As mentioned in the previous blog post, Lisa M. Gring-Pemble and Pamela Garner, the authors of "Writing Rock Stars: An After-School Community Partnership in Childhood Literacy" implemented an after school writing program that drew upon the principles of a peer collaboration model and a community literacy perspective.
Alongside the curriculum utilized within the course, the instructors evaluated student success through three collaborative book projects and one individual book project. The primary goal of writing a book collaboratively with other students was to initiate children into the importance of writing, revising, analyzing, and taking responsibility for their own work.
Writing the books as a class enabled students to experience the creative and enjoyable aspects associated with writing and writing revision. The joyful atmosphere maintained by students communicating and working with one another made way for the innovation of their own stories. The student's expansion on their previous writing abilities contributed to increased levels of confidence with reading and writing, along with mastery over principles of language use. This success in literary acquisition aided by the after-school program encouraged the children's passion for reading and writing even after the completion of the program.
Anne Haas Dyson, the author of "A Sense of Belonging: Writing (Righting) Inclusion and Equity in a Child's Transition to School", supports the original argument but further delves into the importance of a student’s sense of belonging through the process of literacy acquisition. Dyson argues that a child’s encounters with other children in the classroom setting can greatly benefit their perspective on the learning process and vice versa. But what does this feeling of belonging have to do with a child's ability to read and write?
Dyson participated in an ethnographic case study on an African American student, Ta'Von, who was in a kindergarten class with primarily white students. Through the study, Dyson highlights the social negotiations amongst students that hinder literary acquisition. Ta'Von struggled in the classroom setting, needing "help" placed him in a different category from the "bright" children who did not need as much assistance. Although Ta'Von felt as though he did not belong at first, he began to acquire resources to respond to, and to participate with others, in turn, enabling communicative progress as a writer.
Inclusion is the main takeaway for literary development in Ta'Von's case. If a child does not feel as though they belong and can interact with their peers then there can be negative consequences presented through the individual and collaborative learning process.
Judith Langer, the author of "A Sociocognitive Perspective on Literacy", draws upon the development of literacy from a sociocognitive viewpoint, being culturally based, and being learned by children through group interaction. Schools have the ability to capitalize on the social nature of literacy which would allow students to acquire skills from broader and more purposeful classroom activities.
Langer stresses that the social origins of literacy greatly influence a child's literary acquisition; specifically, one's culture becomes key to how one thinks, learns, and relates to others and the environment. As children begin to learn literary signs and symbols they begin to learn how to become a part of their culture and the greater world.
Langer agrees with the authors of "Writing Rock Stars" in that literacy is socially based. When reading and writing are treated as purposeful activities that spawn from shared questions amongst students, broader and more varied uses of literacy are learned. Engaging in work collaboratively with others enables each individual to bring their knowledge to the table, allowing enhanced learning through this form of group interaction.
Lisa M. Gring-Pemble, Pamela Garner, and Judith Langer emphasize the benefits that arise from group collaboration within the learning process. Furthermore, Anne Haas Dyson supports their idea of collaboration, noting that feelings of exclusion from peers and a lack of group participation and involvement can hinder a child's ability to learn key literary tools and techniques.
Tips for teachers: Although you may already implement group collaboration and work into your instruction, attempt to elicit a more collaborative method of learning. Like previously mentioned, you can have your students write a small picture book with one another; allowing each student to expand on the ideas of other students. Instead of making group-work seem like a burden, allow it to seem like a constructive activity where everyone feels included and supported.
Tips for parents: Even though you cannot influence the degree of group collaboration in the classroom setting, you can create collaborative activities outside of class. Schedule playdates with your child and other kids where they make arts and crafts with one another. Simply working on homework with your child/children can allow them to see how others’ input and help enables them to learn better and to learn different peoples’ perspectives.
Whenever I look back on my experiences with learning how to read and write, I tend to remember the positive aspects of my literary acquisition inside the classroom and outside of the classroom. Literacy is a key component for a child’s development and for educational success throughout the span of their life. Both my parents and teachers have continuously supported my educational growth. Without this very support and care for my education, I would not be in the same position as I am in today. I would not value the importance of effectual education and literary achievement in a child's life if I had not experienced the same.