Elementary Teachers Negotiating Discourses in Writing Instruction

Sarah J. McCarthey, Rebecca Woodard, Grace Kang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using Ivanic's (2004) framework, the study of 20 elementary teachers examines the relationships among teachers' beliefs about writing, their instructional practices, and contextual factors. While the district-adopted curriculum reflected specific discourses, teachers' beliefs and practices reflected a combination of discourses. The nature of the professional development tended to reinforce particular discourses, but occasionally offered an alternative. The three cases revealed how teachers negotiated the tensions among various discourses. Beth exemplified a skills discourse, but demonstrated beliefs about writing as communication; however, she did not articulate tensions between the discourses and followed the district, skillsinfused curriculum. Amber borrowed from skills, traits, process, and genrediscourses without resolving potential contradictions, resulting in instructional practices that had little coherence. Jackson, who brought in his own writing as a hip-hop artist, illustrated the social practices discourse as well as creativity and genre discourses to create an enhanced version of a district-adopted curriculum. Implications for practice include raising teacher's awareness of the contradictory discourses that surround them.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-90
Number of pages33
JournalWritten Communication
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2014


  • approaches
  • beliefs
  • curriculum
  • practices
  • professional development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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