A Teacher's Supportive Practices for Preschoolers' Writing
Although extensive research has focused on young children’s writing and identified the importance of early writing experiences, there is a limited amount of writing occurring in some early childhood classrooms. Furthermore, existing research on teacher supports for emergent writing in preschool classrooms is limited. This study examined how one teacher provided support for writing in a pre-kindergarten classroom in an urban school district in the southeastern part of the United States. The teacher was selected because she was an expert writing teacher for young children. Data were collected during a ten-week case study of the teacher’s supportive practices for four- and five-year-old students’ writing. Qualitative observations and analysis provided a comprehensive description of an expert teacher’s supports for students’ writing and determined that the teacher utilized a similar pattern of supportive practices across writing events. Statistical analysis confirmed that there was not a significant difference in the frequency and types of supports used for different types of writing activities or for different teacher identified student groups. The pattern of support included first engaging students in the writing event and supporting idea generation related to the writing topic. Then, students drew or wrote about their message. As students wrote, they were supported to state a message, segment the message, record the message with print, and then read the message. While writing, students were encouraged to develop understandings of print concepts and to move forward through the print process. Other supports that are considered foundational teaching practices were used including responsiveness to student-initiated conversations, praise and affirmation, and material management. The pattern of support described in this study could be a starting point for practitioners to integrate writing into daily instruction. In addition, the supports identified in this study could have implications for the development of observational tools sensitive to a wider range of teacher writing supports.