Geographies of learning to write: Mapping literacy learning through draw and talk

Year: 2019

Author: Woods, Annette, Baroutsis, Aspa

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

This paper considers how children represent their experiences of learning to write when asked to map the people, places, spaces, and materials of text production. The maps and children’s talk analysed in this paper were collected as part of a larger study of learning to write in the early years of school. The research approach used combined ideas taken from ‘body mapping’ (Gauntlett & Holzwarth, 2006) and ‘draw and talk’ (Coates & Coates, 2006) methods, so our interest has been in the maps produced as well as the children’s talk with researchers as they mapped. Young children in the first four years of schooling were asked to map spaces where they learnt to write and produce texts, talking with the researcher in collaborative dialogue, and representing their learning landscape as they drew. Their maps and talk provide insight into the everyday experiences of learning literacy in early years’ classrooms.

The children’s talk and maps identify how, what, where, with what, and with whom children are learning to write across diverse contexts. We trace children’s text production landscapes by mapping the networks children develop when learning to produce texts. Such theorising enables us to transcend the imagined borders of ‘in-school’ and ‘out-of-school’ learning, instead identifying a ‘geography’ of produced texts and meaning. We combine these ideas with understandings of literacy that foreground sociomaterial ways of thinking and in this way consider the spatial geographies of being among materials, texts, and people.

Children’s maps and their talk were analysed drawing on Burnett’s (2011) three foci: 1) the processes that produce space and identities; 2) the types of spaces that are produced; and 3) the influences that shape the spaces (p. 223). This analysis identifies how, where, with what, and with whom children produce texts as literacy learners. The children’s maps show a network of intra-actions of learning spaces, places and materials that allow us to consider the materiality of learning to write in current early years’ classrooms.

Burnett, C. (2011) The (im)materiality of educational space: Interactions between material, connected and textual dimensions of networked technology use in schools. E–Learning and Digital Media, 8(3), 214-227.

Coates, E., & Coates, A. (2006). Young children talking and drawing. International Journal of Early Years Education, 14(3), 221-241.

Gauntlett, D., & Holzwarth, P. (2006). Creative and visual methods for exploring identities. Visual Studies, 21(1), 82-91.