Dissertation Information for Keren Moses Joshi
MPACT Status: Fully Complete
Title: Literate attachments in a multilingual kindergarten: A case study
Abstract: This dissertation describes kindergartners' spontaneous uses of literature and highlights the importance of peer interactions, pleasure, and self-determination in literacy and language learning. It reflects data from more than 250 hours of observation over eight months. The 17 participants came from low-income households and spoke four different native languages. They demonstrated literate attachments through strong and sustained involvement with books, oral stories, poems, and songs. In addition to the emotional attachments described by other researchers, these children exhibited aesthetic and intellectual attachments. Many of these attachments were socially constructed. Group aesthetic attachments, based on textual properties like rhythm, rhyme, and repetition, were most common and were expressed by repetition and alteration of favorite phrases and independent reading of the texts. Less common were group intellectual attachments, which initially formed through extensive repetition of simple texts. The children expressed these attachments by repeating the texts, both for pleasure and to scaffold academic tasks. Group emotional attachments, which depended on engagement with plot and characters or the feelings evoked by the texts, were rare. These were expressed mainly through story requests, intent listening, and active participation. Though adults played an important role in the formation and maintenance of intellectual and emotional attachments, the children's aesthetic attachments were largely unsupported by their teachers. Literate attachments served a variety of functions in the classroom. Most importantly, they inspired the children to engage repeatedly with language and literature. These voluntary, repeated interactions with favorite texts then led to the development of many of the skills needed for beginning reading. Shared literature also formed the basis for classroom literate lore, and expressions of group attachment helped the children establish their belonging in the class group. The children rarely selected as their favorites those texts which were heavily supported in the classroom theme studies, and they used their choices, in part, to demonstrate their independence from adults. This study shows how a rigid classroom structure focused on standardized test results often hampered, rather than aided, the children's learning and suggests ways for reintroducing voluntary and joyful engagement with literature into schools and libraries.
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