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Repertoires of classroom interaction and its potential for literacy learning in two Swedish classrooms in the middle school years
University of Gothenburg, Gothenburg, Sweden.
Örebro University, School of Humanities, Education and Social Sciences. (Utbildning och demokrati)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9233-3691
2016 (English)Conference paper, Oral presentation with published abstract (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

This paper discusses interactional conditions and possibilities in classrooms related to literacy education during the middle school years. The paper draws on an ongoing study[1], where interactional processes of learning through languages, literacies and texts, were followed closely during one year in two multilingual Swedish classrooms. Students as all citizens need to be able to sort, comprehend and critically review texts and their content, capacities, that all are stressed in the Swedish national curriculum (National Agency of Education, 2011). Our work is informed by understandings of literacy as social practice in the tradition of the New Literacy Studies (see for example Street, 2003). Literacy practices here embody multifaceted and pluralistic uses of literacies for different purposes, which include a wide range of texts and languages. These literacy practices are socially situated in student’s everyday lives, in and out of school. We conceptualize language and literacy learning as depending on comprehensible input as well as interaction and meaningful use of literacies and languages, where also more formal aspects of the latter have to be integrated (Cummins, 2001). This is not to suggest that there is not a cognitive element to how well students learn literacy, but we believe there is also a social element to learning literacy and to how students are constructed as literacy learners (see for example Heath, 1983; Heller, 2008). Here processes of interaction play a crucial role for the establishing of classroom literacy practices, which efficiently support all students’ literacy learning. We bring this conceptual framework to an analysis of classroom interaction, drawing on the above study, and more specifically three lessons from respectively two multilingual classrooms with twelve-year-old students. Each of the two units of lessons covers the interdisciplinary theme Law and Right and World Religions. Our aim is to draw key insights for how processes of interaction are organized to support literacy learning across the curriculum. We look for ways of organizing interaction in different situations and aspects of everyday classroom practices, such as; whole class teaching, collective group work led by teacher, collaborative and pupil led group work, one-to-one (teacher and pupil) and pupils working in pairs (see Alexander, 2008, p. 187). We ask:

  • What repertoires of classroom interaction can be identified?

  • Do different repertoires of classroom interaction interplay with each other and, if so, in what ways?

  • What are the consequences considering the above questions for the participating students learning of reading and writing across the curriculum?

[1] The ongoing research project, which the above case studies are a part of, has got the title Understanding Curriculum Reforms – A Theory-oriented Evaluation of the Swedish Curriculum Reform Lgr 11. Scientific leaders are Ninni Wahlström, Professor in Pedagogy and Daniel Sundberg, Professor in Pedagogy, at Linnaeus University in Sweden. This research project, which is financed by the Swedish Research Council, got started in 2014 and will be finished in 2017. For more information see http://lnu.se/employee/ninni.wahlstrom?l=en

Method: This study is centered on different ways of organizing interaction for the teaching and learning of content and capabilities across the curriculum in two Swedish and multilingual classrooms. Video- and audio recording has been conducted of three lessons in two classrooms. In the course of time two interviews with the class teacher and groups of different students have been carried out. In the interviews the recordings have functioned as shared content, making reflection and analyses of communication- and interaction processes possible from both teachers’ and students’ perspectives. In this field work, inspired by ethnographical methods, we have been striving for a reflexive approach, meaning that we have sought to take part of the participating teacher’s and student’s perspectives within contextualized social practices (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1989). Altogether transcripts from video- and audio recording and interviews together with field notes and photos of artifacts and works samples create the empirical data.

In analyzing the data Alexander’s (2008) categories of organizing classroom interaction has been used. Through detailed descriptions from what we have observed together with the students and the teachers explanations and utterances, a fine-grained observation scheme has been developed and used for the analysis of the created empirical material.  This analysis of the visible and existent interactional processes will in the next step be related to Cummins (2001) conclusions of approaches that make successful literacy learning possible for all students.

Expected outcomes: By analyzing processes of interaction in these classrooms we believe that we are able to identify some key insights regarding literacy pedagogy in relation to conditions and possibilities of language and literacy learning (Cummins, 2001). The paper aims to shed light on and develop conceptual understandings of the relationships between processes of interaction and access to quality literacy teaching and learning. The key intent of this paper is to provide insight into how carefully organized and closely followed and evaluated processes of interaction across the curriculum can mean literacy success for all students, something that is high on the educational agenda in contemporary Europe. In contemporary times, teachers meet demands of assessing student’s literacy learning, in ways, which might result in the creating of learning spaces where the same target might get lost (see for example Vesteraas Danbolt & Iversen Kulbrandstad, 2012). Such policy initiatives might result in our schools and educators losing sight of the importance of classroom interaction as well as the resources and experiences of literacy that students might bring to school. In this paper we aim to fore ground the implications of interaction and the crucial role it plays for students language and literacy learning across the curriculum. We argue that the latter is crucial for all students and in whole necessary for multilingual learners. The paper is relevant to European classrooms and by providing key insights from this smaller classroom study our ambition is to contribute to spaces for dialogue and comparison between researchers and educators in Europe as well as between nations and systems. 

References

Alexander, Robin (2008). Essays on Pedagogy. London, New York: Routledge.

Cummins, Jim (2001). Negotiating Identities: Education for Empowerment in a Diverse Society. Second Edition. Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education.

Hammersley & Atkinson, 1989

Heath, Brice Shirley (1983). Ways with words. Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Heller, Monica (2008): Bourdieu and literacy education. In James Albright, & Alan Luke, red: Pierre Bourdieu and literacy education, s. 50-67. New York: Routledge.

National Agency for Education (2011). Curriculum for the compulsory school, preschool class and the leisure-time centre 2011. Stockholm: National Agency for Education.

Street, Brian V. (2003). "What's "new" in New Literacy Studies? Critical approaches to literacy in theory and practice". Current issues in comparative education 5 (2): 77–91.

Vesteraas Danbolt, Anne Marit & Iversen Kulbrandstad, Lise (2012). Teacher Reflections Under

Changing Conditions for Literacy Learning in Multicultural Schools in Oslo. In Anne Pitkänen-Huhta & Lars Holm, ed: Literacy Practices in Transition. Perspectives from the Nordic Countries, p. 209-227. Bristol, NY, Ontario: Multilingual Matters.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016.
National Category
Pedagogy
Research subject
Education
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:oru:diva-65802OAI: oai:DiVA.org:oru-65802DiVA, id: diva2:1190563
Conference
European Conference on Educational Research (ECER 2016), Leading Education: The Distinct Contributions of Educational Research and Researchers, Dublin, Ireland, August 23-26, 2016
Available from: 2018-03-14 Created: 2018-03-14 Last updated: 2018-03-19Bibliographically approved

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Skoog, Marianne

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