Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Shifting Stances: The Researcher's Role in Formative Design

Share/Listen/Connect: PechaKucha Presentation Night

  • Date Today, Oct. 26
  • Time 6-8 p.m.
  • Location: TITU, Union South
  • Description: At this PechaKucha-style event, graduate students will get the chance to present to their peers in a relaxed and fun atmosphere. Presentations will be followed by time to discuss, network, and socialize. Food and drinks will be provided. Registration appreciated. If you wish to give a short presentation, or would like more information, please write to gsc@grad.wisc.edu.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Teacher Decision Making and Reflective Practice in Reading Workshop

Almost a half-century ago, in a seminal study on reading instruction in first grade, Bond and Dykstra (1967) reported that the future in research in reading education needed to focus on the “teacher and learning situation characteristics rather than method and materials” (p.123). They also stated that because of the variety of students in any classroom, “ it is necessary to train better teachers of reading rather than to expect a panacea in the form of materials” (p. 123). This would indicate a need for a focus on the decision making and reflective process of teachers in context not just the implementation of a program or curriculum. As Wold observed, “Deep-level literacy implementation requires strategic decision making and action. The process of becoming an exemplary literacy practitioner requires deliberate, long-term attention to and reflection on practice” (2002, p. 91). Even with a mandated or scripted curriculum, teachers are constantly making decisions about what content to teach, how to structure the lesson, which materials to use, and how to respond to students. Reading workshop teachers make these decisions also, but since one of the advantages of using a reading workshop framework is individualization of curriculum, it also means that teachers are making instructional decisions constantly for each child, each small group, and each day – without a teacher's manual for direction.
“Reflection is an important human activity in which people recapture their experience, think about it, mull over and evaluate it. It is this working with experience that is important in learning” (Boud, Keogh & Walker, 1985, p. 43). Grounded in the work of Dewey (1933), Schön (1983) ties action and reflection together in his reflective practice model. Knowing-in-action is the tacit professional knowledge which produces reflex-like actions in a situation. Experienced teachers often act on this intuitive level with their students. When a situation occurs that can't be immediately, reflexively responded to, then reflection-in-action occurs and a conscious, but not necessarily articulated decision about action is made. After the situation, reflection-on-action may occur, which is deliberate, articulated and possibly recorded in some form. Reflecting-on-action provides an opportunity to examine underlying philosophies, understandings or theories evident in the action and analysis these assumptions in order to plan for similar situations in the future. For a workshop approach to flow smoothly, teachers need to cultivate all three practices – with 20+ students in a classroom, some routines and actions need to be automatic and some need thought, but teachers need to know the difference between the two.

Reflection and reflective practice are considered a cornerstone of teacher education and professional development because “the main objective of reflective practice is to ensure a more accurate and relevant understanding of a situation such that professionally designed action in that situation is more likely to produce effective, relevant action which will facilitate the occurrence of more desired and effective outcomes” (Bright, 1993, p. 177). In short, teacher action influences student learning (Darling-Hammond & Baratz-Snowden, 2005; Levine & Lezotte, 1990; Snow, Griffin & Burns, 2005). Therefore, more effective teaching may result from continued reflective practice. 
Reflection is not necessarily a solo endeavor; “Reflective practice, while often confused with reflection, is neither a solitary nor a relaxed meditative process. To the contrary, reflective practice is a challenging, demanding, and often trying process that is most successful as a collaborative effort” (Karen, Osterman & Kott, 1993, p.19). Again, drawing on Vygotskian (1978) social development theory, reflective practice is more often a social, collaborative practice – whether informal (a chat in the teacher's lounge) or formal (literacy coaching model). Besides providing a sounding board for ideas, a reflective partner can provide a different perspective and possible challenge the teacher's ideas which leads to greater depth of reflection (Bright, 1996).

Based on the work of Rogers (2002), Woodcock, Lassonde, and Rutten (2004) provide a model for collaborative reflection, which is rooted in building trusting relationships with the partner or group (Figure 1). In this reflective cycle the practitioner describes the experience and analyzes the experience, but through the conversation with others, the practitioner becomes more aware of her beliefs and theories (meta-awareness of self) which leads to informed action. Baird contends, “Better teaching requires that teachers reflect on themselves and their practice, that this reflection should be set within a process of systematic enquiry, and that both reflection and enquiry should proceed by collaboration among members of a group” (1992, pp. 32-33).

Figure 1: Woodcock, Lassonde, & Rutten (2004) Collaborative Reflective Process

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Effectiveness of Reading Workshop

Many of the components of the reading workshop reflect the ten evidence-based best practices of comprehensive literacy instruction as identified by Gambrell et al. (2007), illustrated in the table below (Table 1).

Evidence-Based Practice (Gambrell et al., 2007, p. 19)
Component of Reading Workshop (Atwell, 1987; Calkins, 2001)
Create a classroom culture that fosters literacy motivation. Student choice of text; positive teacher attitude; large classroom library; book clubs
Teach reading for meaning-making literacy experiences, for pleasure, to be informed, and to perform a task Authentic literature; mini-lesson topics; book clubs
Provide students with scaffolded instruction in phonemic awareness, phonic, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension to promote independent reading Workshop time; individual conferences; small group instruction; mini-lessons
Give students plenty of time to read in class. Workshop time
High quality literature Authentic literature; large classroom library
Use multiple texts to link and expand vocabulary and concepts Mini-lessons; small groups
Build a whole-class community that emphasizes important concepts and build upon prior knowledge Mini-lessons; sharing time
Balance teacher- and student-led discussions Small groups; book club
Use technologies to link and expand concepts Mini-lessons
Use a variety of assessment techniques to inform instruction Individual conferences; small groups; reading responses; sharing time
Table 1: Linking Reading Workshop to Effective Practices

