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2012 May RTE, v46.4

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Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 46, Number 4, May 2012

Level(s): College, Elementary, Middle, Secondary

ISBN/ISSN: 0034-527X


Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 46, Number 4, May 2012

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Editors’ Introduction: Challenging Simplicity, Embracing Complexity
Mark Dressman, Sarah McCarthey, and Paul Prior

Standpoints: Why EGRA—a Clone of DIBELS—Will Fail to Improve Literacy in Africa
James V. Hoffman
Abstract: This essay raises concerns over the future direction for educational aid designed to promote literacy in developing countries. The essay focuses on the EGRA (Early Grade Reading Assessment)initiative in Africa. At one level, this essay challenges the claims for empirical and research-based support for the EGRA. At a broader level, this essay raises questions regarding the viability of exporting educational aid efforts to developing countries that are modeled after large-scale, highly prescriptive and mostly ineffective programs from the U.S. context. The essay argues for a reframing of educational aid that promotes research and development efforts that embrace a broadened view of what counts as literacy, a valuing of local contexts and a commitment to be guided by local expertise and problem solving capacities.

Emerging Possibilities: A Complex Account of Learning to Teach Writing
Vicki McQuitty
Abstract: In order to prepare effective writing teachers, teacher educators need an understanding of how preservice preparation programs, inservice professional development, and the policies and practices of K-12 schools work together to influence teachers’ writing instruction. This qualitative case study uses complexity theory (Davis & Sumara, 2006) to analyze how one teacher learned to teach writing within and through the emergent, nested, interacting systems of teacher education and the school where she took her first teaching job. Data sources were field notes of her teaching and interviews about her instructional decisions, which were coded using constant comparison (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and the theoretical lens. Findings indicate the teacher’s understanding of writing instruction emerged through interactions between systems as she reproduced and recombined the ideas, values, goals, and activities she encountered within her undergraduate and graduate courses, her school district, and her sixth-grade classroom. The study concludes with discussions of the dynamics of learning to teach writing that emerged through the research and the implications of these dynamics for teacher education, educational policy, and future research.

Audience and Authority in the Professional Writing of Teacher-Authors
Anne Elrod Whitney, Katie Anderson, Christine Dawson, Suyoung Kang, Elsie Olan Rios, Nicole Olcese, and Michael Ridgeman
Abstract: This article discusses the ways issues of audience and authority are encountered and addressed by classroom teachers who write journal articles for publication. Drawing on an interview study of K-12 classroom teachers who have published articles in NCTE’s journals Language Arts, Voices from the Middle, and English Journal, we show that teachers developed and deployed strikingly different conceptions of audience at different points in their composing process. Before and after writing, they acknowledged the wide and mixed readership of those journals, including university-based scholars; however, while drafting their articles they thought about a much more limited group of “teachers like them.” In doing so, these teacher-authors found a concrete way to navigate the contested place of classroom teachers in wider education discourses. We highlight two major implications of this work. First, it complicates the standard advice to writers to “know your audience,” showing instead how considerations of audience are closely linked to questions of one’s status relative to members of that audience. Second, our work might complicate understandings of legitimate peripheral participation and how members of communities of practice are positioned relative to one another vis-à-vis authority: teacher-authors manipulated notions of authority,temporarily redefining some readers as more central and others as more peripheral, in ways that shifted according to the authority stances those definitions allowed them to take in composing.


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