Article

What Meaning-Making Means Among Us: The Intercomprehending of Emergent Bilinguals in Small-Group Text Discussions

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Abstract

In this study, the authors examine how emergent bilingual second graders collaboratively constructed textual understandings, a phenomenon they call intercomprehending, by building on each other's contributions and positioning their ideas in relation to peer ideas. The study traces the interrelationships of the utterances of emergent bilingual students discussing text in English for the first time in the context of a small-group discussion focused on English-language picture books. The textual ideas students shared were highly contingent on peer ideas and at the same time drew substantially on the text itself, particularly the illustrations. The authors argue that intercomprehending may serve as a fruitful way for emergent bilingual students to build on what they know as they read and learn in school and that classroom teachers may do well to build on that resource.

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... Therefore, to aid learners' comprehension abilities, the key assumption is the need to create a substantial number of inference generation opportunities to help them make a rich representation of the text in mind. Also, to validate the inferences generated by learners by reflecting on their world-knowledge structures, there is a need to create and/or use tasks that account for their world-knowledge as well as take into account different responses of learners (Aukerman et al. 2017). Using a verbal protocol analysis to understand learners' engagement with their thought processes (Cote et al., 1999), asking them questions to have an estimate of their understanding of the text in parts (Long & Golding, 1993), and assessing representation of story grammar in the extended text (Gagarina et al., 2012: p. 111-117;Taylor 2013) are a few ways to assess skills of both propositional and pragmatic inferences. ...
... To summarise, in using inference generation learners are likely to show individual differences and it is crucial for teachers to gain awareness about how to accommodate variations in learner responses to recognise different levels of these abilities and provide meaningful feedback (Cain et al 2001; Aukerman et al. 2017). So in this paper we present through an in-depth analysis of learner responses how individual differences in inference generation can be identified and treated. ...
... Teachers also need to gain awareness to treat learner differences in a constructive manner. These would create conditions for a gradual development of textbased as well as world knowledge-based inferential skills in primary level of education in the Indian context (Swinney & Osterhout, 1990;Aukerman et al. 2017;Shepard-Carey 2019). ...
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In a vast multilingual country like India, primary education is offered in various languages as mediums of instruction (MoI) to support the state languages and foster social justice in education. An important milestone of primary education is to help learners develop comprehension skills in MoI to process information and lay a strong foundation for education. Comprehension involves 'inference generation skill' that helps learners formulate multiple possible answers. Teaching and assessment in India have a product-based content testing approach and teachers are not trained to deal with individual differences in responses in a constructive manner. In this paper, learners are assessed in oral and print mode to understand what gives rise to individual differences in comprehension through Hindi as MoI. A group of 30 bi/multilingual learners, 7 to 12 years old, attending Class IV in state run primary schools in Bihar (India) participated in the study. A quantitative analysis of learner performance shows that inference generation is affected by modality (oral or print), gender and the complexity of inferences. A qualitative analysis of individual variations shows that of the total number of inappropriate responses to comprehension questions, many refer to experiential or world-knowledge inferences but fail to link them to the specific story-based information. This indicates difficulties with inference generation and the ability to select only the relevant parts of the response. The findings have implications for pedagogical methods of promoting inference generation skills using world knowledge in combination with text-based information to offer meaningful feedback.
... Empirical research from a social perspective has shown the power of text-based discussion when students read collaboratively, which enables them to 'combine their intellectual resources' (Wilkinson & Nelson, 2020, p. 235) to co-construct comprehension. Aukerman et al. (2017) described collaborative meaning-making as 'intercomprehending ' (p. 489), with learners utilizing shared ideational and linguistic resources to build comprehension. ...
... When engaging in text-based discussion, students contribute and build on peers' ideas about texts, which constitute a shared 'ideational repertoire' that facilitates collaborative sense-making of texts (Aukerman et al., 2017, p. 489). Since ideas are mostly expressed through language, the linguistic repertoire shared among peers also plays an important role in collaborative sense-making (Aukerman et al., 2017). Aukerman et al. (2017) analysed the small-group discussion among second-grade students with developing bilingual ability and found that students commonly proposed ideas in relation to those of their peers. ...
... Since ideas are mostly expressed through language, the linguistic repertoire shared among peers also plays an important role in collaborative sense-making (Aukerman et al., 2017). Aukerman et al. (2017) analysed the small-group discussion among second-grade students with developing bilingual ability and found that students commonly proposed ideas in relation to those of their peers. They built on others' ideas by supplementing them with relevant information or showed disagreement by contributing alternative interpretations (Aukerman et al., 2017). ...
