Cross contextual meaning making : a study of children's talk within and across literacy contexts in one multiage classroom




Peterson, Katie Elizabeth

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In this embedded case study, I examined and documented discussions of literature across two literacy contexts within one multiage classroom. Further, I explored the experiences of four focal students within and across the two contexts, highlighting the affordances of each space and considering the implications of tacit rules of participation for individual students. I employed ethnographic data collection methods including field notes, audio and video recordings, semi-structured interviews, and student and teacher created artifacts. Data analysis drew on constant comparative methods as well as traditions of interactive sociolinguistics. Drawing on sociocultural theories of learning and transactional theories of reading response, the study demonstrates the ways in which talk is used as a tool for meaning-making tasks including comprehension, argumentation, and identity construction. The study highlights the purposeful and strategic instructional moves made by the classroom teachers in discussion that facilitated more complete and complex interpretations of texts. The cases of the focal students illustrate the affordances of each context as well as demonstrating the ways in which responses to literature might be leveraged to claim identity positions within the classroom. The study cultivates deeper understanding about the importance of individual contributions within discussion contexts, as well as demonstrating the ways in which children and teachers mediate meaning making in collaborative contexts. The findings suggest implications for the ways in which educators might support and draw on individual approaches to response to facilitate divergent meaning making and expansion of repertoires of response for students. In addition, the study suggests implications for the careful design and development of contexts in which children are granted interpretive authority and encouraged to engage in collaborative meaning-making.



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