Putting it all Together

Application: Putting it all TogetherThe Topic Focus of your action plan. Issues related to: Culture and languageExplain why you chose this particular topic as the focus of your plan.What “ism” (or “isms”) are you addressing with this topic?What misinformation, stereotypes, or fears might young children have about this topic?The SettingWrite a short description of the type of early childhood program for which this anti-bias action plan will be prepared. Include the ages of children, number of children and staff, demographics of children and staff, ethnic groups, racial identities, economic class, languages spoken, gender, and varying abilities.The Goal(s)What are you hoping to teach through this plan? Describe your goals and expected outcomes.In what ways will you address and contradict the stereotypes associated with the topic? Provide examples to demonstrate what you might say or do to combat specific stereotypes.The Curriculum PlanDescribe at least two learning experiences that will help you reach the goals of your action plan.Indicate at least two ideas you will incorporate into the visual/material environment to support your curriculum.List at least two examples of titles of books, music, film, and/or other media that will support your curriculum.Think about at least one “teachable moment” that you anticipate will occur and describe it in detail.Other Considerations:In what ways will you connect with and involve the families of the children in your setting?From the list of varying abilities which you studied in Week 7, choose one. Then, state the accommodations you will make to your classroom, your own behaviors/interactions, and/or your curriculum, to best support learning for a child with this varying ability in the context of this action plan.Assessment:How will you assess whether or not you have met the goals? Explain how you will know that your action plan has been effective.Submit your completed anti-bias action plan.APA Style 3 – 4 pages not counting 1 and referencesReference:Derman-Sparks, L., & Olsen Edwards, J. (2010). Anti-bias education for young children and ourselves. Washington, D.C.: National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).Shagoury, R. (2009). Language to language: Nurturing writing development in multilingual classrooms. YC: Young Children, 64(2), 52-57.

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Supporting All KindS of leArnerS
Language to
Ruth Shagoury
Nurturing Writing Development in Multilingual
I sit in a small circle with several 5-year-olds as they pore
through their writing journals to share pieces that are ready
for publication on the writing wall. The children have created a
thoughtful process for inviting two mostly silent friends into the
conversation about writing. One of those students, Mariaevelyn,
rarely ventures words even in her native Spanish. The other
child, Lyuba, just now beginning to mouth a word or two of
either Russian or English, smiles her way through the day.
Nonetheless, they actively participate in the group conference. As Alma, David, and Tonia share their writing, they pass
their journals over to Mariaevelyn and Lyuba. Each of these
girls, in turn, ponders the page, and then points to a section of
the journal with a detail that she likes.
“Oh, you like the words?” Alma asks, as she follows Lyuba’s
pointed finger.
Lyuba nods.
Mariaevelyn likes the big yellow sun, and points to the upper
right-hand corner.
“I like the sun part too,” Alma confirms. “And I can make a
2, 3, 4
ommunity—one of the intangibles
that make a classroom run smoothly—
helps welcome all learners into the
daily work. As children with diverse
backgrounds, cultures, and languages
come together in learning environments from preschool on, it is vital that
each person initiate actions that invite
others’ voices into the mix.
Creating a literate classroom environment that nurtures the writing
development of dual language learners
(DLLs) requires more than presenting
a series of skills to learn or academics to master. Classrooms should also
be dedicated to building on children’s
knowledge, experience, and needs and
to assisting in their acquiring shared
knowledge and understandings about
what literacy is and how it can be a gift
for communicating and learning.
Young Children • March 2009
Classroom context
As a university literacy researcher, I have been investigating what is possible for dual language learners as they
acquire literacy skills. For four years, I was embedded
in Andie Cunningham’s multilingual kindergarten class,
a classroom in which children
typically spoke at least six difChildren need the
ferent languages (Cunningham
& Shagoury 2005). As I looked
chance to explore
more closely at the children’s
and actively figure
beginning reading skills, I came
to appreciate the importance
out the ways that
of written language to their
written language
overall literacy growth, thus
shifting my focus to written lanworks in different
guage acquisition and developsituations, conment. To extend my research,
I spent two years in Head Start
tinually trying out
classrooms with preschool multheir hypotheses.
tilingual students. These young
learners taught me what is possible for preschool children to
accomplish in terms of written language development.
