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Abstract

The aim of this article is to examine what resources teachers mobilize when contextualizing instruction. In this instructional method, teachers use students’ everyday experiences as tools for teaching subject matter at school. Research has documented that contextualizing instruction can support classroom learning. However, we do not know very much about what types of resources teachers view as relevant in this kind of instructional work. In this article, we analyze video data of student-teacher interactions in 43 lessons, which were collected when following four lower secondary teachers over one academic year. The analysis is based on a sociocultural perspective of learning and teaching in which the focus of analysis is on what kind of everyday experiences teachers orient to when supporting students’ participation. The findings show that the resources teachers orient to can be grouped into five categories: (1) teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community, (2) teachers orienting to examples from everyday practices, (3) teachers orienting to personal issues, (4) teachers orienting to concrete objects, and (5) teachers orienting to knowledge from travelling abroad. These categories show variation and multiplicity of resources that teachers use when contextualizing instruction, and the implications of this multiplicity are discussed in the article.
Connecting to the outside
Connecting to the outside:
Cultural resources teachers use when contextualizing instruction
Kenneth Silseth
Ola Erstad
Pre-print draft
Silseth, K & Erstad, O. (2018): Connecting to the outside: Cultural resources teachers use
when contextualizing instruction. Learning, Culture and Social Interaction.
doi.org/10.1016/j.lcsi.2017.12.002
Abstract
The aim of this article is to examine what resources teachers mobilize when contextualizing
instruction. In this instructional method, teachers use students’ everyday experiences as tools
for teaching subject matter at school. Research has documented that contextualizing
instruction can support classroom learning. However, we do not know very much about what
types of resources teachers view as relevant in this kind of instructional work. In this article,
we analyze video data of student-teacher interactions in 43 lessons, which were collected
when following four lower secondary teachers over one academic year. The analysis is based
on a sociocultural perspective of learning and teaching in which the focus of analysis is on
what kind of everyday experiences teachers orient to when supporting students’ participation.
The findings show that the resources teachers orient to can be grouped into five categories: (1)
teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community, (2) teachers orienting to examples
from everyday practices, (3) teachers orienting to personal issues, (4) teachers orienting to
concrete objects, and (5) teachers orienting to knowledge from travelling abroad. These
categories show variation and multiplicity of resources that teachers use when contextualizing
instruction, and the implications of this multiplicity are discussed in the article.
Keywords: classroom interaction, contextualizing instruction, everyday experiences,
sociocultural theory, learning trajectories
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Introduction
Ideas about the importance of bridging students’ experiences at school and from everyday life
can be traced back to thinkers such as John Dewey and Lev Vygotsky. Dewey (1959)
emphasized that learning in school should build on and extend experiences students gain
outside school, and Vygotsky (1987) was preoccupied with how everyday and scientific
concepts stand in a mutually constitutive relationship. More recent researchers have argued
for the importance of making students’ everyday knowledge and experiences relevant in their
learning at school (Grossen, Zittoun, & Ros, 2012; Moje et al., 2004; Scott, Mortimer, &
Ametller, 2011). In addition, in recent years, policy documents have also reflected the
intention of drawing on students’ everyday experiences as a way of encouraging motivation
and engagement for learning among students and as a way of increasing performance in
subject domains and counteracting dropout rates (Erstad & Sefton-Green, 2013).1
However, an important concern in this regard is how teachers actually orient
themselves towards students’ out-of-school practices and experiences and treat these as
resources in their teaching. Some researchers have investigated how teachers develop
strategies for mobilizing students’ experiences and knowledge in their instructional
trajectories (Dworin, 2006; Moje et al., 2004; Nasir, Hand, & Taylor, 2008). This research
shows the potential of using students’ “everyday life” as a resource for supporting them in
different instructional domains. However, we also need more knowledge about how these
processes play out in naturally occurring classroom interactions over longer periods of time
and about what aspects of students’ everyday lives teachers assume will be relevant when
guiding students’ academic work.
In this article, we will analyze the resources a group of teachers used when
contextualizing instruction in different lessons over one academic year. This instructional
method, as used within science education, refers to “the utilization of particular situations or
events that occur outside of science class or are of particular interest to students to motivate
and guide the presentation of science ideas and concepts” (Rivet & Krajcik, 2008, p. 80).
Contextualizing instruction is about using events or interests that students see as relevant in
their everyday life outside school as points of departure or references that enable students to
deal with subject matter in school. We will analyze contextualizing instruction as involving
both individual and collective processes, and the aim is to identify and analyze the aspects of
1 See, for example, Norwegian White Paper No. 22 (2010–2011), “Motivation-Coping-Possibilities.”
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students’ everyday practices that teachers use in interactions with their students for the
purpose of guiding their academic work.
In this article, the main purpose is to address the following research question: What
kinds of resources do teachers orient to when contextualizing instruction? This is an
important issue because it can tell us something about what kinds of everyday knowledge
resources teachers themselves consider relevant when supporting their students in various task
assignments and subject domains. In addition, it can tell us something about the multiplicity
of everyday resources that teachers orient to in instructional work. We address this research
question by analyzing in detail video data from lessons at a lower secondary school collected
over one academic year. For this purpose, we employ a sociocultural approach to learning that
emphasizes the dialogic relationship between cultural resources and the social construction of
knowledge.
Research on contextualizing instruction
Existing research has generated valuable and important knowledge about the complex
relationship between learning in school and everyday practices (Bronkhorst & Akkerman,
2016; Hogg, 2011; Rajala, Kumpulainen, Hilppö, Paananen, & Lipponen, 2016). Many
scholars have argued for the potential of using everyday knowledge as a resource for learning
(Lee, 2006; Moje et al., 2004; Moll, Amanti, Neff, & Gonzalez, 1992; Rivet & Krajcik, 2008).
In general, these studies show the benefits of enabling students to participate in learning
communities in schools in which their lives outside school are made relevant for instances of
reasoning about academic content. In addition, many of these studies focus on students from
diverse linguistic and cultural backgrounds. Such studies document what it means to be a
learner in school cultures that prioritize only some types of identities and knowledge, and they
generate important knowledge about alternative ways of designing learning environments in
which diverse everyday experiences are made relevant. In this study, we do not address one
specific group of students. Since mobilizing prior knowledge when learning and making
meaning of content in school is described as important to all students (Bransford, 2000;
Sawyer, 2014), we view the practice of contextualizing instruction as relevant on a more
general level. By everyday experiences, we mean knowledge and experiences that are relevant
and to some degree important in the communities and practices that students belong to and
participate in outside school. Furthermore, in this article, we take as a particular focus the
ways that teachers mobilize and recruit everyday knowledge and experiences in student-
teacher interactions that are related to academic content. In the following, we will review
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some of the studies that have looked specifically into teachers and how they engage in
attempts to use everyday experiences as a tool to support students’ learning.
In an early intervention study, Moll and his colleagues (1992) demonstrated the
potential of giving teachers the opportunity to become familiar with the practices that students
engage in outside of school, in what has been termed “funds of knowledge.” In this study, a
group of teachers followed a group of Hispanic students to their local communities to learn
about their everyday lives. The teachers learned about the complexities of the knowledge
available to the students in their everyday practices and developed ideas about how they could
use these as resources in their own instructional work. This study is interesting because it
shows the importance of knowing about the resources of the local community if one is to
create learning environments in school that support diverse student groups. In another relevant
intervention study, in the context of literacy research, Lee (2006) studied how teachers can
engage students in canonical literary texts by talking and reflecting collaboratively upon
“cultural data sets,” which are texts and textual practices that students engage with in
everyday settings. The analysis illustrates how teachers can use texts from students’ everyday
lives, such as rap lyrics from popular music, and can practice reasoning using these types of
texts as a point of departure for reasoning about canonical literature. In this kind of
instructional design, the classical roles of students and teachers are reconfigured. By drawing
on literary texts from youth discourses and using these as a point of departure for creating
meaning from canonical texts, the teacher positions students as the knowledgeable persons in
the learning situation. In another intervention study, Dworin (2006) argues that encouraging
bilingual students to write about topics that are relevant in their homes and local communities
might foster learning situations in which students “become aware that their lives outside of
school have meaning and importance within the classroom” (p. 518). The findings show that
giving students the opportunity to write about their home and community life in language
lessons at school, as well as being encouraged to use both English and Spanish (the mother
tongue) for discussing their writing projects in progress, created a supportive environment for
the students. It enabled the students to participate more competently as language learners, and
“the children’s intellectual development was enhanced because they could use both English
and Spanish for their work in this literacy project” (p. 519). Studies by Dworin (2006) and
Lee (2006) are interesting in this context because they provide examples of how students can
participate in literacy activities in school, such as learning about the classics of literature and
learning to write, by working on artefacts that they know from their participation in everyday
practices.