The reading workshop approach to teaching reading combines many of the practices known to create better readers. Atwell (1987), Calkins (2001), and Rief (1994) all report that their students become more interested, engaged, motivated and better readers within the context of their classroom reading workshops. However, there have been few large sample or longitudinal empirical studies documenting the effectiveness of the reading workshop approach specifically. A few teachers and researchers report from their own classrooms or case studies that a reading workshop approach is effective in creating opportunities for more flexible teaching and individualization (Reutzel & Cooter, 1991; Towle, 2000), increasing student engagement in and motivation to read (Greer, 1994; Reutzel & Cooter, 1991) and instilling a love of reading (Lause, 2004). In addition, some studies report on the effectiveness of a reading workshop with targeted population such as improving attitude toward reading for students classified as learning disabled (Oberlin & Shurgarman, 1989), supporting adolescent at-risk students in constructing meaning from reading and developing an identity as a reader (Mueller, 2001; Taylor & Nesheim, 2000) and increasing comprehension for struggling readers (Williams, 2001).

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Reading Workshop

According to Serafini (2001), the reading workshop is a “single block of time dedicated to the exploration of literature and the development of children’s reading processes” (p. 4). Although several authors have advanced their own version of the reading workshop (Atwell 1987/1998; Calkins; 2001; Keene & Zimmermann, 1997; Rief, 1992; Serafini, 2001), there are several components that are common: read aloud, mini-lesson, workshop time, and sharing time. Each component will be discussed further. 

Read Aloud

Many authors advocate for reading aloud to students, even at the secondary level. One of the most well-known advocates has been Jim Trelease with his The Read-Aloud Handbook published in 1982. As a general practice in any literacy classroom, it has been supported by research to build success in reading (Allen, 2000; Anderson, Hiebert, Scott & Wilkinson, 1985; Harvey & Goudvis, 2005), Atwell observed, “Everyone is enthralled by a good read-aloud. Hearing language brings it to life and fills the classroom with an author's language. The teachers' voice become a bridge for kids, taking them into territories they might never have explored” (1998, p. 144). Besides bring the words to life, a good read aloud will provide a model of fluent reading, a shared reading experience and text, an opportunity to model literate thinking, and build background knowledge (Allen, 2000; Atwell, 1998; Beers & Samuels, 1998; Combs, 1996; Rief, 1992). Although referring to read alouds between parents and their children, the findings from Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson et al, 1985) state, “The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children (p. 23)” and “It is a practice that should continue throughout the grades” (p. 51). Since that report was published, research continues to show that effective read alouds promote vocabulary acquisition and comprehension skills (Beck & McKeown, 2001; Brabham & Lynch-Brown, 2002). 


A mini-lesson is a short (5-10 minutes), focused lesson on a skill, strategy, or routine that will help students become better readers and work within the format of a workshop that will be immediately applicable to the students' individual work (Angelillo, 2008; Calkins, & Tolan, 2010; Combs, 1996). Calkins stated that “minilessons are the best forum teachers have for pulling the classroom community together to take on a problem” (2001, p. 82). The topic for mini-lessons could be a routine for the workshop such as how to select a book, or a specific skill or strategy in reading such as figuring out a work from context or how to visualize a scene. Generally, in the beginning of the year, the topics of the mini-lessons focus on structures and routines of the workshop. As students settle into the structure, the mini-lesson topics tend to become more responsive to the specific needs of the group of students.

Many authors and teachers (Angelillo, 2008; Atwell, 1987; Calkins, 1986; Orehovec & Alley, 2003) have written about the components of a mini-lesson, but they tend to have a similar structure. In synthesizing the a fore mentioned authors, the typical mini-lesson would include most of the following components:
  • Invitation - The teacher draws the students together to focus introduce the topic or concept.
  • Connection – The teacher locates the topic within the group's current work through reviewing previous lessons and setting a purpose for learning the topic of concept.
  • Teaching – The teacher demonstrates the routine, skill or strategy through the use of a think aloud while reading or modeling the skill or strategy through the teacher's own reading and response.
  • Practice – The students practices the routine, skill or strategy, through active involvement, often with a partner, as the teacher assesses for understanding.
  • Revisit – The teacher reinforces or reteaches the concept through sharing of what student practiced or what the teacher observed.
  • Charge to the class – The teacher reminds students what they should be doing during workshop time and links the mini-lesson concept to their own work.
Once the mini-lesson is completed, the students are sent off to work independently. When Atwell (1987) originally wrote about the mini-lesson, she emphasized the brevity of the mini-lesson, 10-15 minutes. However, since that time, she has revised her opinion on the length of the mini-lesson. After having relied on individual conferences to move students forward in their thinking and reading, Atwell (1998) realized that through thoughtful, interactive mini-lessons, students would be able to share their thinking and work and expand their perspectives. She felt that the extra time needed to provide students with opportunities to talk and share during the mini-lesson was worth an additional ten minutes - it reduced the pressure she felt to confer with every student, every day during workshop time. Robb agreed, referring to the the mini-lessons she models in her book Teaching Reading in the Middle School, “Many of the mini-lessons, which I call Strategy Lessons . . . will last 15-25 minutes, especially when you reserve time for students' questions and exchange of ideas” (2000, p. 67). Whether the mini-lesson is five minutes, or twenty five, the point is to allow students the opportunity to see and experience the concept in practice, before applying it to their independent work – which should happen within the same class period.

The topics of the mini-lessons can focus on a variety of issues. Although there are numerous texts giving suggestions for mini-lessons, Calkins states, “the minilesson is not a free-standing structure. Instead, the topic of the minilesson weaves its way into much of the community's reading work” (2001, p. 83). Atwell organized the topics she uses into four broad categories: procedural aspects of the workshop, the crafting of literature, the conventions of language, and strategies of good readers. According to Reutzel & Cooter (1991) mini-lesson topics can be drawn from the needs of the students found during individual conferences, teacher-selected skills taken from the mandated curriculum or preparation for new books or genres. 

Workshop Time

The largest block of time in the reading workshop is devoted to students' independent reading. During this time, students read authentic literature of their own choice and may respond to their reading in a variety of methods such as reading response logs or placing sticky notes in the book. In addition, during workshop time, the teacher can conference with students individually or pull small groups together to work on specific skills or strategies the group needs.

Independent, student-selected reading is a fundamental of the workshop approach, which contrasts sharply with the traditional whole-class model of reading. According to Anderson et al. “independent reading, whether in school or out of school, is associated with gains in reading achievement” (1985, p. 119). In addition, student self-selection of texts promotes positive attitudes toward reading and motivation to read (Palmer, Codling & Gambrell, 1994;Wood & Jones, 1997; Worthy,1998). According to Atwell, "If we want our adolescent students to grow to appreciate literature, another first step is allowing them to exert ownership and choose the literature they will read" (1987, p. 161). Some teachers may ask students to respond to their independent reading through reading logs, a daily reading record, or independent projects.

Small groups, in the reading workshop, can be flexible in both purpose, length and structure. Groups of students may be brought together to work on skills together. In the elementary years, this small group work may resemble Guided Reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1991) though Calkins (2010) recommends developing “a more expensive repertoire of ways of working with small groups” (p. 73) because, according to Calkins “the whole point is to be personal, to be intimate, and to be responsive” (p. 72). In many ways, the small group instruction preparation and structure resembles the mini-lesson, just with a targeted, small group of students. The teacher begins with a topic of instruction, provides a model and time for practice, revisits the topic and sends the students off to work independently (Calkins, 2010). Literature discussion groups may also be scheduled during workshop time to give students the opportunity to respond to their reading with others. There are various formats for discussions such as Grand Conversations (Eeds & Well, 1989), Book Clubs (Raphael & McMahon, 1994), and Literature Circles (Daniels, 1994) which all model how to have conversations about books.

Individualized feedback is the keystone of conferencing with students during their workshop time (Allen, 2009). In Atwell's (1987) workshop, much of the individual feedback occurs through reading response letters exchanged between the teacher and student. Acknowledging the tremendous paper load this created, she has also supported exchanging response letters between students, under her supervision (1998), and more recently, she has incorporated reading conferences rooted in her experiences with writing conferences (2007). This bears out Allen's (2009) observation that “teachers were talking to children about their writing, but not always taking the time to have the short, meaningful types of reading conferences” which he feels is “one of the most important and beneficial instructional moves I make with my students” (p. 8). He goes on to elaborate the multiple purposes for his conferences with students which include getting to know them as readers, strategy instruction, building rapport, assessment of student strategy use, goal setting, highlighting progress, and challenging students to move forward in their reading. In an individual conference, Calkins (2010) believes the teacher should act as a coach, drawing on the assessment of the student in previous conferences and small groups, recognition of the demands of the particular genre and level of text, and an understanding of the student as a person and a reader. 
Having a predictable structure to the conference can help the conference be more effective, efficient and enjoyable (Allen, 2009; Calkins, 2001; Miller, 2005). RIP is the memorable acronym Allen (2009) suggests which stands for: R – review, read aloud, record; I – instruction, insights, intrigue; P – plan, progress, purpose. Research-Decide-Teach is Calkins (2010) architecture for a conference which includes researching the child's needs before the conference, deciding on a helpful lesson for the child, build on the child's strengths and teaching the child something new. Whatever the structure of the conference, “your primary purpose is to listen to what students can teach you about the way they think and make meaning. You may focus the talk or probe for more information, but you cannot learn from them unless you listen” (Combs, 1996, p. 42). 

Share Time

Quite often the reading workshop time will end with a sharing time in which students can share what they accomplished and learned. Building on Vygotsky's notion of social development, “Share time provides a social context for students to share their work with their teachers and peers” (Dorn & Soffos, 2005, p. 67). In addition, this is an opportunity for the teacher to revisit the mini-lesson concept and assess students' understanding and application (Calkins, 2010). By setting a purpose during the mini-lesson such as “Bring an example of … to share time”, students who need more direction will have a focus during independent reading (Orehovec & Alley, 2003). It may also be an opportunity for small groups to present projects on their book club books or individual students to give book talks about completed reading.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A teacher is one who makes himself progressively unnecessary. - Thomas Carruthers

I taught the class, Introduction to Literature, which was an adult accelerated class with a institutionalized syllabus. This meant that a typical semester-long class was condensed into only four weeks – with the expectation that the students complete approximately 20 hours a week of study outside of class and consolidate their learning in a 4 hour face to face class. It was a fast-paced survey course of short stories, poetry, Greek drama and modern drama. The lesson in the first week of class was focused on short stories. The students were required to read ten different short stories and be prepared to discussion them. Recognizing that the students would need support in both analyzing and discussing the stories, I decided to use the Jigsaw Technique to give the students the opportunity to gain confidence in leading the discussion of a particular story through their expert group and then discuss five of the stories through the jigsaw group. After a break, the students completed the final five stories using the same procedure.

Instructions to Students
Discussing the Stories
Expert Groups
  • Talk through the assigned story, focusing on the literary elements
  • Prepare to lead the discussion on your assigned story in small groups
  • Write down some topics/questions for the group
  • Approximately 15 minutes
Jigsaw Groups
  • Each person is a leader for one story
  • One person should be a “secretary” for each story
  • Write down important ideas, comments and/or questions
  • Post the page under the story title on the wall
  • Have your books and notes open
  • All members should participate when discussing each story
  • Approximately 10-15 minutes/story

Reading ten short stories in a week and attempting to discuss all ten is a Herculean task, yet in this course, it was required. Since the students were also required to turn in their notes from reading the short stories, I thought most students would have completed the reading of each of the stories, but probably didn't spend much time analyzing the stories for their literary elements, which was an objective of the course.
I choose the Jigsaw Technique for several reasons. First, it focused the activity on the students, not me, the teacher. I believe that in a class discussion, the students should be doing most of the questioning and responding. With small groups, more students have the opportunity to discuss, especially compared to a whole class discussion. Second, it provided support for the students to gain confidence in leading the discussion. Recognizing that most students probably completed a cursory reading of the stories, the expert groups provided an opportunity for the students to clarify their understanding and create good discussion questions which would increase their confidence in leading a small group discussion. Finally, it is an efficient method to discuss a large amount of readings.

