Reflections of desire and necessity: The literary understandings and responses of one urban, mixed-ability seventh-grade language arts class
This teacher research study focused on the literary understandings and responses of one urban seventh grade language arts class with 30 students of diverse abilities and ethnicities. As both teacher and researcher of this class, my purpose was to examine the kinds of literary understandings students demonstrated when they reflected on their own and other's reading practices. Data sources included students' reading journals, classroom conversations, a daily teacher journal, fieldnotes, a data analysis journal and interviews. Four research questions framed this study; each represented a different lens on students' literary understandings and responses in order to provide a contextual feel for the literary environment of the classroom. The first two questions examined five students' reflective literary understandings and responses: Langer's (1995) theory of envisionment was helpful in analyzing these five students' literary practices and two new conceptual categories of response and understanding emerged. These categories were reflective in nature and used to extend and refine Langer's literary theory. The third research question focused on the literary understandings that emerged through classroom conversations. It was found that the “official” goals of the school, city and state figured into the 30 students' conceptions of their own and others' reading practices: high stakes testing and students' own desire to “do well” in school played an important role in their ideas of what was interesting and desirable in a language arts class. The fourth research question examined how my teaching and learning was informed by students' conceptions of literary pleasure: the idea of reading “pleasure” was framed by Bakhtin's understanding of medieval carnival. It was found that the idea of reading pleasure was perhaps too narrowly conceived: students experienced pleasure in reflecting on their own responses, extending understanding of their own reading style and mastering reading skills and strategies. These findings prompted a self-reflection on what it meant to teach to “student interests” when those interests seemed contrary to my own philosophy and beliefs about reading. ^
Education, Secondary|Education, Reading
Mary Beth Schaefer,
"Reflections of desire and necessity: The literary understandings and responses of one urban, mixed-ability seventh-grade language arts class"
(January 1, 2003).
Dissertations available from ProQuest.