analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Friday, July 29, 2005

I KNEW i was right

This morning I dug out the video recording of independent writing and watched it. I found the four sequences of interaction that I was interested in - and yes, no evaluation of the students' answers by the teacher. I knew I knew it -just had to check. It has been almost a year since i last looked at the video and over two years since I developed the transcript, so difficult to recall what I focused on and included in the transcript. Although i did have a hunch that i would have been meticulous.

The matter of evaluation of a student response is particularly tricky because it might involve a non-verbal action like a nod (or in the case of the teacher in my study, a wink). However, I didn't find anything that suggested that the teacher even acknowledged student answers to her questions in the four sequences of talk. She asked a question of a student, in each case, and then walked away.

There was a strange thing about watching the video this morning. Since I have been focusing for so long on minute aspects of turns at talk, via the transcripts, it was thoroughly strange to see the talk all put back together. Although I know that from the Ca perspective the video is the data, during independent writing everyone in the classroom was doing different things. Thus there was an incredible amount of talk and it isn't easy to hear talk on the video recording. Audio recordings of the day "supplemented" my transcript of talk that occurred at the table and around it. Thus when watching the video, I "hear" talk that can't be heard very easily, so fill in talk from my memory of it.

Now I can complete the paper that I am writing about interactions that were self-started by students. I am pretty sure that i have it right for those sequences of talk that i analysed.

a question given in response to a question

Today I have been looking over my analysis of sequences of talk that occurred during independent writing when students self-started talk with the teacher. All the sequences begin with a question and in response the teacher asks a question. I take the teacher's utterance in each case to be an insertion of a question since rather than supply an answer she asks a question. In the examples that i have examined in the literature, the insertion of a question results in an answer, and then this leads to the provision of an answer for the first question. This doesn't happen in independent writing.

My gut feeling is that when the teacher asks a question, in response to a student question, it brings into play the IRE sequence i.e the student hears the question as requiring an answer that will then be evaluated by the teacher. In my transcripts, the teacher appears not to provide an evaluation (which would be a very interesting aspect of independent writing). BUT, I'm not sure now since when I developed the transcript I was focused on other aspects of talk. So, I am going to have to return to the video recording of the lesson and look for what follows on from student answers to questions asked by the teacher. I have four sequences of talk that i am interested in so I am going to have to find those sequences and look again at what the teacher does after she asks the question, and what she does after a student response. I THINK she walks away without listening to student responses but I am not sure. if the teacher walks away without evaluating answers provided by students then this interaction deviates from that which characterises classroom interaction (a good find).

I have the tape recordings still and can pursue this. yes, Sacks was right. Recordings provide data that can be returned to -unlike written notes that might be recorded about classroom observation.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

today's the day

The Early Career Researcher Program started today. It was a very very good beginning. 13 of us and John, the academic who is conducting the program. Although our circumstances are all slightly different there were many overlaps. That in itself helped me to feel "lighter" about things that i have taken to be specifically about myself and my post PhD situation. While I am still curious as to why I find journal articles so hard to write, and others don't seem to, I glimpsed potential for addressing it.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

flickr and blogging

Originally uploaded by angie cat.
who could fail to notice the print emphasis in my blog (or the predominance of black and white, consequently). I QUITE like it, however I have been exploring flickr lately and so decided to try to blog a pic using it. Since I don't have a black and white pic at the ready, here is something from my garden. the original plant was a gift and had a flower already blooming when I planted it. this flower is the first that i have grown myself. as you can see, I haven't quite mastered the placement of the text. What was also interesting in the blogging of the pic using flickr was that the flickr program called up all my blogs without my help i.e. they were findable in cyberspace by flickr so the program must be able to access all blogs. strange and scary in one sense

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Finished (?)

well ... I have finished a complete draft of my journal article. Now I am going to give it to a couple of colleagues for their feedback. I am NOT displeased with it, rather I am happy to have written it through to the end.

Other things today? I am reading a draft of an EdD thesis. This is the third revision I have seen, so difficult to bring a freshness to the reading. I have also received the documentation for an external course review panel that I have agreed to sit on. The review is next week, with written feedback due by Thursday, so that will be work for this evening.

Other than that, a very very quiet day. Not many folk "on the ground" mid-semester so it is rather a good time for getting things done (as I am determined to do).

Now - what will my next journal article be about ...

Friday, July 08, 2005

blogging regularly

I have decided to be more regular about blogging. The idea of using my blog to make myself accountable (to myself) seems a good one at the moment.