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In a comprehensive ethnographic study, Moje and colleagues (2004) studied the
occurrence of “third spaces” in students’ trajectories of learning science. Third spaces are
socially co-constructed spaces in which everyday discourses are mobilized to make meaning
of content and activities carried out in formal institutional school discourses. These scholars
identified four categories of everyday funds of knowledge that could potentially be used as
resources for learning science. These categories were family, community, peers, and popular
culture. The findings in this study show that students had a rich repertoire of everyday
knowledge and experiences that were highly relevant to learning science in school. They also
found that students sometimes used these funds, for example from popular culture, when
interpreting and framing their understanding of subject-specific concepts. However, they did
not identify many events in which teachers actively used the everyday knowledge of students
in instructional strategies in the classroom as scaffolds for supporting students who were
learning science.
In the fields of mathematics and social studies, scholars have also argued for using
students’ everyday experiences when working on curricular topics (Anderson & Gold, 2006;
Boaler, 1993; Domínguez, 2011; Elbers & de Haan, 2005; Kramer-Dahl, Teo, & Chia, 2007;
Nasir et al., 2008; Teo, 2008). In a study of teaching math, Anderson and Gold (2006) showed
that creating bridges between the practices of the home and those of the school is not simply
about integrating artefacts of the home into the classroom. It is about creating an educational,
dialogic space in which the numeracy practices students engage in at home are acknowledged
and made relevant and appropriate in numeracy practices at school. In a study of teaching
social studies, Teo (2008) followed a group of students who collaboratively made a food-stall
advertisement (leaflet) for a school carnival. The findings showed that when the teacher was
able to provide support for students in ways that enabled them, when working on the project,
to use prior knowledge about carnivals and food that they had gained in everyday practices,
they also composed high-quality advertisements. However, the study also showed that in
order to contextualize instruction successfully, it was important for the teacher to know what
knowledge resources students would see as relevant and familiar. Everyday experiences are
not a single thing; they can potentially be many different things.
In another study, based on data from the same data corpus as this study, Silseth (2018)
examined what function students’ everyday resources can have in teachers attempts at
contextualizing instruction and issues contributing to this method’s successful enactment in
educational dialogues. The findings show that productive use of everyday experiences for
supporting student learning depends on several issues. In order to support student learning
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through the use of everyday resources, the teacher has to attend to issues such as the relevance
of the resources when working on academic topics at hand, that students are enabled to bring
in these resources themselves, and how the social organization of dialogue is enacted. The last
point has to do with how the teachers assign roles to students in dialogues and how they are
positioned as active contributors in the ongoing co-construction of knowledge. In the current
study, we extend this study and focus on what kind of everyday experiences teachers orient to
when contextualizing instruction and outline a description of these resources.
Thus, the existing body of research points to the potential of using students’ everyday
lives as resources for supporting them in different instructional domains. It shows that
everyday knowledge and experiences can function, if used properly, as cognitive and cultural
resources that might support students when they are dealing with academic content in various
subjects. However, we also need more systematic knowledge about what types of resources
teachers mobilize in naturally occurring classroom interactions while trying to support their
students over time. We do not know very much about what types of everyday resources
teachers themselves actually use in their daily teaching. For this purpose, we adopt a
sociocultural approach to contextualizing instruction. This approach emphasizes how learning
and knowledge are socially constructed in interactions and how learning trajectories from
different contexts can potentially intersect in the same social practices. Thus, it enables us to
study how cultural tools such as everyday experiences might be mobilized to support student
learning.
A sociocultural perspective on contextualizing instruction
From a sociocultural standpoint, learning can be described as “becoming attuned to
constraints and affordances of activity and becoming more centrally involved in the practices
of a community” (Greeno & the Middle School Mathematics Through Applications Project
Group, 1998, p. 11). Learning is about a change in orientation to a social practice but also
about becoming capable of seeing what possibilities for action exist in that practice (Mäkitalo,
2016; Rajala, Martin, & Kumpulainen, 2016). Since learning is about changing patterns of
participation, instruction is about facilitating change and providing students with the right
tools to realize this. Introducing new tools into learning practices transforms the activities in
which the tools are enacted (Daniels, 2010). According to a sociocultural approach to
instruction, the teacher should assist children in their development by guiding their
participation in relevant activities, helping them to adapt their understanding to new
situations” (Rogoff, 1990, p. 191). This means that teachers need to find the right resources to
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support students in productive interactions (Mercer & Howe, 2012; Newman, Griffin, & Cole,
1989).
In order to fully grasp the ecology of learning in the classroom, we also need to
understand how cultural tools from surrounding practices intersect and co-constitute each
other in specific instructional events. Teachers need to find proper mediating tools (Wertsch,
Del Rio, & Alvarez, 1995) that can function as guides and support students in dealing with
academic content. According to Dreier (2003), as people live their lives and participate in
diverse practices, multiple learning trajectories are created. Learning trajectories are ways of
dealing with issues of interest in different contexts, and they stand in particular relation to
each other (Ludvigsen, Rasmussen, Krange, Moen, & Middleton, 2011; Silseth, 2012).
Furthermore, learning trajectories are full of interruptions; they are discontinuous. They
involve finding ways to get back to them and pick them up again at other times and places and
in ways agreed upon by other involved co-participants” (Dreier, 2003, p. 26). This means that,
for a student, co-participants are contributing to the process of creating mutual relevance
between different learning trajectories. We can consider contextualizing instruction as an
attempt to bring learning trajectories in school together with trajectories developed outside
school in ways that support learning in the classroom. By contextualizing instruction, one not
only provides students with the opportunity to use everyday experiences as tools to inquire
into curricular topics but also encourages students to make use of such resources recruited
from one setting to inquiry and reason about problems in another setting (Engle, Nguyen, &
Mendelson, 2011).
Everyday experiences can function as mediational means and scaffolding devices
when teachers are supporting their students in academic work. In order to use these types of
resources, teachers need what Lund (2006) has called “polycontextual awareness” (p. 197).
This concept refers to a teacher’s being attuned to the learning trajectories created in different
social practices and to experiences and skills that students bring to the classroom, having
gained them from participation in different social practices, when working on subject matter
in curricular domains. Thus, it is about being attuned to the possibility of connecting the
various learning trajectories that make up students’ life trajectories. In relation to
contextualizing instruction, it becomes important to ask what kinds of resources teachers use
for the purpose of bringing together different practices in the process of socially constructing
new knowledge in different conceptual domains. According to Myhill (2006), “Adopting
active pedagogic strategies to maximize participation of all pupils in whole-class teaching,
such as making greater use of a ‘no hands up’ policy, and explicitly framing questions to
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invite children to reflect upon or articulate their personal experiences might be a positive step
to counter underachievement” (p. 39). Resources from everyday practices can be viewed as
mediational means teachers can use in order to provide support for students learning about
new issues and themes.