The majority of research that focuses on children’s writing
is based on native English-speaking children. But more specific study of young dual language learners as they develop
as writers is beginning to take place. In her recent book
When English Language Learners
Write, Katharine Samway concludes that “the most current
research shows that non-native
English-speaking children are
capable of much more than is
generally expected of them” (2006, 22).
Young dual language learners’
awareness of print
Young children across languages and cultures reveal an
awareness of the particular written features of their first
languages (Harste, Woodward, & Burke 1984). Four-year-old
Fouad’s Arabic writing, for example, has lots of dots and
squiggles, which he reads back in Arabic. Five-year-old Bao
Jun’s Chinese writing shows logographic characteristics.
Both children also make shapes that represent the English
alphabet that they see around them. Even very early
scribble writing, such as 3-year-old Cecilia’s, is reflective of
cursive English (see “Children’s Writing Samples”).
Ruth Shagoury, PhD, is a literacy professor at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon, where she teaches, researches, and coordinates the language and literacy program. She works with students
of all ages, from preschool through adult. ruth.shagoury@gmail.com
Photos © James Whitney.
Young Children • March 2009
Children’s Writing
Bao Jun
Bilingual children immersed in dual languages at home
since birth sort out the two languages, creating hypotheses
about how to speak both. In the same way, young dual
language learners actively figure out the way written language works in their first and second languages. Katharine
Samway (2006) stresses the need for dual language learners
to have access to what she calls “the creative construction
principle” to allow their writing to emerge. In other words,
children need the chance to explore and actively figure out
the ways that written language works in different situations,
continually trying out their hypotheses. Another researcher
of bilingual developing writers, Emilia Ferreiro, advises,
“Children have shown us that they need to reconstruct the
written system in order to make it their own. Let us allow
them the time and the opportunities for such a tremendous
task” (1980, 56).
Five-year-old Song enters kindergarten in the fall, speaking a
few words, phrases, and expressions in English. Hmong is her
first language and the language her family speaks at home,
although their English language skills are strong enough that
they do not need translators at parent conferences.
Since there are no other Hmong speakers in Song’s class,
nor ethnic Hmong aides or translators at the school, English
Supporting All KindS of leArnerS
is what Song uses to communicate with her friends at school.
She is by no means silent, although often quiet. She relies
on gestures, pictures, and simple phrases and sentences in
English to get her meaning across.
Song’s literacy grows steadily over the school year. In the
fall, she draws many pictures and makes a gradual transition
to adding letters to go with them. She also copies letters from
the English and Spanish words she sees in the classroom
environment. By May, Song begins to use letters to represent
sounds. In her drawing of the water in a river [see “Song’s
Writing”], she uses an r for the /r/ sound. And on the very
same page, she uses a string of Chinese characters, which,
she tells us, is the kind of writing her parents do.
Song’s Writing
Song’s growing
literacy in two languages seemed to
help shore up her
confidence to share
her at-home writing
with us in school.
By June she experimented with exclamation marks, voice
bubbles, and spaces
between words, and
she wrote several
books to share with
friends. The classroom environment
allowed Song the time
and space to be an
active and creative
written language user.
his verbal explanation with pointing,
movement, and gesture. Our exchange
of conversation
helps his language
development, as I
continue to guess
his meaning, supplying English
words for car (he
shakes his head no),
and bus (no again,
but with a smile this
time). But then I am
rewarded with an
Kostya’s Writing
emphatic yes when I
offer the word truck.
“Yes, truck!” he repeats, which draws his neighbors, Luis
and Tony, into our conversation, sparked by Kostya’s writing.
What is the role of talk in developing dual language learners’ emerging literacy? Researchers Ernst and Richard
(1995) found that talk is indeed an important influence on
preschool and early elementary children’s developing oral
and written fluency in English. Writing/drawing are conversation starters that help children share their interests and
stories in response to each other (Hubbard 1985).
Writing right from the start
Song is not an exception. Dual language learners can
write before orally mastering a second language (Edelsky
1982, 1983; Huddleson 1989; Taylor 1990; Samway 2006).
Just like first language-speaking children, dual language
learners write before they can read and use drawing to
explore their ideas and thinking.
Russian-speaking Kostya comes to kindergarten speaking no
English but is very willing to use gestures and facial expressions to communicate with adults and classmates. He usually
looks very serious when he opens his writing journal and sits
down to write—with intention.
One morning, his story is about the truck his father drives
[see “Kostya’s Writing”]. Like all good writers, Kostya uses
detail in his piece—from lug nuts in the tires to the steering
wheel, to the exhaust floating out at the vehicle’s rear. He even
includes the passengers’ arms dangling out of the windows.
When asked about his drawing, Kostya explains in
Russian, but knowing I cannot understand, he supplements
Young Children • March 2009
The role of home languages in
writing development
Bilingual programs have an obvious advantage. Research
shows that children who learn literacy in their first language do not need to relearn these skills. Dual language
learners who learn to read in their home language do not
need to be taught to read in English; they simply transfer
the skill to their second language. The same principle
holds true for writing (Schecter & Bayley 2002; Freeman &
Freeman 2003).
In diverse schools in which children speak many languages, it is not feasible to create bilingual programs for
every language. But whenever possible, it is beneficial to
find speakers of second languages to talk and write with
young children in their home language.
Kindergartner Alma writes a complex story one day, in pictures. She starts to write out sounds to label the story. Cat
and twins are the two English words that stand out in her
story. In an attempt to help her, a classroom helper dictates
letters to her. These are not words she can read back, so
she turns from this story in frustration. But the classroom’s
bilingual aide encourages Alma to tell her story in Spanish,
and the words pour out, a story of a girl who had a twin who
died in Mexico and how the other twin thinks of her. (Una nina
tiene una gemala que una vez se murio. Ahorra la gemela
esta pensando en ella.
Ella esta en el cemetaria.) Sounding out
words in Spanish helps
Alma to write her story.
Marina, a 5-year-old
Russian speaker, appreciates every chance
she has to speak with
Luba, the Russian aide
and translator at her
school. On her own, during writing workshop,
Marina creates a little
book with some writing
in English and a few Cyrillic letters and words like CPMAS for
Christmas. She felt comfortable taking the risk of speaking to
me and to others with a few words of English.
When Christina, a visiting teacher, spends the morning in
the classroom, Marina discovers that Christina reads and
writes Russian, and a quiet child becomes a chatterbox.
Marina writes
a story of her
mom drying
clothes in
the sun [see
Writing”]. She
writes the
word for sun
in English,
using one set
of symbols
(CAOA) and
then another set
(CO?E) for the
Russian word
Marina’s Writing
for sun (conyue:
teacher translation) in Cyrillic. The Russian words for clothes and drying the
clothes are written in Cyrillic, using invented spelling.
Because Christina was able to talk and write with Marina in
both Russian and English, this encouraged Marina to speak
and write in the two languages as well.
In the same class, Bennie makes similar strides in his writing. In the spring he reads his journal and explains his
drawings in Cantonese when his mother comes for a parent
conference. Although Bennie now speaks more frequently
in English in class than he did earlier in the year and uses
English phrases and gestures to tell about his writing, during
the parent conference he expresses very complete thoughts
about his writing, which we never heard him do before.
The same week, he shares two pieces of writing with me:
the first is a kind of picture story about spiders, birds, and his
brother and sister [see “Bennie’s Writing”]. In English letters
he writes Ming,
his Cantonese
name, as well
Writing/drawing are conversation starters that
help children share their
interests and stories in
response to each other.
Bennie’s Writing
Young Children • March 2009
Supporting All KindS of leArnerS
Bennie’s Story
as Bennie. He includes his brother’s English
name, Alex, and a row of letters. On the same
day, he writes a story in Chinese logographs—
a skill we never saw him use in class before
[see “Bennie’s Story”]. At the end of the day, I
see him tuck this writing into his jacket pocket
to take home and share with his family.
