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The Characteristics of a Community of Practice in a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute

Description: This qualitative naturalistic descriptive case study provides an understanding of the characteristics of a community of practice within a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute. This study utilized naturalistic, descriptive case study methodology to answer the research question: What characteristics of a community of practice are revealed by the perceptions and experiences of the fellows of a National Writing Project Invitational Summer Institute? Data were gathered in the form of interviews, focus group, observations, field notes, and participant reflective pieces. Peer debriefing, triangulation, thick rich description, as well as member checking served to establish credibility and trustworthiness in the study. Bracketing, a phenomenological process of reflecting on one's own experiences of the phenomenon under investigation was utilized as well. The findings of this study point to five analytic themes. These themes, ownership and autonomy, asset-based environment, relationships, socially constructed knowledge and practices, and experiential learning, intertwine to illuminate the three essential components which must be present for a community of practice to exist: joint enterprise, mutual engagement, and shared repertoire. Participants' portraits provide a description of their unique experiences as they moved fluidly between the periphery and core of the community of practice.
Date: May 2010
Creator: Pearce, Terisa Ronette

Critical Literacy Practices, Social Action Projects, and the Reader Who Struggles in School

Description: This study, conducted at an urban public school, explored the engagements of five, fourth grade, African American students who struggled with reading in school as they participated in critical literacy practices and social action projects with the assumption that critical analysis of written texts and concrete social actions were necessary for student empowerment. Using Discourse Analysis within a microethnographic framework, participants’ responses were analyzed. Early in the study, participants were hesitant to join in critical conversations about race. Over time, as participants deepened their critical literacy engagements, they divulged lived racism both in their private and public worlds. Specifically, the participants described the tensions and transgressions they experienced as minorities from civil rights curriculum, teachers and other students. The findings revealed instead of text based analyses, critical literacy practices transformed into the participants’ critical analysis of racism they experienced in their various worlds (home, school, and the larger, outside world) through language (not text). Similarly, the pre-conceived idea of social action projects changed from the creation of concrete products or actions into discussions in which mainstream discourse was interrupted. Tacit and overt understandings about race, identity and power suggested that the participants assumed multiple and contradictory identities (such as “victim of racism” and “racially prejudiced”) that both empowered and oppressed others in the social action group. Implications for critical literacy practices include that empowering and liberating pedagogy through ‘risky conversations’ is difficult, transitory and radical within the context of school.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Bauer, Courtney Marie

Developing Culturally Responsive Literacy Teachers: Analysis of Academic, Demographic, and Experiential Factors Related to Teacher Self-efficacy

Description: This mixed-methods study examined teachers' culturally responsive teaching (CRT) self-efficacy beliefs and the relationships among selected academic, demographic, and experiential factors. Guided by theoretical and empirical research on CRT, teacher dispositions, and assessment in teacher education (TE) programs for culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) students, this study utilized an extended version of Siwatu's 2007 Culturally Responsive Teaching Self-Efficacy (CRTSE) Scale to conduct correlational and comparative statistical analyses. Data sources included surveys from 265 participants enrolled in TE classes in the spring 2012 in Texas (one private and one public university). Content analyses were also conducted on participants' descriptions of CRT activities using a priori and inductive coding methods to triangulate and elaborate the explanation of quantitative results. In this population, those with higher CRTSE were typically young (undergraduates), specializing in ESL and bilingual certification coursework, who felt their TE program prepared them well for working with CLD student populations. Regression analyses showed that certain certification areas (ESL, bilingual, elementary, and advanced) and perceptions of better quality in TE program preparation for working with CLD students emerged as significant predictors of increased CRTSE. Those with second language skills were more efficacious in delivering linguistically-responsive instruction, and those professing more experiences with and interest in diverse individuals felt more confident in applying CRT skills. While the younger teacher candidates felt more efficacious, their descriptions of CRT were less sophisticated than those with more teaching experience. Despite much of the literature relating to CRT and minority teachers, ethnicity was not a significant factor in heightened CRTSE. This study informs TE programs for better measuring and supporting teacher candidate CRT development by revising and extending Siwatu's 2007 study in three ways. First, the CRTSE Scale instrument was extended to include items that address greater depth and breadth of the culturally responsive teaching continuum as ...
Date: December 2012
Creator: Sarker, Amie

