Revised Criteria for Responding to Writers

Richard Ward

University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand

The development of writing , particularly in terms of ownership of the process, has probably outstripped teachers' knowledge of the appropriate criteria for responding to writers or to writing.  Put another way, the progression from the composition approach of the 70s to the Process approach of the 80s and the Genre/Functional approach of the 90s has allowed a refinement of teaching methods and approaches, but supportive strategies for responding to writing has not necessarily advanced alongside the development of teaching methodology.

The paper includes a critical appraisal of existing criteria for responding to writers is offered and an alternative that is more applicable to current writing approaches and those for the new millennium is described. It offers a framework for responding to writing and writers.  It is based on a paradigm  that encompasses a range of writing functions for Early and Fluent writers in terms of their control of the process, or responding to script, the product.

Within the theme of assessing writing or responding to a writer, the proposed paper contributes to an awareness of language because:

- it clarifies the developmental stages in writing in terms of the characteristics of Emergent, Early and Fluent writers

- it develops an awareness of responding to writing in terms of different functions by offering varying lenses for assessment in terms of purpose and audience as well as content.
- it differentiates between assessing writing and supporting a writer in the process of writing.

When these three variables are posted in a matrix, the flexibility of response opportunities is significantly broadened.  In this way the paper offers a novel approach to assessing and responding to writing that incorporates the latest findings from field research.