Stories like these provide additional support for the research that shows dual language learners can write in both their home
language and a second language without
becoming confused. In a fascinating yearlong
ethnography, Edelsky and Jilbert (1985) found that children
learned both Spanish and English simultaneously without
confusion, and they were able to differentiate between the
two writing systems. In their Spanish invented spellings,
the children used tildes (~) over the appropriate letters
and never used the letter k, which the Spanish use only in
foreign words. In any writing that the children read back in
English, they omitted tildes and did not use the letter k.
Reviewing research findings
Writing processes for young children are very similar
across languages (Samway 2006). Even children whose
first language is logographic, such as Chinese and Korean,
rather than alphabetic, like English or Spanish, invent
spellings and writing symbols (Chi 1988). When the two
written language systems that children are learning are
very different, children still draw
on their knowledge of their home
language as well as their growing
understanding of English, testing
out hypotheses just as they do
in their oral language (Edelsky &
Jilbert 1985).
All young children, whether
English speaking or learning English
as a second—or third!—language,
blossom in environments that
encourage genuine communication
by whatever means work. Children
need access to caring adults dedicated to making sense of what each
child is trying to share through language, and they need to be a part of
Young Children • March 2009
a learning community that encourages children’s reliance on
each other. Rather than sitting at a desk, focused on individual learning tasks, a workshop atmosphere encourages
children to determine what tools, peers, and mentors will
aid them in their quest to make meaning.
Chi, M. 1988. Invented spelling/writing in Chinese-speaking children:
The developmental patterns. In Dialogue in literacy research, eds. J.
Readance & R. Baldwin, 37th Yearbook, 285–96. Chicago: National
Reading Conference.
Cunningham, A., & R. Shagoury. 2005. Starting with comprehension: Reading strategies for the youngest learners. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.
Edelsky, C. 1982. Writing in a bilingual program: The relation on L1 and
L2 texts. TESOL Quarterly 16: 211–28.
Edelsky, C. 1983. Segmentation and punctuation: Developmental data
from young writers in a bilingual program. Research in the Teaching of
English 17: 135–36.
Edelsky, C., & K. Jilbert. 1985. Bilingual children and writing: A lesson
for us all. Volta Review 87 (5): 57–72.
Ernst, G., & K.J. Richard. 1995. Reading and writing pathways to conversation in the ESL classroom. The Reading Teacher 48: 320–26.
Ferreiro, E. 1980. The relationship between oral and written language:
The children’s viewpoints. In Oral and written language development
research: Impact on the schools, eds M. Haussler, D. Strickland, & Y.
Goodman, 47–56. Urbana, IL: International Reading Association.
Freeman, Y., & D. Freeman, D. 2003. Between worlds. Portsmouth, NH:
Harste, J., V. Woodward, & C. Burke. 1984.
Language stories and literacy lessons.Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Hubbard, R. 1985. Write and tell. Language Arts
62 (6): 624–30.
Huddleson, S. 1989. A tale of two children. In
Richness in writing, eds. D.M. Johnson & D.H.
Roen, 84–99. New York: Longman.
Samway, K. 2006. When English language learners write. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Schecter, S., & R. Bayley. 2002. Language as
cultural practice: Mexicanos en el norte.
Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Taylor, D. 1990. Writing and reading literature
in a second language. In Workshop 2: Beyond
the basal, ed. N. Atwell, 105–17. Portsmouth,
NH: Heinemann.
Nurturing Dual Language Learners’
Writing Development
1. Look at each child as an individual. All writers are
unique, and their writing development will reflect those
idiosyncratic qualities. Get to know the children with whom
you work, their interests, and their writing processes.
2. Encourage children to write and draw their stories
right from the beginning, before they have mastered oral
3. Create opportunities for children to share writing with
adults in the classroom and among their peers, young
writers themselves.
4. Allow children the time and space they need to test out
their hypotheses about written language.
5. Use each child’s first language often and in as many
different ways as possible in classroom activities.
6. Surround children with print in a range of languages
and alphabetic and logographic systems.
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Copyright © 2009 by the National Association for the
Education of Young Children. See Permissions and
Reprints online at www.journal.naeyc.org/about/
Young Children • March 2009
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