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2011 August RTE, v46.1

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Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 46, Number 1, August 2011

ISBN/ISSN: 0034-527X


Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 46, Number 1, August 2011
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Editors’ Introduction: On the Complexities of Writing and Writing Research
Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior

Standpoints: The Disciplined Interdisciplinarity of Writing Studies
Charles Bazerman
Abstract: Charles Bazerman reminds us of the complexity of writing. He describes his own journey of disciplined study of writing as one that has necessarily been interdisciplinary, or more precisely, that has involved a series of different disciplinary engagements, each of which is aimed at illuminating some dimension of literate activity and its social consequences.

Children’s Text Development: Drawing, Pictures, and Writing
Mary Christianakis
Abstract: Using a sociohistoric developmental lens, this paper traces the construction of texts composed by fifth graders in an urban classroom in order to answer the following questions: How do children develop as writers in school? How do writing and drawing function in children’s texts? How do teaching practices shape children’s writing development? Ethnographic data collected in a fifthgrade classroom reveal how children used drawing to create classroom texts. Data show that drawing is not simply a developmental preface to writing. Rather, when given guided intellectual freedom, children integrate writing, drawing, and pictures in sophisticated and creative ways. The author traces children’s text development to show how schooling as an institution bounds and limits their use of their authorial prerogatives, their textual possibilities, and ultimately their developmental potential. She concludes by asserting that we must reconsider development in writing to include not only orthographic symbols, but also the wide array of communicative tools that children bring to writing. Any analysis of development that fails to include an analysis of the corresponding institutional practices and ideologies is liable to be no more than a contribution to the efficacy of that developmental model.

Constructing Difference Differently in Language and Literacy Professional Development
Thomas P. Crumpler, Lara J. Handsfield, and Tami R. Dean
Abstract: In this study we take up challenges regarding researcher positionality, representation, and the construction of difference as a launching point to reflexively analyze our own practices within aresearch project exploring multilingualism, multiliteracies, and teacher development. Our data were drawn from a teacher study group we facilitated during the first phase of a two-year study. We draw on poststructuralist understandings of discourse, power, and performativity and use elements of Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA) to conduct a close thematic reading of two moments of discomfort in one study group meeting, and we critique our own complicity in the discursive production of difference. Further, we engage tools of process drama to theorize how we might have structured and responded to interactions differently during one of these same moments in order to address these challenges more successfully. We conclude by arguing for approaches and interpretive tools for researchers that could help to reimagine as well as respond both ethically and analytically to issues of representation in language and literacy research.

Subjectivity, Intentionality, and Manufactured Moves: Teachers’ Perceptions of Voice in the Evaluation of Secondary Students’ Writing
Jill V. Jeffery
Abstract: Composition theorists concerned with students’ academic writing ability have long questioned the application of voice as a standard for writing competence, and second language compositionists have suggested that English language learners may be disadvantaged by the practice of emphasizing voice in the evaluation of student writing. Despite these criticisms, however, voice continues to frequently appear as a goal in guidelines for teaching writing and on high-stakes writing assessment rubrics in the United States. Given the apparent lack of alignment between theory and practice regarding its use, more empirical research is needed to understand how teachers apply voice as a criterion in the evaluation of student writing. Researchers have used sociocultural and functionalist frameworks to analyze voice-related discursive patterns, yet we do not know how readers evaluate written texts for voice. To address this gap in research the present study asked: 1) What language features do secondary English teachers associate with voice in secondary students’ writing and how do they explain their associations? 2) How do such identified features vary across genres as well as among readers? Nineteen teachers were interviewed using a think-aloud protocol designed to illuminate their perceptions of voice in narrative and expository samples of secondary students’ writing. Results from an inductive analysis of interview transcripts suggest that participating teachers associated voice with appraisal features, such as amplified expressions of affect and judgment, that are characteristic of literary genres.

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