Using Multicultural Literature as a Tool for Multicultural Education in Teacher Education Juli-Anna Aerila

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L1 educators in dialogic communities: Negotiating the politics of L1 professional learning (1/2)

Ana Arregi
Abstract: Governments across the world are now unquestionably committed to a policy of standardisation of L1 education practices, including professional learning. The politics of L1 professional learning is such that government policy is rarely troubled by rigorous debates in the research literature about the epistemology, context and/or ethics of L1 educators’ practice. Taubman (2009) has pointed out that while some literature claims standards-based professional learning improves student learning outcomes (e.g., Auguste et al., 2010; Timperley, 2011), this literature is composed almost entirely of studies that fail to engage with epistemology or the ethical dimensions of professional practice. Research is now detailing a range of unintended but nonetheless injurious consequences of standards-based reforms on educators’ identity and practices and on their students’ learning (e.g., Gannon, 2012; Parr et al., 2014; Doecke et al., 2012; Turvey et al., 2012). Meanwhile, large-scale inquiries across the world continue to advocate for the value of collaborative practitioner inquiry in critical communities as a powerful form of professional learning.
This symposium critically investigates and compares inquiry-based professional learning programs for L1 teachers and L1 pre-service teachers in different linguistic and cultural settings that involve oral and written reflection in dialogic communities. The papers explore and critically scrutinise forms of reflexive collaborative scholarship, by explicitly situating L1 teachers’ and L1 pre-service teachers’ professional learning experiences vis-à-vis the particular cultural, linguistic, historical and policy contexts of the programs. They ask questions like: What are the ethics of professional learning standards that purport to tell L1 educators what they should know and be able to do? What knowledge claims can be made about L1 education when professional learning appears to be richer than the pre-existing standards that attempt to frame it?

a Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

b Deakin University, Australia

c Institute of Education, University of Minho, Portugal

d Hong Kong Institute of Education, Hong Kong

e Israel Ministry of Education, Israel

f University of the Basque Country, Spain

g St Paul’s Grammar School, Warragul, Australia

h Radboud University, Nijmegen, the Netherlands

i University of Southern Denmark, Odense, Denmark


Nikki Aharonian:

Andrea Allard:

Ana Arregi:

Natalie Bellis:

Scott Bulfin:

Brenton Doecke:

Julie Faulkner:

Bella Illesca:

Jane Kirkby:

Pamela Leong:

Graham Parr:

Iris Pereira:
The following persons will present in this session (1/2):

Nikki Aharonian

Brenton Doecke

Bella Illesca

Julie Faulkner & Jane Kirkby

  • Nikki Aharonian

  • There has been a resurgence in interest in professional development (PD) programs that offer L1 literacy teachers an opportunity and a guided community in which to write and share their writing (Cremin & Myhill, 2012; Locke, Whitehead & Dix, 2013). The rationale for these programs frequently emphasises the value of teachers themselves experiencing and reflecting on writing in collaborative and respectful professional communities. There is some evidence to suggest that these experiences enable L1 educators to better appreciate the pleasures, challenges and learning that their own students may experience in the social writing spaces in classrooms (Yagelski, 2012). Other studies look beyond the honing of writing pedagogy in PD programs as such and investigate the identity work (Gee, 2000) that is possible through educators writing dialogically together and reflecting on their sense of themselves as writers, educators and learners (van de Ven & Doecke, 2011).

  • In this paper, I report on a practitioner inquiry study in Israel, in which cohorts of L1 educators from different primary schools, representing diverse cultural groups, met regularly to write and collaboratively reflect on their writing pedagogy. The study critically and reflexively focuses on the writing and dialogue generated within this course recognized by the Israeli Ministry of Education. The 30 hour program has been designed and regularly modified to sit within the boundaries of Israeli policy guidelines, but also to encourage participating teachers to reflect upon and challenge some national policies through their writing. Data, in the form of teachers’ written reflections, letters, and narratives, has been collected over the seven years of the program.

  • Drawing on this data, interviews and my own research journal, I explore the potential of a government supported PD program to meet the particular needs of the participants in their unique settings and still satisfy standardised requirements of these teachers as articulated in government policy. While encouraging these teachers to explore and understand their practice, I have confronted my own assumptions about writing, writing pedagogy and professional learning. Assuming the role of leader in these programs has significantly enhanced my own professional learning as both a teacher and teacher-educator.

