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“We asked them about literacy... they told us about their lives.”. Lyn Wilkinson – Flinders University Annmarie Reid – University of South Australia. Abstract.

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we asked them about literacy they told us about their lives

“We asked them about literacy...they told us about their lives.”

Lyn Wilkinson – Flinders University

Annmarie Reid – University of South Australia

abstract
Abstract
  • In this presentation, we will tell the stories of three young men described as disengaged, struggling and ‘likely to leave school before completing their senior school certificate.’ For these three students, teachers’ work has made a difference. Through their stories, we will explore the challenges faced by secondary school teachers who seek to make the curriculum more permeable and illuminate some of the strategies used to ‘turn around’ the young men whose stories we share. [*The title is based on a quotation from Barton & Hamilton (1998) quoted in Luttrell & Parker, 2001, p. 243.]
overview of presentation
Overview of presentation
  • Chapter 1: Why stories?
  • Chapter 2: The stories which have shaped our work: the work of Moll et al, Thomson, Mottram & Hall, Comber & Kamler, and Luttrell & Parker.
  • Chapter 3: Telling their stories: Greg, Joe and Tony.

Greg: Establishing relationships to find ‘ruling passions’

Joe: Piloting projects to make links with the community

Tony: Embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum

  • Chapter 4: The stories conclude: collaboration, collegiality and conversation.
why stories
Why stories?

Chapter 1

why stories1
Why stories?
  • ‘In the telling and retelling of our stories, we change, we learn, and we grow, giving up the stories of ourselves that we hold when we can replace them with richer and more significant versions more suited to our current environments and to the future we foresee. ... When our collective images and imaginations are linked in the creative act of giving voice to shared visions, the process can enable and empower us to re-form and transform ourselves and our communities.’ (Beattie, 1995, p.127)
why stories2
Why stories?
  • ‘Hearing colleagues’ experiences allows us to check, reframe, and broaden our own theories of practice, and to consider new ideas, new ways of doing things, and problem-solving approaches that we might not have thought of ourselves. It also makes us aware that we all share common problems and issues, which can be profoundly reassuring and can also suggest ways we can work together to overcome these challenges.’

(McLean, 2005)

why stories are important
Why stories are important.

‘The footprints of stories help us to see what other stories could be told...

  • We say what we can’t say with stories; they wiggle into our consciousness - unawares, to touch us where direct statements rarely can.
  • We relate to stories on multiple levels and with different parts of our knowing and our brains.
  • Stories touch our emotional life and weasel us into understanding.
  • Writing stories focuses our attention- it hones our eyeballs-gets them working together and connects us to larger stories.
  • When we write our research stories, our voices come through so even we can hear.’

(Holly, 2009, p.275)

slide8
The stories which have shaped our work: the work of Moll, Thomson, Mottram & Hall, Comber & Kamler and Luttrell & Parker

Chapter 2

moll et al 1992
Moll et al (1992)
  • Ethnographic studies of Arizona neighbourhood social and economic practices. Used teacher-researchers as observants in student’s homes.
  • Use the metaphor of ‘funds of knowledge’ to incorporate the ‘social, economic and productive activities of people in a local region’ which need to be incorporated ‘strategically into classrooms’ (p.139).
  • Strategies or bodies of knowledge that are essential to a household's functioning and well-being may include knowledge, skills, abilities, ideas & practices.
  • Noted that at home, learning was motivated by the children’s interests, questions and activities.
thomson 2002
Thomson (2002)

Vicki and Thanh:

‘Imagine two children about to start school. They are both five years old and are eagerly anticipating their first day. Imagine that each brings with them to school a virtual schoolbag full of things they have already learned at home, with their friends, and in and from the world in which they live.’ (Thomson, 2002, p.1)

Thomson challenges us to change ‘what counts’ in schools and to bring Thanh’s virtual school bag in from the corridor.

mottram hall 2009
Mottram & Hall (2009)
  • Year-long ethnographic study in UK with inner city primary school children; area of urban regeneration characterised by high levels of economic deprivation, high crime and many social problems.
  • Highlights the need for us to find ways to ‘...draw upon (the students) out-of-school literacy histories and family experiences, make connections with their cultural backgrounds and communicative interests, and establish foundations that feel secure and solid enough to allow them to move on confidently to diversify and take more risks’. (Mottram & Hall, 2009, p.109)
comber kamler 2005
Comber & Kamler (2005)
  • The notion of ‘turn around pedagogies’ – ‘the kind of pedagogic, curriculum and people work required for connecting and reconnecting students with literacy’ (p. 7)
  • Interested in models of analysis for the ways in which teachers ‘consciously redesign specific elements of their practice to connect with marginalised students’ (p.1)
  • Emphasis on supporting the development of ‘new interpretative lenses for thinking of young people as potentially capable learners; families as resourceful; and literacy as socio-cultural practices’. (p.11)
luttrell parker 2001
Luttrell & Parker (2001)
  • Ethnographic data gathered in High School Literacy Project in North Carolina
  • Found that while students look to school to provide formal literacy experiences, their reading and writing passions are at odds with the demands of the school curriculum.
  • Students’ personal literacy practices organised around their ‘ruling passions’ (eg: sport, hobbies, online games, work)
  • “We talked to them about literacy, it seemed, and they talked to us about their lives’. (Barton & Hamilton (1998) quoted in Luttrell & Parker, 2001, p. 243)
slide14

