Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

David England


The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship between written language and spoken language and the function of that relationship during the beginning writing development of five kindergarteners from diverse literacy environments. In addition, observable writing behaviors of these five kindergarteners from more literate and less literate home environments were studied at home and in school. Ethnographic methodology was employed. Data collection included interviews, participant observation, field notes, checklists, photographs, audio recordings, video recordings, and writing samples. For 4 months, the case study participants were observed once a week while writing at home and in the school writing center. Data were analyzed for emergent patterns in the dialogue, action, and interaction. Analysis of the data revealed four categories relevant to the participants' home and school writing experiences: (1) use of models; (2) purposes for writing; (3) the relationship between writing and writing tools; and (4) the relationship between writing events and spoken language. Findings indicate that within groups the home writing behaviors were similar while the home writing experiences between groups were diverse. School writing experiences for the children from more literate and less literate home environments were similar as the children collaborated during writing events. A majority of the spoken language during writing in the classroom was used to discuss the writing. Kindergarteners from more literate home environments functioned as role models during writing for the kindergarteners from less literate home environments. Differences between the home and school writing experiences for the two groups were in the degree of talk that focused on writing and the variety of models and purposes for writing that were provided. A significant finding was that name writing was the only home writing activity exhibited at school by both groups. Conclusions from this study were that: (1) children from diverse literacy backgrounds have equal need to talk about writing during writing to facilitate learning; (2) beginning writers must become actively involved in writing, engaging in encoding and decoding; and (3) school writing experiences of kindergarteners from the two groups appear to contribute more to beginning writing than do home experiences.