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RE: [xmca] Might we pause to consider? Imitation and the Zoped

Peter, first, greetings, to you and everyone reading this thread!    Vygotsky elucidated greatly about the development of writing in “Imagination and creativity in childhood” – Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, vol. 42, no.1, Jan-Fed 2004, pp. 7-97, in chapter 6. Literary Creativity in School-Age Children.
That said, he notes when Tolstoy attempted to teach writing to the local peasant children on his country estate – wherein first Tolstoy began to write on a topic he had chosen, since the children refused to write anything.  (demonstration) then, Tolstoy took dictation from the children and wrote what they had to say in response to the chosen topic.  i thought that clearly this was evidence of multiple ways of imitation - which supported the zpd.
Tolstoy had written an article on this experience that he titled “Who should learn to write from whom: peasant children from us, or us from them?”
Which reflects my own experience – that in writing with children, the ‘expert’ learns to write as one of the practices of the activity.
It reminded me of Doug Fisher’s gradual release of responsibility – his graphic organizer isn’t the first that I’ve been on this concept, but I like it the most.  (see attached file)
But I think that this points strongly in the direction of your experience as a basketball coach – you demonstrate – perhaps you even sometimes play with the team you’re coaching – but certainly the team players practice together – so that during the game individually the multiple skills have a high degree of fluency and automaticity.;
So, yeah, I would do a demonstration in front of my students about how I would begin writing on a particular topic.
Then, the next day, perhaps, the students and I together would write a paper on the same topic, or at least the beginning of the paper.
Next, students would work together in small groups crafting a group written paper – and I’d rove around, mostly observing, taking notes, etc., so that when we all came together as a class I could call on specific groups to explain what I saw as near-ideal exemplars.
And then in time, the individual students would individually write their own papers.
Of course, there were similarities – but there were also multiple individual differences.
And for me the ultimate goal was that over time – five months, say, students would know how to write a paper on a given topic without having to go through the gradual release of responsibility.  On the whole it worked.  Professionally, I used Nancy Atwell and Lucy Caulkins and Donald Graves as guides, often first directly following their directions, and then over time building in modifications as I became more confident with the processes, as well as better able to anticipate the individual needs of my different classrooms -
again, imitation through text.


Phillip White, PhD
University of Colorado Denver
School of Education

Attachment: GRR.pdf
Description: GRR.pdf

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