Project

Learning to write: A socio-material analysis of text production, ARC Discovery DP150101240 2015-2017

Goal: Contemporary literacy classrooms are spaces of intense curriculum and technological change. This project will investigate how young children are learning to write as they participate in producing both print and digital texts with a range of tools and technologies. Innovative approaches to teaching writing in early childhood classrooms in four schools situated in low socio-economic communities across two states will be collaboratively designed with teachers. The documentation of these classroom design experiments will form the basis of innovative practice for other teachers. Employing a socio-material analysis will illuminate the affordances of new ways of understanding learning to write in action, in contemporary early childhood classrooms.

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Project log

Aspa Baroutsis
added a research item
In a world of increasing digitization and multimodality, writing or more broadly text production is a key element of what it means to be literate. Everyday practices now include interactions between children and young people and print and digital texts, tools and resources. Drawing on a sociomaterial perspective, we consider how children learn to be literate for current times and thinking. We analyse data from a study of how children learn to write and produce texts in their early school years. As one part of the large study, teachers and researchers worked together to reform pedagogical practice within a design-based research framework. Data analysed in this chapter was collected as part of one design-based where teachers and researchers worked together to plan and implement a series of lessons with the aim to encourage more positive engagement with writing for children in this year 1 classroom. The design-based project began with opportunities for children to engage in makerspace activities, before moving to produce texts in other modes. We are particularly interested in the materiality of these activities and how they shifted the roles of children and adults in the classroom space.
Aspa Baroutsis
added a research item
Classroom spaces are complex social worlds where people interact in multifaceted ways with spaces and materials. Classrooms are carefully designed agents for socialisation; however, the complexity and richness of learning experiences are partly determined by the teacher. This chapter draws from sociocultural perspectives to consider processes of thinking and learning as distributed and mediated across people and resources within the learning space. We argue that learning and wellbeing cannot be separated as students activate their social and emotional literacies when navigating the classroom environment. Drawing on data drawn from an ethnographic study of classrooms located in a community of high poverty, we critique how teachers describe their classroom spaces and selection of resources to facilitate their teaching of writing. We illustrate how geographies of place, movement and resources, interact with, and expand the social dimensions of classroom spaces.
Aspa Baroutsis
added 2 research items
Aspa Baroutsis
added a research item
This paper maps a teacher's pedagogic practices when teaching young children to produce texts using digital technologies during a literacy lesson for 7-8 year-old children. Pedagogies are broadly understood as what the teacher does in a classroom to facilitate learning in a twenty-first century classroom. The paper argues that the very notion of pedagogy places the teacher at the centre of learning practices, more so than other aspects of teaching such as the curriculum and assessment, which are heavily regulated by policy. Underpinned by understandings of sociomaterial assemblages, incorporating the material and the spatial, data were collected using time lapse photography, classroom observations and field notes including classroom floor plans. The findings of a frame-by-frame analysis of the time lapse photographs are reported through the three interconnected concepts of pedagogy, space and materials. The paper concludes by suggesting that an understanding of the material and spatial entanglements in a classroom through a mapping of pedagogies augments current knowledge, enabling a fresh understanding of teaching literacy and how young children learn to write as twenty-first century learners as children enact their journey of becoming-writer.
Aspa Baroutsis
added a research item
Examining how young children learn to write is increasingly important as global society moves further towards a knowledge economy, where the production of texts of various kinds is an increasingly ubiquitous practice in everyday life and work. While there has been recent policy and practice focus on children’s writing performance in standardised tests, in this article, the authors focus on what can be learned by listening to children’s voices as they are engaged in ‘draw and talk’ methodologies. While children’s drawings have a material reality, they are also representations of children’s perceptions of their experiences with learning to write. In this article, the authors explore the processes, practices and relationships involved in learning to write, depicted in children’s drawings when they are asked to draw themselves learning to write. The authors identify representations of writing, evident in the children’s drawings focusing the relational, the material and the spatial elements of writing.
Barbara Comber
added 2 research items
This article examines the resources, tools, and opportunities children enact as they engage with teacher-devised writing experiences within their classroom space. We begin with discussion about classroom writing time from the perspective of both the teacher and children of one Grade 1/2 composite class. We also reveal resources within the classroom space to consider the expertise available during writing times. We then examine a 5-week unit that focused on multimodal text construction. Using optical flow computer vision analysis to examine the movement of children during four video-recorded independent writing instances, we provide commentary about how the classroom writing experiences have been interpreted as the use of space, resources, and interactions come to the forefront. In taking this approach, this article will explore learning to write from a sociomaterial perspective, as we investigate the operation of the classroom.
This article explores the possible relationships between geography, literacy, pedagogy, and poverty. It characterizes poverty as a wicked problem, which sees economic inequality escalating in a number of neoliberal democracies. Key insights from theorists of economic inequality are summarized. The enduring nature of poverty in particular places is noted, and the associated risks of “fickle literacies” are considered. A case study of one child growing up and attending school in a location with intergenerational unemployment is discussed as an example of the risks associated with literacy policy and pedagogy in an era of global educational reform. Drawing on the work of Foucault and Massey, it is argued that despite the discourses of standardization, teachers can continue to educate culturally diverse young people in ways that help them to negotiate and imagine positive and productive ways of learning together. The possibilities for working against deficit views of people in poverty are explored through three classroom examples of place-conscious pedagogies which position young people as critically literate cosmopolitan citizens. The article concludes by advocating the need for translocal research alliances to work explicitly for social justice through place-conscious pedagogies and critical literacy education.
Barbara Comber
added a project goal
Contemporary literacy classrooms are spaces of intense curriculum and technological change. This project will investigate how young children are learning to write as they participate in producing both print and digital texts with a range of tools and technologies. Innovative approaches to teaching writing in early childhood classrooms in four schools situated in low socio-economic communities across two states will be collaboratively designed with teachers. The documentation of these classroom design experiments will form the basis of innovative practice for other teachers. Employing a socio-material analysis will illuminate the affordances of new ways of understanding learning to write in action, in contemporary early childhood classrooms.