Digital writing culture in Brazilian public school: working with teachers and with small children

Isabel Cristina Alves da Silva Frade, Mônica Daisy Vieira Araújo and Julianna Silva Glória

Brazil team

The research entitled “The use of digital technologies and the Internet in the pedagogical practice of teachers of Child Education for the insertion of children in the written culture” is developed by researchers and undergraduate students of the Faculty of Education of the Federal University of Minas Gerais / Brazil, for the Center for Study and Research on Digital Writing Culture (NEPCED), based at the Center for Literacy, Reading and Writing (CEALE). The research, which had as a specific objective to promote reflection on the contributions that the use of digital technologies and the Internet can bring to the pedagogical practice of teachers of small children, is part of a group of researches that have in common the following concerns: a) to analyze the effects and repercussions of a subject’s participation in the digital writing culture in the learning and teaching of reading and writing; b) understand how subjects operate with multisemiotic resources for the production and reading of texts in digital space; c) analyze the relation between acquisition of writing and participation of young children in digital spaces; d) to know and analyze relations between subjects and support, environments and digital reading and writing genres; e) to know and analyze modifications and permanences involved in the written culture when considering manuscript, printed and digital form.

The research was carried out during a year in two public schools of Early Childhood Education with four teachers of children of 4 and 5 years old, as well as the teachers of the computer laboratory of the schools. Our main objective was permeated by the reflexion about the need to propose the use of digital technologies and internet by young children and teachers, expanding their practices’ repertoire around the written culture and the use of digital media in addition to printed media and handwritten activities. From the teachers’ formation perspective, we seek to instrumentalize them with theoretical reflections on concepts involved in digital writing culture and on ways of acting in pedagogical practice with small children, considering the digital writing culture.

The methodology used included a form of negotiated intervention, called action research, which allows us to understand the objects of study, while proposing a modification of the pedagogical practices of the teachers participating in the research. The activities were developed around diverse digital genres and environments in order to stimulate children’s participation in the written culture and their reflection on the Portuguese language alphabetical writing system. The planning followed the development and demand of the children and enabled significant experiences and knowledge on social uses of the digital writing culture, highlighting development of ethical sense and learning about Internet safety. The developed activities were object of reflection through video analysis on the literacy events with teachers.

The data was complemented by interviews with teachers in order to explain reflections about classes and with a descriptive-analytical report written by them. The children were also interviewed after activities were carried out, in order to verify their understanding about experience and reception of the activities. In this training course, mediated by the methodological processes of the research, it’s emphasized the teacher’s protagonism, who in collaboration with researchers, planned, evaluated and performed activities developed in the school’s computer lab. The exchange, sharing of observations, knowledge and experience broadened some convictions and strengthened procedures and decisions related to the use of digital technologies and the Internet in teaching reading and writing with young children.

It was decided in this scientific study to approach teachers in order to promote a sense of belonging to a team of researchers, as well as the development of digital pedagogical practices in the computer lab that would connect with the activities carried out in the classroom. The research brought several results. At first we verified some advances in the format of continuing teacher training, which involved study, proposition of actions, execution of the proposed action and analysis of the actions through the contents studied in the training. This involved both clarification actions on doubts and improvements needed for the school collective, as well as an individual approach with teachers about the potentialities of the proposed and experienced digital literacy events.

The second point was that we have been able to choose training content about the digital writing culture applicable in the classroom of young children. Among the concepts and contents studied, we highlight: writing culture, digital technology, literacy and digital literacy, audiovisual literacy, semiotic resources, multimodality, digital games and activities, digital and digital literature.

A third aspect concerns the opportunity for researchers to immerse themselves in school, observing in a more effective way how the digital pedagogical practices of teaching reading and writing with young children can be developed, that is, their pragmatics and conditions of achievement. While building the class plans alongside teachers, they took on the challenge of creating activities that would cooperate so that young children could deal with digital writing culture and other semiotic resources, even before appropriating the Portuguese alphabet writing system.

This research found that in Brazil there is resistance on the teachers side to plan pedagogical practices using digital technologies and the Internet, even though they and the children are users at some level of these technologies. Among other factors, this is due to the absence, in initial and continued vocational training, of disciplines and / or contents adressing this issue, the low investment of public policies that increase access to digital technologies and Internet in schools, as well as teachers’ profile, who in general make a very narrow use of digital technologies and the Internet. There is a long way in the process of extending this knowledge about digital writing culture, not only because it is necessary to implement new school practices, but also because they are multiple practices, both material and symbolic, in the non-school social spaces that impose, from the outside, new challenges for school knowledge.

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