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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 44, No. 1, August 2009

Cover Art for Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 44, No. 1, August 2009

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: Voice, Space, and Activity in English Teaching and Learning

    Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: College

  • Standpoints: Researching and Teaching English in the Digital Dimension

    David E. Kirkland

    Abstract: David E. Kirkland argues that our understanding of literate practice in relation to space needs to be radically reworked to account for new digital dimensions that are dispersed, discontinuous, and yet deeply woven into everyday and institutional worlds. His account highlights the way these digital spaces pepper the official landscape of schooling, fracturing the dominance of official discourse as students’ diverse linguistic, literate, and semiotic practices infuse this complex composite space.

    Keywords: College

  • Analyzing Voice in the Writing of Chinese Teachers of English

    Elizabeth Spalding, Jian Wang, Emily Lin, and Guangwei Hu

    Abstract: This study explored how voice developed in the English writing of 57 Chinese teachers of English who participated in a three-week writing workshop during a summer institute in a large, urban school district in southeastern China. Teachers from grades 3 through 12 wrote daily in English in a workshop environment. Primary data sources were pre- and post-workshop writing samples. Supporting data included various teacher writings completed in the course of the workshop, daily written reflections, a final essay exam, anonymous course evaluations, and biographical and professional surveys. The pre- and post-workshop writing samples were assessed using the 6 + 1 Trait® analytical model of scoring writing (Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory, 2006). Scoring showed that the teachers’ writing improved significantly in the course of the institute, but the greatest gain was made in the trait of “voice”—the distinctive, individual way in which a writer speaks to a reader. This finding will be considered in light of the current direction of educational reform in China and of current debates over the value of teaching voice in diverse writing contexts. The study had implications for the teaching of writing to English language learners and for the professional development of teachers of writing, including those who teach English as a Foreign Language.

    Keywords: College

  • Ventriloquation in Discussions of Student Writing: Examples from a High School English Class

    Beth Lewis Samuelson

    Abstract: This study examines discussions of model papers in a high school Advanced Placement English classroom where students were preparing for a high-stakes writing assessment. Much of the current research on talk about writing in various contexts such as classroom discourse, teacher-student writing conferences, and peer tutoring has emphasized the social and constructive nature of instructional discourse. Building on this work, the present study explored how talk about writing also takes on a performative function, as speakers accent or point to the features of the context that are most significant ideologically. Informed by perspectives on the emergent and mediated nature of discourse, this study found that the participants used ventriloquation to voice the aspects of the essays that they considered to be most important, and that these significant chunks were often aphorisms about the test essay. The teacher frequently ventriloquated raters, while the students often ventriloquated themselves or the teacher. The significance of ventriloquation is not just that it helps to mediate the generic conventions of timed student essays; it also mediates social positioning by helping the speakers to present themselves and others in flexible ways. This study also raises questions about the ways that ventriloquation can limit the ways that students view academic writing.

    Keywords: College

  • A Longitudinal Study of Consequential Transitions in the Teaching of Literature

    George E. Newell, Linda Tallman, and Mark Letcher

    Abstract: This four-year longitudinal study examines the transitions of an early-career teacher from her completion of a graduate program with English certification (grades 7-12) into teaching literature in an urban high school. Our central question was how Beth’s pedagogical knowledge was shaped over time by her consistent efforts to enact two key principles: (1) the centrality of students’ meaning making and (2) the need to maintain high academic expectation for all students. The tensions that resulted from her department’s stances toward these principles led to consequential transitions (Beach, 1999, 2003) for Beth’s learning and development. An activity-theoretical analysis showed that over time Beth’s development was shaped by the values, experiences, and practices of other teachers in her immediate professional communities and in contexts external to the department. Rather than relying on a single activity setting, Beth’s pedagogical knowledge and practices developed out of an interweaving of conceptual and practical tools based on the constructivist principles of her teacher education program, her deepening knowledge of English studies, her students’ learning, her enactment of new teaching practices, and her involvement in this longitudinal research project. This study raises questions regarding stage theories of teacher learning and development, suggests a horizontal notion of teacher development grounded in sociocultural theory, and provides evidence for the positive and lasting effects of teacher education and reflective practice.

    Keywords: College

  • Announcements

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: College

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