By including a written component, where each jigsaw group had to produce a summary of each discussion of each short story, I could quickly assess each group's progress and understanding. In addition, by consolidating all groups' summarizes, as a whole class we could gauge the major points of each story at the end of all the discussions.

After working all day, sitting in a four hour class can be daunting. However, students commented at the end of class that they were surprised how quickly the time flew by. One student said that he was dreading this class because he was anticipating having to sit and listen to a lecture for hours, but with the groupings there was a lot of activity and mental engagement so it “wasn't so bad.”

The Jigsaw Technique -Barbara Tewksbury, Hamilton College - http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/coursedesign/tutorial/jigsaw.html

Sunday, May 01, 2011

National Board for Professional Teaching Standards Proposition 2: Teachers Know the Subjects They Teach and How to Teach Those Subjects to Students.

How do literacy coaches think about and perform their jobs?

Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of Teaching for Understanding (TfU), which has been the cornerstone of my classroom instruction. In using a TfU framework, I ask four major questions 1) What topics are worth understanding? (Generative Topic) 2)What about these topics needs to be understood? (Understanding goals) 3) How can I foster understanding in my students? (Performances of understanding) 4) How can I tell what students understand? (Ongoing assessment)

As I moved into higher education, I found that the framework continued to apply to adult learners. In building my curriculum for the master level course Supervision of Instruction, I began with a generative topic of – How do literacy coaches think about and perform their work? In other words, I wanted my students to think and act like a literacy coach during the class.

To accomplish this, I needed to create authentic experiences for the student that embodied the major tasks of a literacy coach. In brief, a literacy coach's job is to help support teaching and learning in a school through finding solutions to problems or needs. For the culminating project of the course, each student created a needs assessment for their school and identified an area of need. After identifying the need, the student conducted a literature review to identify possible solutions and the positive and negatives of each solution. Formulating an action plan, they wrote a position paper, written as the literacy coach, and presented it to class as if it were a presentation to a school board. This is a realistic simulation of the work of actual literacy coaches. Therefore, the major understanding goals were:
  1. How do literacy coaches identify needs within their schools?
  2. How do literacy coaches critically read and use research?
  1. How do literacy coaches create a plan of action?
  2. How do literacy coaches cultivate support?
Throughout the semester, each understanding goal was addressed through different activities. The first weeks I provided models of needs assessments and students worked together to create and implement a needs assessment for their own school. Students then generate a list of needs, prioritized the importance of each and made both short term and long term plans for improvement. From this list, the students chose one topic to advocate for in a position paper. Having been accustomed to just summarizing research articles, I provided models and activities to support more critical reading of published research, which were incorporated into the position paper. Each performance of understanding (activity) helped students gain the skills and thinking processes needed to complete the full project and provided for ongoing assessment.

In summary, I would describe my approach to curriculum planning in a two short phrases – “begin with the end in mind” and “set students up for success”.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Presidential Invited Address: Intervening to Shape the Future

These are very rough notes from the session.

Scheduled Time: Sat, Apr 9 - 4:05pm - 6:05pm Building/Room: Sheraton, Floor Third Level
Session Participants:
Participant: Yrjö H. Engeström (University of Helsinki)
Discussant: Jan Derry (Institute of Education - London)
Chair: Barbara Rogoff (University of California - Santa Cruz)
Discussant: James G. Greeno (University of Pittsburgh)
Discussant: Hugh Mehan (University of California - San Diego)

Dewey – 1927 Experimental thinking vs absolutist thinking
  • Systematic knowledge is shaped and tested as tools of inquiry
  • social action is a working hypothesis.
  • Much of the problems that ppl are facing now, it that fact that we try to have complete control – which we can't. We need to accept that our actions have unexpected consequences – and figure out what that may be. We can not push thru complete designs – without adaptation.
  • Cultivate tentative solutions by means fo experimentation, first locally and then generalizing them through dialogue and further experimentation
Bronfenbrenner 1977
  • Naturalistic studies are limited by presently located systems
  • In the USSR, we are looking to see what children can become. (rather then in the US, where we look at what he come from).
  • Transforming experiments – how to change what a child is

Formative interventions (trans-formative experiments) – not micro study of a few subjects, but entire schools or organizations.

Why intervention research?
  • All research intervenes anyway – we should be transparent about this
  • Interventions are going on anyway – not just the researchers
  • Intervening deliberately and methodically generates possibility knowledge, so we need to stop being satisfied with categorical knowledge about what already exists.

These ideas come from Newman 1990 and Cobb et al 2003, Long 2001.

The actors in our interventions, influence the intervention, sometimes works against. We need to recognize the agency of the actors/participants.

Two Vygotskian Principles – leads to agency
  1. Volitional action
  2. Double stimulation

A thought experiment of Vygotsky's – bring a subject into a room, and then leave. Do not interact. What do the subjects do? If there is a clock, the subject can make deals – when it gets to be 2pm, I'll leave. Without a clock, they don't know how long to wait, or if they are waiting. First stimulus, the contradictory task of waiting for an experiment. Second stimulus, the clock. Give agency, or action to the subject. Volitional action is not simple 1) Preparation (fan take a long time 2) Execution is smooth. Looks like a conditioned response.