Article
While research has indicated that college students may benefit from collaboratively reading academic texts, little is known about how they co-construct comprehension through text-based discussions. This case study focused on two groups of undergraduate students with different degrees of participation in discussions – one active group and one silent group – in an EAP course at a Chinese university. Drawing upon classroom observation and semi-structured interviews, the study investigated the spontaneous use of reading strategies in 10 post-reading group discussions and probed into the key processes for comprehension building shared by the two groups. The findings suggest that the students utilized a series of reading strategies and drew on the ideational and linguistic resources shared within the group to build comprehension. Three key processes for comprehension co-construction were found: (a) paraphrasing to contribute personal understanding, (b) elaborating to clarify meanings, and (c) summarizing to build consensus. Pedagogical implications concerning the instruction and task design for collaborative academic reading are discussed.
... Emergent bilinguals (EBs) who are identified as English learners have often been perceived as deficit in their academic abilities (e.g., Aukerman, Schuldt, Aiello, & Min, 2017;Christian & Bloome, 2004;DaSilva Iddings, 2005;Gutiérrez, Morales, & Martinez, 2009;Turkan & DaSilva Iddings, 2012;Umansky & Dumont, 2019). This tends to create a discrepancy in teacher knowledge regarding the complexity involved in EBs' language and literacy development (Peercy, 2011). ...
... Such analyses have been partially visible in descriptive studies and discourse analyses where other scholars have illustrated how EBs interact with each other, teachers, and texts in dynamic ways during learning (e.g., Aukerman et al., 2017;Handsfield & Crumpler, 2013;Kachorsky, Moses, Serafini, & Hoelting, 2017;Martin-Beltrán, Daniel, Peercy, & Silverman, 2017). For instance, attending to multimodality in texts, Kachorsky et al. (2017) examined how eight first-grade learners, four of whom who were labeled English learners, drew upon several semiotic resources in the text, such as punctuation and design features, during their reading of picture books with an adult. ...
... Scholars who have explored the interactional resources of EBs during reading indicate that peers scaffold and help one another as they negotiate meaning (Aukerman et al., 2017;Martin-Beltrán et al., 2017). For example, Aukerman et al. (2017) coined the term "intercomprehending" to explain how five second-grade EBs engaged with peers as they made sense of picture books in English during small group reading sessions. ...
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Despite the rise in multiliteracies and multilingual orientations to literacy learning, there has been little attention to multimodality in how younger emergent bilinguals demonstrate and respond to reading comprehension practices and pedagogies. This study, which took place in the midwestern United States, examines how Marian (pseudonym), a second-grade emergent bilingual (eight years old) made sense of texts using a variety of semiotic resources. The study also focuses on how her use of such resources demonstrated her engagement with texts and reading comprehension pedagogies during small-group reading in her classroom. Findings show that Marian used a variety of semiotic resources to convey her understanding of texts, some of which aligned with and resisted typical reading comprehension pedagogies in classrooms. Additionally, analysis demonstrates that reading comprehension pedagogies may have inhibited her sensemaking. Implications include further attention to how teachers, policy-makers, and researchers can recognize and make space for the multimodal and dynamic ways in which emergent bilinguals make sense of texts.
... Through sociocultural and critical frameworks, research has demonstrated the importance of integrating prior knowledge, meaningful opportunities for interaction, and explicit use of cross-cultural knowledge to assist understanding and support emergent multilinguals' general language development and reading comprehension (Aukerman et al., 2017;Carrell, 1983;Goldenberg, 2013;Lee, 2016;Martin-Beltrán et al., 2017;Soto Huerta, 2012;Swain et al., 2002). Martin-Beltrán et al. (2017) demonstrated how peer mediation, utilizing home language, and extended discussion can influence elementary emergent multilinguals' meaning-making during reading. ...
... The researchers articulated that, through mediated support, peer discussion expanded the possibilities and processes of meaningmaking by building a 'Zone of Relevance', or by making the text relevant to each other's lives. Aukerman et al. (2017) similarly analysed the collaborative nature of meaning-making during small-group reading amongst secondgrade emergent multilinguals, describing how students interacted and extended each other's ideas. Notably, Aukerman et al. (2017) acknowledged the difficulty in relying on early language learners' verbal utterances to understand their textual ideas, citing the need to offer opportunities and support for first language integration. ...