Telling their stories: Greg, Joe and TonyGreg: Establishing relationships to find ‘ruling passions’Joe: Piloting projects to make links with communitiesTony: Embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum

Chapter 3

greg establishing relationships to find ruling passions
Greg: Establishing relationships to find ‘ruling passions’
  • Rarely completes work at school
  • Described school as boring
  • Wanted to leave school at end of Year 10
  • Teacher, Domenic, worked to establish a strong relationship with Greg
  • Revealed Greg’s ‘ruling passions’: cows, sport and cars
  • Works as a mechanic on Saturdays
  • Breeds cows for sale
  • Works alongside father in water delivery business
greg establishing relationships to find ruling passions1
Greg: Establishing relationships to find ‘ruling passions’
  • Greg agreed to complete Year 11
  • Challenge to bring ‘passions’ into the curriculum
  • Maths assignment: buy a car
  • PE: organised large regional basketball carnival
  • Business: school runs a Virtual Enterprise in conjunction with local fast food company
  • Teacher, Domenic, has background in hospitality and business; Greg values his ‘real world’ business experiences and his stories about the world of work
joe piloting projects to make links with communities
Joe: Piloting projects to make links with communities
  • Wasn’t sure that he would stay at school – wants to be a carpenter
  • Struggles with writing, in particular, but likes other aspects of school (e.g. PE, woodwork)
  • Became very enthusiastic when he was offered a place in a ‘special’ literacy program
joe telephone job sheet
Joe – telephone job sheet
  • (Joe’s telephone job sheet to go here …)
joe piloting projects to make links with communities1
Joe: Piloting projects to make links with communities
  • Supported by the IT coordinator to make a film about a local issue
  • Worked with a friend to research effects of drought on the River Murray
  • Identified a local fisherman who was willing to be interviewed
  • Devised a series of questions that would illuminate the plight of the Murray, and conducted the interview
  • Wrote a storyboard
  • Shot and edited a short film; included text and voice-over
joe piloting projects to make links with communities2
Joe: Piloting projects to make links with communities
  • Vocabulary
  • Juxtaposition of shots with Henry’s comments
  • Areas covered
  • Areas for development
tony embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum
Tony: Embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum
  • Interested in sport and reptiles - wanted to go to Uni to study zoo-keeping or become a PE teacher at the start of the Project
  • Described himself as a ‘troublemaker’ in years 8 and 9
  • Invited to participate in the ‘Scaly Survivors’ program at school by a teacher; use of Life Coaching methodology to forge a strong relationship with Tony and identify his goals
  • Moved English classes part-way through Year 10 and worked with an English teacher who offered a negotiated curriculum integration topic situated within a local context
  • Teacher expected students to conduct a research project of their own design and connect with experts beyond the English classroom; she supported them to achieve this
tony embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum1
Tony: Embedding sustainable change in mainstream curriculum
  • Tony designed a reptile show for a Reception/Year 1 class. This included writing a script and planning appropriate interactions between himself and the children, and reptiles and the children
  • For the first time ever, Tony achieved an ‘A’ for English
  • Two teachers who provided access to challenging, authentic and locally-connected curriculum helped achieve ‘turn around’ for Tony
  • Tony is currently in Year 11, studying five lines and undertaking an electrical course at TAFE
slide23
Tony

I don’t want to be stuck in basic everything. I want to challenge myself, I want to get somewhere, I want to know if I can deal with that. I want to know that if I can’t deal with that, as least I’ve tried....If I can pass general English, who knows, I could (be) top in this class!

  • Add Tony’s picture here
the importance of teachers to students like greg joe and tony
The importance of teachers to students like Greg, Joe and Tony
  • ‘We find that teachers are an important source of social capital for students. These teacher-based forms of social capital reduce the probability of dropping out by nearly half. However, students who come from socially disadvantaged backgrounds and who have had academic difficulties in the past find guidance and assistance from teachers especially helpful.’

