Teacher Perceptions and Classroom Observations of Writing Opportunities in Prekindergarten Classrooms
Hogan, Kathy Marie
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This multiple-article dissertation examined secondary data collected by an educational service center in a large area of southeast Texas to analyze the similarities and differences in writing practices of prekindergarten teachers. The aim of this study was to determine the direction of future professional development sessions and coaching to support the implementation of writing in prekindergarten. The first study investigated teacher perceptions of writing practices and writing usage by type and frequency as collected through descriptive statistics and analysis from a self-report study. The second study examined the educational use of writing and writing artifacts through observational research of three interacting components in prekindergarten classrooms: the teacher, five students, and the overall classroom. Four different educational environments were investigated: rural, suburban, urban, and private schools. Authentic classroom behaviors and differences between monolingual and English Language Learners (ELLs) were investigated in relation to their use of writing. The findings from both studies revealed great variability from frequent to infrequent classroom use of writing. The results from the first study revealed that a few classrooms used writing to a great extent, especially in dramatic play areas, such as a doctor?s office or restaurant to enhance play. In other classrooms, teachers reported that children write their names on a regular basis or draw pictures in journals, but otherwise do not use writing. In many classrooms, the Morning Message or lists were developed as a teacher-child collaborative effort during shared writing, but often these activities did not take place. The second study revealed how writing usage in the classroom also varied, from procedural skills, such as tracing and copying letters or words, to conceptual use, creating stories using drawings and invented spelling, to the implementation of a fully developed Writer?s Workshop in prekindergarten. Results suggest that prekindergarten teachers are generally unsure how to use writing in the classroom, how often to use it, and how appropriate its use is with young children. The implications of these studies provide useful information on current practices and suggest that professional development and coaching may enhance teaching practices by demonstrating ways to increase access to writing opportunities.