... Aukerman et al. (2017) similarly analysed the collaborative nature of meaning-making during small-group reading amongst secondgrade emergent multilinguals, describing how students interacted and extended each other's ideas. Notably, Aukerman et al. (2017) acknowledged the difficulty in relying on early language learners' verbal utterances to understand their textual ideas, citing the need to offer opportunities and support for first language integration. A plethora of literature provides important insights into how context, culture and interaction influence literacy learning, yet few studies specifically examine the impact of these elements on young emergent multilinguals and their inference-making. ...
Article
Inference-making is integral to reading comprehension, defined as information 'retrieved or generated during reading to fill in information left implicit in a text'. However, there are few studies regarding the inferencing of young emergent multilin-guals that account for multilingualism and culture, attend to the learning processes influenced by classroom instruction and interaction, and utilize qualitative methods to explore the multifaceted process of inferencing. This study explores classroom instances in which two second-grade emergent multilinguals encountered difficulties with inference-making, specifically when their first language or background knowledge was not accessed to support inference-making. Framing their difficulties as missed opportunities for learning, this study considers first language integration and multilingual pedagogies as ways to enrich learning. Findings revealed that inference-making was highly contextual, differing from text-to-text. Learners were able to infer in many instances, but difficulties arose when learners desired to articulate their inferences with specific words. Additionally, students encountered difficulties with the content language and background knowledge necessary to access an expository text. Implications of this study include supporting inference-making with students' first language and culturally sustaining pedagogies in order to provide meaningful opportunities to engage in higher-order thinking surrounding texts.
... Significant research has shown the harm this sort of interpretive marginalization can do to students (e.g., Aukerman et al. 2017;Hall 2010), but only scant studies look at interpretive marginalization in the context of Jewish classrooms and Jewish schooling (Bekerman and Kopelowitz 2008;Hassenfeld 2016). This gap in the research is particularly jarring, given the ample research that documents the prevalence of transmission pedagogy in Jewish education (Backenroth 2004;Katzin 2015;Lehmann 2008;Segal and Bekerman 2009). ...
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This essay examines two fourth-grade students’ task-based read-aloud interviews on the biblical text of Numbers 13. Taking up the New London Group’s call for a pedagogy of multiliteracies this article examines how educators and adults might sensitize themselves to the interpretive identities children bring to their reading of biblical texts. This work is intricately tied to child development, as we move religious education from a deficit model and perspective towards the child to a more welcoming asset model and perspective.
... For a moment, the space also shifted, from one focused on mastering discrete skills in one language to a space of collaborative meaning-making with multiple languages, with books, with the world, and with each other. However momentarily, there was a "frame shift" (Aukerman et al., 2017) in which the identities of the children and the purpose of the setting expanded. Certainly, it was vital to continue the work of building foundational skills that would afford the students even more access to more books and to more knowledge; however, I suggest there is value, too, in pausing and learning from these shifts. ...
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This study explores the possibilities and tensions that emerged when a literacy specialist brought a culturally sustaining lens to her work in a reading intervention setting with five emergent bilinguals. Utilizing a case study methodology, the study draws on data from class transcripts, interviews, student writing and artwork, and fieldnotes collected over 2 years. During data analysis, three themes, “get proximate,” “get connected,” and “get moving,” were constructed. Findings illustrate the complex relationship between practices designed to bring students’ linguistic and cultural resources into the classroom (“get proximate” and “get connected”) within a context designed to facilitate measurable growth in students’ reading skills ("get moving"). Findings contain seeds for further exploration related to engaging students’ languages and lived experiences to build foundational skills. The study suggests that more cohesive incorporation of culturally sustaining practices would require a (re)consideration of monolingualism and narrow definitions of literacy within interventions and assessments.
... Assessments in line with this broader conception could be designed to look for and value difference across capacities and dispositions within and across students, with the goal of providing more multifaceted understandings of how students are engaging in the work of reading, rather than narrowly focusing on the extent to which they measure up to goals on a particular metric. For example, such assessments might provide insight into how different students draw on or build linguistic and cultural knowledge (Ascenzi-Moreno, 2018), the varied nature of students' intellectual grappling with text and with one another's ideas as they work with text (Auker man, Chambers Schuldt, Aiello, & Martin, 2017), and the various kinds of texts and text-related activities that students experience as engaging within literacy contexts they inhabit inside and outside school (M.W. Smith & Wilhelm, 2002). Assessments that examine difference in these ways would considerably enrich assessment snapshots that indicate what student capacities and dispositions might benefit from further development (e.g., Malloy, Marinak, Gambrell, & Mazzoni, 2013;McGrew et al., 2018) and could help mitigate the potential for bias in assessments typically used to assess reading. ...
