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2016 November RTE, v51.2

Non-Member Price: $18.75

NCTE Member Price: $6.25

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

ISBN/ISSN: 0034-527X


Editors’ Introduction: Defining and Doing the “English Language Arts” in Twenty-First Century Classrooms and Teacher Education Programs
Mary M. Juzwik, Ellen Cushman, Kevin Smith, and Cori McKenzie

Secondary Students’ Perceptions of Peer Review of Writing
Adam Loretto, Sara DeMartino, and Amanda Godley
Abstract: Although multiple studies have found that peer review is an effective instructional practice for the teaching of academic writing in K–12 settings, little research exists that documents students’ views of peer review and the features that make peer review tasks useful or challenging for writing development. In this study, we investigated high school students’ perceptions of peer review through a questionnaire administered to 513 students from four schools who had used SWoRD, an online peer review system. Data were analyzed both quantitatively and qualitatively. Our findings demonstrate that most students viewed peer review as helpful to their writing development and that students consistently viewed three features of the SWoRD peer review system as most beneficial: anonymity of writers and reviewers, opportunities to review other students’ writing, and feedback from multiple readers. Students reported difficulty with managing conflicting reviews and wording their feedback. Our study contributes to existing research on peer review of writing by suggesting that secondary peer review activities would be more helpful to students if they considered students’ concerns about social positioning and face-saving, allowed writers to receive feedback from multiple reviewers, and taught students how to manage conflicting reviews. Additionally, our study suggests that the benefits of reviewing have been greatly underestimated in existing research and that students would benefit from more opportunities to give, as well as receive, feedback on academic writing.

An Evaluation of Extensive and Intensive Teaching of Literature: One Teacher’s Experiment in the 11th Grade
Matthew McConn
Abstract: More than four generations ago, Nancy Coryell’s (1927) study revealed that an extensive approach to reading instruction is more effective than an intensive approach, yet the reading establishment then continued to promote intensive, close reading methods. Recently, the writers of the Common Core State Standards renewed this debate by advocating that teachers implement more intensive,close reading strategies. I replicated a portion of Coryell’s (1927) study to determine the effectiveness of intensive and extensive reading instruction; to do so, I examined the impact each method had on students’ comprehension and analysis of literature. The study used a quasi-experimental, nonrandomized, pretest-post test comparison group research design. I used test procedures to measure the difference in pretest-to-post test scores within and between both groups for both comprehension and analysis. No statistically significant differences existed in the gains on the subtest measuring reading comprehension; however, statistically significant differences in gains on the subtest measuring analysis of literature were found within both instructional methods. At a time when policy seems to drive English instruction toward an intensive approach, this study suggests that we need more research before the field of English education can properly debate the issue.

What Makes a More Proficient Discussion Group in English Language Learners’ Classrooms? Influence of Teacher Talk and Student Backgrounds
Jie Zhang, Chunling Niu, Shahbaz Munawar, and Richard C. Anderson
Abstract: Despite the growing evidence of the language and literacy benefits of collaborative discussions for English language learners, the factors contributing to productive discussions that promote ELLs’ positive language outcomes are less understood. This study examined the influence of teacher talk, students’ initial language and literacy skills, and home language backgrounds on the discussion proficiency of four groups participating in eight peer-led literature discussions, called collaborative reasoning (CR), in two 5th-grade classrooms serving mainly Spanish-speaking ELLs. Levels of discussion proficiency were determined using a holistic rating approach and utterance-by-utterance coding of discourse features. Teachers’ scaffolding moves were coded. Students’ pre- and post-intervention language and literacy skills and home language backgrounds were assessed. Results showed greater group variation in discussion proficiency in the mainstream class than in the bilingual class. The two teachers differed in their ways of facilitating CR discussions. Group discussion proficiency was associated with oral English skills (sentence grammar) and reading comprehension, as well as student English language use at home and parental assistance with homework. The talk volume and indicators of high-level comprehension such as articulating and responding to alternative perspectives, elaborations, extra textual connections, and uses of textual evidence were associated with post-intervention language and literacy outcomes. These findings contribute to the understanding of sources of variations in discussion proficiency among groups composed predominantly of ELLs and provide implications for teacher scaffolding strategies to facilitate ELLs’ learning and participation in classroom discussions.

Leaning In to Discomfort: Preparing Literacy Teachers for Gender and Sexual Diversity
Sara Staley and Bethy Leonardi
Abstract:  Educational literacy scholars have demonstrated the rich possibilities of the English language arts, and of queer-inclusive and critical literacy practices in particular, to disrupt heteronormativity and affirm gender and sexual diversity (GSD). However, there are few empirical studies that report what’s involved in preparing literacy teachers to organize classrooms in which recommendations for inclusive practice can land safely. In this article, we provide an account of what happened when we endeavored to prepare a group of secondary preservice literacy teachers for GSD-inclusive education in the context of a university-based literacy methods course and the negotiation of discomfort that ensued. Drawing on queer theoretical perspectives and Kumashiro’s (2001) framework of anti-oppressive education—which figures an important relationship among the concepts of desire, resistance, and crisis in unlearning common sense—we explore how the methods curriculum put many students into a state of emotional crisis. The sources of participants’ discomfort included learning that teachers have been complicit with the oppression of queer youth and wrestling with questions about how to bring their commitments to GSD-inclusive literacy instruction to bear in practice. Our findings suggest that participants who were willing to move toward their discomfort—what we call a deliberate move to lean in—positioned themselves to become strong advocates for queer youth. We argue that emotional discomfort should be figured as a productive tension in queer interventions in English education. Toward that end, we offer leaning in as a generative tool for grappling with the dynamics of heterosexism, homophobia,and broader oppression.

Forum: A Governmentality Perspective on the Common Core
Jory Brass
Abstract: The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) have anchored an education policy apparatus that seeks to reconstruct much of the work of curriculum, teaching, and teacher education. However, teachers and teacher education faculty have often struggled to recognize the specific ideas and practices that education policies mobilize to steer their actions, institutions, and professions toward particular values and outcomes. This Forum essay adopts a governmentality perspective on the CCSS to draw attention to its political rationalities and the work that standards do to govern educators at a distance and to influence how they govern their own conduct. This is not a critique of the Common Core, but a brief reading of CCSS publications in their own terms to highlight their neoliberal governmentality and the ways they have positioned the Standards to steer curriculum, teaching, and teacher education through high-stakes testing, outcomes-based performance management, and the privatization, automation, and outsourcing of core educational processes.

Arthur Applebee: In Memoriam
Edited by Mary M. Juzwik
Abstract: In this Forum, colleagues remember and celebrate the life and legacy of Arthur Applebee, a former editor of Research in the Teaching of English and a leader in the field for many years, who passed away after a short illness on September 20, 2015. Intellectually, Arthur will be remembered for the sheer scope of his work over four decades, for his mentoring of several generations of scholars, for his contributions to research on literature and writing instruction in secondary schools, and for his theoretical work on “curriculum as conversation,” which has left an indelible mark on classroom discourse studies and English teacher education. More personally, Arthur’s friends and colleagues cherished his human kindness, generosity, humility, thoughtfulness, gentleness, equanimity, and affability.

Annotated Bibliography of Research in the Teaching of English

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