English Teaching: Practice and Critique

Independent writing in current approaches to writing instruction: What have we overlooked?

Volume 6 Number 1 May 2007

Christina Davidson (Charles Sturt University)

Independent writing is described as a time when students accomplish their own writing through the employment of knowledge and skills that have been the focus for previous instruction. Previous instruction is said to consist of modeling and guided activity where knowledge and skills required for independent writing are taught through social interaction with the teacher. Descriptions of independent writing emphasise the activity of individual students and give limited attention to the social interaction that occurs between young students when they write. This article uses Conversation Analysis to examine student-student interaction during an independent writing lesson. The analysis of sequences of talk delineates social activity that occurred and provides descriptions of the methods that students used to accomplish activity. The paper concludes that definitions of independent writing need to take account of its social accomplishment by students.