On Saying It Right (Write): "Fix-Its'' in the Foundations of Learning to Write

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The basics of child writing, as traditionally conceived, involve "neutral" conventions for organizing and encoding language. This "basic" notion of a solid foundation for child writing is itself situated in a fluid world of cultural and linguistic diversity and rapidly changing literacy practices. In this paper, I aim to theoriz and problematize the basics, drawing on an ethnographic study of child writing in a regulated (i. e., test-monitored) urban school. I focused on a prime site for teaching and monitoring the basics - talk about "fix-its" or problems in a text in a first grade classroom. I asked about the nature of teacher- and child-identified fix-its and, in the process, I considered the evaluative discourse contextualizing textual features as errors and the ideologies of (or values and beliefs about) language permeating that discourse. ne official fix-its heightened attention to the surface manifestations of language - to how a proper written voice should sound. The children's responses to these official fix-its revealed the homogenized child voice implicit in the basics. Moreover, their own fix-it concerns suggested the social relations, identity formations, and communicative practices central to - even foundational for - their uses of (and for) writing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8-42
Number of pages35
JournalResearch in the Teaching of English
Issue number1
StatePublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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