A theoretical paradigm for a developmentally based kindergarten through twelfth grade writing program.

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Shipman, Sandra
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Middle Tennessee State University
While elementary and secondary language arts teachers are charged with the responsibility of teaching writing, few of these teachers are part of a school system which has developed and implemented a comprehensive kindergarten through twelfth grade writing program. If, on the other hand, such a comprehensive program has been implemented, it is highly unlikely that it is based on developmental theory. The present study suggests such a program.
The study begins with reviews of both human growth and language development, focusing on the cognitive theory of Jean Piaget, the social learning theory of Robert Sears, the affective learning theory of Erik Erikson, and the language development theories of Lev Vygotsky and Noam Chomsky. The developmental theory then forms a foundation for presenting a theoretical paradigm for a developmentally based kindergarten through twelfth grade writing program. While the writing program is divided into four self-contained segments (kindergarten through third grade, fourth and fifth grades, sixth through eighth grades, and ninth through twelfth grades), it is intended that educators familiarize themselves with the entire program so that they may understand how each segment contributes to the comprehensive program. Also included is a table outlining the developmental continuum, with cognitive, social, and affective descriptors; language descriptors; writing descriptors; and writing process descriptors.
The study concludes with a call for a transformation in the way writing is perceived and taught. This transformation can occur only by dramatic changes in teacher education programs, both at the university and school system levels, and by teacher commitment to a new writing paradigm which is consistent with developmental theory. Educators can do no less, and students, surely, deserve no less.