Individual Differences in Beginning Composing: An Orchestral Vision of Learning to Compose

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article draws upon data collected in a five-month study of primary grade writers to illustrate dimensions of variation in how young children orchestrate or manage the complex writing process. The observed children, all members of an integrated urban public school classroom, varied in the degree to which they focused on the diverse message forming and encoding demands of the writing activity and in when they maintained that focus. These differences may have existed, in part, because of differences in how the children made use of the available sources of support for their composing; that is, they differed in the degree to which other symbolic media (pictures and talk) and other children shaped their individual writing efforts. The children's composing behaviors were consistent with their apparent intentions and with their styles as symbolizers and socializers in their classroom. Viewing differences in children's ways of composing from the perspective of linear or uniform conceptions of writing growth may mask the holistic sense of each child's behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)411-442
Number of pages32
JournalWritten Communication
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 1987
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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