In this article, we will study what kinds of resources drawn from the social practices
that teachers view as relevant for students in everyday life are used for the purpose of
supporting students’ engagement with academic content in the classroom. More specifically,
we will look at what kinds of resources from everyday learning trajectories are mobilized as
cognitive and cultural resources in learning activities. We believe it is important to categorize
the potential resources that teachers use for the purpose of facilitating contextualizing
instruction because this can tell us something about what kinds of resources teachers view as
relevant when trying to establish connections between different learning trajectories and what
kinds of experiences teachers see as relevant when contextualizing instruction.
Research design
Empirical setting and method
We report on data collected at a lower secondary school in a local community called Vestlia in
a medium-sized city in Norway. The data were collected as part of the research project
[information removed for peer review] in which researchers investigated continuities and
discontinuities in and between students’ participation in practices inside and outside of school.
As part of this work, we followed 52 students (in two classes) and four teachers in different
subjects over one academic year. The students were in the ninth grade (14–15 years old).
The research design was based on the case study method (Yin, 2006). We wanted to
examine what kinds of resources teachers used when contextualizing instruction in their daily
instructional practices, and we had to use a strategy of collecting data that made it possible to
study instructional methods as they happened during the year we observed the related
practices. Since we wanted to systematically capture what kind of resources from everyday
life teachers oriented to in their teaching, we decided to collect video recordings of student-
teacher interactions. These video recordings captured naturally occurring interactions and
enabled us to study the phenomenon under consideration as it happened in the various lessons
we observed (Erickson, 2006; Heath, Hindmarsh, & Luff, 2010). Video data also gave us the
opportunity to use qualitative analytical techniques and to document the types of resources
teachers used when supporting students by means of this method.
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During the year in which we followed the students and the teachers, we filmed 20
lessons in mathematics and 23 lessons in social studies. We wanted to document
contextualizing instruction in a variety of classroom activities such as whole-class
conversations, group work, student presentations, and individual work. For obtaining high-
quality video data, a camera and two microphones were used. One omnidirectional table
microphone was placed in the middle of the classroom to capture whole-class conversations,
and one omnidirectional wireless microphone was placed on the teacher in order to capture
talk during individual and group guidance. The camera, stationed in the back of the
classroom, had a wide-angle lens in order to record as many of the classroom interactions as
possible. During filming, one researcher was always present. This made it possible to capture
all the teacher talk that happened during each lesson, the various types of classroom activities
that took place during the academic year, and the ways teachers oriented to everyday
experiences as resources for supporting students.
Analytical procedures
In order to organize and analyze the video of classroom interactions across 43 lessons, we
employed thematic coding (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The software program NVivo was used
for the process of identifying themes across the video corpus. A theme represents a type of
pattern within the total video corpus that is responsive to the research question that guides the
analytical work. The coding and analytical process was twofold. We looked first for
instructional episodes in which the teacher actually oriented toward everyday experiences as a
resource, and then we looked at the kinds of resources teachers used for the purpose of
supporting the students.
The following criteria were used for selecting instructional episodes to analyze in
more detail: (1) The episode had to contain a sequence of student-teacher interaction; (2) The
teacher had to orient to resources it is reasonable to assume had some kind of connection to
the lives of the students; and (3) The teacher had to explicitly use the everyday experiences of
a student for the purpose of supporting the student in dealing with an academic matter. This
means that episodes where the participants talked about activities that students were engaged
in outside of school were not included in the collection of relevant episodes unless the talk
became part of work on the subject matter. As described in the introduction, by everyday
experiences, we mean knowledge and experiences that are relevant and to some degree
important in the communities and practices that students are part of outside school. This is a
broad definition, but we argue that in order to capture the variety of resources that might
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possibly function as scaffolding devices, we had to include a wide range of resources. To what
extent the resources actually are relevant to students is an empirical question. However, in
order to capture contextualizing instruction as an instructional method, we decided to include
episodes in which attempts to contextualizing instruction occurred. We believe that all
resources that have been included in the coding processes are resources that students to some
extent relate to in their lives outside school and which are being used by the teacher as devices
to support their students.
Furthermore, in the analytical work, we focused mainly on verbal references in the
instructional work carried out by the teacher. This means that we looked for instances in
which the teachers oriented to everyday experiences through talk. The teachers might also use
other types of cultural resources, such as drawings, pictures, and videos that might have
contained references to everyday experiences. However, in this article, the focus is on the
instructional work as it was enacted through the use of language. In Table 1, we display two
examples of utterances in which everyday experiences were referred to, which instructional
episodes had to contain in order to be included in the selection of episodes that were
examined in more detail.
__________________________________________________________________________
________
Example 1:
Teacher: You can say that (2.1) but what are we (1.5) why isn’t it a
good thing (5.4) why should the farmer over at Vestlia start
to cultivate opium (1.9) when he can cultivate,
Example 2:
Teacher: Do you understand the word national feeling (1.0) no (0.9)
you are from Poland (0.7) I’m from Norway (1.5) I love my
country (0.4) you love your country (1.0) the feelings for
the nation Norway (0.3) the feelings for the nation Poland
(0.7) right
___________________________________________________________________________
Table 1. Examples of teacher utterances that are oriented towards students’ everyday
experiences.
According to Erickson (2011), the “videotape itself is not ‘data’—it is an information
source from which data can be identified” (p. 186). When all episodes of relevance were
mapped from watching the video of all 43 lessons, all episodes were transcribed in some
detail. Transcribing all episodes enabled us to go into the details of the instructional work that
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the teachers carried out. After transcribing the episodes, we started to analyze the teacher
utterances and looked at what kinds of resources teachers viewed as relevant to use when
contextualizing instruction. In this part of the analysis, we primarily looked at the resources
that the teachers oriented to in the different episodes. According to Lemke (1998), utterances
are tightly coupled with the situation and activity in which the utterance occurs. In order to
capture parts of the context of a teachers utterances, we analyzed the sequences in which they
occurred. Even though we primarily examined how resources were brought into the
educational dialogues through teacher utterances, we also paid attention to how participants
were attuned to each other’s contributions in dialogue and how the participants understood the
activity in which they were engaged. In this type of analysis, it is possible to ascertain how
specific artefacts and resources are oriented towards and become part of the meaning-making
activity.
After identifying the different instances of orienting towards everyday experiences, we
started the process of identifying patterns across the episodes and looking for possible ways of
grouping the resources together. As emphasized by Derry and colleagues (2010), analyzing
video data is a highly iterative process. The process of constructing the categories of teacher
orientation was a time-consuming one of constantly shifting back and forth between the
research question, the transcribed episodes, the video, and interpretations. This means that we
had to reconstruct the categories during this process. As a result, the categories of resources
that finally were established were generated inductively from what actually happened in the
classroom interactions. In the results section, in addition to displaying the different categories
we established, we will show examples of each category and analyze in detail how the
resources are used in sequences of interaction. The signs used to transcribe extracts were
taken from the classical system developed by Jefferson (2004) (see Appendix for transcription
conventions).
Possible limitations
Organizing the resources into different categories is useful but also raises some challenges.
On the one hand, trying to describe a phenomenon through establishing categories can
contribute to making the phenomenon less complex than it actually is. The risk of reducing
complex matter into something that is easy to handle is a challenge that should be
acknowledged when constructing categories. The issue of what should be included in a
category and what should be excluded is also a delicate matter. What extent different aspects
of a phenomenon actually belong to the same category might not always be clear. Since we do
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not focus on “the outcome” of the instructional episodes we analyze this type of analysis does
not capture what Mercer and colleagues (2004) have called “the multi-functionality of
utterances” (p. 198). On the other hand, categories can help us to structure the world around
us and tell something important about how people do things in social practices. The strength
of the type of analysis we have carried out, based on detailed analysis of naturally occurring
talk, is that we base our descriptions on what the interlocutors actually talk about during
lessons (Mercer, 2004). The categories of everyday experiences are developed from what
resources the teachers actually have oriented to in their instructional work when talking to
their students. We have not studied the phenomenon under consideration from a predefined
coding scheme, but rather from a microanalysis of teacher orientations. We believe that
creating these categories based on instructional work in naturalistic settings can generate
important knowledge about what types of cultural resources teachers themselves see as
relevant when trying to support their students in different learning activities.
