives
Britton proposed three modes of writing used by school children. These focus more on stylistic choices than on the content of the writing, as with Rothery's categories.
Britton's three modes for children's writing:
Expressive The first mode to develop because is resembles speech. Uses the first person perspective and the content is usually based on personal preferences.
Poetic Develops gradually, requiring skills in crafting and shaping language, but is encouraged early on because of its creativity. Phonological features such a rhyme, rhythm and alliteration, as well as descriptive devices such as adjectives and similies, are common.
Transactional Develops last, around secondary age, once children have finally dissociated speech from writing. It is the style of academic essays, as it is more impersonal in style and tone. The third person is used to create a detached tone. Formal sentence structures and graphological features are used to signpost sections and ideas and stuctures tend to be chronological.
We all use various strategies to help us spell accurately, including many we learned as children.
The main ones are:
- Sound clues, sounding out words to stress the sounds and separate syllables.
- Clues from the words meaning to make links with similar words.
- Writing it down until it 'looks right'.
- Using grammatical knowledge to predict spelling (such as patterns in affixing to change word class and the common inflections/morphemes that are added to English words)
- A dictionary or computer spell-checker.
The five spelling stages
STAGE WHAT CAN A CHILD DO AT THIS STAGE?
Pre-phonemic Imitate writing, mainly scribbling and using pretend writing; some letter shapes are decipherable.
Semi-phonetic Link letter shapes and sounds, using this to write words.
Phonetic Understand that all phonemes can be represented by graphemes; words become more complete.
Transitional Combine phonic knowledge with visual memory; an awareness of combinations of letters and letter patterns, including the magic 'e' rule.
Conventional Spell most words correctly.
Categories of spelling errors
Insertion Adding extra letters
Omission Leaving out letters
Substitution Substituting one letter for another
Transposition Reversing the correct order of letters in words
Phonetic spelling Using sound awareness to guess letters and combinations of letters
Over/undergeneralisation of spelling rules Overgeneralising of a rule where it is not appropriate to apply it, or overgeneralising it by only applying it in one specific context
Salient (key) sounds Writing only the key sounds