Agency must be built through the creation of double stimulation
Learning activity – starts with sensory concrete experience and builds up to expanding conceptual concreteness. There are demanding learning actions in the process. 7 learning actions – which looks linear in the model, but it isn't.
  1. Questioning
  2. Analysis
  3. Modeling the new solution
  4. Examining and testing the new model
  5. Implementing the new model
  6. Reflecting on the model
  7. Consolidating the new model

This is called expensive learning. Used in Engstrom's learning
1st stimulus – mirror, recurring roles
2nd stimulus – Model or vision

In between, the participants move between the past, present and future.

Used within situations that are facing contradictions and crisis without a clear directions for the future.

Location of work – experimental and naturalistic work. All research, is reflexively related to the context and the people within it. Even the act of setting up a clean experiment, that too is an intervention. We need to make this recognition clear – no matter what type of research we do.

In defense of design research. In relation to formative intervention.
  • There are many of the same qualities.
  • Design research, does have agency in it, as the practitioner/researcher relationship. This is in response to the researcher designing a program, and the teacher implementing, which has been the traditional paradigm. This is shifting to a joint construction of research – the goals, the problems etc. Results should be jointly prepared and presented. Not only should research build knowledge, but also be useful.
  • This is deep ethnographic work – in it for the long term, which gives us the insights we need.
  • Yes, knowledge is distributed, but also concentrated
  • Collaborative work is not a smooth research design. There are personalities, conflict of goals etc. When the results are not positive, it makes many people uncomfortable.
  • Through the process of working with researchers, teachers learn new ways of viewing and articulating their practices, which can help them in their work.
  • At the same time, researchers become more sensitive to the realities of teaching. Yet, to be careful of “going native” and becoming to assertive and supportive of the work as to lose credibility.

Beyond New London: Literacy Learning and the Design of Social Futures

These are very rough notes based on the symposium.

Discussant: Brian V. Street (Kings College, London)
The New London Agenda in Retrospect
*Mary Kalantzis (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign)
Learning and Knowing: Issues and Principles
*Gunther Kress (Institute of Education - London)
Language and Learning and Digital Media
*James Paul Gee (Arizona State University)
Appropriating Students’ Multilingual Strengths and Multimodal Interests as Resources For Learning
*Courtney B. Cazden (Harvard University), *Gail Heather Cawkwell (University of Waikato)
Multiliteracies in Australia: Educational and Economic Reforms?
*Allan A.J. Luke (Queensland University of Technology)
Teacher Orchestration of Talk in a Pedagogy of Multiliteracies
*Sarah Michaels (Clark University), *Catherine O'Connor (Boston University), *Richard Sohmer (Investigators Club)
Future Agendas for Multiliteracies
*William Cope (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign)
Chair: William Cope (University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign)

Mary Kalantzis
1994 – Multi-literacies project – the issues haven't changes much since then. Why, despite all the knowledge and work we've done, there is still a huge gap in achievement? New London groups was named after the inn and city they met in. What brought them together was the question about what to do about the gap? Invented the word multi-literacies. Meaning making is essential across contexts and cultures. Effect of the new communication medias were potentially powerful. It wasn't just literacy, but meaning making in any communication media. The purpose was political – as all teaching is, and must be connected to each local context – what does it mean to be a citizen, worker, etc. Mission was performance – alphabetical literacy was not doing it – those who could read, did and those who couldn't didn't. So, a new language was needed – meaning making rather than literacy, design rather than grammar.

Diversity – race, gender, class etc influence the meaning making process
Multi-modality – having a repertoire of skills for learners for across context.
Pedagogy – needed to handled by professionals with choices, not just programmatic linear lessons.

Also recognized that employment was shifting, citizenship meant something new. Identity was a fluid this and multi – no matter how much govt. wanted to create a singular.

People were born into designed meaning making contexts, yet were also influencing that context.

Wanted to create a new vocabulary to talk about this – and to be able to leave our individual identities and co-construct this – therefore, the New London groups was without names, and a manifesto was written (and published) and there was agreement amongst the group.

Gunther Kress

Generosity – marked the bringing together of the group. Each person had very different backgrounds, yet the common goal kept the group together. With the world, going at a faster pace, we need to be even more generous. And recognition is one way of doing this – to see and recognize was people can do, which is the only way we can accord the dignity and respect for them.

Learning and Knowing

What and where is learning? We tend not to recognize learning within everyday contexts. A child showing another child something they found – frames the object, shows the object, and the person is engaged in the object. In profession work – doctors in surgery, through their actions, others are learnig. A multi-model approach to learning allows us to see this. By pointing (framing) and drawing attention, it is an indication of learning. By doing, and showing – this is learning too. Increasing, as practices at work is changing, this type of learning will be more common. Implicit vs explicit knowledge – people working together, though unspoken understanding. What is known, can be expressed through doing, drawing. This knowledge comes through communities – knowing depends on community. But, equally important is giving recognition to how people are engaging in the world. As a researchers, we need to do more than transcription – but rather simulations and recreations.

Jim Gee

Gaps – literacy, digital, knowledge, innovation, 21st century skills. We've been talking a lot of about gaps – and the gaps have multiplied. In addition, something else happened since the fist group meeting. A new school system has arisen - one outside of school, that of digital technologies, to get a community of learners (or affinity spaces). As people become passionate about their games, they are apply to explicitly describe the uses of the game – which otherwise is implicit. The ability for humans to see meaning – patterns, is great than a computer.

Through games, people are achieving professional levels of knowledge in science e(protein folds) social science (Sims:Nickel and Dime challenge)

Passionate Affinity Space

There is no limit on age, experience or time. Leadership changes frequestion, experts and newbies are in the same space. Often, experts don't recognize themselves as experts because expertise resides in community

Courtney Cazden

Multilingual – in multi-literacy - how students make meaning in multiple contexts across languages and dialects. Humans have made meanings visually long before writing – children show us this too.

