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Children's writing: How textual forms, contextual forces, and textual politics co-emerge.

Kamberelis, G., and L. de la Luna, L. (2003).
In C. Bazerman and P. Prior (Eds.), What writing does and how it does it: An introduction to analysis of text and textual practice, pp. 239-277. Mahwah , NJ: Erlbaum.


In this chapter the researchers focus on the writing practices and products of relatively young children (preschool through grade 5), arguing for the importance of taking a multi-dimensional and situated approach to understanding and interpreting children's writing.The analyses and arguments are thus grounded in a theoretical orientation to writing that might be called psycho-linguistic-social-cultural-historical. Given this orientation, the approach to analyzing and understanding children’s writing is organized around three co-constitutive dimensions: a) text, the formal semiotic features of writing products, (b) contexts, the forces (both proximal and distal) that exert effects on writing practices and products, and (c) politics, thesituated power relations involved in writing.

The first third of this chapter is devoted to defining and describing the key constructs that constitute these dimensions, along with various sets of research strategies useful for understanding, interpreting, and explaining each of these dimensions. In the second section of the chapter, methods of data collection and analysis typically used to understand children’s writing are discussed. The final section of the chapter contains multi-leveled analyses of two texts written by different children. The first text is a science/information report written by a kindergarten girl in the context of a life science unit. The second text is a science report written by a pair of fifth-grade boys, also in the context of a life science unit. The chapter concludes with some final comments about the relative purchase of the approach to analyzing, interpreting, and explaining children’s writing.

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