Teachers’ and students’ metatalk about written text production and negotiation of concepts of writing

Submitted by: Miriam Morek
Abstract: This symposium builds on recent research within writing pedagogy that focuses on the role of talk as a mediational tool for learning about writing” (Jesson et al. 2016:155). It takes a micro-analytic perspective on teachers’ and students’ interactions about written text production in primary and secondary classrooms. The aim is to uncover the interplay of different “discourses of writing” (Ivanič 2004) and the negotiation of concepts of writing (cf. Jesson et al. 2016) between teachers and learners.
Previous studies that have examined metatalk about written text production in (language) classrooms have enhanced our knowledge as to what aspects of writing are made relevant (e.g. lexical appropriateness, accuracy) for instance in peer interaction (Herder et al. 2018). Also, they point to the role of teachers’ professional knowledge and management of dialogic exchange (cf. Jesson et al. 2016; Myhill et al. 2016). Yet the question of how exactly teachers’ and learners’ understandings of writing are interactively brought about and individually appropriated by learners across learning situations, deserves further analysis.
Therefore, this symposium sets out to examine how children and teachers verbalize, negotiate and align underlying concepts and (tacit) norms of writing in actual sequences of metatalk on. In doing so, we assume that the “ways in which people talk about writing and learning to write, and the actions they take as learners, teachers and assessors” (Ivanič 2004:220) are instantiations of particular “discourses of writing and learning to write” (ibid.), and open up insights into processes of individual concept formation. The papers in the symposium will integrate (1) a longitudinal perspective on how teachers’ and students’ talk about linguistic decision-making in writing develops across time (Myhill), (2) a focus on reflective practices and instantiations of writing norms in collaborative writing among peers (Herder), and (3) a comparative analysis of concept formation in whole-class discussion with students’ group work (Morek). Our examinations on divergences and convergences in students’ and teachers’ talk about writing may contribute to a theory of the acquisition of writing skills that incorporates processes of negotiating and appropriating explicit and implicit learning offers in the language classroom.
Key words: metatalk, writing education, micro-analysis, classroom interaction, conceptual learning

Herder, Anke; Berenst, Jan; Glopper, Kees de; Koole, Tom (2018): Reflective practices in collaborative writing of primary school students. In: International Journal of Educational Research 90, S. 160–174.
Ivanič, Roz (2004): Discourses of Writing and Learning to Write. In: Language and Education 18 (3), S. 220–245.
Jesson, Rebecca; Fontich, Xavier; Myhill, Debra (2016): Creating dialogic spaces. Talk as a mediational tool in becoming a writer. In: International Journal of Educational Research 80, S. 155–163.
Myhill, Debra; Jones, Susan; Wilson, Anthony (2016): Writing conversations. Fostering metalinguistic discussion about writing. In: Research Papers in Education 31 (1), S. 23–44.

Prof. Dr. Miriam Morek
University of Duisburg-Essen
Department of German Language and Literature

Anke Herder
University of Groningen
Center for Language und Cognition

Prof. Debra Myhill
University of Exeter
Graduate School of Education

Prof. Dr. Sören Ohlhus
University of Hildesheim
Department of German Language and Literature