When constructing the categories, we tried to be sensitive to the challenges raised
above and establish categories that do not overlap. However, we do not argue that the
categories we have developed are the only possible categories. The categories are based on
this study, and we do believe they are relevant to other settings and teachers. These categories
can be helpful to educators when planning and executing instructional work that opens the
possibility of using students’ everyday experiences as resources for learning.
Results
Analysis of the total video material from one academic year reveals some major findings that
will be detailed in this section. We found that the teachers did engage in attempts at
supporting learning by orienting to everyday experiences during work on academic matter and
content. This means that the teachers were, to some extent, oriented towards these kinds of
resources when supporting their students. When analyzing what aspects of students’ everyday
lives outside school were mobilized by the teachers, we found that the episodes could be
organized into five categories. The categories varied slightly between the subjects of social
studies and mathematics. In Table 1, we display five teacher orientations and the grouping of
instances according to the five categories.
Teacher orientation Number of instances
Teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community 11
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Teachers orienting to examples from everyday practices 8
Teachers orienting to personal issues 7
Teachers orienting to concrete objects 5
Teachers orienting to knowledge from travelling abroad 2
Table 2: Number of instances in each category
In the following, we will outline each of the five categories of teacher orientations that
occurred in attempts to contextualize instruction in mathematics and social studies. We focus
on the types of everyday resources that the teachers mobilize, outline a description of each
category based on different episodes of interaction, and illustrate each category by providing
short extracts and brief analyses of episodes from each category. These analyses enable us to
show variation in the types of resources that the teachers used when contextualizing
instruction.
Teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community
The first category was developed from episodes in which the teachers tried to facilitate
contextualizing instruction by orienting to what seemed to be characteristics of the local
community. In these episodes, the teacher oriented to the local community and used
characteristics of this community as resources to support students when dealing with the
academic matter at hand. This type of resource was the most frequent one. The majority of
episodes in this category occurred in the social studies lessons. For example, in one episode,
the infrastructure of the local community was referenced and made relevant when students
were learning about the topic of transportation during earlier times. In another episode, a
teacher referred to the local community in order to support students’ reasoning about what a
diary is. In a third episode, the teacher oriented to aspects of the local community and
occupations that were commonly engaged in during the nineteenth century to support a
student who struggled with an assignment about occupations during this time period in
Norway.
In the following, we will analyze in detail an episode of student-teacher interaction
that illustrates this category. This episode, displayed in Figure 1, occurred in a whole-class
conversation taking place in a social studies lesson. The class was enquiring about the so-
called opium war between Great Britain and China during the nineteenth century and about
some of its implications for ordinary people in China. Here, the teacher tries to support the
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students by using characteristics of the local community of Vestlia as a resource to support the
students’ reasoning about this topic.
___________________________________________________________________________
1 Teacher: Does anyone see anything (0.3) negative about (1.1) growing
2 opium a narcotic drug (0.5) on (1.2) big flat land and
3 agricultural land? (3.2) Student 1.
4 Student 1: If there are animals nearby (0.2) and they are hungry then
5 they can eat from those plants.
6 Teacher: You can say that (2.1) but what are we (1.5) why isn’t it a
7 good thing (5.4) why should the farmer over at Vestlia start
8 to cultivate opium (1.9) when he can cultivate,
9 Student 2: Because (0.2) he makes more money on it,
10 Teacher: He makes more money on it (1.6) but what isn’t he able to
11 grow when he grows opium (1.2) which is more important than
12 opium?
13 Student 2: Other things (0.1) eh food and stuff.
14 Teacher: Yes (1.1) so this agriculture land is then put (0.6) or used
15 to grow opium.
___________________________________________________________________________
Figure 1. Teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community.
In lines 1–3, the teacher tries to attune students to possible negative effects of growing
opium on agricultural land. In lines 4–5, we can see how a student voices a perspective about
animals’ well-being and the harm that can be afflicted to such creatures through the
cultivation of opium. In his response, the teacher acknowledges the student’s contribution,
which is not wrong, but it is not these effects of growing opium that are relevant for
understanding the opium war. After a lengthier pause and a lack of response from the students,
the teacher uses a different strategy. He uses the community of Vestlia, and the farmers
located in this community, as a point of departure for attuning the students to other effects of
growing opium (lines 7–8). Towards the end of the turn taking, Student 2 suggests to the rest
of the class that a consequence of cultivating opium is that it occupies agricultural land that
could be used to grow food for people (line 13).
In this episode, the teacher used the local community and the farming areas in this
community as a resource for reflecting upon the possible consequences of using agricultural
land to grow things other than crops that can feed people. In this way, the teacher used this
type of mediational means as a tool for enabling students to reason about the consequences of
growing opium and what the so-called opium war was about. This episode illustrates the first
category of teacher orientation when contextualizing instruction.
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Connecting to the outside
Teachers orienting to examples from everyday practices
The second category was made up of situations in which the teacher mobilized examples from
everyday practices. Episodes that fell into this category included instructional situations in
which the teacher oriented to and used examples from everyday practices as resources to
support students when dealing with curricular topics. The majority of such episodes occurred
in math lessons. Even though everyday practices can be, and often are, situated in the local
community, in episodes that we grouped in this category, the local community was not
mentioned, and the practices can be seen as more general and not specifically linked to the
local community. For example, in one episode, a teacher referred to the activity of buying
manufactured goods in the grocery shop as a resource to support students’ reasoning about
aspects of industrialization. In another episode, the teacher used the example of taking the bus
as a device to support a student who was struggling with an assignment in math.
The next example that we put forward to illustrate this category is taken from a math
lesson. In this episode, displayed in Figure 2, a teacher is engaged in the activity of supporting
a student who was struggling with understanding the function of a fee when exchanging
money. The teacher started to scaffold the student by orienting to the activity of going to a
bank to exchange money.
___________________________________________________________________________
1 Student: I don’t know what to do?
2 Teacher: No:: let’s try to find it out ((starts to make slips of
3 paper that illustrates money)) (1.3) now I’m at the bank
4 (0.4) I’m at the bank here you are here is (0.2) Euro
5 (4.5) ((gives slips of papers to the student)) I arrive
6 at the bank and then I say yes thank you I would like to
7 buy 720 Euro (4.3) how much is it?
8 Student: 20,
9 Teacher: 20 [crowns,
10 Student: [No,
11 Teacher: 20 crowns (0.2) for 720 Euro (1.1) how much
12 does [it cost,
13 Student: [It costs 5748,
14 Teacher: Mm (1.1) here you are (1.1) and does the fee cost
15 anything or do I have to [pay?
16 Student: [20 crowns.
17 Teacher: I have to pay 20 right 20 crowns here you are here is the
18 money for the fee (0.4) how much is that in total?
19 Student: Plus that,
20 Teacher: Mm,
21 Student: Oh yeah?
___________________________________________________________________________
Figure 2. Teachers orienting to examples from everyday practices.
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Connecting to the outside
As seen in line 1, a student was struggling with understanding the assignment. As a
response to this frustration, the teacher started to build an example of going to the bank to
exchange money. She made small slips of paper that were supposed to illustrate money and
tried to start a kind of role play in which the students could understand the function of a fee
and how to include it in their calculations. When the teacher asked the student to calculate
how much she had to pay for 720 euros, the student responded 20 crowns. When the teacher
repeated the amount suggested by the student, which was wrong, the student withdrew her
suggestion (line 10). When the teacher once more repeated it (lines 11–12), the student uttered
the correct amount when converting 720 euros to Norwegian crowns. When the teacher
acknowledged that it was the correct amount, she also prompted the student to include the fee
in her calculations (lines 14–15). The episode ended when the student was enabled to see the
relation between the fee and the converted amount, and that she had to add those units
together in order to solve the assignment.
