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Semiotic Representations: Building Complex Literacy Practices Through the Arts

by Kay Cowan and Peggy Albers

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Semiotic Representations: Building Complex Literacy Practices Through the Arts

Grades 3 – 5
Type Journal
Published October 2006
Publisher International Literacy Association



Learning to write well often proves to be one of the most difficult areas in the English language arts for young children. However, in these fourth- and fifth-grade language arts classrooms, children are offered opportunities to explore, think through, and express meaning across and within sign systems—in particular, using art, drama, and language. Children engage in arts- and language-based lessons and develop semiotic texts that are richly complex and imaginatively descriptive. Within the teacher's semiotic approach to literacy instruction, children develop habits in strategy use and knowledge of and practice in sign systems, both of which help them develop strong literacy practices. Once such experiences become habits of mind, students develop new insights into their own writing, creating, and talking about their texts, as well as the composing process.

Cowan, K., & Albers, P. (2006, October). Semiotic Representations: Building Complex Literacy Practices Through the Arts. The Reading Teacher, 60(2), 124–137. doi: 10.1598/RT.60.2.3


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