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Language Arts, Vol. 81, No. 5, May 2004

Cover Art for Language Arts, Vol. 81, No. 5, May 2004

Table of Contents

Issue Theme: Students and Teachers as Ethnographers

  • Thoughts from the Editors

    Kathy G. Short, Jean Schroeder, Gloria Kauffman and Sandy Kaser

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • The Ethnography Book

    Carolyn Frank, MaryEileen Arroyo, and Robert E. Land

    Abstract: As MaryEileen and students in her fifth-grade social studies class began writing ethnographic fieldnotes, they explored what researchers do. In the process, they learned how to speak from evidence and to observe from multiple perspectives. Using ethnographic methods, they created a log of fieldnotes that were written up each day by different students and called it The Ethnography Book. They developed more awareness as they noticed and reflected back on their experiences and recorded their community life as fifth-graders. The events of their academic lives took on more meaning as they stood back and reflected on what they did at school, who they did it with, what was said, what actions they took, and why they acted as they did. Involving these students as co-researchers in this inquiry meant that they assumed the identity of ethnographers by engaging in the social practices of observing, writing fieldnotes, asking questions, recording events, and discussing their findings with others.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • Encouraging Doubt and Dialogue: Documentation as a Tool for Critique

    Maggie Donovan and Cheryl J. Sutter

    Abstract: Two teachers describe how they use documentation to understand the learning that takes place in their classrooms. Sutter and Donovan pair their fourth-grade and first-grade students in yearlong partnerships to explore issues of social justice through a study of the Civil Rights Movement. Students and teachers together have developed a culture of ethnography and have used tools such as tape recorders, video tapes, and cameras to document and reflect on their individual and group learning.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • "Oh, that's just folklore": Valuing the Ordinary as an Extraordinary Teaching Tool

    Paddy B. Bowman

    Abstract: The discipline of folklore offers rich content and skill-building methodologies that engage students as ethnographers of authentic cultural “texts,” folklore genres found in everyday life. By identifying and interpreting their own and others’ folklore, from naming traditions to occupational lore, students become aware of themselves and their families as “indigenous teachers” and as active participants in cultural processes. The history of folklore and community-based fieldwork in education reaches back to the Progressive era, when educators such as Lucy Sprague Mitchell at the newly founded Bank Street College put John Dewey's theories to work, seeking to connect teaching and learning to students' experiences and daily lives. Today, folklorists and teachers collaborate in student-centered ethnographic projects at all grade levels and subjects. This article provides an overview of folklore and how the discipline intersects with education in the classroom through the eyes of a teacher.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • Deep Ethnography: Culture at the Core of Curriculum

    Anne Pryor

    Abstract: Ethnography is process and product, and elementary students can engage in both dimensions. This article discusses three examples of student ethnography. In a group poem about sledding by Milwaukee kindergarteners, students’ individual voices expressing diverse experiences of this shared activity illustrate that there is no single “correct” way to perform this, or any, tradition. Culture is recreated daily through variations between individuals. The best ethnographic writing represents this dynamic quality. Choices made in tape-recorded interview transcriptions by sixth graders in Door County, Wisconsin demonstrate ethical issues of how to represent subjects accurately yet respectfully. A year-long cultural study of Dane County by 4th/5th grade students in Madison, Wisconsin honed these students’ ethnographic skills. Teacher Mark Wagler tied language arts to other content areas through a common methodology of inquiry and local study.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • Engaging Student Researchers and Teacher Researchers in the Process of Data Analysis

    Sherri Phillips Merritt

    Abstract: The author weaves together her experiences as a teacher of both student researchers and teacher researchers in order to reflect on how she initiates novice researchers into the process of data analysis.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • Passionless Text and Phonics First: Through a Child's Eyes

    Susi Long

    Abstract: This article describes experiences in the life of an eight-year-old girl learning a new language in a decodable text/phonics-first environment. The child’s struggles to make sense of senseless text illuminate reasons why children may struggle with, dislike, and learn to define reading as merely word-calling when instructional experiences focus on passionless texts and skills in isolation. Through the eyes of a second language learner, fallacies of such approaches become visible in ways that speak to teachers of all children. Her stories demonstrate ways that reading, for a previously voracious lover of books, became difficult, frustrating, and demeaning. Implications describe how text choice and focus of instruction can have the power to ignite or destroy children’s desire, perseverance, and ability as readers.

    Keywords: Elementary


    Beth Yeager, Ralph Cordova, Sabrina Tuyay, Judith Green, Carol Dixon, Carolyn Frank

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • READING CORNER FOR EDUCATORS: Using Ethnographic Tools to Inform Our Teaching

    Danling Fu, Linda Leonard Lamme, Zhihui Fang, and Donna Sabis-Burns

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • READING CORNER FOR CHILDREN: Looking Closely, Seeking New Perspectives, and Broadening Our Understandings

    Lester L. Laminack and Barbara H. Bell

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Elementary

  • PROFILE: Celebrating Ashley Bryan

    Darwin Henderson

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Elementary

* Journal articles are provided in PDF format and can be opened using the free Adobe® Reader® program or a comparable viewer. Click here to download and install the most recent version of Adobe Reader.

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