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Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 48, No. 2, November 2013

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Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: Translating, Developing, and Sponsoring Literacies across the Lifespan [FREE ACCESS]

    Mary Juzwik and Ellen Cushman

  • Rewriting the Curricular Script: Teachers and Children Translating Writing Practices in a Kindergarten Classroom

    Haeny Yoon

    Abstract: Curriculum designers and literacy policymakers sometimes assume that variation in teaching practices can be minimized using scripted and standardized curriculum. While standards and common understandings can be helpful, scripted curricula ignore the fact that curriculum is an enacted practice orchestrated by individuals. While reading scholars have studied this issue, it has yet to be examined in writing studies. In a four-month ethnographic study, I examined how a kindergarten teacher interpreted scripted writing curriculum through enacted lessons. The interpretation problematizes the ideologies embedded within curricular scripts, including emphases on genre, mechanics, and printed texts. Analysis of child writing revealed a socially constructed practice in which genre, mechanics, and letters were tied to social intentions and meanings. While scripted curricula can confine teachers’ abilities to make responsive decisions, I document how the focal teacher translated curricular materials with students, thus creating space for official curriculum, teaching practices, and children’s writing to coexist. Such flexible spaces make room for both teacher and student voices in innovative and inventive writing pedagogies.

  • Beyond Concepts of Print: Development of Concepts of Graphics in Text, PreK to Grade 3 [FREE ACCESS]

    Nell K. Duke, Rebecca R. Norman, Kathryn L. Roberts, Nicole M. Martin, Jennifer A. Knight, Paul M. Morsink, and Sara L. Calkins

    Abstract: Drawing on the literature on concepts of print and graphics in text, as well as informal observations of children, we identified eight concepts that we posit are fundamental to understanding how graphics work in text: Action (static graphics can be interpreted as representing dynamic action), Intentionality (graphics are chosen by authors to accomplish a communicative purpose within a larger text), Permanence (graphics in printed texts are permanent and do not change), Relevance (graphics and written text are related), Representation (illustrations and photographs represent objects, but do not share the same physical properties as those objects), Partiality (not everything in the written text must be represented in the graphics), Extension (some graphics provide additional information that is not present in the written text), and Importance (some information in a graphic may be more important than other information). We administered a series of tasks to tap understanding of these concepts among 60 children in grades preK to 3. Results revealed considerable variation within any given grade level in children’s acquisition of concepts of graphics; some children have acquired concepts of graphics that their peers have not. In general, more children demonstrated acquisition of a given concept at higher grade levels. All or nearly all children displayed full acquisition as follows: Action—by the end of preK; Intentionality, Permanence, and Relevance—by the end of grade 2; Representation and Partiality—by the end of grade 3. Less than half demonstrated full acquisition of the concepts of Extension and Importance even at the end of grade 3.

  • World Englishes in the Mainstream Composition Course: Undergraduate Students Respond to WE Writing

    Ana Maria Wetzl

    Abstract: Even as globalization has transformed communication into a multicultural experience, composition programs in American academia continue to promote a prescriptive approach to language(Katz, Scott, & Hadjioannou, 2009; Richardson, 2003), encouraging students to incorrectly assume that “there is only one right way to use written language” (Lovejoy, 2003, p. 92). Thisapproach can foster biased attitudes among our students while leaving them unprepared for interaction with linguistically diverse populations and users of World Englishes (WEs) in particular.Composition courses should prepare students for multicultural communication by increasing their awareness of WEs and developing the skills they need to interact with their WE peers atschool, in the workplace, and in their home communities. This study looks at the impact such an approach can have on American students’ perception of World Englishes, generally, and WEtexts, specifically. Interviews, surveys, and essays were used to explore the language attitudes of American college students before and after they participated in several activities meant to developtheir knowledge of linguistic diversity and to familiarize them with World Englishes. The research provided encouraging signs of a possible correlation between increased knowledge about linguisticdiversity and positive language attitudes.

  • Systems of Writing Response: A Brazilian Student’s Experiences Writing for Publication in an Environmental Sciences Doctoral Program

    Steve Simpson

    Abstract: Higher education researchers have called for systemic changes in graduate education, their concerns fueled in part by poor attrition and completion rates and dismal academic job markets.Many have recommended that universities provide writing support for doctoral students at the dissertation stage. Writing researchers have an opportunity to inform these discussions. However,more research is needed to understand how graduate students’ experiences with research writing differ across disciplines and how they experience responses to their research writing from advisors, graduate peers, and journal reviewers. This study utilizes systems theory to examine one nonnative English–speaking student writing for publication as part of an environmental sciencesdoctoral program. Data consist of field interviews, semi-structured and text-based interviews with students and program faculty, and side-by-side comparison of textual revisions. Theresults describe ways traditional notions of dissertations as individual research conflicted with collaborative writing processes in the sciences and affected how the student received responses tohis writing. Additionally, this study examines the “information flow” of feedback, identifying instances in which the student was isolated from possible feedback sources and difficulties thestudent encountered in adapting past feedback to complete novel tasks. This study points to key ways writing researchers can inform current efforts to restructure doctoral research through further systems-based explorations into students’ writing experiences and models of program design that better leverage potential sources of feedback.

  • Forum: Equivocal Equity: The Struggles of a Literacy Scholar, White Middle-Class Urban School Parent, and Grassroots Activist

    Amanda Godley

    Abstract: In this essay, I propose that literacy scholars who are parents, such as myself, rarely discuss how the choices we make in the education of our children sometimes conflict with our ideals as literacy researchers and problematize our praxis as scholars committed to social justice. I share examples from my own experience as a White, middle-class parent of children in an urban school district to demonstrate how my scholarship, advocacy for educational equity, and decisions about my children’s education are intertwined in complex ways and sometimes conflict. These examplesserve to illuminate the multiple, sometimes contradictory, ethical commitments many of us have—ethical commitments that are not always easy to reconcile. I argue that our work as literacyscholars would better serve our goals of educational equity if we balanced our ideals with honest conversations about the difficult decisions we make daily as we struggle to provide the besteducational opportunities for all children, including our own.

  • Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English [FREE ACCESS]

    Abstract: This November issue of RTE once again contains the Annual Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English, available only here, on the NCTE website.

* 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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A Professional Association of Educators in English Studies, Literacy, and Language Arts