Today I addressed the analysis section of my article. Since it was "lifted" from a chapter of my PhD I was pretty sure that it was a tight analysis. I did some minor tweaking of wording but also found myself re-thinking some aspects of the analysis itself. Looking at sequences of talk is very seductive and there is a great urge to re-analyse but I fought it by reminding myself of the immediate purpose -to produce the article.

I can understand now how CA people can keep going over and over sequences of talk. Harvey Sacks, the founder of CA, would often devote many lectures with his students to re-analysing the same short sequence of talk. Imagine doing that in today's climate in Higher Education.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

almost there

Today I am working on the journal article. It is tentatively titled:

Routine Encounters during Independent Writing: Explicating the taken-for-granted in a lesson

The article is being written out of Chapter Five of my thesis. I am only using a very small section of data analysis though. In rather a radical move (for me) I have included very little background information about the lesson and participants. This is in keeping with much of the CA work. Usually I would include more information however I realised that in a strong sense it doesn't matter much to the analysis and article. What i am trying to do is to examine short sequences of talk and establish interaction that differs from the IRE pattern of teacher-led talk i THINK i have done this.

I am enjoying getting back into CA reading and thinking. Yesterday I re-read a chapter that I enjoy:

Freiberg, J., & Freebody, P. (1995). Analysing literacy events in classrooms and homes: Conversation analytic approaches. In P. Freebody, C. Ludwig and s. Gunn (Eds.). Everyday literacy practices in and out of schools in low socio-economic urban communities (pp. 185-369). Canberra: DEET

My favourite line in the chapter was one about the IRE sequence of talk in classrooms

the "q-a-e" sequence has lost its functional moorings in an instructional sense, and has become the interactive technology that shapes activities for which it may well be thoroughly ineffectual (Freiberg and Freebody, 1995, p. 320)

The research that informed the overall report was a large ethnomethodolocial study that used conversation analysis and systemic functional linguistic analysis. It is a great read

still learning to write

I have written before about the angst involved in completing a Phd but not publishing from it. Producing a journal article HAS nearly driven me nuts. however, good news. I am almost finished one. In the process of trying to write after my PhD completion,and out of my thesis, I feel that i am learning a lot about writing. should be easy? no.

this seems elementary -and maybe it is a style that i have -but in previous attempts i kept re-working drafts, cutting and pasting from my thesis, changing bits, tinkering. this time,I have been ruthless with words with good consequences. the lesson -take out all offending text, strip the article back and then say what you want to say. be clear about the intention of the article -not what was intended in the thesis.

I will get it.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

good news

Today it was confirmed that I have been accepted into the Early Career Research program that will be run during semester two at the University of Ballarat. I am chuffed about this. Being in the program will provide me with opportunities to be with other early career researchers in a focused fashion. I really missed contact with other students when I was completing my PhD as a remote student at the University of Queensland. Now I will get to be with other people who are at a similar stage of their development as early career researchers. So the related thing that I am looking forward to - talking turkey (research) with others for a solid time each week.

Friday, July 01, 2005

the post PhD experience

I've been talking to quite a few people lately about their post PhD experiences. (I guess someone HAS done a PhD on that cos it is a very interesting phenomenon). I'm struck by one common experience - not wanting to look at the thesis (i.e. read any of it) after it has been bound. A couple of people spoke of not opening their thesis for over a year. Another shared experience appeared to be the lack of interest in writing out of their PhD, and another was the inability to write for substantial periods of time after completing their PhD.

I NEED to write soon and fast out of my own PhD. Unlike some students I didn't produce journal articles during my PhD candidature. I regret that now for two reasons. The first is that I think it would have helped me complete aspects of my analysis faster if I had. The second reason is that I now find trying to write, and trying to write journal articles quite difficult.

Due to my plan for the next few weeks (which I constructed for this blog a couple of posts ago) I am making some headway. I returned to an analysis chapter in my thesis (yes, I haven't developed an aversion to reading the final version of my thesis)and I am using this to shape up a draft of a journal article. Although it isn't easy, I have found that having the detailed CA analysis of sequences of talk "already done" gives me a good start. Since each of the sequences took many weeks to analyse and describe (sometimes months) I am now coming to look at them as my "capital" for future work.

I also had an important realisation about what was "crippling" my previous attempts at writing. I was still in PhD mode. So even a journal article turned into a mini thesis.

my thanks to those who shared their PhD experiences with me recently. zheng lin, if you are reading this blog, I was particularly struck by your own comments today about taking a year away from your phD work after it was finished. and now look at you ...