In this episode, the teacher oriented to the everyday practice of going to the bank. She
used it as an example to support a student who was struggling with understanding how to deal
with an assignment about exchanging money from one currency to another. Here, by orienting
to the practice of going to the bank, the teacher enabled the student to understand the function
of a fee in these kinds of transactions and how to include it in her calculations. This episode
illustrates the second category of teacher orientation when contextualizing instruction.
Teachers orienting to personal issues
This category emerged from episodes in which teachers mobilized what we have called
personal issues as resources for supporting student reasoning. The majority of such episodes
occurred during social studies lessons. In contrast to the second category, which was about
more general everyday practices, episodes in this category contained teacher orientations in
which teachers mobilized resources that were connected to the more personal level of a
student’s everyday experiences. Here, important ingredients of being a youth and aspects of
students’ personal lives, interests, and emotions were made relevant as resources to support
students’ reasoning about subject matter. For instance, in one episode of whole-class
interaction, a teacher used students’ emotional experience of being in love as a resource for
approaching the concept of national romanticism. Other resources that belong to this category
are experiences connected to cultural backgrounds, parents, and home life. For instance, one
teacher referred to how parents at home might deal with politics and political issues in order
to make their students relate to an upcoming political election at the school. Another teacher
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Connecting to the outside
referred to the occupations of the students’ parents in order to address the question of whether
or not there is a working class in Norway today. We also observed how teachers used student
experiences from participation in popular leisure activities, such as sports, as a tool for
guiding students in their assignments.
The third episode we analyze in detail, displayed in Figure 3, illustrates how a teacher
tried to contextualize instruction by referring to students’ cultural backgrounds and identities.
In this episode, the students were learning about national romanticism and the concept of
national feeling. The activity was organized as group work, and the teacher was making
rounds. Two students of non-Norwegian ethnic origin (Polish and Estonian), who at times
struggled with the Norwegian language, had been placed at a desk next to each other. When
the episode occurred, the teacher had come up to the girls to check how they were coping with
the assignment and started to talk with the student originally from Poland.
___________________________________________________________________________
1 Teacher: Eh (0.1) now this is (0.1) this has a lot to do about
2 concepts and to understand concepts but,
3 Student: M:m.
4 Teacher: So (1.5) if we now (0.4) here it says the Norwegian national
5 feeling.
6 Student: M:m.
7 Teacher: Yes (0.2) what what does it mean to be Norwegian.
8 Student: M:m.
9 Teacher: In the nineteenth century (0.1) we are done with (0.1) the
10 constitutional law in 1814 and (0.3) we wanted an independent
11 nation,
12 Student: Mm (1.9) so i::s it actually:: that we are going to write
13 about all [these concepts:: what was it like to.
14 Teacher: [Yes (0.2) and (0.2) how Norwegians yes (0.4) and
15 yes how (0.3) and (0.3) I think it is (0.2) good
16 to write down cues.
17 Student: M:m,
18 Teacher: Do you understand the word national feeling (1.0) no (0.9)
19 you are from Poland (0.7) I’m from Norway (1.5) I love my
20 country (0.4) you love your country (1.0) the feelings for
21 the nation Norway (0.3) the feelings for the nation Poland
22 (0.7) right,
23 Student: °Yes°,
24 Teacher: Yes (0.5) and in the nineteenth century (0.2) then Norway got
25 (2.2) they started to reflect upon what is the (0.4) very
26 Norwegian (0.6) and in the book this is to some extent
27 described (0.6) perhaps you can (0.2) read a little bit and
28 (0.2) find it out.
29 Student: M:m.
___________________________________________________________________________
Figure 3. Teachers orienting to personal issues.
In the opening of the episode, the teacher oriented the student to the meaning of the
concepts they were working on. He tried to help the student understand what she was
supposed to do during this classroom activity. During the initial rounds of turn taking, the
17
Connecting to the outside
student only uttered “M:m,” but then, in lines 12–13, she formulated an account of what she
was supposed to do, which was acknowledged by the teacher (lines 14–15). When the teacher
assumed that the student did not know the meaning of the term “national feeling,” he started
to orient her to the place of origin of both the student and himself (lines 18–22). He then used
her ethnic origin and his own as resources for explaining the concept of national feeling. He
used such expressions as “you are from Poland,“I’m from Norway,” “I love my country,”
and “you love your country,” and focused on how they both had special relations to their
country of origin. When the student confirmed the teacher’s account (line 23), the teacher
stated that the student was then ready to continue to work on the assignment.
This educational dialogue is a clear example of the third category. In this episode, a
student’s identity was used as a resource for scaffolding her work on an assignment. The
teacher referred to the student’s background and country of origin (Poland) and her personal
experiences and feelings for this country and used it as a resource for reflecting upon national
romanticism and what the concept of national feeling means.
Teachers orienting to concrete objects
The next category emerging from the analysis of classroom interactions was developed from
episodes in which teachers oriented to concrete objects as resources for supporting students’
meaning making and learning. These types of episodes only occurred in mathematics lessons.
We observed that teachers used concrete objects that students were familiar with from outside
school as representations and illustrations of more abstract concepts. In these episodes, items
like money, animals, and fruit were used as concrete objects that represented abstract symbols
in mathematical problems that students worked on. Such objects were used as resources when
students were struggling with academic problems. For instance, in one episode, a teacher used
money as a scaffolding device for supporting a student who faced challenges with
understanding that a number divided by a smaller number had to be a negative number.
One case illustrates this category in detail. This episode, displayed in Figure 4,
occurred during individual work. The class was working on the topic of algebra in
mathematics, and the students were sitting at their desks and calculating different
mathematical assignments from their book. One of the students was struggling with a task,
and the teacher approached this student and started to guide her by mobilizing fruits as
resources to support the student.
__________________________________________________________________________
1 Teacher: What does the expression 5 times a plus b mean, [5xa+b]
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Connecting to the outside
2 Student: <5 times a plus this>,
3 Teacher: If for example::,
4 Student: Won’t that just be won’t that just be,
5 Teacher: Monkeys (0.9) no pineapples (0.7) and bananas (1.7) it means
6 that it’s both 5 pineapples (0.3) and 5 bananas.
7 Student: That is 10 (0.2) a:: (0.2) b,
8 Teacher: 10 fruits.
9 Student: Ok so [it’s this?
10 Teacher: [Not 10 a b (0.3) but it’s 5 a (0.3) plus 5 b.
11 Student: Oh yes?
12 Teacher: Mm.
13 Student: Then I get it.
___________________________________________________________________________
Figure 4. Teachers orienting to concrete objects.
When the teacher oriented the student to the expression 5 x a + b (line 1), the student
had trouble explaining what it actually meant (lines 2 and 4). Then, the teacher started to refer
to concrete objects. He used objects such as pineapples and bananas as replacements for the
abstract symbols a and b (lines 5–6). This strategy seemed to be something that the teacher
did in order to make the task more concrete and easier to deal with. By converting abstract
numbers and letters into pineapples and bananas, and by using these objects as tools for
guiding the students, the teacher tried to make the expression more concrete and
understandable for the student. After several turns, the student displayed that she was then
able to understand this type of expression and was ready to continue to work on the
mathematical assignment on her own (line 13).
This episode illustrates the fourth category of everyday experiences that the teachers
oriented to in attempts to contextualizing instruction. The teacher used objects that he
assumed the students were familiar with, such as fruits, as tools for supporting a struggling
student who had challenges in dealing with calculating a mathematical problem.
