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Learning to write in the early years:

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Sheffield Hallam University - City Campus

Room 941 Owen Building

Howard Street

Sheffield, England S1 1WB

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Learning to write in the early years: What can a socio material analysis tell us?

Annette Woods

Queensland University of Technology

The study reported in this presentation provides new knowledge about learning to write and the implications of curriculum, pedagogical and technological change for early childhood writing pedagogy in communities of high poverty. Data was collected as part of a multisite, collaborative, qualitative study across two schools in Australia with a focus on new technologies and new ways of becoming literate, and the implications of these for how writing is being taught and learnt in contemporary classrooms as a relational collaborative practice. The study aims to answer questions about the contemporary nature of early childhood education for children who are increasingly vulnerable in a context of global wealth distribution that remains inequitable (Piketty, 2014). Here I draw on socio-material understandings of text production to emphasise the material nature of everyday educational practices such as learning to write (Fenwick, Edwards & Sawchuk, 2011). That is I am interested in the embodied, physical, temporal and spatial dimensions of engaging in the ordinary classroom activities of learning to write. The analysis presented fore grounds school patterns of social relations, and the ways that students’ social and learning worlds are intermeshed with people, objects, texts and materials within the specific contexts of learning to write. In the presentation I will consider what can be learnt by privileging the perspectives, values and understandings of young children and the representations of their worlds produced when they are asked to think about learning to write.


Annette Woods is a professor at Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia in the Faculty of Education. She researches and teaches in literacies, digital literacies, social justice, school reform and pedagogy, curriculum and assessment. Her current research includes Australian Research Council funded projects which investigate learning to write in the early years of school (with Comber, Kervin and Baroutsis), and how preschool children name their worlds when literacy and sustainability education are brought together within the curriculum (with Sommerville and Duhn). She is also involved in projects which consider well being and cultural identity of young Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in secondary schooling (Shay, Sarra et al), and Imagination as a curriculum concept to re-articulate curriculum accountability (Comber & Kerkham). She is part of an Alliance that is investigating what a research rich education system might look like in a context like Australia.

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Sheffield Hallam University - City Campus

Room 941 Owen Building

Howard Street

Sheffield, England S1 1WB

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