Developing Oral Reading Fluency Among Hispanic High School English-language Learners: an Intervention Using Speech Recognition Software

Description: This study investigated oral reading fluency development among Hispanic high school English-language learners. Participants included 11 males and 9 females from first-year, second-year, and third-year English language arts classes. The pre-post experimental study, which was conducted during a four-week ESL summer program, included a treatment and a control group. The treatment group received a combination of components, including modified repeated reading with self-voice listening and oral dictation output from a speech recognition program. Each day, students performed a series of tasks, including dictation of part of the previous day’s passage; listening to and silently reading a new passage; dictating and correcting individual sentences from the new passage in the speech recognition environment; dictating the new passage as a whole without making corrections; and finally, listening to their own voice from their recorded dictation. This sequence was repeated in the subsequent sessions. Thus, this intervention was a technology-enhanced variation of repeated reading with a pronunciation dictation segment. Research questions focused on improvements in oral reading accuracy and rate, facility with the application, student perceptions toward the technology for reading, and the reliability of the speech recognition program. The treatment group improved oral reading accuracy by 50%, retained and transferred pronunciation of 55% of new vocabulary, and increased oral reading rate 16 words-correct-per-minute. Students used the intervention independently after three sessions. This independence may have contributed to students’ self-efficacy as they perceived improvements in their pronunciation, reading in general, and reported an increased liking of school. Students initially had a very positive perception toward using the technology for reading, but this perception decreased over the four weeks from 2.7 to 2.4 on a 3 point scale. The speech recognition program was reliable 94% of the time. The combination of the summer school program and intervention component stacking supported students’ gains in oral ...
Date: August 2012
Creator: Ruffu, Russell

Identity of African American Characters in Newbery Medal and Newbery Honor Award Winning Books: a Critical Content Analysis of Books From 1991 to 2011

Description: The purpose of this study was to conduct a critical content analysis of the African American characters found in Newbery Medal award winning books recognized between the years of 1991 and 2011. The John Newbery Medal is a highly regarded award in the United States for children's literature and esteemed worldwide. Children's and adolescents' books receive this coveted award for the quality of their writing. Though these books are recognized for their quality writing, there is no guideline in the award criteria that evaluated the race and identity of the characters. Hence, there are two overarching research questions that guided this study. The first question asked: To what extent are the African American characters in each award winning book represented? Foci in answering this question were the frequency of African American characters and the development of their ethnic identities. The second question asked: How are the African American characters' intergroup attitudes and interactions represented? Foci in answering this question examined the frequency of intergroup interactions and the characters' attitudes within the context of each book. The theoretical framework that undergirded this study is critical literacy, which encourages adults and youth to examine issues of diversity and social justice through their reading. Eighteen books met the criteria for the study, which provided 98 African American characters for investigation through content analysis. The qualitative methodology used frequency counts, anecdotal notes and questionnaires to analyze the characters. Findings revealed two key themes: the characterization of ethnic identity as a reflection of society and African American characters as models of agency. Further themes became evident in this study as well: the evolution of cultural authenticity, strong African American female characters, importance of the African American family and the acknowledgement of African American involvement in history. These findings are significant because they provided evidence of ...
Date: December 2012
Creator: Morton, Tami Butler

Missed Opportunities: Examining The LiteracyExperiences Of African American Students Displaced By Hurricane Katrina.