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... Running Head: MAPPING THE TERRAIN 8 However, if fetishized, linguistic markers of high-quality talk can misrepresent. For example, talk that lacks oft-highlighted verbal signals of (dis)agreement might still be rich in heteroglossic exchange of thinking; students can signal the ways their ideas relate to those of peers in ways that don't fall into neat verbal patterns (Aukerman, Chambers Schuldt, Martin, & Aiello, 2017). While linguistic markers can provide a useful indicator, they may not be a defining feature. ...
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... Moreover, examining engagements with texts draws attention to how translingual practice might support what Short (1999) calls "balanced" literacy, or instruction that includes opportunities for students to learn language, learn about language, and learn content through language. We frame meaningful textual engagements as interactions in which teachers and students collaboratively work toward Short's three goals, and likewise, negotiate interactions with one another and with available resources (Aukerman, Schuldt, Aiello, & Martin, 2017). ...
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This descriptive study examined the manner in which more and less proficient peer discussion groups managed topics and group process across time. This exploration permitted an ontogenetic and microgenetic perspective on student and teacher development over a four-month period. Videotapes and transcripts from the beginning, middle, and end of the investigation were selected for analysis. Analysis proceeded at two levels: macroanalytic and microanalytic. The goal of the macroanalysis was to identify levels of proficiency among six peer discussion groups. After identifying the group that was most proficient and that which was least proficient, microanalyses were conducted to determine how each group managed topics and group interaction. The microanalyses consisted of taxonomic analysis and contextual analysis of discourse and patterns of interaction. Results indicated that coherence is a key to conversational competence. Proficient peer discussion groups were able to sustain topics of conversation by revisiting old topics, making linkages between topics, and embedding topics within one another. These factors increase and develop gradually over time. Less proficient groups had substantially fewer linkages and embedded topics primarily because teachers and students initiated large amounts of metatalk. These findings suggest that large amounts of metatalk and teacher intrusion cause disjuncture to peer discussion and impair the group's ability to maintain topics.
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Despite the growing evidence of the language and literacy benefits of collaborative discussions for English language learners, the factors contributing to productive discussions that promote ELLs' positive language outcomes are less understood. This study examined the influence of teacher talk, students' initial language and literacy skills, and home language backgrounds on the discussion proficiency of four groups participating in eight peer-led literature discussions, called collaborative reasoning (CR), in two 5th-grade classrooms serving mainly Spanish-speaking ELLs. Levels of discussion proficiency were determined using a holistic rating approach and utterance-byutterance coding of discourse features. Teachers' scaffolding moves were coded. Students' pre- and post-intervention language and literacy skills and home language backgrounds were assessed. Results showed greater group variation in discussion proficiency in the mainstream class than in the bilingual class. The two teachers differed in their ways of facilitating CR discussions. Group discussion proficiency was associated with oral English skills (sentence grammar) and reading comprehension, as well as student English language use at home and parental assistance with homework. The talk volume and indicators of high-level comprehension such as articulating and responding to alternative perspectives, elaborations, extratextual connections, and uses of textual evidence were associated with post-intervention language and literacy outcomes. These findings contribute to the understanding of sources of variations in discussion proficiency among groups composed predominantly of ELLs and provide implications for teacher scaffolding strategies to facilitate ELLs' learning and participation in classroom discussions. Copyright © 2016 by the National Council of Teachers of English. All rights reserved.
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This article explores the communicative interactions of one Latino youth, Lorenzo, in an English Language Arts classroom located in an intensely-segregated Black and Latino urban community. While the larger city in which this school is located is known for its diverse cosmopolitan population characteristic of super-diversity, I argue that Lorenzo’s language practices index his socialization in contact zones shaped by Black and Latina/o cultural and linguistic practices. While sociolinguistic perspectives on super-diversity might offer an explanation for the repertoires of languages uttered by Lorenzo and his Black and Latina/o peers, the language practices explored are reflective of the cultural historical experiences of Lorenzo’s intensely-segregated community which have been practiced prior to any conceptualization of super-diversity. Drawing on super-diversity research, language ideological inquiry and language crossing and sharing scholarship, this article calls for further attention to the cultural historical past of Black and Latina/o communities in future discussions of super-diversity in the U.S.
