Paths to Literacy

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Beginning to Write with Word Processing: Integrating Writing Process and Technology in a Primary Classroom

A teenage boy sits at a computer.

Beginning to Write with Word Processing: Integrating Writing Process and Technology in a Primary Classroom
By Charlene A. Van Leeuwen and Martha A. Gabriel; Reading Teacher, Vol. 60, no. 5 pp. 420-429 (Feb. 2007)
 

Writing behaviors of grade 1 children were explored as they used word processors to support their writing. Information was gathered in the form of field notes and audiotape transcripts from classroom observation sessions, along with informal interviews with students and teachers. Themes which emerged from the data analysis suggested a combination of influences at work in the classroom environment. These included (a) changes in the classroom culture with regard to tolerance of student talk during writing sessions; (b) the length and characteristics of student-teacher interactions; and (c) teacher instructional practices about writing with and without a word processor. Different aspects of the physical environment where the students wrote--classroom or computer lab--were found to have the potential to influence students' writing behavior and possibly the written work produced. Student writing behavior using word processors and pencil-and-paper revealed differences in reading and rereading of the work in progress. In view of these findings, considerations for classroom practice, including (a) developing realistic expectations, (b) adjusting instruction, (c) scheduling feedback, (d) adjusting minilesson timing, and (e) teaching students collaborative work skills are shared.