Teacher orienting to knowledge from travelling abroad
The final category is made of instances in which the teachers oriented to knowledge that
students had gained from travelling to other countries as a resource. We identified two
instances in which the teachers mobilized such resources. In the first episode, taking place in a
math lesson, the teacher used the example of travelling to Turkey, a popular destination for
Norwegians to visit during the holidays, to buy clothes as a resource for dealing with
assignments that included converting currencies. We will analyze the second episode in detail
below. This episode occurred during a lesson about historical developments in the world, in
which students were dealing with the topic of imperialism. During the lesson, the class
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Connecting to the outside
addressed the role of Great Britain during that era, and Australia became an issue. The fact
that the main language in Australia is English illustrates aspects of imperialism and
settlement. This episode, displayed in Figure 5, occurred during a whole-class conversation. A
map of the world was pulled down in front of the blackboard, and the teacher prompted the
students to explain where Australia is located.
___________________________________________________________________________
1 Student 1: There. ((points at Australia on the map))
2 Teacher: There is Australia (2.2) ok (4.4) has someone been there?
3 ((Student 2 raises his hand))
4 Teacher: Student 2 has been there (0.7) what kind of language do they
5 speak.
6 Student 2: English,
7 Teacher: English (1.1) how come,
8 ((Students 2 and 3 raise their hands))
9 Teacher: Student 3 is now very eager (1.3) raising his hand all the
10 time.
11 Student 3: Yes,
12 Teacher: Student 4,
13 Student 4: I am not to::tally sure bu::t I belie::ve that:: (0.4) wasn’t
14 it like something that the::y (0.7) they sent prisoners down
15 to Australia,
16 Teacher: Yes.
17 Student 4: So,
18 Teacher: Yes why is (0.1) but just in a nutshell why is there English
19 language in Australia (1.2) Student 3,
20 Student 3: Because the British had colonies there earlier,
21 Teacher: Because (0.2) the British (0.6) settled in Australia,
___________________________________________________________________________
Figure 5. Teachers orienting to knowledge from travelling abroad.
When the location of Australia was identified (line 1), the teacher asked if any of the
students had been there, inviting the students to bring in relevant knowledge. After the teacher
recognized that Student 2 had been to Australia (line 4), it becomes clear that he wants those
students who have been to Australia to provide the class with knowledge regarding a specific
aspect of this country, namely what the primary language is (lines 4–5). When the teacher
nominated Student 2 (line 6), the student provided his peers with knowledge about the issue
under consideration, knowledge that he had gained from travelling abroad. The teacher picked
up on Student 2’s contribution and used it as a resource for going further into the subject
matter (line 7). By posing the question of exactly why Australians speak English, he implied
that this condition was not incidental, but instead had a particular reason that was relevant in
the context of imperialism. After a couple of turns, the teacher nominated Student 3, who in
his response, oriented the discussion to the process of colonization and explained that the
reason for the language situation was that the British had settled in Australia.
20
Connecting to the outside
In sum, the teacher mobilized students’ experiences from travelling abroad as a
resource for student learning. The teacher invited the students to contribute with knowledge
gained from travelling abroad as relevant to the discussion about the topic under
consideration. In addition, the teacher used a student’s experience with language use in
Australia as a resource for facilitating reflection about the consequences of imperialism and
what impact the process of colonization and settlement had on different parts of the world.
This episode illustrates the final category of teacher orientation when contextualizing
instruction.
Discussion and concluding remarks
In this article, we have examined the kinds of everyday experiences teachers orient to in
classroom interactions when contextualizing instruction. We have shed light on the research
question, which asked what kinds of resources teachers use when enacting this method of
instruction. By reviewing and analyzing a large amount of video that captured naturally
occurring classroom interactions over one academic year, we identified everyday resources
that teachers themselves orient to in order to support their students.
The findings show that the teachers we followed attempted to contextualize instruction
in classroom interactions in many of the lessons we observed. Contextualizing instruction did
not occur in every lesson, but in some lessons, it occurred several times. By analyzing the
episodes of student-teacher interactions in which teachers used everyday experiences as
scaffolding devices, we identified five categories of teacher orientations to resources. We have
called these (1) teachers orienting to characteristics of the local community, (2) teachers
orienting to examples from everyday practices, (3) teachers orienting to personal issues,
(4) teachers orienting to concrete objects, and (5) teachers orienting to knowledge from
travelling abroad. The most frequently occurring type is the first category, and most of these
episodes occurred in social studies lessons. The most frequent type in the subject of
mathematics was concrete objects.
In one of the classical studies of everyday experiences in educational contexts, Moje et
al. (2004) found that students came to school with many experiences and knowledge that were
highly relevant for about academic matter in class, but that these resources were not made
relevant in the instructional work. Our data show that contextualizing instruction happened
almost one time per lesson. This means that the teachers we followed practice some kind of
polycontextual awareness (Lund, 2006). The teachers were attuned to the possibility of using
students’ everyday experiences as mediational means for providing support to students
21
Connecting to the outside
working on various topics, and they mobilized resources from diverse learning trajectories
that are part of practices outside of school for the purpose of learning in classrooms (Dreier,
2003). Existing research has shown the positive effects of drawing on students’ everyday
experiences when providing support for students in learning and understanding subject matter
in class (Dworin, 2006; Lee, 2006; Moll et al., 1992; Nasir et al., 2008). The current study
adds to this body of knowledge. The categories point to the possibility of using resources that
are quite diverse in nature as scaffolding devices in instructional trajectories and that using
resources that relate to the aspects that we have documented here can enable teachers to
engage in contextualizing instruction.
Teo (2008) emphasized in his study that it is important that the teacher knows what
resources students will see as relevant and familiar and that everyday resources can
potentially be many different things. Our study adds to these insights. The rationale behind
establishing categories of what kind of everyday resources teachers orient to in their
instructional work is that it can generate important knowledge about what kinds of cultural
tools teachers themselves consider relevant when mobilizing everyday experiences as
scaffolding devices as well as the variation and multiplicity of such resources in classroom
interactions. In comparing the four categories developed in this study to the categories that
Moje et al. (2004) identified—family, community, peers, and popular culture—we find some
similarities and differences. Family, community, and peers are related to our categories. For
example, our teachers often referred to the students’ local communities when trying to support
them. The reason for the high frequency of resources connected to the local community might
be because teachers are more familiar with characteristics of this community that mean
something for both young people and adults. That use of the local community occurred mostly
in social studies might indicate that teachers find it easier and more relevant to use
characteristics of the community when supporting students’ engagement with academic
content in this subject.
The fact that examples of everyday practices and concrete objects were the most
common mediational means used in math might indicate that teachers see everyday activities,
such as going to the bank or buying ice cream, and objects that they assume students are
familiar with, such as oranges and apples, as easier and more relevant to use as examples
when approaching mathematical problems. This does not mean that resources of a more
personal character cannot be used as scaffolding devices in mathematics. On the contrary,
aspects of being young and personal interests of young people might be highly suitable to
support students in instructional work. Furthermore, we only found one reference to popular
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Connecting to the outside
culture, which is a main category in the study of Moje and colleagues (2004). Even though
this was a little bit surprising, since popular culture is an important component of youth life, it
might indicate that some teachers find it difficult to relate to the popular cultural universe of
young people when dealing with academic content. Mobilizing resources from this universe
that actually are relevant to students and using them properly as resources to enquire into
subject matter in school might be challenging for some teachers.