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Jane H Hill is Regents' Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at the University of Arizona. She is a specialist on Native American languages, focusing on the Uto-Aztecan family, with fieldwork on Cupeño, Tohono O'odham, and Nahuatl. Her interests include linguistic documentation, the historical linguistics of the Uto-Aztecan language family, language contact and multilingualism in the southwestern United States and Mexico, and the way popular ideas about these phenomena shape the uses of language in communities in those regions, especially in the construction of white racist culture. She is the author of Mulu'wetam: the first people; Cupeño oral history and language (with Rosinda Nolasquez; Banning, CA: Malki Museum Press, 1973), Speaking Mexicano: dynamics of syncretic language in central Mexico (with Kenneth C Hill; Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1986), and A Grammar of Cupeño (Berkeley: University of California Publications in Linguistics, forthcoming).
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This paper describes a methodology for the analysis of classroom talk, called sociocultural discourse analysis, which focuses on the use of language as a social mode of thinking – a tool for teaching-and-learning, constructing knowledge, creating joint understanding and tackling problems collaboratively. It has been used in a series of school-based research projects in the UK and elsewhere and its use is illustrated with data from those projects. The methodology is expressly based on sociocultural theory and, in particular, on the Vygotskian conception of language as both a cultural and a psychological tool. Its application involves a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods and enables the study of both educational processes and learning outcomes.
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Ten adult readers, advanced in their control of two languages, Korean and English, were recruited for a study of academic literacy practices to examine the various linguistic repertoires on which they drew. Analysis of their language use revealed many instances of translanguaging, that is, a flexible reliance on two languages to serve one’s immediate needs. All participants engaged in various cognitive reading strategies associated with translanguaging. These translanguaging practices in academic literacy were interpreted through the lens of Hornberger’s (2013) bilingual continua model, providing a perspective on the complex interplay of bilingual content, context, media, and development.
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Although scholarship in New Literacies increasingly emphasizes multimodal reading, some traditional perspectives on comprehension pedagogy continue to advocate for focusing discussion on linguistic content of texts, concerned that allowing students to discuss illustrations could siphon attention from the words (linguistic content). Largely absent from this debate has been close examination of how young students explicitly reference images versus linguistic content during text discussions where both are accepted as viable information sources, particularly studies considering whether such referencing might change across time. Our study analyzes nine discussion transcripts to examine second graders' explicit references to images and linguistic content during discussions across a school year. We asked three questions: (1) How did students' relative verbal emphasis on images versus linguistic content change? (2) Did the frequency of references to images and linguistic content differ between more and less proficient decoders? and (3) How did the teacher's language change across time, and were any changes related to changes observed in students? We found that students mostly referenced images early in the year. Across time, students shifted toward greater referencing of linguistic content, but less proficient decoders referenced linguistic content less frequently than more proficient decoders. These findings support an expanded conception of emergent literacy and of early literacy pedagogy that encompasses textual oracy practices-specifically, young students' talk with one another about multimodal dimensions of text.
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This study examines how bilingual second-grade students perceived of their reading competence and of the work of reading in two contrasting settings where texts were regularly discussed: a monologically organized classroom (MOC) and a dialogically organized classroom (DOC; as determined by prior analysis of classroom discourse). Interview data revealed that, while every student in the DOC came to describe herself or himself as a good reader by the end of the year, many low-achieving readers in the MOC no longer saw themselves as good readers. Findings further indicated that students in the two classrooms conceived of epistemic reading roles in contrasting ways. In the MOC, students viewed reading as about getting the text’s intended meaning and expressed concern about potentially giving wrong answers. They emphasized the teacher as a provider of information, placed importance on external achievement markers, and saw good reading as a matter of being smart. In the DOC, students saw themselves as agentive makers of meaning who generated ideas and questions. They spoke of a social responsibility to help others (including both peers and teacher) better understand the text. They saw discussion with peers as a way of helping further their own textual understandings, and the teacher as someone who sought to understand and learn from student textual perspectives. In light of existing self-efficacy literature, these findings suggest that student beliefs about epistemic roles, mediated by the predominant nature of classroom discourse, could play an important role in shaping students’ perceived reading competence.