Gail Cawkwell

Appropriating students multilingual strengths and multi-model interests as resources for learning

When children are encouraged to use their own representations of stories, these resources can be used to achieve more traditional literacy. Relationships are important to achieve this – to be interested and engaged with each other. Though, communication media has, in many cases, replace literature. This is now more of a learned skills.

Julie-ann – a case study of a classroom. Diverse learners – used drawing of read alouds. To talk about interpretation. They used graffiti journals. When they went to watch the video, they discussed their differences.

Alan Luke

We need to overcome our negativity or fear of trying to overcome politics, egos, etc. The new London Group shows that, as a group (community) we can effect change. In asking gee how to do this, replied, “Just make stuff up,” In other words, be imaginative – and don't rely on only others.

We need to “get our hands dirty” and work in and with children, not just theorize about what can happen, but make it happen. We need to be more than just a public intellectual, we need to be doing, not just saying. “what good is another citation in literacy going to do?”

We know that the same groups are continually being marginalized and lagging behind in education. The arguments that we are hearing (and did) does not help this. It just splits the community.. we wanted to come up with a new language, one that was inclusive, to break through this. Knowing how real teachers work, we needed to focus on the dialectical of the arguments Teachers weave between them throughout the day – direct instruction and open, phonic and novels.The group did not specifically define and dictate what multi-literacies was – to allow the teachers to be the professionals they are and interpret as needed within context.

Some problems:
1) Training – How do teachers learn about multi-literacies and multi-modalities Trying to commodify the ideas – it can't be programmatic.
2) Transfer – how can multi-literacies produce achievement in traditional litearcies – ie. What good does Garage band etc, support standardized test. Modal validity. Can video training be used across contexts? Mutli-model to pencil
3) In school and out of school – when things are working out of school, can it be transferred to in school? Does it lose it's power
4) Supply and demand – Add on all the new stuff – collaboration, technology etc, is laid over the top of current standards and curriculum. The stuff that is valued is tested, and so the othe stuff (new age literacies) are not taught. Creative industries (fashion, design, computers) are about 11% of US GDP. New world order – will the old stratification be reproduced?

Sarah Michaels, Catherine O'Connor

Classroom talk – will serve as a pedagogical tool. But, this means that some will still be more privileged than others.  How might teachers orchestrate talk in ways that support Mutli-literacies?
*Can not be scripted
*Can not be free form
*Classrooms are densely populated, noisy social spaces, and this must be managed.
*IRE is a proxy for real discussion – it looks like it
*Cultural tools that can scaffold academically productive and inclusive discussion
       *Discussion phrases for teachers – Can you say more about that?
       *Re-voicing – when teachers restate a student response to check for understanding of the response.
How do we train teachers learn to use this?
These are new tools – a new identity – and the tool won't do the work for you
sometimes teachers feel it is fake or scripted
Hard to see them at work in real content, goes by too fast in real life
Integrated within content
Framework of shared goals, integrated with content, and with videos
helping individual students to externalize their thinking – to share their reasoning out loud
Helping students to orient to others and listen to what others say
Helping students to deepen their reasoning
Helping students work with and engage with the thinking of others

Student don't do this automatically – teachers must scaffold this. Teachers work in small groups, with focused view guides and the videos.

Bill Cope

Testing – we found that testing is all important in US. My background (from the UK) had a curriculum that was highly regulated and not in the least transparent. In the US – NCLB focused on testing, even though there is no national curriculum. Standardize testing is poor as it reduces the raw material of knowledge (what can be tested), depends on process of inference (how this shows what kids know), and is an at-the-end managerial process.

What if we were really interested in knowing what kids know and learn?
Formative assessment and feedback, in such a way that would help students learn better.

Ubiquitous authoring – it is available on any communication medium.

“The work” - (semantic editor) whatever text one is working on, integrates photo, video etc.
“About the Work” - social comments and feedback – machine supported.
Beta testing in schools (2nd iteration). Used in 2 different school - 1 that was highly successful and the other in a collapsing town. The poverty kids had more access to digital literacies than the university supported school.
Infinities of meaning – we can't standardize meaning making, computability dilemma,

Brian Street – respondent

What is new about New Literacies studies?
Many think it has to do what in new in literacy (computer etc) – but we meant it as finding new ways of seeing, looking, and understanding literacies
Newness – there were so much new in the group – meet in the New world, in New Hampshire, in New London – why do we continue to have old and new
Literacy – what does literacy refer too
Reading, writing, Reading/writing – but we mean other modes
muti-literacy, assumes that everything else is a literacy – oral, visual,
Is the old determinism (modes) in the new? It is the mode that determines what we do – ie schooling. Much of the framing of literacy in schooling, uses this. That the technology, or new thing, will fix society, the child,
Group – we were from all different backgrounds, camps and expertize and went off to meet with other groups to spread what they learned. Each group brings their own idea. We now have the New Orleans group
Multiplicity of meaning making – is it so new and are some of the claims being made problematic. From the Guardian, about the revolutions in N. Africa. Twitter/facebook revolutions – this is new phenomenon and the technologies are driving the revolution. Is it a means to power, not power itself. It can have different consequences. The media seems to relate that Twitter supports – but it is just a social practice, which could just as easily be used for oppression.
So – how is there change? Is is the new mode? Technologies?
We use literacy – but other groups are addressing the same issues without calling it literacy. IE super-diversity – how do we connect with related groups?
Literacy with a big L and a small single y (why)

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Knowledge Building

A major aspect of affinity spaces is the sharing of knowledge – but not in the traditional consumption model in which the learner is presented with a body of knowledge to commit to memory or master a set of skills. Scardamalia and Bereiter propose (2003) that knowledge building is “the production and continual improvements of ideas of value to a community, through means that increase the likelihood that what the community accomplishes will be greater than the sum of individual contributions and part of the broader cultural efforts” (p. 1370). To have environments that build knowledge, ideas need to be addresses as “objects of inquiry and improvement” (p. 1371) and be made available to the community to dissected, connected and discussed. Therefore a shared work space is needed along with an organized method of interactions with the ideas. It is through this interaction that the ideas themselves are improved, but also the participants are able to engage in the discussion as their own level and make individual connections to the ideas. Knowledge building is a form of constructivist learning, in which the learner constructs his or her own meaning of the ideas through connecting the new experiences to previous experiences. However, deep constructivism requires that “people are advancing the frontiers of knowledge in their community” (p. 1372). To do so, the learners must identify their own problems and goals, gather and report information, make conclusions and theories, and refine the ideas, which Scardamalia (2002) calls collective cognitive responsibility. In other words, all members of a group have an individual responsibility to contribute to the joint creation of knowledge, which is distributed across the group, not concentrated in a leader.