Moreover, a crucial difference between our study and that of Moje and her colleagues
is that they developed the categories from the kinds of knowledge funds students themselves
came to school with. Thus, the categories were developed with the students as the point of
departure. In our study, we developed the categories from the resources teachers themselves
mobilized as mediational means. The teachers tried to create learning situations in which there
was an alignment between the resources that were mobilized by the teacher and the
background and interests of the students. In another study based on the same data as the
current study, Silseth (2018) showed that productive use of everyday experiences for
supporting student learning depends on the relevance of the resources when working on
academic topics at hand, that students are enabled to bring in these resources themselves, and
that students are positioned as active contributors in the ongoing co-construction of
knowledge. The finding of the current study should be viewed in light of this. The teacher
orientations to different kinds of everyday resources does not automatically lead to productive
learning situations. In looking at the extracts illustrating attempts to facilitate contextualizing
instruction (Figs. 1–5), it is not always clear in what ways the use of these resources actually
support students’ learning and understanding of subject matter. The implications of the
findings point to a need for teachers to plan the use of resources from different types of
activities and to use such resources more systematically. It is not always clear what the uptake
of students is nor how these resources actually enable students to enhance their understanding
and gain insights into the academic topic they are dealing with.
However, from a sociocultural viewpoint, learning involves the process of being
attuned to how to orient oneself towards various cultural resources that exist in social
practices (Mäkitalo, 2016; Rajala et al., 2016). This means that when students participate in
classroom communities over time, they will also learn what kinds of mediational means are
preferred when thinking and reflecting upon curricular topics and subject matter.
Contextualizing instruction is not only about facilitating conceptual understanding per se but
also about encouraging students to use the resources they come to school with as mediating
tools to reason with and, through this, engage in what Dewey (1959) called “a continuing
23
Connecting to the outside
reconstruction of experience” (p. 27). Thus, contextualizing instruction is not only about the
technical method of providing support at a particular moment in time; it can also be viewed as
a way of approaching students’ everyday lives as resources that can build connections
between the multiple practices that students traverse in contemporary societies (Anderson &
Gold, 2006).
Future research on contextualizing instruction needs to address how everyday
experiences can be used effectively and soundly, in ways that are meaningful for both teachers
and students. The categories identified here from naturally occurring classroom interactions
can guide educators in the process of developing strategies that can contribute to making
content within subject domains more comprehensible for both students who are struggling and
students who are not struggling. Knowledge about these aspects of teaching and learning in
classrooms is important because it can guide us in future attempts to create learning
environments in which teachers can support students’ participation in ways that includes
resources from the students’ everyday lives outside of school in a systematic way.
Acknowledgements
We would like to thank the teachers and students who took part in this project and opened up
the doors to their classrooms. By allowing us to take part in your daily life in school, we have
gained valuable knowledge about life and learning in the classroom. We would also like to
thank Liz Stokoe and Lisbeth Breivik for valuable comments on earlier drafts. This work is
funded by the [details removed for peer review].
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Appendix: Transcription Conventions
Sign Explanation
(2.5) Time interval between speech in tenths of a second.
< > Right and left carats indicate that the talk between the participants speeded up
or slowed down.
word Underlining indicates emphasis on words and expressions.
[ Brackets indicate where overlapping talk starts.
::: Colons indicate the lengthening of a word or sound.
. , ? Punctuation markers indicate intonation. The period indicates falling
intonation. The comma and question mark indicate rising intonation.
( ) Empty parentheses indicate that it was difficult to hear what was said.
°word° Indicates that the word or sound is softer compared to the surrounding talk.
((looks up)) A sentence that appears within double parentheses describes an action.
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... The studies reviewed that use the concept of trajectory or pathway refer to the set of activities and socio-institutional contexts in which a person participates and learns. We have not identified relevant differences between the studies that use the term learning pathways (for example, Akiva et al., 2017;Douglas et al., 2018) and those that opt for learning trajectories (for example, Hernández-Hernández et al., 2018;Miño-Puigcercós, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018), since both are used in a broad sense to refer to learning across contexts. Although this underlying idea can be deduced in practically all works, few articles explicitly define what they understand by a learning trajectory/pathway. ...
... A learning trajectory, from this point of view, is generated and transformed through people's participation in multiple social practices, both educational and non-educational. The definition of trajectories emphasizes notions such as participation, social practice and community of practice, which is evident in the many citations to the works of Dreier (1999Dreier ( , 2003Dreier ( , 2009, Wenger (1998) and Lave and Wenger (1991) in various reviewed studies (for example, Esteban-Guitart et al., 2018;Kumpulainen, 2016;Miño-Puigcercós, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018;Stromholt & Bell, 2018). It is also linked to legitimate peripheral participation, understood as the journey of a newcomer to a community of practice from their initial participation towards full participation (for example, Alenius, 2016; Rintala & Nokelainen, 2020;Veillard, 2015). ...
... Learning trajectories can also be limited to certain academic or professional trajectories, such as being a sports coach (Brasil et al., 2018;Douglas et al., 2018) Rintala and Nokelainen (2020) use the term trajectory to refer specifically to the path that a student can choose in an education plan based on their goals, interests or other preferences. In the second group of works (for example, Esteban-Guitart et al., 2018;Kumpulainen, 2016;Miño-Puigcercós, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018), the term trajectories are used in a broad sense, including all types of learning contexts and learning content, even learning resulting from practices which its aim is not to learn. ...
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In contemporary society, school is only one of the contexts in which people learn throughout their lives. Therefore, in recent years studies and conceptual proposals that seek to understand how children and young people learn in different activity contexts have proliferated. In this article we present a systematic review of the recent literature on learning across contexts, and specifically on learning trajectories. The objective is to narrow down and define the notion of learning trajectory by reviewing the existing proposals on the term itself and on other similar concepts, and placing it within the framework of other relevant theoretical and practical constructs. We reviewed 59 articles and book chapters, both theoretical and empirical, in which the concept of learning across contexts is discussed. The results show that personal learning trajectories are conceptualized as a multidimensional and dynamic concept that makes it possible to analyse learning across contexts on two planes: the connections between contexts and activities that occur due to a person's participation in different learning contexts; and the subjective perspective of continuity between the learning experiences that a person reconstructs discursively with other people or with artefacts.
... It underscores the importance of incorporating trainees' experiences to modify and adjust the context that defines what can and cannot be done. Some researchers such as Gebre and Polman (2020) and Silseth and Erstad (2018) have adopted the sociocultural perspective. This perspective entails the contextualization of teaching to incorporate authentic practices and learning into instruction. ...
... Teachers view technique-oriented teacher training programs or courses as doable in their classrooms as long as these techniques are appropriate to their context, including the class size, availability of teaching resources, and practical exercises. Factoring in teachers' ideas promotes the collaboration of stakeholders like teachers (Gebre & Polman, 2020) and enables a socio-cultural perspective (Silseth & Erstad, 2018) in contextualization efforts. ...
... The contextualization of teaching practices and input is notably done in administration-related courses (Brauckmann et al., 2020), science topics integration in schools (Gebre & Polman, 2020), and incorporation of cultural resources (Silseth & Erstad, 2018) in instruction, all aimed at providing appropriate resources and activities. In this study, the contextualization shifts to training input to help English teachers appreciate the influence of context in replicating professional development courses. ...
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This study deviates from the standard view of template-based training courses that have dominated the experience of in-service English teachers in Ecuador. Its purpose is to underscore the contextualization of training modules as a strategic method for duplicating and scaling up multi-level teacher training to sustain their knowledge and skills. The impact is assessed through a three-level survey administered to 394 teachers from three provinces. The results suggest that the influence of class size and the adaptability and replicability of training are factors that influence the effectiveness and sustainability of an English as a foreign language program. The study highlights the crucial role of collaboration that facilitates collective efforts to contextualize training to achieve profound insight related to classroom practices.
... Consequently, this line of inquiry potentially strengthens some misconceptions or enforces simplified conclusions about students' lives (Livingstone and Sefton-Green, 2017). Silseth and Erstad (2018) investigated what teachers in a lower secondary school in Norway tended to rely on when connecting their teaching to their students' out-of-school activities. The result showed that the teachers drew on experiences from the local community, personal issues which the teachers regarded as part of everyday life, concrete objects and experiences from traveling. ...
