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While young children's problem-solving models are not as elaborate as those of older students, they share an important belief, namely, that writing and reading are fundamentally purposeful acts of communication. Focusing on the interpretation of process, in particular on writing and reading as forms of problem-solving that are shaped by communicative purpose, three sets of vignettes show students at different stages of schooling as they write and read. The first set illustrates the nature of problem-solving in skilled reading and writing processes that are held as goals for college students. The second set of vignettes places these processes in context by considering some of the factors that influence students' problem-solving as they write and read in response to typical class assignments. The third section explores the problem-solving skills that young students--children learning to write and read and adolescents expanding their writing and reading abilities--bring to their school assignments. It is critical that strategies such as summarization and self-questioning not become disconnected from the larger communicative, meaning-construction process. The critical question is how to sustain and further develop the potential evident in the problem-solving of young writers and readers. Flexibly structured opportunities for teachers and students to exchange views about both their own and professional texts provide the student with context for cultivating a deeper understanding of writing and reading as purposeful acts of communication and to transform the contexts in which writing and reading occur.


Copyright 1989 National Writing Project.

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National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy-Occasional Paper No. 7.

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Rosebery, Ann, Warren, B., Bruce, Bertram, Flower, Linda, Bowen, Betsy, Kantz, Margaret & Penrose, Ann (1989). The problem-solving processes of writers and readers. Occasional Paper No.7. National Center for the Study of Writing and Literacy. Univ. of California, Berkeley & Carnegie Mellon Univ. [30 pp.] Direct link to paper: