analysis, social organization, classroom talk

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Rocky days

Originally uploaded by angie cat

One of the nicest things about Rockhampton is the beautiful Fitroy River. I drive over this river every day when I go to and from work. It is very calming just to see all that water and so many boats.

It has been a busy week, and there is still much to do before Friday. I have to wrap up that journal article that i've been working on. Preparation of an ethics clearance application has taken me away from that for a couple of says. It is important to get ethics clearance applications right the first time so that has been quite a lot of work -the draft was done a couple of weeks ago but I had to pull it together by Tuesday and this required making some decisions about some aspects of the research I will do. Mostly this related to aspects of recording. I"m running late with the research, although in a sense that is not a bad thing. I feel more ready to recruit participants in Rocky now that i have been here longer and have more contacts.

I'm looking forward to moving onto new data analysis. while I thought i could write about my PhD data forever, I think it would be invigorating now to put my analytic skills to different data. In part, I owe my interest in shifting my research focus to the sharing of data that has occurred in a number of workshops this year. We have a research group at Rocky that meets once a month and we've looked at a lot of great data and analysis. My trips to Brisbane and the CA workshops there have also been useful to thinking about moving on. And, of course, it has been great to be able to see bits of Gillian's developing analysis of talk at family mealtimes.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

more tales of not telling

In case you're wondering. the pic is a car park outside the movie theatre in Rocky. Get the vibe?

This morning I've been working on the introduction to my "Not telling" paper. This has required quite a bit more thinking about the argument that will frame the paper. Nevertheless, I enjoyed getting the first paragraph right, and also have the next sentence that will follow. My first attempt read like a history of writing pedagogy, whereas really I am wanting to contextualize talk about writing in relation to current, and balanced, approaches to independent writing.
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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Not telling


Today I am about to begin a draft of an article for an early childhood literacy journal. I am going to use my favourite section of analysis from my PhD - I blogged about this talk earlier in the week. The talk between Wayne and Melodie is probably the talk that I have most diligently analysed and thought about, out of my entire PhD work. I've presented the analysis at a conference but not published it yet. The conference paper was called Withholding information during Help in Independent Writing. For the moment, I am calling my new draft "Not telling" during Help in Independent Writing.
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Sunday, October 14, 2007

withholding information

I've returned to a journal article that i wrote late year and submitted to an international journal. the article wasn't accepted but the editors strongly advised that i should re-submit it. at the time, I was a bit thrown because of some of the feedback provided by reviewers, especially a query related to the use of withholding information to describe what two children accomplished during interaction to record the word 'like'. I really do want to publish the analysis in one form or another as it was interesting but tricky data to analyse. It begins when the teacher directs a student to help another:

T:now (0.2)are you helping(0.2)Wayne write like?(0.4)don’t tell him(0.2)just help him okay Melodie?,

((Melodie nods/ teacher nods/Wayne watching))





[((teacher opens mouth to form “l”))

[NB. as usual the transcript notation is out of kilter thanks to html but you'll get the drift]

SO, yesterday I returned to Sacks to do some reading about "absence". While I didn't use this in my PhD work, i wondered if it might be a way to justify my use of "withholding information" (should I need to do that in the future).

As usual there is much to be gained from the original words of Sacks. For example:

"A way, perhaps, to develop a notion of 'absence' involves looking to places where such a notion is used and attempting to see whether there are various sorts of relevance structures that provide that something should occur. Parenthetically, I'll give as a rule for reading academic literature, that whenever you see somebody proposing that something didn't happen - and you'll regularly find e.g. sociologists, anthropologists, or historians, particularly, saying that something didn't happen, something hadn't been developed yet - that they are proposing that it's not just an observation, but an observation which has some basis for relevance for it." (Lecture, 6, Vol 1, p. 670)

Sacks elaborates on his point, in relation to paired utterances. For example, where the second part of a greeting is not forthcoming. so,

"The relevance that a first member of a pair sets up for a second, constitutes one locus for talk of absences by Members. When thelk about 'absences' they're regularly talking about second pair members, and they're talking about them by reference to the occurrence of the first pair members." (pp. 670 - 671)

Could this be said to apply to talk that I have analysed? I have data where a student asks for the spelling of a word, and another student gives that information.

J:have you already got peanut?,



J:how do you* write it?,


D: [p’ ((looks at his page)) (1.8) ‘e’

((Jamie writing))

So, no absence there. There are lots of examples, however, where the spelling of the word is not provided.

W:how do you write (0.4) like?

((Mckiela beginning to write ‘e’))

T:like ((leans over Wayne)) what does like start with?

Now here's the thing. While the information is not provided in any questions asked of the teacher about the spelling of a word,there IS always an answer of a particular kind i.e. what does it start with? Or, where can you find it? So, in the classroom on that day, there were responses given (am I splitting hairs with the use of that word?)but not the information requested. Since the teacher obviously knew how to spell words ('like', 'butter', 'and'), was she not withholding information that was requested?
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Wednesday, October 10, 2007


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This morning I've been occupied with reading two articles. The first was Heap's (1985) Discourse in the production of classroom knowledge: Reading lessons. Curriculum Inquiry, 15, 246 - 279.

I went back to the Heap article because i wanted to reconsider what he had said about use of text during reading lessons. Heap showed that students were learning

-“text-as-source’ rule (p. 266)
-how a story can be “understood as part of the culture, hence governed by its logic.” (p. 266)

The thing that always strikes me about reading Heap, is that they are "big" papers.

The second article I read was: Goodwin, M. H. (2007). Occasioned knowledge exporation in family interaction. Discourse and Society, 18, 93 - 110. This one examined one's family's interactions in order to "explicate the ensemble of conversational practices a particular family makes use of to cultivate active engagement in imaginative inquiry about the world." (p. 94). Analysis in the article addresses:
-"practices for inviting exploration" (p. 97)
-"word play in the midst of exploring the meaning of a word" (p. 100)
-"an extended sequence of playful knowledge exploration".

I was interested in the last point particularly since I considered extended sequences as an aspect of my PhD.

Friday, October 05, 2007

reality analysis

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No, I'm not attending therapy. I've just read this article:

Hester, S., & Francis, D. (1997). Reality analysis in a classroom storytelling.

I like the article a lot – it does two neat things. It establishes the distinctiveness of EM’s take on reality (“reality-as-a-members’-phenomenon” (p. 95)) and it provides an account of reality analysis by a teacher and her class of six-year olds during a storytelling lesson.

Here are my my favourite quotes:

On the focus for ethnomethodology ...
“ethnomethodology is interested in members’ ‘reality analysis’. This interest is fundamentally a descriptive one; it seeks to describe the mundane practices in and through which persons are oriented to issues of what’s real, true, genuine and so forth.” (p. 97).

The researchers make the point that ordinary people do what sociologists do i.e. wonder about how and why people see and do things as they do (p. 97).

On EM within sociology ...
“The approach of ethnomethodology seeks to respect the status such matters have for members and encourages sociology not to make ontological mountains out of everyday molehills.” (p. 109)

On "believability and reportability" (lovely)...
“we shall explicate how the teacher’s question exhibits reality analysis. In doing this, we shall consider firstly the method whereby recognizability of these events as extraordinary is accomplished, and secondly how the issues of believability and reportability are occasioned by features of the storytelling, including the ‘extraordinariness’ of the events described.” (pp. 100 – 101).

I’ve never used MCA but I've been thinking more about it lately thanks to talking with people at the brisbane TAG group who use it ...

“The child’s suggestion thus embodies a category analysis and a reality analysis in which the problem is treated as real and capable of being solved through an ordinary course of action. The teacher’s agreement and positive evaluation of this suggestion confirms not only the child’s reality analysis but his category analysis as well.” (p. 104)

I sent Gillian a copy of the article. I'm looking forward to hearing what she made of it.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

What i'm listening to today


A colleague has given me a couple of his CDs to listen to -Van the Man. I haven't heard either of them (Hymns to the Silence and Magic Time). I started with the former. The first track? Professional Jealousy. My goodness that was downbeat.

Meanwhile, I found this interesting reading about reading

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