(Croninger & Lee, 2001, p. 548)

literacy sponsors
Literacy Sponsors
  • ‘Sponsors, as I have come to think of them, are any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach, and model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold, literacy – and gain advantage by it in some way.’

(Brandt, 2001, p.19 quoted in Kazemek, 2004, p.449)

elements of the journey
Elements of the journey...

‘What are the elements of this journey?

  • Particular and often peculiar interest...
  • Active engagement in the four modes: listening, speaking, reading, and writing.
  • The use of multiple sources and technologies...
  • Passion- the most important element.

Stories, passion, interest, multiple sources, varied language use-all of these form a particular chain of events. Indeed, they are a particular chain or pattern of stories....’ (Kazemek, 2004, p.449)

collaboration collegiality and conversation sharing our stories
Collaboration, collegiality, and conversation...sharing our stories.
  • ‘…at the heart of meaningful educational reform and change lie the narratives and the interaction of narratives of those who live out their lives in educational settings … Collaboration, collegiality, and conversation provide us with the means with which to interact, to exchange ideas and understandings, and to construct new and more significant meanings for our lives within the context of the narrative unity of those lives. It becomes clear how externally imposed changes can only be superficial at best, in that they fail to connect with the world as it is understood and lived … Collaboration, collegiality, and conversation provide us with the means for reform and professional change within the context of self and community.’

(Beattie, 1995, p.144)

locked in one story
Locked in one story...
  • ‘True reading and writing have deep, telluric connections that run back to speaking and listening. Reading and writing never end. They are gerunds that designate activities that continue to carry a person through life by enabling selves to create stories they tell in internalized, silent and protracted conversations...They ensure that the person will not get locked into just one story’.

Sanders, B. (1994) A is for Ox. New York, Pantheon, p.201 quoted in Kazemek (2004) p. 451.

references
References
  • Alvermann, D. E. (2000) Narrative Approaches. Retrieved 21 November, 2006, from www.readingonline.org/articles/handbook/alvermann/index.html
  • Barton, D. and Hamilton, M. (1998) Local Literacies: Reading and writing in one community. London and New York, Routledge Press.
  • Beattie, M. (1995) Constructing professional knowledge in teaching: a narrative of change and development. New York, Teachers College Press.
  • Comber, B. and Kamler, B. eds (2005) Turnaround Pedagogies: literacy interventions for at-risk students, Primary English Teachers Association, Marrackville, NSW.
  • Croninger, R.G. & Lee, V.E. (2001) ‘Social capital and dropping out of school: Benefits to students of teachers’ support and guidance’ in Teachers College Record 103 (4), pp. 548-581.
  • Groundwater-Smith, S., M. Brennan et al. (2001) ‘Literacy Teaching Across the Curriculum’ in Secondary Schooling in a Changing World. N.S.W., Australia, Harcourt, pp. 175-189.
  • Holly, Mary Louise (2009) “Writing to Learn: A Process for the Curious” in S. E. Noffke and B. Somekh (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research, London, SAGE Publications, pp.267-277.
  • Kazemek, F.E. (2004) “Living a literate life”. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 47 (6), pp.448-452.
references1
References
  • Luttrell, W. & Parker, C. (2001) ‘High school students’ literacy practices and identities, and the figured world of school’. Journal of Research in Reading, 24 (3), pp. 235-247.
  • McLean, J. (2005) Reflecting on your teaching. Retrieved 18/11/05, from www.ltu.unsw.ed.au/ref3-3-2_reflecting.cfm
  • Moll, L. C., Amanti, C., Neff, D., & González, N. (1992) ‘Funds of knowledge for teaching: Using a qualitative approach to connect homes and classrooms’. Theory into Practice, 31(2), pp.132-141.
  • Nichols, S. and Cormack, P. (2009) ‘Making boys at home in school? Theorising and researching (dis)connections.’ Paper presented at the 2009 Gender and Education Conference, ‘Gender: Regulation and Resistance in Education’, Institute of Education, London 25-27 March.
  • Pushor, D. and Clandinin, D.J.(2009) “The Interconnections between Narrative Inquiry and Action Research” in S. E. Noffke and B. Somekh (eds), The SAGE Handbook of Educational Action Research, London, SAGE Publications, pp.290-300.
  • Tyler, J. A. (2006) ‘Re-searching Research Models: What is Emergent, Elastic, and Nonlinear All Over?’ Human Resource Development Review, 5(4), pp.494-505.
  • Thomson, P. (2002) Schooling the Rustbelt Kids: Making the Difference in Changing Times. Allen & Unwin, Crows Nest, NSW.
  • Yair, Gad (2009) ‘Cinderellas and ugly ducklings: positive turning points in students’ educational careers-exploratory evidence and a future agenda.’ British Educational Research Journal, 35 (3), pp.351-370.