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The overarching purpose of the study is to describe the English-reading development of Latino English learners who were members of the low reading group in a first-grade all-English classroom. Observations, interviews, multiple assessments, and case analyses were conducted. To contextualize the boys' reading development we explore the teacher's outlook on teaching reading in general and on these boys in particular, and we describe predominant themes in her classroom reading instruction. We found that the boys' reading development was more similar to one another's than different and that their emergent English reading progress was modest. Their end-of-year reading levels and understandings about reading resembled those of typically developing native-English learners at the end of kindergarten. A case study of 1 boy's development reveals that it was characterized by 2 relatively distinct phases, the first marked by plateaus and learning to play it safe and the second marked by cognitive shifts and a reading-writing disconnect.
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This chapter theorizes translanguaging, while describing how it is carried out in one “English” classroom in a school for Latino adolescents who have arrived recently in the USA. The theories of transculturación, autopoeisis, and coloniality and border thinking are brought to bear on the concept of translanguaging, which is defined as an act of bilingual performance, as well as a bilingual pedagogy of bilingual teaching and bilingual learning. The theoretical discussion is then followed by a description of how the flexible use of linguistic resources in classrooms for immigrants can resist the historical and cultural positionings of English monolingualism in the USA. Translanguaging as pedagogy holds the promise of developing US Latinos who use their dynamic bilingualism in ways that would enable them to fully participate in US society, and meet the global, national, and social needs of a multilingual future.
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In this Teaching Tip, we share three literacy activities for teachers working with emergent bilinguals. Leveraging students’ heritage languages in instruction holds rich opportunities for literacy achievement. Translanguaging pedagogies encourage emergent bilinguals to use the full range of their linguistic repertoires when making meaning in the classroom. We describe three snapshots of three different classroom activities that welcome, leverage, and develop students’ heritage languages in literacy instruction through translanguaging pedagogies. These activities include using text features with heritage language newspapers, summarizing when writing bilingual book reports, and using translating and home photos when creating eBooks. We conclude with implications for both student and teacher learning.
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In spite of the emphasis on the importance of social contexts in children's literacy development, there is still a startling scarcity of studies examining the role of peer relationships in preschool bilinguals' literary practices. This qualitative case study investigates how peer relationships and interactions among preschool, Korean-English bilingual children affect their responses to picture books during whole group read-alouds. As part of a comprehensive 18-month longitudinal study, this article focuses on data collected over a period of 10 months. Multiple data collection sources were used to enhance the credibility and validity of the study. Results indicated that the children's literary responses were highly influenced by their different social relationships with peers. Thus, in order to create supportive literature environments, it is important for teachers to pay considerable attention to what bilingual students experience with eir peers. With more engrossing narratives and vivid descriptions, the study aims to provide insights into the significance of peer relationships and interactions in early literacy practices in bilingual settings.
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This study offers an alternative to traditional notions of scaffolding for reading comprehension by tracing the evolution or a fifth-grade small group literature conversation in which the teacher sought to displace himself as "primary knower" (Berry, 1981) in the conversation. The study examines how the teacher shared evaluation with his students even when they sought to reposition him as primary knower. Rather than relying on explicit strategy instruction or other forms of directive guidance, he refrained from evaluative steering toward particular interpretations or interpretive techniques, and he did so even when the students offered a pronunciation or interpretation that was non-standard and would be considered flat-out "wrong" by many adult readers. The two focal students, both considered "struggling readers," gradually took up positions as "possible knowers," but they did not do so all at once. Their intentions and understandings shifted across the course of the discussion as the students wrestled with one another's sometimes conflicting ideas and purposes. The article proposes that teaching should primarily follow (rather than attempt to lead) students' shifting social and intellectual intentions as they wrestle with textual meaning-making.
