Writing in First Grade: The Quantity and Quality of Practices in Norwegian Classrooms

Abstract

Writing at school start is critical for students’ literacy development but student composition is often undervalued in early education classrooms and understudied by literacy researchers. To address such needs, this mixed methods, sequential survey study investigated how writing practices are enacted in the fall semester of Norwegian 1st grade classrooms, and then inquired about teachers’ decision making regarding their instructional writing practices. Specifically, 299 teachers (99% response rate) reported on students’ writing opportunities (e.g., time spent, type of practices, genre of texts writing) and pedagogical practices for writing. Findings reveal meaningful differences in teachers’ writing practices which vary from skill-based approaches to communication-focused approaches. Analysis documented that, overall, limited time is devoted to writing, with 19% of teachers not giving students opportunity to write their own texts in the fall semester. In a follow-up questionnaire, the teachers, who had not yet had students write, were asked to provide their rationale. Response themes indicated (a) prioritization of reading-skill tasks, (b) a sequential conceptualization of literacy development (i.e., reading before writing) and (c) a lack of pedagogical content knowledge for how to implement appropriate writing practices. The findings are discussed in relation to research-based recommendations for writing. Additionally, this analysis provides insight into teachers’ understandings about children’s writing development and provides direction for future research.

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Funding

Funding was provided by Norges Forskningsråd with Grant No. 256197.

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Correspondence to Erin Margaret McTigue.

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Håland, A., Hoem, T.F. & McTigue, E.M. Writing in First Grade: The Quantity and Quality of Practices in Norwegian Classrooms. Early Childhood Educ J 47, 63–74 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-018-0908-8

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Keywords

  • Writing
  • First grade
  • Skill-based writing
  • Communicative writing
  • Rapid letter instruction
  • Time spent on writing
  • Pedagogical content knowledge