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Accomplished Teachers' Instructional Decisions About Shakespeare

Description: Teachers' decisions are a powerful influence on student learning and it is important to fully document accomplished teachers' instructional decisions, as well as to investigate possible influences on those decisions. Shakespearean dramas are central to high school curricula across the U.S. and pose particular instructional challenges, therefore teachers' decisions about teaching these texts are of particular interest. There is limited empirical research, however, about these instructional decisions. Thus, the purpose of this study was to describe how four accomplished high school English teachers working on a single campus make instructional decisions about teaching a Shakespearean play. Specifically, research questions addressed teachers' decisions regarding the teaching of a Shakespearean play and various influences on those decisions (self-reports and inferences from the data). Case study methodology was used, including an inductive analysis of individual teacher interviews, classroom observations, focus group, instructional artifacts, and researcher's journal. The findings revealed that instructional activities described by these teachers addressed support for meaning-making during four stages of reading instruction: (a) before, during, and after; (b) before; (c) during; and (d) after. Comparison of these cases suggests that, although each teacher brings personal preferences and unique background knowledge to her instructional decisions, all make decisions to promote student engagement and student construction of meaning. Regarding influences on these teachers' decisions about teaching the Shakespearean play, four categories were identified: (a) response to students; (b) aspects of the text; (c) response to contextual constraints and supports; and (d) personal preferences and background experiences. Individual teacher differences are clearly a strong influence, even among this group of colleagues on the same campus. Also, two influences not reported explicitly by the teachers suggest a complex integration of these influences. One is their intuitive thinking, which deserves a closer investigation in future research. The other proposes that each teacher's decisions are ...
Date: May 2013
Creator: Parris, Sheri Rene’

Elementary Students' Critical Examination of Characters in Children's Literature Depicting Social Justice

Description: Despite the ruling of Brown vs. The Board of Education of Topeka, segregation in schools is still quite visible with suburban schools educating a student body of more than 70% White and urban schools comprised of mostly Black, Hispanic, and Asian students. Ideally, a school should dispel social and structural inequities through curriculum and quality resources, but fallibly, schools continue to be the vehicles to maintaining the status quo. Students who develop critical awareness and cultivate a critical literacy stance can become agents of change toward a more democratic society. In the current study, urban upper-elementary-age students were asked to engage in a critical literacy event by critically examining the power positions of characters in books that depict historical social injustice. The six female participants met in several sessions to read books and a newspaper article, use a critical reader response tool, and then engage in critical conversations about the books' characters. Their dialogue was recorded and analyzed using a critical discourse qualitative methodology. The findings show that older elementary students are capable of seeing multiple perspectives of an issue and can explain characters' power from born from privilege and fueled by fear and how a shift in power may occur through solidarity. The findings suggest school curriculum enhanced by media narrows the students' view of discrimination as being targeted mostly towards African-Americans, but those experiences through literature have the potential to expand the students' views to include other cultural groups. Subsequently, there is a need for broader teacher preparation using books that enhance students' views of social injustice.
Date: August 2016
Creator: Paiva, Deanne

Framing Bilingual Education Policy: Articulation and Implementation in Texas

Description: Language education policy and its implementation have been controversial and ongoing issues throughout the United States, especially in the border state of Texas, with its large population of students who are learning English. This dissertation reports two studies, the first of which was a frame analysis of problems and solutions as represented by the five bills amending the Texas Education Code with regard to bilingual education and English as a second language programs. These laws, passed in 1969, 1973, 1975, 1981, and 2001, have been enacted since 1968, the year the Bilingual Education Act (BEA) was passed. The problem framed consistently by these state policy documents was inadequate instruction for children who come to school speaking languages other than English. More variability was seen in the framing of solutions, with approaches changing from the authorization of instruction in languages other than English, to the establishment of mandated bilingual programs, to the extension of special language programs, and to the establishment of dual language immersion programs. The primary ideology influencing the policy documents was the monolingual English ideology; however, alternative ideologies are apparent in the policies that allow for dual language immersion programs. Geographic information systems (GIS) analysis was used in the second study to investigate the geographic locations of particular programs and the demographics of students they served. Choropleth maps showed variability in program distribution across the state with distinct patterns apparent in only two programs. The maps indicated that districts with high percentages of student enrollment in one-way dual language programs tended to be located in and near the major metropolitan areas, whereas many districts offering early exit transitional bilingual programs tended to be located along the Texas-Mexico border. Despite the literature on bilingual/ESL program effectiveness, the predominant program in the border region of Texas is among those considered ...
Date: August 2014
Creator: Dixon, Kathryn V.