In a 2002 article, Scardamalia delineated the principles of knowledge building:
  • Real ideas and authentic problems
  • Improvable ideas
  • Idea diversity
  • Rise above (forming theories or principles)
  • Epistemic agency
  • Community knowledge, collective responsibility
  • Democratizing knowledge
  • Symmetric knowledge advancement
  • Pervasive knowledge building
  • Constructive uses of authoritative sources
  • Knowledge building discourse
  • Concurrent, embedded, and trans-formative assessment
Affinity spaces seem to be good places to see knowledge building in action. Since affinity spaces are created based on the shared interest in content, or ideas, the building of knowledge within this space is a primary goal, plus the goals or problems are defined by the people inhabiting the space. In addition, according to the characteristics of an affinity space, as defined by Gee, status and leadership is porous or constantly changing – novices and experts work side-by-side.

Scardamalia, M. (2002) Collective cognitive responsibility for the advancement of knowledge. In B. Smith (Ed.), Liberal education in a knowledge society (pp.67-98). Chicago: Open Court.
Scardamalia, M., & Bereiter, C. (2003). Knowledge Building. In Encyclopedia of Education, (2nd ed. pp. 1370-1373). New York: Macmillan Reference, USA.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Affinity Space

Gee builds on Lave and Wenger’s (1991) concept of communities of practice, but focuses more on the space, rather than membership. He proposes that the assumption of community is a false one, as people can participate in the same community, yet not feel a sense of belonging or membership. Gee defines affinity spaces as a “place, or set of places where people can affiliate with others, based primarily on shared activities, interests, and goals” (2004, p.73). With online communication becoming more prevalent, Gee believes that this re-conceptualization of communities of practice is needed because “if we start by talking about spaces rather than “communities” we can then go on and ask to what extent the people interacting within a space, or some subgroup of them, do or do not actually form community” (2004, p. 78). Using the term “community” indicates closer social ties, that of belongingness and membership with similar goals, which aren't always present in online communication. It may be easier to delineate the boundaries of the space and then look at how different sorts of people use that space - what they do there and what they get from that space.

To define the space, especially online where there are no physical or geographical boundaries, Gee (2004) suggests content and interaction as a way of defining the space. The things that give the space content and meaning, he titles the generator. The entry into the space he titles the portal which isn't another person, but rather a tool (textbook), activity (small group discussion), or generation of content (posting a lesson plan). For an affinity space, people choose to enter the space because of an interest in the content, not the people occupying the space, which is a significant shift from Lave and Wenger’s (1991) community of practice where the apprenticeship model and relationships are key. In an affinity space, there is little designation of apprentice or master. Gee’s (2004) defining characteristics of an affinity space include:
  1. A common endeavor (interests, goals or practices)
  2. People with varying levels of experience and skill share the same space
  3. Ways of entering the space can also generate content
  4. Content is organized and transformed by the users
  5. Intensive and extensive knowledge is encouraged
  6. Individual and distributed knowledge is encouraged
  7. Dispersed knowledge (not in the space) is highlighted
  8. Tacit knowledge is modeled and articulated
  9. Many forms and routes to participation
  10. Many routes to status
  11. Leadership is porous and leaders are resources
Much of Gee's work, and others, focus on affinity spaces online and mostly through massive multi-player online role playing games or fan-fiction sites (Gee, 2003; Squire & Steinkuehler, 2005; Squire, Giovanetto, Devane, & Durga, 2005; Black, 2007 ). However, the characteristics Gee describes are evident in many other online spaces, such as a collaborative wiki or Ning.

Black, R.W. (2007). Fanfiction writing and the construction of space. E-Learning, 4(4), 384–397. Retrieved from dx.doi.org/10.2304/elea.2007.4.4.384
Gee, J.P. (2003) What video games have to teach us about learning and literacy. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.
Gee, J. P. (2004). Situated language and learning: A critique of traditional schooling. New York: Routledge.
Lave, J., & Wenger, E. (1991). Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Squire, K., Giovanetto, L., Devane, B., & Durga, S. (2005). From users to designers: building a self-organizing game-based learning environment. TechTrends: Linking Research & Practice to Improve Learning, 49(5), 34-74.
Squire, K., & Steinkuehler, C. (2005). Meet the gamers. Library Journal 130(7), 38–42

