Revising strategies of skilled bilingual fifth-grade writers
Hamerla, Sara Ruth
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This case study reports on the revising processes of 6 bilingual 5th grade students who have been identified as skilled English writers. The research was situated in two 5th grade mainstream classrooms an urban elementary school in the Northeastern United States. The following research questions guided the study: 1) How do bilingual fifth-graders evaluate and recognize needs in their writing and do they use their first language to meet these needs? 2) What strategies and languages do these bilingual students employ as they revise text written in English? The researcher observed the participants as they composed text during literacy block, audiotaped think-alouds during revising and peer revising conferences, collected written products from all stages of the writing process, and conducted interviews with the participants. Data were collected as the participants wrote four different assignments over a period of four months. The multiple data sources provided information not only on the products of writing, but also on the processes of writing. Quantitative and qualitative methods were employed to analyze data for evidence of evaluative ability and revising strategies. The levels of discourse at which participants revised (linguistic, textual, and pragmatic) and the operations employed in revision (deletion, addition, substitution, and reordering) were investigated. Data analysis also addressed the use of the participants' first language, Spanish, during composing and revising. Cross-case analyses investigated similarities and differences among participants. The findings suggest that the participants made the most revisions at the linguistic level. All participants engaged in textual changes, but very few pragmatic changes were initiated. Participants employed the following operations (ranked by frequency): substitution, addition, deletion, and reordering. The participants were able to revise their written work on their own and with help from peers and teachers. Revisions were made for a range of purposes throughout all writing process stages. Five of the participants incorporated Spanish words into their writing, and the most recently mainstreamed participant reported using Spanish during the phases of the writing process. Revision is an important cognitive ability developing in these young bilingual writers.
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