  • Keywords: professional learning; teacher writing; dialogic learning, writing pedagogy; practitioner inquiry

  • References:

  • Cremin, T. & Myhill, D. (2012). Writing voices : creating communities of writers. New York: Routledge.

  • Gee, J. P. (2000). Identity as an analytic lens for research in education. Review of Research

  • in Education, 25, 99–125.

  • Locke, T., Whitehead, D., & Dix, S. (2013). The impact of teachers’ “writing project” professional development on teachers’ self-efficacy as writers and teachers of writing. English in Australia, 48(2), 55-70.

  • van de Ven, P.-H., & Doecke, B. (Eds.). (2011). Literary praxis: A conversational inquiry into the teaching of literature. Rotterdam: Sense

  • Yagelski, R. (2012). Writing as praxis. English Education, 44(2), 188-202.

  • Brenton G Doecke

  • Presentiong authors: Brenton Doecke & Andrea Allard

  • This paper applies Bahktin’s understanding of dialogism to analyse conversations between teachers involved in two major research projects funded by the Australian Research Council. The first project focused on how Australian literacy educators were handling the challenges of the recent imposition of nation-wide standardized literacy testing. The second project focused on the ‘effectiveness’ of teacher education, involving interviews with early career teachers over four years, in which they gave accounts of their experiences in moving from university to school.

  • The primary focus of this paper is on how these two distinct groups of teachers use narrative in order to understand their professional practice as it is being shaped by standards-based reforms. The first part of the paper will focus on conversations of experienced teachers, when they drew on their memories to understand their current situation. The second part will focus on how early career teachers use storytelling to explore their professional identity vis-à-vis the institutional settings in which they are working. Through participating in focus group discussions, these teachers did far more than generate data that served the purposes of the research project. They were engaged in identity work and the joint construction of knowledge (Mercer 1995) that challenges the knowledge privileged by standards-based reforms.

  • The aim of the paper is to employ Bahktin’s concept of dialogism to rethink the value of storytelling as a means of inquiry into the professional practice of language educators. The stories that teachers tell might easily be dismissed as merely anecdotal – too concrete and specific to serve the purposes of a scientific inquiry, at best raw material on the basis of which researchers might make generalisations about their work. The instances of storytelling through conversation that will be explored show their value as forms of inquiry, as knowledge work of a very complex kind. The argument will be that this form of inquiry is more suitable to exploring the complexities of language education, enabling language educators to be more responsive to the specificity and diversity of the situations in which they work, than the evidence typically invoked by standards-based reforms.

  • Keywords: dialogism; standards-based reforms; teacher education; standardized literacy testing

  • References:

  • Mercer, N. (1995). The guided construction of knowledge. Clevedon, Avon: Multilingual Matters.

  • Julie Faulkner & Jane Kirkby

  • Presenting authors: Julie Faulkner & Jane Kirkby (Monash University)

  • This paper reports on our work as teacher educators and researchers in a multicultural school in Melbourne, Australia, where we had initially sought to examine and reclaim the role of storytelling in primary school English curriculum. We aimed to enhance children’s literacy practices through their listening to and participating in oral storytelling, prompted by a storyteller invited to the school. In the process of our work on this project, the focus shifted from the interactions between the invited storyteller and the students, to the classroom teachers’ personal practical knowledge (Clandinin, 1992), and how this impacted on their adoption of storytelling practices in the classroom. Data were gathered through audio recorded professional conversations, interviews and field notes, and the interpretive strategies of broadening, burrowing and restorying were employed (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990). Crafted paired narratives (Connelly & Clandinin, 1996), shaped by elements of space, place, and time (Connelly & Clandinin, 1990), suggest that integral to extended communicative practices in the classroom lies teacher confidence in assuming the storytelling role. This paper reflexively explores the ways that the teachers in this school engaged in small dialogic group learning (comprising the teachers and ourselves), enabling dynamic classroom storytelling partnerships.

  • Keywords: storytelling, primary education, teacher confidence, dialogic learning.