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Communities of Practice

Communities of practice, as a concept has been around since the beginning of civilization when humans gathered together to support each other's survival. The more experiences members of the community would mentor and model the needed skills and ways of thinking to the less experienced members through storytelling, direct instruction and observation of practice. However, the term “communities of practice” (CoP) was coined as a research term by anthropologists Lave and Wegner (1991) to understand how apprenticeships help people learn. Through their study of multiple apprenticeship models in various careers, they recognized that the learning was situated, in other word, it was located within the practice and participation of the activities of the job. As novices, the apprentice was mentored into the community through a process of legitimate peripheral participation. Accordingly, the novices were given low-risk tasks, observed the masters, and in some cases, encourage to discuss the work. This legitimate peripheral participant advances the goals of the community while at the same time, provided the novices hands-on training in the work. The more directly involved with the work of the masters, the more deeply the novice is able to understand the activities and ways of thinking. As the novices gain experience, their own work moves toward the central activities of the community and they, in turn, become mentors to other novices. 
In brief, Wenger defines communities of practice as “groups of people who share a concern or a passion for something they do and learn how to do it better as they interact regularly” (Communities of Practice: An Introduction, 2006). There are three characteristics which define them: domain, community and practice. The domain is what distinguishes the group from just a network of people. Membership in the community is based on a commitment to the shared interest or concern. However, the only way to form community is through interaction – the sharing of information, activities, discussions, help and support. The interaction does not need to be face-to-face, asynchronous or daily; but consistent and dependable. Although the community is formed around a shared interest or concern, it is more than just a fan club. As McDermott observes, “communities of practice are not just celebrations of common interests. They focus on practical aspects of a practice, everyday problems, new tools, developments in the field, things that work and don't” (10 Critical Success Factors, 2000). The members of the community are practitioners of the activity – whether that activity is nursing, snow boarding, or engineering. The members, individual, engage in similar practice and therefore have common experiences or stories, but when working together as a community, they are able to extend or refine their practices. 

Although the concept of communities of practice has been around for thousands of year, the language initial defined by Lave and Wenger (1991) has allowed researches, companies, organization and educational institutions to look closer at the mechanisms that interact to make successful or less successful communities of practice. Much of the application of communities of practice has been in the workplace such as Xerox service repairers (Brown & Duguid, 2000), insurance claim operators (Wenger, 1998), and innovation in cancer treatment (Swan, Scarbrough & Robertson, 2002). However, the concept seemed to transfer well to online communities with case studies (Ardichvili, Page & Wentling, 2003; Pan & Leidner, 2003) of companies moving to on-line communities of practice and recommendations on how to design communities of practice online (Kim, 2000; Wenger, McDermott and Snyder, 2002). However, many of the studies of communities of practice in online contexts have been based on mandated use by the practitioner, as illustrated in the case studies mentioned above. There has been some study on a pre-designed communities, such as TappedIn – a professional teaching network (Schlager & Fusco, 2004). But, what about the online spaces that are created voluntarily by the practitioners and evolve with the needs of the practitioners, rather then the needs of an administrator?

Friday, April 01, 2011

Social Presence

Before computers became ubiquitous, Short, Williams, and Christie (1976) developed the theory of social presence to explain how people use telecommunications and the effect the medium could have on the communication process. They defined social presence as the "degree of salience of the other person in a mediated communication and the consequent salience of their interpersonal interactions" (p. 65). Salience, meaning the awareness of another person, can be created through the social context, which includes the task, process of the task, privacy and topics involved; perceived proficiency using the mediated communication; and interactivity of the communicators (Tu & McIsaac, 2002). Early researchers posited that social presence was an attribute of the communication medium (Daft & Lengel, 1986; Walther 1996), however, more recent research indicates that social process can be cultivated (Gunawardena & Zittle, 1997).

Whiteside and Garret Dikkers (2011) argue that social presence is really about the level of connectedness of person feels when engaging in computer mediated communication and is a factor in how active a role the person takes in constructing knowledge for both themselves and their peers. To support identification of evidence of social presence in online learning environments, Whiteside (2007) proposed a five element model:
  • Affective association – words indicating emotional connections
  • Community cohesion – words that indicate the participants see the group as a community such as greetings and group references
  • Interaction intensity – questions, references and answers to each other's questions
  • Knowledge and experiences – relaying personal knowledge and experiences to the group
  • Instructor investment – the instructor participates consistently to guide and extend the discussion

Daft, R. L., & Lengel, R. H. (1986). Organizational information requirements, media richness and structural design. Management Science, 32(5), 554-571.
Gunawardena, C. N., & Zittle, F. (1997). Social presence as a predictor of satisfaction within a computer mediated conferencing environment. American Journal of Distance Education, 11(3), 8-26.
Short, J., Williams, E., & Christie, B. (1976). The social psychology of telecommunications. London: John Wiley & Sons
Tu, C.-H., & McIsaac, M. (2002). The relationship of social presence and interaction in online classes. The American Journal of Distance Education, 16(3), 131-150.
Walther, J. B. (1996). Computer-mediated communication: Impersonal, interpersonal, and hyperpersonal interaction. Communication Research, 23(1), 3-43.
Whiteside, A. & Garrett Dikkers, A. (2011). Using the social presence model to maximize interactions in online environments. In St. Amant, K. & Kelsey, S (Eds.) Computer-mediated communication across cultures: International interactions in online environment. Hershey, PA: IGI Global.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Social Media and Teacher Learning

I'm currently working on a proposal about teaching learning through social media.  Here is a Prezi of my initial thoughts.
Social Media and Teacher Learning

Saturday, February 05, 2011

A Beginning Research Statement

The more you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” ~ Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Broadly defined, my research interests focus on how adolescent students make meaning from text and how teachers can help foster both skillful reading and an interest in becoming a life-long reader. I am particularly – though not exclusively - interested in the reading response writing students are often assigned to guide their reading and prepare for small group discussions of the literature. Part of my research involves helping teachers articulate the purpose of implementing small group discussions of literature and aligning their pedagogical choices to their purpose and philosophy.

Having spent over a decade in the classroom, and loving every moment of it, I have high respect for practitioners, which figures into my research agenda and methodology. I want to be a partner with teachers in researching the issues they find imperative and listen closely to their voices. Formative design research is a central part of my research philosophy which focuses on collaboratively investigating pedagogical designs and goals in the context of real classrooms. My dissertation topic is the refinement of implementing peer-led small group literature discussions at the middle school level. At the same time, I am conducting a case study of the professional development of teachers in a suburban middle school who have chosen to implement literature circles in their classrooms. In addition, using a classical grounded theory approach, I investigated the characteristics of expatriate teachers who successfully adapt to living and teaching internationally.