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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 47, No. 3, February 2013

Cover Art for Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 47, No. 3, February 2013

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: All in the Details [FREE ACCESS]

    Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior

    Abstract: The editors introduce the four research articles in the issue.

  • English Teacher Candidates Developing Dialogically Organized Instructional Practices

    Samantha Caughlan, Mary M. Juzwik, Carlin Borsheim-Black, Sean Kelly, and Jodene Goldenring Fine

    Abstract: Although mounting research evidence suggests that dialogic teaching correlates with student achievement gains and with high levels of student engagement, little work in English education addresses the challenge of supporting new teachers in developing dialogically organized instructional practices. In a design-based study, we examine a curricular intervention designed to cultivate development of dialogically organized instructional practices, defined as instruction that provides students with frequent opportunities to engage with core disciplinary concepts through sustained, substantive dialogue. The curriculum invited secondary English teacher candidates to repeatedly enact dialogically organized instruction and to receive feedback from peers using video and Web 2.0-based technologies across a year-long student teaching internship. In English methods seminars, eighty-seven participants from two cohorts generated over 300 five-minute video clips, associated planning documents, transcripts, and reflections. We coded documents for student participation, evidence of planning for dialogic instruction, and classroom discourse variables associated in previous research with greater student engagement in substantive classroom interaction. We find that those who planned for dialogic instruction using dialogic tools were significantly more likely to have higher ratios of student utterances in relation to teacher utterances. The use of dialogic tools—conceptualized as those practical tools mobilized in teacher planning and practice with potential to mediate dialogically organized instruction in a given classroom situation—explained more of the variance in student participation than did any other factor. Attention to such tools may help English teacher candidates enact dialogically organized instructional practices.

  • The Mediation of Learning in the Zone of Proximal Development through a Co-constructed Writing Activity [FREE ACCESS]

    Ian Thompson

    Abstract: This article develops a theoretical understanding of the processes involved in the co-construction of a written text by a teacher and student from a Vygotskian perspective. Drawing on cultural-historical and sociocultural theories of writing and Vygotsky’s concept of the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), this case study of a student and teacher interaction in a UK secondary school examines the social mediation of collaborative activity in the negotiation of meaning.While expressivist process theories of writing focus on the development of the authentic voice of the writer, this article contends that the development of a student’s writing abilities requires active intervention by a teacher within a constructed zone of development. Writing is viewed as a situated activity system that involves a dialectical tension between thought and the act of composition.Finally, the article will argue that the recursive and complex nature of writing development is an integral tool in the learner’s own agency in creating a social environment for development.

  • Portraits of Practice: A Cross-Case Analysis of Two First-Grade Teachers and Their Grouping Practices

    Beth Maloch, Jo Worthy, Angela Hampton, Michelle Jordan, Holly Hungerford-Kresser, and Peggy Semingson

    Abstract: This interpretive study provides a cross-case analysis of the literacy instruction of two first-grade teachers, with a particular focus on their grouping practices. One key finding was the way in which these teachers drew upon a district-advocated approach for instruction—an approach to guided reading articulated by Fountas and Pinnell (1996) in which students are instructed in small groups based on reading level—as a resource for their sense-making. Analysis indicated that the two teachers enacted the practice in distinct ways based on their experiences and personal characteristics. Findings further suggested that, reminiscent of research on ability groups conducted mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, instruction and materials in both classrooms were qualitatively different between lower groups and higher groups. Although we do not implicate the practice of guided reading per se, we call for closer examinations of modern manifestations of ability-grouped practices and explorations of alternatives to such practices.

  • Recruiting Languages and Lifeworlds for Border-Crossing Compositions

    Allison Skerrett and Randy Bomer

    Abstract: In this article, we show how two transnational youth, with the instructional support of their teacher, recruited their languages and lifeworlds, particularly their border-crossing experiences, as tools for engaging with school-based literacy practices. We analyze literary texts that the students composed, showing how the students’ uses of their linguistic repertoires and experiences of border-crossing enhanced their compositions. Through our study, we seek to contribute a more thorough understanding of the combinations of student agency and teacher support that permit secondary school literacy learning to become a bridge from students’ past experience, existing knowledge, and everyday lifeworlds into work that is visible and valued in the world of school. More particularly, we offer border zones as an analytic framework for several dimensions of school literacy work for our focal students, and also as a potentially useful framework for curriculum and instruction.

  • Announcing the Alan C. Purves Award Recipient (Volume 46)

    Michelle M. Shabaker, Steven Kushner, Michelle Nixon, and Melissa E. Tragos (2012 Award Committee)

    Abstract: The 2012 Alan C. Purves Award Committee is pleased to announce this year’s award recipient,Mary Christianakis. Her article, “Children’s Text Development: Drawing, Pictures, and Writing”(RTE Vol. 46, No. 1, August 2011), offers a compelling case for the acceptance and utilization of multiple semiotic tools (i.e., drawings, cartoons, sketches, diagrams) by older students in their writing, challenging those who consider these forms of writing development immature or inappropriate beyond the early childhood and primary classroom.

  • The 2012 NCTE Presidential Address: Literacy, Rhetoric, Education, Democracy [FREE ACCESS]

    Keith Gilyard

    Abstract: This is the text of Keith Gilyard’s presidential address, delivered at the NCTE Annual Convention in Las Vegas, Nevada, on November 18, 2012.

  • Announcements

* 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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