analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Saturday, March 11, 2006

"in the heat of the sequence"

Day two of the long weekend sees me working away at the paper. I tightened up my analysis yesterday but it is still a long read. At one stage I decided to glance over other papers to see how researchers handle incorporating analysis of long sequences into journal articles. This was one i looked at:

In the heat of the sequence: Interactional features preceding walkouts from argumentative talk

In the article, Dersley and Wootton insert one sequence in full. It consists of 159 lines. Two other sequences are used but reference to these consists of summary outlines and then excerpts to illustrate the features that are common to the three sequences.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Pressing deadline

Ah, Friday. Good to reach it but if only it meant a cutoff in the academic world. My paper for AERA is due to be uploaded on 17 March. So the weekend (with a holiday thrown in on Monday, for Victorians)will have to be devoted to writing the paper. The AERA referee process helps -a detailed proposal (up to 2,500 words) which means that the paper has been thought through, largely. This paper will be the first that i have written from my PhD so that is another plus. I can draw on large sections of Chapter Six of my thesis. Nevertheless, there are decisions to be made.

My proposal, and thesis chapter, addresses help between two students. The sequence of talk that i analysed was influenced by the teacher's directive to one student that she should help another but not tell. While I've done a detailed analysis of the sequence, i now face a number of decisions about how the paper should be shaped up. For example, the sequence was an extended one- it continued over many turns at talk. While the analysis establishes some very interesting things it is a hard read. In my thesis I justified the analysis by explaining that the detailed analysis of turn-by-turn talk was necessary to establish the ways in which the teacher influenced interaction, with consequences for the two students involved. A chapter in a thesis is one thing -a paper is another.

Many tensions arise from just producing a paper. My CA "side" wants to stay true to the analysis of the long sequence. However, my "reader" side suggests that the analysis is a difficult read. I could "blot out" sections of it, for example where one student is just sitting and not doing anything. at the same time -his inaction strongly illustrates the consequences of the teacher's directive that "not telling" is required when help is given. Without being told what to do, a student who doesn't know how to spell a word is left inactive for a long period of time. The video recording of this sequence captures the student's painful inactivity. I stayed true to this in the analysis but, as i said -it is a difficult read.

Saturday, March 04, 2006

my weekend

This weekend I taught a masters by coursework class. The unit focused on approaches and issues in writing instuction. I like teaching the unit because i designed it. It addresses writing pedagogy from process writing onwards in Australia. The first day of the weekend school addressed process writing and genre pedogogy - leading up to the great writing debate between these two approaches in Australia. Today we examined resolutions of that debate as these have panned out withing current approaches to writing in classrooms. Balance was a focus. We examined the Early Years LIteracy Program in Victoria, the approach presented by Lesley Wing Jan in her text about writing, and the four roles model developed by Luke and Freebody. While the latter model doesn't advocate a balanced approach, we spent some time thinking about how it does lead to a balance of a particular kind.

Spending a whole weekend doing this kind of work isn't the ideal. However, it reminded me that I have a double interest in my work as an academic. I want to make a contribution to the field of conversation analysis and I would like to contribute to the field of writing pedagogy. I haven't pulled it off yet. The papers that I have sent off for review have focused on CA. I am yet to make a mark on literacy pedagogy, in relation to writing. Yet I feel that my PhD research has led to some important findings in relation to writing instruction. Mmmm -gotta write more papers.

Friday, March 03, 2006

katrina wrote

I received an email yesterday from an old friend. Katrina and I worked together in a very small Catholic school in inner-city Sydney. It must be almost 15 years ago now. The school had large numbers of ESL students -I think it was about 85%. Katina and I worked together for a year with Kindergarten (Prep) class. She was the classroom teacher and I was the ESL teacher. It was an interesting year. We both had very strong views about schooling, students and literacy. We spent a lot of time collaborating, mulling over things and -dare I say it- trying to do school differently. We both ended up leaving classroom teaching, although I think it's true to say that we both have maintained an interest in the need to change schools. (If you read this Katrina, you might want to correct me, but i hope not!).