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The Relatives Came is a delightful book, written in an unpretentious manner but with great depth of word choice, about a simple family visit to another group of family members. Nothing unusual or out-of-the-ordinary occurs in this book, but the text grabs at the heart as their own family visits come to mind for the reader. Students love to hear about a car trip sustained by bologna sandwiches and an ice chest full of cold drinks, about hugs and kisses from relatives, and about life with extra people in the house. The book is heartwarming and full of thoughtful, heartwarming moments for anyone who reads it. English/Language Arts • Writing: Voice, Description: The Relatives Came is a book that is so full of the author's voice in the form of stirring descriptive phrases that it makes the reader feel that they are an integral part of the story. "It was in the summer of the year when the relatives came. They came up from Virginia. They left when their grapes were nearly purple enough to pick, but not quite." What an expressive way to start a book! We know just the time of summer it was – probably late July or so. We get the idea that the relatives traveled north of Virginia, and we also get a strong feeling that the relatives coming were a significant event. The beauty of the language choices continue throughout the book. • Writing: The reader gets a clear picture of taking a long car trip: leaving at four in the morning, driving all day, and into the night. An ice chest full of cold drinks and bologna sandwiches is a vital part of the car-trip experience for this family. Have students listen to you read the book, first. Then have them list all the things they like to take with them in the car for a family trip of their own. Then have your students circle about three things that really jump out as them and have them write a little bit about each one. Then have students select a topic about an experience on a car trip. Take the students through the writing process so they have a chance to share their writing with each other and help each other edit their writing. • Writing: Memory Writing – Use this book with Roxaboxen, When I Was Little, and Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge, which are also in CPaks on the professional shelf in your campus library. Each of these books are a type of memory writing. Read the books aloud with your students and then have them freewrite about memories of their own. Perhaps they want to write about something one of the books made them think of, or they may choose to write about other memory of their own choosing. Allow students a time to share and talk about their memories. • Descriptive Writing: Cynthia Rylant has such a creative way with words and phrases as she describes the family and the way they act with each other. She talks about all the hugging that relatives do when they first see each other. The way they all slept all over the house, and getting used to the new breathing in the house at night, and the way they had to eat in shifts and then broke into smaller groups all over the house – haven't we all experienced our own version of these behaviors?!! Talk with your students about how families and friends act with each other. Ask students who their favorite friends and relatives are and why they enjoy these people so much. Allow students time to share stories about visiting families and friends; these conversations can trigger terrific ideas among students as they share. Then allow students time to write about times they have shared with family and friends. Avoid giving them too many restrictions; just allow them time to think and write about special times. Science • Students may research grapes and find out when grapes ripen in various climates. If students search a bit, they can discover that Rylant's stories take place in West Virginia or Ohio; thus, when would grapes ripen in these areas? Consider weather factors and things that might influence the growing of fruit in this area.
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This article examines the reading of leveled books and the assessment of students reading levels in a public school classroom. The purpose of the research study was to examine how these processes of assessment, which often go unnoticed, shaped the ways reading and readers were defined. The research was located in a third grade, public school classroom in a large metropolitan city in the United States. Theoretically grounded in sociocultural perspectives on literacy and poststructural notions of power and positioning, the research methodology involved a series of nested case studies of the classroom as a whole and of one particular reader, whose performances allowed a more nuanced understanding of the dynamics of reading levels and reading leveled books in the particular classroom. Data analysis involved the thematic analysis of reading events with the purpose of identifying the materials, norms, and routines connected to reading leveled books. Attention was paid to processes of naming, to students efforts to discipline selves and others, and to the meaning of reading as measurable that extended beyond the boundaries of the local classroom and into broader institutional contexts. This allowed tracing and interpreting the productive and regulatory power of leveling. The findings show that reading leveled books and assessing students levels were integral parts of schooled literacy as performed in the particular classroom. The study offers grounded theoretical hypotheses about the intersection of reading instruction and assessment and calls readers to consider the complexities of reading and reading instruction in elementary classrooms.
Article
Book leveling, a way to organize texts to match them with readers, has been widely implemented in primary classrooms. This article questions whether the often excessive attention to leveling leads to the neglect of other factors that influence the reader-text match. The authors present findings from a small study that aimed to determine the uniformity and variability of texts purported to be at the same level for instructional or independent reading in a primary classroom. Specifically, the authors analyzed data related to book and print features; language and literary features; representation of gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status; and criteria that fit with their views on reading as a relationship between readers and texts. On the basis of their findings, they make recommendations for more critical examination, as well as appropriate use, of leveled text to support reading instruction.