Description: The purpose of this study was to examine how five African American middle school students, who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina represent their literacy experiences before, during, and after their displacement. Specifically, the two research questions were: (a) What are the stories that these middle school students tell about their lives, before, during, and after their displacement, and (b) What do their stories reveal about their literacy experience before, during, and after their displacement? Narrative Inquiry was the chosen methodology for the study, which allowed the participants to tell their experiences from a first-person perspective. It also encouraged the participants to reflect upon these experiences, in order to give meaning to their thoughts and emotions. Employing a critical lens and perspective, I constructed a narrative profile for each participant, which was then analyzed using these methods. Each narrative profile detailed the literacy experiences of the participants before Hurricane Katrina, during the transition period, and current literacy experiences now that the participants are resettled and attending school in the host city. These data were supplemented by archival data such as report cards, individual education plans (IEPs), and Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS) scores. Data analysis of the five participants’ literacy experiences revealed common themes. These participants have pleasant memories of school literacy before the storm and mentioned “choice” as a component of those experiences. During the transition period, few or no literacy experiences took place. Hence, there were missed opportunities for the participants to use literacy experiences to make connections to their new world. Participants reported current classroom and school experiences were controlled environments that led to controlled literacy experiences. This compartmentalization of literacy experiences is not consistent with the critical literacy perspective adopted in this study. Their interviews suggested that they that they saw no connection between school ...
Date: December 2011
Creator: Pollard, Tamica McClarty

Ninth-grade Students’ Negotiation Of Aesthetic, Efferent, And Critical Stances In Response To A Novel Set In Afghanistan

Description: This qualitative, action research study was guided by two primary research questions. First, how do students negotiate aesthetic, efferent, and critical stances when reading a novel set in Afghanistan? Second, how do aesthetic and efferent stances contribute to or hinder the adoption of a critical stance? A large body of research exists that examines student responses to literature, and much of that research is based on the transactional theory of reading. However, it remains unclear how critical literacy fits into this theory. This study describes how one group of high school students’ aesthetic and efferent responses to a novel set in Afghanistan supported their development of critical stances. Six students enrolled in a ninth-grade English course participated in this study. Data were collected for 13 weeks. Data included two individual interviews with each student, student writing assignments in the form of 6 assigned journal entries and 7 assigned essays, transcriptions of 12 class discussions, field notes, lesson plans, a teacher researcher journal, and research memos. Data were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Three major findings emerged from this study. First, class discussions provided a context for students to adopt stances that were not evident in their individual written responses to the novel, which were completed prior to the discussions. Second, the discussions provided scaffolding that helped several of the students adopt world-efferent and critical stances. Third, both the aesthetic and the efferent stances contributed to students’ adoption of critical stances.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Taliaferro, Cheryl

Social Networking, Workplace, and Entertainment Literacies: the Out-of-school Literate Lives of Newcomer Latina/o Adolescents

Description: Studies indicate that Latina/o immigrant youth engage in a wide range of sophisticated literacy practices outside of school that are often transnational, crossing various linguistic, cultural, and social spaces. Technology has further afforded immigrant youth the opportunity to develop transnational capabilities which are rare in the mainstream population, yet needed in the 21st century of global connectedness. However, Latino immigrant youth drop out of school at disproportional rates, suggesting that their literacy practices are not recognized or valued by the educational system. Using a New Literacy Studies perspective that recognizes multiple literacies that are meaningful within their sociocultural traditions, this collective case study investigated the range, form, and purpose of the out-of-school literacies of four Latina/o adolescent English Learners who are new arrivals. The qualitative methodology employed constructivist interviews, digital and actual artifacts, and observations. Findings demonstrated that the most prevalent out-of-school literacies the participants practice take place on the social networking site of Facebook, in their workplaces, and through the entertainment media sources of music and television. A cross-case analysis suggests that the literacy practices in these spaces have unique and purposeful roles for the individuals that allow them to connect to their home countries and maintain their Latina/o identities. Additionally, the participants use their out-of-school literacy practices to acquire English, support themselves, and establish a place to succeed. The five aforementioned spaces that their Facebook, workplace, and entertainment literacy practices fill are virtually absent from their in-school literacies. This study suggests literacy pedagogy and research must not continue to impose a narrow monolingual, monocultural, monoliterate, and monomodal view of Latina/o immigrant students which essentially divests them of their greatest resources. Their literacy practices demonstrate that they are transnational, transcultural, emergent bilinguals who competently engage in multimodal means of communication across multiple linguistic, cultural, social, and geographic borders. Educators ...
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Date: August 2012
Creator: Stewart, Mary Amanda

