Developing reading-writing connections; the impact of explicit instruction of literary devices on the quality of children's narrative writing

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Corden, R (2007)

The purpose of this collaborative schools-university study was to investigate how the explicit instruction of literary devices during designated literacy sessions could improve the quality of children's narrative writing. A guiding question for the study was: Can children's writing can be enhanced by teachers drawing attention to the literary devices used by professional writers or “mentor authors”? The study was conducted with 18 teachers, working as research partners in nine elementary schools over one school year. The research group explored ways of developing children as reflective authors, able to draft and redraft writing in response to peer and teacher feedback. Daily literacy sessions were complemented by weekly writing workshops where students engaged in authorial activity and experienced writers' perspectives and readers' demands (Harwayne, 1992; May, 2004). Methods for data collection included video recording of peer-peer and teacher-led group discussions and audio recording of teacher-child conferences. Samples of children's narrative writing were collected and a comparison was made between the quality of their independent writing at the beginning and end of the research period. The research group documented the importance of peer-peer and teacher-student discourse in the development of children's metalanguage and awareness of audience. The study suggests that reading, discussing, and evaluating mentor texts can have a positive impact on the quality of children's independent writing.
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