Co-creation of Knowledge in Technology-Enhanced Communities of Learning





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The Contribution of Peer Interaction to the Development of Literate Discourse


This Paper discusses findings from a longitudinal study on the development of genres of extended discourse. Observations in preschools over two years have yielded a rich array of language uses in a variety of genres. In this paper we present the theoretial models developed for conceptualizing the meaning-making processes and the parameters for identifying indicators of literate discourse in the speech events observed, and demonstrate empirically the models through the analysis of peer interaction transcripts. 

The first conceptuatlization developed is meant to come to terms with modes of meaning making in peer interaction spoken episodes. The model posits three parameters: the type of activity, captured by the external framing of the event, as established by the preschool staff, the internal framing (or keying) of the event by the children, and the genric resources (such as narrative or explanatory discourse) drawn on during the interaction. We argue that the meaning(s) negotiated in any given episode derive from the dynamic interaction betwwn the three parameters.  

The second concptualization is meant to identify the indicators of literate discourse in spoken language. We argue that these indicators vary on three dimensions: (a) contextualization, which depicts the degree to which the language of a given episode is context-embedded or autonomous decontextualized; (b) fictionalization, which considers the degree to which the discourse is linked to reality or fiction, and (c) structural elaboration, namely the degree to which the discourse manifests indicators of structural elaboration. 

Applying these two models to talk episodes of peer interaction demonstrates the way peer talk derives its meaning(s) from interactions between activity type, genre and keying, and the high degree to which the spoken discourse of preschool children manifests the emergence of extended, literate discourse. Our major conclusion is that peer-interaction is a powerful facilitative site for language developmnet, including the developmnet of literate language related discursive skills. 

Blum-Kulka, S. & Huck-Taglicht, D. (2002) 'The contribution of peer-interaction to the develpmnet of literate discourse: Genres and Keyings' (in Hebrew), special issue of Script - Literacy: Research, Theory and Practice 3-4:75-110.