Theses Doctoral

Centering Children's Voices and Cultural Worlds in an Online Writing Club

Knight, Rachel Powers

For 10 weeks, an online writing club was a place where seven children, ages 5 to 8, came together to co-construct a space for sharing favorite texts and composing practices. This study documents the ways that the writing club offered a space for children to construct shared literacy practices that allowed for new meaning-making, social relationships, and literate identities. As the researcher and facilitator of the writing club, I took up an inquiry as stance position, which provided a generative space for exploring the tensions between practice and theory.

Additionally, literacy dig analysis provided an opportunity to understand the discursive elements of the popular culture texts that young children bring into their literacy practices. Taking up sociocultural and critical childhood frameworks as well as multiliteracies and multimodal models of literacy, I explored the following questions: How do young children narrate their identities and social worlds through text? What stories (narratives) and resources do young children value and take up when writing? How do young children take up the space of an informal, online writing group to pursue intellectual, social, cultural, and composing lives?

Over the 10 weeks, the writing club developed into a space where telling jokes, grabbing a notebook to learn how to draw like Dav Pilkey, and creating a plan for surviving “infinity holes” signaled belonging. Children shared interests often deemed inappropriate for school spaces (e.g., consumer culture, violence, and video games) and took up ideas from popular culture (e.g., Minecraft, LOL and Calico dolls, and Captain Cage) in their composing practices. The literacies of the children in this study were mobilized by family participation, the shared and private spaces in homes, and opportunities to experiment outside of the constraints of school curricular goals and expectations.

As the children engaged in transmedia and multimodal composing practices, new literate identities were revealed and established expertise in knowledge of popular culture and digital composing practices helped reposition how children were seen by their peers in the writing club. The social and composing practices of the young children in this online writing club have important implications for the ways we design writing spaces and curriculum for young children that center children’s culture, composing practices, and ways of knowing and being as important resources for teaching and learning.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Curriculum and Teaching
Thesis Advisors
Yoon, Haeny S.
Ghiso, María Paula
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
October 25, 2023