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Coordinating reading and writing competencies during early literacy development.

Kamberelis, G. (2002). In J. Hoffman, D. L. Schallert, C. M. Fairbanks, J. Worthy, and B. Maloch (Eds.), Fifty-first yearbook of the National Reading Conference, pp. 227-241. Chicago: National Reading Conference.


This study was designed to document with considerable precision just how children coordinate their understandings of reading (comprehension) and writing (production) strategies and processes as they make the transition from emergent to conventional literacy. The study maps changes in children’s overt actions and inferred cognitive processes while working on specific writing-reading tasks between the time when they could write alphabetically encoded texts but not readily read them back and the time when they could both write and read alphabetically encoded texts strategically and with considerable fluency. Determined not to foreclose on the apparent complexity, multidimensionality, and dynamism of this process, the researcher chose to focus simultaneously on several of the key dimensions of early literacy learning typically reported in the literature. The following research questions guided the work: First, what changes in children’s phonological awareness and other dimensions of orthographic knowledge occur while they are coordinating their writing and reading competencies? Second, how does children’s concept of word change during this coordination process? Third, how does children’s metalinguistic awareness change while they are coordinating their reading and writing competencies? Finally, what relations among these variables seem especially consequential during this coordination process?

Findings from this study suggest that the coordination of writing and reading competencies is extremely complex, multidimensional, and dynamic. It seems to involve the simultaneous (though not strictly parallel) development of phonological awareness, visual and morphosyntactic aspects of orthography, concept of word, syntax, semantics, metalinguistic awareness of many levels of linguistic organization, the relations among these dimensions, and probably a good deal more.

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