Understanding Early Writing and Instructional Opportunities in the Inclusive Classroom

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Contribution to Books

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Most children enter schools believing they are writers. They have the expectation that print, especially the print that they make and use, will be meaningful (Harste, Woodward, & Burke, 1984). This understanding is commonly observed when they question the adults around them about their writing, saying things like, "What did I write?" or "What does this say?"

Children in these instances are creating and constructing meaning, and they are communicating these meanings through their explorations with print. Writing for these early literates is not about conforming to adult models of correctness, but is rather a process of experimentation. As they engage with print, initially using scribbles and soon marks that look something like letters, then writing strings of letters; they are hypothesizing and checking their hypotheses on what print is and how it can and does function in their lives.

It is the role of the teacher to confirm when their hypotheses about print are correct and to support these young writers in this process. But how does a teacher of young children do this? This chapter offers some explanation of this early process and provides some instructional strategies that you might use to scaffold the writing of young children.

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