  • References:

  • Clandinin D., & Connelly, F. (1996). Teachers’ professional knowledge landscapes: Teacher stories-stories of teachers-school stories-stories of school. Educational Researcher, 25(3), 2-14

  • Clandinin, D. J. (1992). Narrative and story in teacher education. In T. Russell & H. Munby (Eds.), Teachers and teaching: From classroom to reflection (pp. 124-137). London: Falmer Press

  • Connelly, F. and Clandinin, D. (1990). Narrative Inquiry: Experience and story in qualitative research. Educational Researcher 19(5), 2-14.

  • Bella Illesca

  • "A plurality of independent and unmerged voices and consciousness, a genuine polyphony of fully valid voices is in fact the chief characteristic of Dostoevsky's novels. What unfolds in each of his works is not a multitude of characters and fates in a single objective world, illuminated by a single authorial consciousness; rather a plurality of consciousnesses, with equal rights and each with its own world, combine but are not merged in the unity of the event." (Bakhtin, 1984, p.6)

  • In this paper, I use narrative inquiry to explore the ethics and politics of representation in collaborative research relationships with English teachers. I draw on my experiences of conducting research in a culturally diverse high school, where more than a third of the students are refugees, to reflect on the role that storytelling and language play in mediating the lived relations and experiences of English teachers and their students as they go about their everyday work in one of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged areas. I examine my discursive and textual representations of an annual event in the life of the high school, ‘International Day’, to explore how “each and every word expresses the ‘one’ in relation to the ‘other’” (Volosinov, 1973, p. 86). I ask: How do stories mean? ‘What are the structures of thought and languages that give stories their form and meanings?’ And, I explore the ways in which the act of ‘entering’ a school site to conduct research is a creative, ethical and relational activity (Bakhtin, 1984, 1993).

  • The research utilises the theories of Bakhtin (1984), and in particular his concept of dialogism, because they offer more than just a philosophy of language, but also ‘an account of relations between people and between persons and things that cut across religious, political and aesthetic boundaries’ (Clarke & Holquist, 1984, p. 348). Through this theoretical and discursive framework, I am able to examine the possibilities of constructing accounts of other peoples’ lives that offer rich expressions / understandings of the dialectical tensions that see our lives lived as ‘part subjects, part objects, the voluntary agents of our involuntary determination’ (Thompson, 1995). In other words, I am interested in research practices that offer more humanizing ways of understanding the lives of others.

  • Keywords: Storytelling, language, learning, ethics, professional practices

  • References:

  • Bakhtin, M. M. (1981). The dialogic imagination: Four essays. M. Holquist (Ed.).C. Emerson and M. Holquist (Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

  • Bahktin, M. (1993). Toward a philosophy of the act. V. Liapunov and M. Holquist (Eds.). V. Liapunov (Trans.). Austin: University of Texas Press.

  • Clarke, K., and Holquist, M. (1984). Mikhail Bakhtin. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

  • Britzman, D., and Pitt, A. (2003). Speculations on qualities of difficult knowledge in teaching and learning. The International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 16(6), .

  • Thompson, E.P. (1978). Poverty of theory. London: Merlin Press.

Volosinov, V. N. (1973) Marxism and the philosophy of language. L. Matejka and I.R. Titunik (Trans.). New York and London: Seminar Press.

The Yummy Yummy Case in Israel

Hilla Atkin
Abstract: The writing process is a cognitive-interactive process which is directed to the reader on one hand and on the other hand, to the reading process, and assumes in advance the readers' active role and the dialogic aspect of writing (Amir & Atkin, 2014).

In the last decade writing instruction in Israel has been focusing on the process of writing. However, this instruction has been emphasizing on revision processes which the writer experiences throughout writing, and on the writer's role, mainly as a writer. The role of the reader as part of the dialogic interaction has not been sufficiently nurtured.

In this presentation, we shall expose preliminary results of a research which implements The Role Theory (Braaksma et al., 2004) in writing instruction. According to this theory, the writer changes roles: writer, reader and observer (Rijlaarsdam et al., 2009). The students become involved in a discourse community, who investigates its own learning, and has a few tasks: to construct knowledge on writing and on genres, and to observe the writing of each of the members from different points of view: as readers and as observers.

In the role of the reader – the readers read texts, which were written by other writers; the writers observe the readers who read their texts (Rijlaarsdam et al., 2009, 2008). The observation enables the writers and other peers to become researches who study the written text. The assumption is that this process elaborates on the writers' self-regulation processes and genre awareness, which are influenced by observing the reader, and contribute to the improvement of writing.