... The teachers give examples of this in their discussions. How to relate to students' net-based out-of-school activities, or contemporary culture, can be challenging for teachers when they are not totally confident in what these activities and such culture are (Silseth and Erstad, 2018). That may be one reason why teachers in this study express how they feel obliged to hold on to what they regard as school culture. ...
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Purpose The paper aims to investigate and describe the complex and dynamic dilemmas teachers are facing connected to students' net-based out-of-school activities. Design/methodology/approach The authors draw on the notion of dilemmatic spaces when thematically analyzing focus group interviews conducted with 41 teachers at three lower secondary schools in Sweden. Findings Two themes capture the teachers' dilemmas concerning their students´ net-based out-of-school activities: negotiations of content and negotiations of professional identity. When teachers take part in professional discussions where dilemmatic spaces are recognized, rather than focusing on either being for or against digitalization, they are enabled to express a multifaceted view of professional identity. Research limitations/implications This study is a starting point for further studies investigating how pedagogical and didactic decisions are made in a digital time. Practical implications The findings are expected to be helpful to policymakers in understanding teachers' work. Also, teachers can be empowered by taking the departure in the findings and discussing how to handle dilemmas fruitfully. Originality/value In a rapidly changing digital society, it is important to investigate what dilemmas teachers face in their work in order to learn from them. This study is a significant contribution.
... Elsewhere, we have reported on what types of student experiences teachers invoked and how teachers used these experiences to contextualize instruction in the classroom during the year we followed the participants (Silseth, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018). In this article, we will address how teachers reflected upon the relationship between students' lives inside and outside school, as well as the complexities and tensions that might emerge when student resources are invoked in the classrooms and during parenteteacher conferences. ...
... When examining the video data, we found instances where teachers activated students' everyday experiences when the class was engaged in educational dialogues about different subject matter during lessons (for a categorization of resources, see Silseth & Erstad (2018)). Such dialogues were characterized by the presence of multiple students with different backgrounds, interests, and orientations, which might create a complex situation for teachers when trying to attune to this multi-voiced classroom community. ...
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This paper aims to critically explore the opportunities, complexities, and tensions of invoking students' everyday experiences as resources in educational activities. We analyze data from teacher interviews, instructional work in classrooms, and parent–teacher conferences taking place at a lower secondary school. The analysis shows how teachers reflect upon the relationship between students' lives outside and inside school, some of the complexities and tensions that emerges when students' everyday knowledge is invoked in instructional work in classrooms, and how students' everyday lives are activated as resources in parent–teacher conferences by the participants for building meaning together. We discuss issues teachers may reflect upon when planning and conducting educational activities that are sensitive to students' learning lives and everyday experiences.
... 3. Fostering the connection between different school and non-school learning experiences, in which students develop interests as they move through different contexts of activity. This connection can occur in two directions: on the one hand, by taking advantage of students' interests that arise outside school and linking them to academic learning and, on the other hand, by generating interests in schools so that students take advantage of the learning opportunities offered outside school (Authors, 2018;Crowley & Jacobs, 2002;Hulleman et al., 2010;Renninger, 2009;Silseth & Erstad, 2018). 4. Incorporating socially and culturally relevant content into teaching and learning processes so that students value their interests and/or generate new interests Ito et al., 2013). 5. Taking into consideration and incorporating learning resources and opportunities present in the community environment and/or accessible through the Internet to help students generate and develop new interests. ...
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The lack of alignment between, on the one hand, what schools seek to teach and, on the other, the students’ interests and learning objectives is leading to increasing numbers of students who are unable to derive meaning from school activities. Personalized learning strategies represent one of the most powerful ways to help students attribute meaning and personal value to their learning. This paper has two interrelated objectives. The first is to present a guide to the analysis of educational practices that work with and from students’ interests. This tool makes it possible to identify the potential of practices to reinforce and promote the meaning and personal value that students attach to their school learning. The guide is structured around three large blocks (personalization strategies, conceptions of interests, and design and development of practices), which describe the dimensions, subdimensions, questions, and levels for the analysis. The second objective is to illustrate use of the guide by analyzing two practices designed and implemented in primary school classrooms, characterized by a focus on students’ learning interests. The paper concludes by highlighting the main contributions of the guide presented, identifying some limitations, and pointing to future lines of research.
... The students stepped beyond the horizontal and vertical knowledge creation and applied knowledge in critical and creative ways while working on the FUSE maker challenges. The ways in which the teachers interacted with the students played a crucial role in mediating the students' opportunities to draw on their personal funds of knowledge and productively connect this knowledge to their knowledge creation in the FUSE Studio (also Silseth, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018). The transfer between funds of knowledge and explicit (conceptual) knowledge often reframed the activity, extending the original FUSE maker challenges and the roles of the participants. ...
... It is further explained that this contextual problem plays an important role in mathematics. The CTL approach can support mathematics learning (Silseth & Erstad, 2018), and improve students' mathematical abilities (Dayani & Hasanuddin, 2020;Nursamsi et al., 2020;Santoso, 2020;Surya et al., 2013;Yulinda et al., 2016). So, teachers need to innovate in designing interesting teaching materials using real-life contexts close to students' daily lives. ...
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Students' worksheets are needed for effective learning, especially in the new normal era. Worksheets were develoved using the ADDIE development model. This research was conducted in class VII SMPN 23 Pekanbaru. Worksheets are tested for validity, prakticalitity and effectiveness in learning. Questionnaires were used to measure the level of validity and practicality. Effectiveness was measured using the test. The percentage was calculated to see the level of validity and practicality. The test result were analyzed using t-test. The results showed that contextual-based worksheets were valid, practical and effective. This contextual-based worksheet can be used to learn one variable equationts and inequations.
... In this context, the research project 'Knowledge in Motion Across Contexts of Learning' (KnowMo, 2013(KnowMo, -2016 is relevant. Building on insights from studies within the socio-cultural tradition, the purpose of this project was to examine how and to what extent teachers could relate to students' everyday experiences and knowledge in schools (Silseth, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018;Erstad & Smette, 2017). The project documented some intriguing episodes in which the students used their phones to seek information that was relevant to ongoing conversations during class (for more details, see Gilje & Silseth, 2017). ...
... In this context, the research project 'Knowledge in Motion Across Contexts of Learning' (KnowMo, 2013(KnowMo, -2016 is relevant. Building on insights from studies within the socio-cultural tradition, the purpose of this project was to examine how and to what extent teachers could relate to students' everyday experiences and knowledge in schools (Silseth, 2018;Silseth & Erstad, 2018;Erstad & Smette, 2017). The project documented some intriguing episodes in which the students used their phones to seek information that was relevant to ongoing conversations during class (for more details, see Gilje & Silseth, 2017). ...
... Providing opportunities for students to further explore the uses and benefits of mathematics, especially the material taught by teachers about daily life concepts should be the learning activities carried out in class that immediately lead students to get the benefits of learning mathematics through the Contextual Teaching and Learning approach (Chen et al., 2019;Silseth & Erstad, 2018). By developing the CTL-based HLT concept, it is expected that the students can gain knowledge through a series of construction processes and relate them to the context of the whole meaning of the topic being studied instead of memorizing only. ...
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The result of the preliminary research study indicated that the learning trajectory of sequences and series in school textbooks was not able to develop students’ problem-solving ability, the mathematics belief that students were not fostered well. Therefore, it is necessary to design a learning trajectory based on students’ experiences. This research was conducted to produce Local Instructional Theory (LIT) for the sequences and series concept based on Contextual Teaching and Learning (CTL). Theoretical development is driven by an iterative process of designing instructional activities, performing teaching experiments, and conducting retrospective analysis to contribute to local instruction theory on the concept of sequences and series. The subject of this research is students of senior high school in Indonesia. The interview, observation, and distribution of the questionnaire, together with the test were done to get data for this research. The data analysis technique used is descriptive analysis and statistical analysis. Form the research result show that LIT can be used for all students, and help them find concepts and develop students’ thinking ability for problem-solving.
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