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2015 February RTE, v49.3

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

ISBN/ISSN: 0034-527X


Research in the Teaching of English
Volume 49, Number 3, February 2015

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Editors’ Introduction: (Dis)orienting Spaces in Literacy Learning and Teaching: Affects, Ideologies, and Textual Objects
Amanda Smith, Mary M. Juzwik, and Ellen Cushman
Abstract: The editorial team introduces the February issue, which focuses on the affects, ideologies, and textual objects that influence the teaching and learning of English.

Examining Emotional Rules in the English Classroom: A Critical Discourse Analysis of One Student’s Literary Responses in Two Academic Contexts
Amanda Haertling Thein, Megan Guise, and DeAnn Long Sloan
Abstract: Current research suggests that emotional investment is essential for helping students critically engage in learning in the English language arts classroom. Yet, scholarship on the role of emotion in literary response has been limited, focusing chiefly on considerations of the merits of personal response—a focus that reflects dominant theories of emotion as located in the individual. Tethered to the personal, emotion has been conceptualized as a peripheral part of literary engagement—as something to be ignored, leveraged, or gotten beyond in an effort to move students toward more substantial textual engagement. This paper proposes that a sociocultural theory of emotion provides a new lens for considering how emotion engages students in literature learning. In this view, emotion is in the fabric of every classroom context, manifesting as “emotional rules” that have material implications for learning. Constructed using methods from Critical Discourse Analysis, the case study outlined in this paper demonstrates how emotional rules were perceived, taken up, and even transformed by one student, Nina, in two discussion contexts—a seminar circle and a literature circle—playing a central role in the work of literature learning in each context. Our findings advance scholarship on the relationship between response and emotion by suggesting that emotion cannot simply be invited in or left out of the literature classroom in the interest of moving students toward literary engagement, but instead is already fundamentally a part of literary engagement and must be noticed, interrogated, and sometimes disrupted in the interest of expanding interpretive possibilities.

Searching for Full Vision: Writing Representations of African American Adolescent Girls
Gholnecsar E. Muhammad
Abstract: Currently, African American girls are being depicted as overly sexual, violent, or confrontational, are judged by physical features, or are invisible across mainstream media and within school classrooms. Few investigations have explored how they respond to and interpret such imposed representations. Nor, for the most part, have studies examined how girls represent themselves among a society of others pathologizing and defining who they are. This inquiry investigated self-representations in the writings of eight African American adolescent girls ages 12–17 who participated in a historically grounded literacy collaborative. Coupling sociohistorical and critical sociocultural theories, I organized and analyzed their writings through open, axial, and selective coding. Findings show that the girls wrote across platforms similar to those African American women have addressed historically, which included writing to represent self, writing to resist or counter ascribed representations, and writing toward social change. The girls wrote multiple and complex representations, which included ethnic, gender, intellectual, kinship, sexual, individual, and community representations. These findings suggest their writings served as hybrid spaces for the girls to explore, make sense of, resist, and express different manifestations of self. The representations the girls created in their writings did not fall into static notions of culture or identity. Instead, their self-representations were socially constructed and were responsive to their lives. This study extends the extant research by offering wider views of representations from the girls’ voices, as well as a broadened historical lens to view their reading and writing with implications for how English language arts educators can reconceptualize the roles of writing in classrooms.

Using Translation to Drive Conceptual Development for Students Becoming Literate in English as an Additional Language
Robert T. Jiménez, Sam David, Keenan Fagan, Victoria J. Risko, Mark Pacheco, Lisa Pray, and Mark Gonzales
Abstract: Literacy research has not yet revealed how bilingual learners develop coherent and robust theories of language. Translation, however, provides emergent bilinguals (EL students) with opportunities to develop metalinguistic awareness, which can lead to a more complete conceptual framework for thinking about language and literacy. This preliminary research study sought to formulate an instructional approach (TRANSLATE: Teaching Reading and New Strategic Language Approaches to English learners) focused on using translation to ultimately improve ELL students’ reading comprehension. Using design research methods and qualitative analytical techniques, researchers asked middle school students described as struggling readers to work collaboratively and use various strategies to translate key excerpts from their required English literature curriculum into Spanish. Analysis of students’ statements, decision making, and interaction indicated that students’ conceptual understandings about language played an important role in their learning. Students reflected on the nature of vocabulary, syntax, and the ways that different languages communicate ideas. These findings extend conversations in literacy studies concerning the unique affordances of bilingualism to increase metacognitive and metalinguistic awareness, known contributors to higher levels of reading comprehension.

Dialogic Teaching and Dialogic Stance: Moving beyond Interactional Form
Maureen P. Boyd and William C. Markarian
Abstract: While there is consensus that dialogic teaching should involve a repertoire of teaching and learning talk patterns and approaches, authorities who enjoin teachers to engage in dialogic teaching generally characterize classroom dialogue in terms of surface features such as open questions. But dialogic teaching is not defined by discourse structure so much as by discourse function. When teachers adopt a dialogic instructional stance, they treat dialogue as a functional construct rather than structural, and classroom oracy can thrive. Our research finds that dialogic talk functions to model and support cognitive activity and inquiry and supportive classroom relations, to engage multiple voices and perspectives across time, and to animate student ideas and contributions. Employing narrative analysis and cross-episodic contingency analysis, we tell a story in three episodes about how oracy practices promote dialogic functions in a third-grade classroom. We unpack how a particular teaching exchange—one we have selected specifically for its nondialogic surface appearance—reflects dialogic teaching. Findings show how supportive epistemic and communal functions of classroom talk are more important to successful dialogic teaching and learning than are surface dialogic features. We argue it is necessary to look beyond interactional form and unpack function, uptake, and purpose in classroom discourse. There is no single set of teaching behaviors that is associated with dialogism. Rather, teachers can achieve dialogic discourse in their classrooms through attention to underlying instructional stance.

Forum: Where the Machine Stops: Software as Reader and the Rise of New Literatures
Tom Liam Lynch
Abstract: Technology is a ubiquitous part of our everyday lives in and out of schools, yet it escapes the sustained scrutiny of education researchers who contribute to the wider “orthodoxy of optimism” (Selwyn, 2014) accompanying all things technological. Challenging such orthodoxy begins with greater precision in language, replacing the broadness of technology with the more accurate specificity of software (Kitchin & Dodge, 2011). This essay conceptually frames how software space—a term I use to refer to complex computational assemblages—affects the teaching of literature, arguing that software-powered technologies can be conducive to rigorous forms of literary study and research if they are used with an understanding of both the nature of software and the contexts in which software is produced and promoted. I draw on English education and related fields to propose the establishment of what I call new literatures.

Announcing the Alan C. Purves Award Recipient (Volume 48)
Teresa Cota, Lochran Fallon, Loukia K. Sarroub, and Anne Elrod Whitney (2014 Award Committee)

The 2014 NCTE Presidential Address: Powerful English at NCTE Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow: Toward the Next Movement
Ernest Morrell
Abstract: The following is the text of Ernest Morrell’s presidential address, delivered at the NCTE Annual Convention in Washington, DC, on November 23, 2014.

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