The research in Israel is part of a wider research based in The Netherlands, and has been studied in mid-school in Dutch and in secondary school in English as a second language. In 2014, adaptations were made to Hebrew speakers.

The research included 210 students in 7th and 8Th grades from various regions of Israel. It aimed to check to what extent the implementation of the Role Theory improves students' writing, and which role, if at all, has more influence over the writing. The research is based on a quantitative component, which consists of questionnaires, and a qualitative part - a textual analysis of the writing products pre and post intervention.

The results might offer alternatives for writing instruction, which include inquiry activities based on observation. These activities are likely to enhance students' construction of knowledge on writing, on genre and develope their audience awareness.

Amir, A. & Atkin, H. (2014). Dialogicity in the argumentative writing of secondary school students: A comparative study, in Inbar, D. (Ed.) Dapim, 57, 37-54. (In Hebrew)

Braaksma, M., Rijlaarsdam, G. van den Bergh, H. & van Hout-Wolters, B. (2004). Observational learning and its effects on the orchestration of writing processes, Cognition and Instruction, 22 (1) 1-36.
Rijlaarsdam, G., Braaksma, M., Couzijn, M., Janssen, T., Kieft, M., Raedts, M. & Van den Bergh, H. (2009). The role of readers in writing development: Writing students bringing their texts to the test. The SAGE handbook of writing development, 436-452.
Rijlaarsdam, G. C. W., Braaksma, M. A. H., Couzijn, M. J., Janssen, T. M., Raedts, M., van Steendam, E., & van den Bergh, H. (2008). Observation of peers in learning to write: Practice and research. Journal of writing research, 1, 53-83.

Localisation of curricular conceptions and pedagogical practices in Chinese language instruction: A phenomenographic study of PRC teachers in Singapore schools

Guat Poh Aw
Abstract: Since the 1990s, Singapore’s Ministry of Education (MOE) has been recruiting teachers from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to be Chinese language (CL) teachers in primary and secondary schools. These teachers typically graduated from Chinese Normal universities, with training in first language pedagogy. However, teaching of CL in Singapore is getting complex, with an increase in ethnic Chinese students from English-speaking home backgrounds who face great difficulty in learning their “mother tongue”. The challenges are further exacerbated by a growing pool of students of diverse ethnicities and nationalities taking CL as a subject, as well as MOE’s move to nurture 21st century competencies through the national curriculum. Against this background, the study aimed to understand how 9 teachers from PRC, with at least 3 years of experience teaching in Singapore, “localised” their curricular conceptions and instructional practices to adapt to the evolving education context. Drawing on phenomenography, which posits the object of research as qualitative variation in individuals’ ways of experiencing the world (Marton and Booth, 1997), the teachers were asked to reflect on their teaching experiences through a semi-structured, open-ended questionnaire. Specifically, they described their perceptions of the learning difficulties faced by students in reading and writing of CL; their interpretation and experiences in using standardised textbooks designed by MOE; and their classroom practices. The teachers’ reflections were triangulated with analysis of their lesson plans. The study found that the teachers were able to discern the shift towards English in the students’ lingua franca and were also able to clearly describe the difficulties that students faced in their CL reading and writing. The teachers also concurred with the curricula shift towards explicit learning of language skills and were able to articulate the critical features of MOE-designed textbooks that sought to scaffold language learning. However, the pedagogical practices exposited by the teachers tended to fall within the paradigm of first language, teacher-centred learning and did not address the learning difficulties that they had discerned among their students. The data indicated a gap between the teachers’ curricula conceptions and their pedagogical abilities to meet learning needs, though they were better able to integrate some second language approaches in the teaching of writing skills compared to that of reading skills. The need to enhance teachers’ pedagogical content knowledge in the teaching of Chinese as a second language and student-centred learning approaches is discussed.

Tools for a diagnosis of early writing abilities

Elżbieta Awramiuk
Abstract: Young children’s writing provides insight into phonological representations of words, reflects strategies of phonological segmentation, allows inference about their conceptualisation of written language and its relation to spoken language, illustrates the process of increasing language and orthographic awareness (National Early Literacy Panel 2008; Sangster, Deacon 2011; Senechal et al 2012). Our aim is to present the tests battery for the assessment of spelling skills at the start of education, developed within the Educational Research Institute (IBE) Project in Warsaw – “The early identification of specific reading and spelling disorders in Polish children” (Krasowicz-Kupis, 2014; Krasowicz-Kupis et al 2015a, b).

