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Research in the Teaching of English, Volume 52, Number 3, February 2018

Cover Art for Research in the Teaching of English, Vol. 52, No. 3, February 2018

Table of Contents

  • Editors’ Introduction: Struggling to Belong: Literacy Instruction, Coaching, Learning, and Development [FREE ACCESS]

    Mary M. Juzwik, Scott Jarvie, Ellen Cushman, and Heather Falconer

  • A Sense of Belonging: Writing (Righting) Inclusion and Equity in a Child’s Transition to School [FREE ACCESS]

    Anne Haas Dyson

    Abstract: Literacy studies with a sociocultural and participatory view of learning must confront the issue of institutional belonging. Without a sense of inclusion, there are no relationships within which literacy learning can unfold. In this article, I probe this sense from the vantage point of a small Black child as he transitions from a preschool program serving primarily low-income children of color to a kindergarten in a predominantly White, middle-class area. This ethnographic case study is based on four months of observation in the last half of the preschool year (focused on the child’s participation in classroom composing practices) and five months of observation in the beginning of kindergarten (with similar focus). The analysis centered, first, on the child’s situated encounters with other children that could mark him as out of place. The child faced varied kinds of challenges linked to intersecting societal forces, including race, class, gender, and notions of writing competence itself. Second, the analysis considered the contradictory roles of written language in the negotiation of inclusion. Literacy test results situated him outside the classroom “norm”; literacy as a symbolic and communicative tool situated him as an active social negotiator. The case reveals the flimsiness of the ladder of literacy skills as a way of understanding a child’s school experiences and the importance of critically aware teachers who help children construct common ground upon which they all belong as learners, players, and peers.

    Keywords: Diversity, inclusion, Elementary-level writing, Peer Relations, Transition to school

  • Toward Dialogic Professional Learning: Negotiating Authoritative Discourses within Literacy Coaching Interaction

    Carolyn S. Hunt

    Abstract: Literacy coaching is a promising form of professional learning. Yet, many challenges exist within the current educational climate that may limit opportunities for coaches and teachers to engage in meaningful professional learning. In this article, I consider how educators may work within and against such limitations during real-time coaching interactions. I employ a microanalytic approach to discourse analysis rooted in a Bakhtinian perspective to explore how a literacy coach and second-grade teacher discursively negotiated authoritative Discourses of teaching and learning during a video-recorded literacy coaching interaction. Building on the few literacy coaching studies that have considered the influence of authoritative Discourses on discursive coaching moves, I advance theoretical and empirical understandings of how micro-level literacy coaching discourse shapes and is shaped by macro-level Discourses. Findings highlight how authoritative Discourses concerning what constitutes best practice contributed to the monologic nature of the interaction and hindered mutually responsive dialogue. Despite constraining Discourses, the coach and teacher positioned themselves and each other in unique ways as they negotiated what counts as relevant knowledge for instructional decision-making and enacted identities as competent and collaborative professionals. Based on these findings, I argue that it is insufficient to encourage particular discursive moves or coaching stances to support the dialogic negotiation of professional knowledge within literacy coaching interactions. Instead, it is crucial to consider how such moves and stances are influenced by authoritative Discourses within local contexts and how coaches and teachers reproduce, resist, and appropriate those Discourses.

    Keywords: Professional Development, Literacy Coaching, Discourse Analysis

  • Rethinking Grammar in Language Arts: Insights from an Australian Survey of Teachers’ Subject Knowledge

    Mary Macken-Horarik, Kristina Love, and Stefan Horarik

    Abstract: In English-speaking countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand, there is a renewed focus on teaching about language in school curricula and evidence of a paradigm shift in approaches to grammar instruction. Calls for contextualized, meaning-based, even multisemiotic grammars are emerging in several countries. In Australia, the motivation for teachers to expand grammatical expertise has been sharpened by the introduction of the Australian Curriculum: English, with its requirement to teach “the structures and functions of word and sentence-level grammar and text patterns and the connections between them” (National Curriculum Board, 2009, p. 7). This paper reports on an Australian survey that sought evidence of the profession’s levels of understanding of, and confidence to teach, the relational view of language underpinning this curriculum. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative responses from 373 English teachers across all years of schooling, the survey provides a national snapshot of their views on what is important in knowledge about language (KAL), levels of confidence in implementing this knowledge, and emerging disjunctions between avowed and actual KAL in the profession. We relate this disjunction to international research suggesting that teacher confidence outstrips actual KAL, and explore the possibility that teachers’ overall expressions of confidence may hide uncertainty about the implications of a relational approach to grammar. The paper concludes with discussion of limitations and implications of our study for future research into teacher subject knowledge, especially grammar.

    Keywords: Grammar instruction, Relational Approach, Teacher Beliefs

  • Developing Academic Literacy: Breakthroughs and Barriers in a College-Access Intervention

    Jon-Philip Imbrenda

    Abstract: Although it is understood that many students, especially those from nonmainstream backgrounds, struggle to meet the academic demands of early-college course work, there are few proven models for effective college-readiness instruction in secondary classrooms. Guided by a sociocultural view of learning as acculturation into a distinct social language, this study reports the developmental impacts of an instructional intervention designed to prepare students from a comprehensive urban high school for the rigors of college reading and writing. The intervention featured a curriculum designed to cultivate argumentative reasoning through inquiry into existential questions. Students in two ELA classrooms participated. In an effort to generate a comprehensive portrait of the developmental impacts of the intervention, a multilayered analysis is presented. A repeated measures analysis of variance showed a significant increase in students’ scores on a university writing placement exam. In addition, all of the written work of 11 key informants was parsed into utterances, and each utterance was coded for three developmental dimensions: reciprocity, or its communicative potential; indexicality, or the modes of reasoning evidenced; and intertextuality, or the nature of the linguistic resources employed. Findings show that the majority of students’ writing achieved reciprocity within the classroom community. Furthermore, within each unit, students gradually adopted the shared language of the community of practice. However, underdeveloped conceptual orientations toward written texts contributed to students’ reliance on nonacademic modes of reasoning. The study demonstrates the potential for apprenticeship-based instructional interventions while also providing valuable insight into potential barriers to students’ development as writers of academic arguments.

    Keywords: College Readiness, Secondary Writing, Sociocultural Aspects of College Writing, Writing Intervention

  • Announcing the Alan C. Purves Award Recipient (Volume 51)

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Awards, Classroom Practice, identity

  • Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English

    Abstract: Abstract for this article is currently not available.

    Keywords: Bibliography, Research Studies

  • Announcements [FREE ACCESS]

* 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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