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During the past decade, a body of empirical evidence has become available showing that negotiation of meaning promotes the comprehension of oral input. However, to what extent negotiation of meaning can be useful in reading instruction in order to make written input comprehensible remains an open question. A quasiexperimental study was carried out in 8 multilingual primary schools in Flanders. The participants were confronted with a difficult text in 4 conditions: unmodified written input, premodified written input, unmodified written inp.ut + oral negotiation with a peer, and unmodified written input + oral negotiation with the rest of the class. The results of the study show that negotiating the meaning of unmodified written input led to higher comprehension than premodifying the same input. In turn, meaning negotiation in which the teacher was involved was superior to peer negotiation. A further analysis of peer negotiation showed that comprehension scores were higher for students who had cooperated with a peer of a different level of language proficiency than for students who had cooperated with a peer of a similar level of language proficiency. The study also yields useful guidelines as to the role teachers should play and the actions they should take when the meaning of written input is negotiated in the classroom.
Article
This article reports on a study of the responses of a second-grade class to the page breaks in contemporary picturebooks. In a picturebook, the text and accompanying illustrations are divided into a series of facing pages called openings, and the divisions between the openings are called page breaks or turns. Unlike a novel, in which the page breaks are arbitrary, a picturebook's page breaks have been carefully considered by authors, illustrators, editors, and designers, and thus possess complex semiotic significance. No research exists on children's interpretations of what might have happened from one opening to next, yet this activity is important because children must fill in the natural gaps created by the page breaks to make meaning and to construct a continuous narrative. During a series of readalouds of five picturebooks, the classroom teacher asked the students to speculate on what might have happened “between” the pages. Findings based on qualitative content analysis suggest that, with relatively little teacher direction, there were at least seven ways young children responded to the question of what happens in this liminal space: (1) speculating on actions the characters might have performed; (2) creating imaginary dialogue that might have occurred among characters; (3) creating possible thoughts and feelings of characters; (4) talking about likely changes of setting between page breaks; (5) speculating on the amount of time that might have elapsed between one page opening and the next; (6) hypothesizing about the changes in the reader's perspective from one opening to the next; and (7) observations about the change from one literary genre to another during the page breaks. Findings also suggest that children began to speculate on their own about page breaks, without the stimulus of the teacher's question. More research is clearly indicated in this area for various ages of children and books of differing literary genres in order to build on, refine, and extend our knowledge of the ways children interpret the “space between” the openings of picturebooks. Encouraging children to speculate about page breaks develops inference-making and positions them as co-authors, adding another element to their literary repertoires.
Article
This article describes a year-long process in which a group of fourth- and fifth-grade students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds learned to participate ill reading, writing, and talking about books in a literature-based instructional program. Our analyses revealed a gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to students as they developed the knowledge and skills needed to respond to books and explore personal meanings collaboratively through guided participation. Accompanying these changes in participation structures and practices were exceptional gains in student performance on both related (metacognitive control) and unrelated (reading and unfamiliar sight words) measures of reading ability. A pattern of three distinguishable but overlapping stages emerged from our analyses of student-teacher interaction patterns: (1) teaching by telling, (2) teaching by modeling and scaffolding, and (3) teaching from behind. Five features of the focal teacher's instruction were pivotal in promoting this transformation of responsibility First, the teacher created a classroom learning community in which students felt respected and their experiences and knowledge were valued. Second, the teacher allowed time to build opportunities to engage students in reading, writing, and talking about age-appropriate and quality literature. Third, the teacher challenged students to think critically and reflectively about what they read by asking open-ended but pointed questions. Fourth, the teacher employed multiple modes of teaching-telling, modeling, scaffolding, facilitating, and participating. Finally, the teacher persisted in maintaining high expectations for all of her students.
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In this article we describe an application of ecobehavioral analysis to the evaluation of instructional settings for language-minority students. We introduce the concept of ecobehavioral analysis and describe the Ecobehavioral System for the Contextual Recording of Interactional Bilingual Environments (ESCRIBE). ESCRIBE evaluates the instructional effectiveness of educational and second language acquisition programs serving language-minority learners in regular and special settings. We studied 2 instructional environments (regular and English-as-a-Second-Language classrooms) to determine the opportunities afforded to 24 at-risk language-minority students to acquire and negotiate a second language and academic content meaning. Results demonstrated that instructional environments and teacher variables within a setting have a profound effect on students' academic behaviors and language usage. In general, we found a pattern of minimal teacher attention to language development, low student academic engagement in instructional activities, and a teacher emphasis on lecture and a whole-class format. The article concludes with a discussion of the implications of ecobehavioral analysis for the study of inclusion and accountability in the education of language-minority students.