analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Friday, March 25, 2005


My most pressing deadline at the moment is a review that a colleague and I have agreed to do for a journal. The book is "A Handbook for Teacher Research: From design to implementation'" written by Colin Lankshear and Michelle Knobel. I've started today with some selective reading of chapters. What stands out, and frames the handbook, is the authors' argument for what teacher reserach should be. This involves a critique of teacher research in Chapter 1, and a stated position that is threaded throughout the handbook. It comes as no surprise in the concluding statements of the final chapter to find a political intention to the work: quality teacher research serves to niggle at government and administrative constraints that restrict democratic education. It is this distinctive edge that makes the handbook a must for use in teacher research contexts.

The handbook should be essential reading in a number of contexts. As core reading in course work methodology units it would be useful for presenting the range of options open to teacher researchers. The chapter on documentary research, and discussion of aspects of it in other chapters, for example, could be usefully employed to question the view that research that impacts on classroom practice necessarily arises from research that directly examines practice in classrooms. This is an important point that is established through the authors' consideration of documentary research that has been influential in the area of literacy education. The work of Graff and Street is examined.. The authors also draw on their own research to illustrate the methods that documentary research might involve.

Friday, March 18, 2005


I am currently working on a draft of an article that focuses on the use of scaffolding in an early years literacy program. Although not written from the perspective of CA, the article relates to an aspect of the literacture review that I did for my PhD. In the article I examine a claim central the to the program that informed literacy instruction in the classroom where I gathered my data for my PhD research. The claim is that a range of teaching approaches facilitates teaching that results in a balanced classroom program. This is described as a broad scaffold.

Professional development materials in the program outline the way in which a broad scaffold (afforded by teaching approaches) leads to a balanced approach to literacy instruction in the area of writing. I am analysing this material in order to consider the weight of the claim that teaching approaches provide a broad scaffold.

So far I have found it very slippery work. The professional development materials consist of a pastiche of theory and research that presents (minimally) seminal work related to scaffolding. So quotes from Vygotsky and Bruner lead to the statements concerning scaffolding and the provision of a broad scaffold in the program. A small section on the role of conversations in teaching follows. Although this suggests that the materials are fair game for a critique, I am still struggling with how to do it.

One thing that I do know. The use of a broad scaffold to provide balance requires descriptions of teaching approaches. These descriptions, as provided in the professional development materials, become prescriptions of teaching. They must be regarded as so because all teaching approaches, according to the program, can be ordered along a continuum of support so that each always provides the same degree of scaffolding.

Thursday, March 03, 2005

the loneliness of the long distance runner

the dust settles on PhD excitement. While actually getting IT has been a tremendous thrill i now move onto publishing from my thesis. In hindsight, i wish that i had published throughout the long proces of doing my PhD research. My friend Robyn is doing that as she moves through the stages of her PhD. Her writing of journal articles is fueled by her analaysis of data and fuels the analytic process itself. I waited and i regret that.Writing journal articles involves a different form of writing and one that i now engage with. How does a chapter of a thesis ,with meticulous analysis of many sequences of talk , become a readable article?