Contexts and three pedagogies: A qualitative study of the writing conference discourse of six teachers and their students in kindergarten through second-grade classrooms
What is the student/teacher writing conference discourse of six primary grade teachers and their students? How is emergent literacy supported? What problems and conflicts emerge? The study teachers represent the 'New Literacy' (Willinsky, 1990) in primary classrooms: Inner city, suburban public, private academic. Data: Audiotapes, transcripts, and teacher protocols of conferences; fieldnotes; student texts; teacher interviews. Significance: The quality of student language is often criticized. Writing pedagogy (Graves, 1983; Calkins, 1986) indicates that it should differ from 'procedural discourse' as described by Mehan (1979) and Bloome (1986). Findings: The discourse reflected three interacting pedagogies for all teachers: Informing, Scaffolding, and, most consistent with new literacy, eliciting student Generative Language (GL). Eliciting teacher moves were: Open questions, repeating GL, incomplete sentences, informing, and misinformation. Many levels of context also elicited GL. Context was found to have important meaning and influence in the conference. Interacting with the pedagogies were contextual factors: Audiences, experience of genre, student/teacher sharing of text, praise, completion-of-work and literacy ideologies. Context and student interest gave meaning to 'procedural discourse' forms. Power issues were more complex than expected. A balance was seen between socializing (control) and freedom. Control was often empowering rather than dominating. Moves eliciting GL often controlled options in such a way as to empower student language. All of the teachers practiced a self-prohibition on offering (controlling) specific text content. Both participants influenced the discourse direction, as students followed teachers and teachers followed students. Social warmth and praise elicited GL and socialized for literacy, but encouraged writing for social rewards. Reflection on value was rare. Students were occasionally 'silenced' by teacher criticism, and time limitations, but not necessarily by interruptions. Conclusions: New literacy writing conferences empowered by socializing and eliciting student interest, language, and thought. Educators should create meaningful writing contexts and study discourse strategies of skilled teachers to support writing development. Social ideologies of literacy and work should not discourage reflection on value, or force development prematurely.
Curricula|Teaching|Elementary education|Linguistics|Language arts
Bates, Juliana B, "Contexts and three pedagogies: A qualitative study of the writing conference discourse of six teachers and their students in kindergarten through second-grade classrooms" (1992). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI9227612.