The battery consists of five tests for assessing the graphotactic, morphological, phonological and orthographic awareness, as important abilities connected with spelling success (Rispens et al 2008; Deacon et al 2008; Awramiuk 2014; Awramiuk, Krasowicz-Kupis 2014). Graphotactic awareness test assess whether the child has a sense of legal letter combinations in Polish without conscious letter analysis. Other tests check the degree of completeness and conventionality of phonological and orthographic representation. Transparent words building test examines the ability to forming simple words from movable alphabet letters and render their phonological structure. Transparent words dictation test assess the ability to write by ear a few words without spelling difficulties. Filling phrasal gaps test checks how children use the grammatical information (morphology) carried by the ends of words and how they write the same morphemes in different phonetic contexts. Text dictation allows to see how children: spell words with orthographic difficulties, segment words and use the punctuation. All tools have passed through a pilot (513 children, aged 6-8) and normalization studies (3800 children; aged 5;6 to 7;6, pre-primary and 1st grade, all monolingual Polish speaking) with controlling gender, SES etc. All tests have adequate psychometric properties (Awramiuk et al 2015).

In the analysis of the validity, the regression analysis for all spelling tests and other variables (f.e. reading, phonology, cognitive abilities, risk of dyslexia etc.) were conducted. In the context of these results, the utility of the battery in early spelling abilities assessment will be discuss. It allows to monitor the development of children, to capture of any irregularities and implement of early intervention, to increase the teaching effectiveness through the individualization and predict the future reading and writing skills.
Keyword: early literacy, spelling ability, graphotactic awareness, phonological awareness, ortographic representation, spelling tests

Awramiuk, E. (2014). Invented spelling – a window on early literacy. Edukacja 2014, 5(130), 112–123. An interdisciplinary approach.

Awramiuk, E., & Krasowicz-Kupis, G. (2014). Early literacy research in Poland – conditions, acquisition, contexts. Editorial. Contribution to a double special issue on Early literacy research in Poland, edited by Elżbieta Awramiuk and Grażyna Krasowicz-Kupis. L1-Educational Studies in Language and Literature, vol.14 , p. 1–5;

Awramiuk, E., Krasowicz-Kupis, G., Wiejak K., Bogdanowicz K. (2015). Bateria Testów Pisania IBE. Podręcznik [The Battery of IBE Spelling Tests. Textbook]. (in press)

Deacon, S. H., Conrad, N., Pacton, S. (2008). A statistical learning perspective on children's learning about graphotactic and morphological regularities in spelling. Canadian Psychology, 49(2), 118–124.

Krasowicz-Kupis G. (2014) Wczesna diagnoza specyficznych zaburzeń czytania i pisania [The early identification of specific reading and spelling disorders].

Krasowicz-Kupis, G., Bogdanowicz K., Wiejak K. (2015a). Bateria Testów Czytania IBE. Podręcznik [The Battery of IBE Reading Tests. Textbook]. (in press).

Krasowicz-Kupis, G., Wiejak K., Bogdanowicz K. (2015b). Bateria Testów Fonologicznych IBE. Podręcznik [The Battery of IBE Phonological Tests. Textbook]. (in press).

National Early Literacy Panel (2008). Developing Early Literacy: Report of the National Early Literacy Panel. Washington, D.C.: National Institute for Literacy. Retrieved from (27.06.2014).
Rispens, J.E., McBride-Chang, C., Reitsma, P. (2008). Morphological awareness and early and advanced word recognition and spelling in Dutch. Reading & Writing, 21(6), 587–607.
Sangster, L., Deacon, S. H. (2011). Development in children’s sensitivity to the role of derivations in spelling. Canadian Journal of Experimental Psychology, 65(2), 133–139.
Sénéchal, M., Ouellette, G., Pagan, S., Lever, R. (2012). The role of invented spelling on learning to read in low-phoneme awareness kindergartners: a randomized-control-trial study. Reading & Writing, 25(4), 917–934.

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