“It is Hard Fun”: Scaffolded Biography Writing With English Learners


  • Christina M. Pavlak


Using Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) as a theoretical framework, a team of university staff and educators at a traditionally under-performing urban elementary school built a collaboration aimed at enhancing writing instruction. The current qualitative research study, which was part of this larger project, focused on biography writing in Eva Rodriguez's third grade sheltered English immersion (SEI) class. To enhance language learning, reading comprehension, and writing skills, the teacher and students deconstructed and jointly constructed biographical text. Students gained a nuanced understanding of the demands of the genre and acquired essential information about persons of study. They were then able to write biographies independently. The purpose of this study was to show how Eva's uniquely scaffolded instruction served as an apprenticeship and influenced English learners’ ability to write in the genre of study.