Struggling Middle School Readers Learning To Make Intertextual Connections With Texts

Description: When people read, they often make connections to their lives, the world, and other texts. Often, these connections are not overt, but are a thinking process invisible to observers. The purpose of this study was to explore the intertextual connections struggling middle school students made as they read multiple topically-related texts to build knowledge, through observation of discussions, surveys, and interviews with students. The students received 30 lessons based on the constructivist model of comprehension. Data sources included observations during the delivery of these interactive lessons and surveys regarding their connections, their use of the connection strategies in content area classes, and their knowledge of the topic. The observations and surveys were analyzed using the constant comparative method. Information rich cases were developed from these data, as well as from interviews with selected students. Although the students were considered struggling readers, they did not respond to the instruction as stereotypical struggling readers. They were engaged, and they led discussions and shared connections with the class. The students demonstrated they learned to make connections and more text-to-text or intertextual connections overall. The students made connections when interested in the topic and had opportunities to discuss the texts. Finally, the students sometimes made connections in content area classes with opportunity in those classes. The study has implications for theory, future research, and practice of teachers and library media specialists.
Date: December 2011
Creator: Johnson, Sunni

Student Facilitation and Predictors of Engagement in Peer-Led Literature Circle Discussions

Description: The purpose of this research was to examine the relation between students' personality traits and the extent of their engagement and facilitation in peer-led literature circle discussions. The research was guided by two questions. To what extent do reading ability, gender, and personality traits predict the quality of verbal engagement in literature circles? and How do highly engaged participants facilitate discussion in the circles? The researcher video-taped 17 fourth-grade students' literature circle discussions for a total of 136.7 minutes collected on two separate occasions across two weeks. To answer the first question student contributions in discussions were quantified into a measure of quality of verbal engagement score (cf. Costa & Kallick, 2000). This quality of verbal engagement score served as the dependent variable in a multiple regression. The seven independent variables were (1) extroversion, (2) agreeableness, (3) conscientiousness, (4) emotional stability, (5) openness, (6) reading ability, and (7) gender. The quantitative analysis in this study revealed that emotional stability was the only significant variable that predicted higher quality of verbal engagement. A post hoc analysis that included group size as an additional variable revealed that groups composed of three members correlated with higher overall quality of verbal engagement. The second question was answered through a qualitative analysis of the following: exploratory talk, elaborative feedback, topic management, confessionals, and accountability. Results of this analysis suggest that highly engaged students frequently enhance the group discussions through facilitation. This study extended the extant research by investigating individual factors that may influence the quality of literature circle discussions as well as suggested a framework for understanding facilitation in peer-led literature circle discussions. Further research is needed to determine the influence of group size and personality on varying grade levels.
Date: December 2012
Creator: Young, Chase

Teacher Decision-Making: Cultural Mediation in Two High School English Language Arts Classrooms

Description: Although studies have addressed high school English language arts (ELA) instruction, little is known about the decision-making process of ELA teachers. How do teachers decide between the resources and instructional strategies at their disposal? This study focused on two monolingual teachers who were in different schools and grades. They were teaching mainstream students or English Language Learners. Both employed an approach to writing instruction that emphasized cultural mediation. Two questions guided this study: How does the enactment of culturally mediated writing instruction (CMWI) in a mainstream classroom compare to the enactment in an ESL classroom? What is the nature of teacher decision-making in these high school classrooms during English language arts instruction? Data were collected and analyzed using qualitative methodologies. The findings suggest that one teacher, who was familiar with CMWI’s principles and practices and saw students as partners, focused her decisions on engagement and participation. The other teacher deliberately embedded CMWI as an instructional stance. Her decisions focused on empathy, caring and meaningful connections. These teachers enacted CMWI in different ways to meet their students’ needs. They embraced the students’ cultural resources, used and built on their linguistic knowledge, expanded thinking strategies to make difficult information comprehensible, provided authentic learning opportunities, used formative assessments as instructional guides, and delivered just-in-time academic and non-academic support.
Date: August 2011
Creator: Araujo, Juan José