WHAT NEW TEACHERS CAN TELL TEACHER EDUCATORS ABOUT THEIR JOURNEY INTO THE PROFESSION

By Linda Smetana, Dana L. Grisham, Roya Q. Scales, and Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Presentation from The California Council of Teacher Educators, Kona Kai Resort, October 20, 2017

A team of researchers from nine different universities pooled their resources to conduct a longitudinal study around the central questions: What tends to stick with teachers as they move from preservice course and fieldwork through student teaching and into their first year as a teacher? How might their trajectories toward becoming a professional teacher differ depending on the contexts of university, cooperating teacher, and first year teaching? Using qualitative and quantitative methods, the researchers tracked participants from their preservice days at one of nine universities across the United States to their first year of teaching.  Findings include the following: University teacher preparation programs often demonstrated a clear vision of their programs, but standards were superimposed later as they were developed or revised. Preservice candidates grasped the more visible aspects of teaching literacy (e.g., having classroom libraries, understanding top down and bottom up approaches to learning to read) but had difficulty understanding the diversity represented in the classes they would teach and their roles as professionals.

Findings  indicated that student teachers often struggled to merge their knowledge of pedagogy and practice learned at the university with the approaches expected at the school or by the cooperating teacher. Those student teachers who were most successful had participated in preparation programs with clearly articulated signature aspects and were given some autonomy with useful feedback in their student teaching roles.

In the final phase of the study, researchers noted that first year teachers employed a variety of strategies as they attempted to meld their teaching experiences and knowledge with the new teaching context.  At times, the new teachers felt they were valued and treated as emerging professionals, but some new teachers felt constrained by external factors such as the expectation to adhere to pacing guides or to teach in a certain way because that is how it was done at that particular school.

View a larger version of the poster, here. 

CCTE Presentation thumbnail

CCTE Poster Presentation, October 20, 2017

Why It Matters

A persistent problem in teacher education arises when student teachers and novice teachers encounter the specifics of, what is for them, a new teaching context.  As in many other professions, the opportunity to observe during fieldwork, engage in teaching environments in supervised settings that permit increasing autonomy for decision making, and multiple exposures to many teaching contexts (e.g., demographics, grade levels) has potential to improve the likelihood of the new teacher’s success. And with her success follows the success of the students in deep and meaningful learning. The longitudinal study presented here describes the paths participating teachers take toward becoming a professional and continuing to develop as one, as well.  The implication for teacher educators is the importance of making visible the highly variable environments of school and the role novice teachers can play in learning from that environment and helping to shape the context of teaching in that particular setting as well.

Our Inquiry

Matching school practices with what teacher preparation programs impart is a difficult, perhaps impossible task.  Rather, the challenge teacher educators face is one of preparing future teachers such that they view themselves as competent professionals capable of learning from many contexts while maintaining effective classroom environments.  How might (or how do) teacher preparation programs and faculty foster the hunger for learning and for adaptability that characterizes successful professionals in the schools?

Theoretical frameworks.

Two theoretical frameworks were employed as the researchers conducted analysis on the complete data set from this three-year study.  To describe the teacher preparation programs and the school contexts for student and novice teaching, the researchers relied on complexity theory (e.g., Spiro, Feltovich, & Coulson, 1996). Complexity theory posits that complex concepts (and school contexts as we have envisioned them here) resist simplification; that is, teaching requires a capacity for working with ever-changing variables. As a result, oversimplification of what those environments entail, or are perceived to entail, may lead future teachers to view their chosen profession in ways that lead to ossification and unwillingness to change or adapt.

The researchers also viewed the work that future teachers (inclusive of preservice teachers, student teachers, and novice teachers) through the lens of activity theory (e.g., Engstrom, 1999). For example, student teachers often felt they must work quietly without advertising their approach to teaching because more senior teachers tended to enforce structures characteristic of their particular school. The actions of these teachers changed how they viewed themselves and how they were perceived by others as professionals or as members of the teaching community. Activity theory suggests conceptualizing mediation in human action in any given context. Mediated action (Gonzalez, Moll & Amanti, 2005) is the notion that individuals’ learning and development is forged in goal-directed activities, and such action is mediated by the tools, symbols, or social interactions associated with that activity (e.g., Wertsch, 2010; Wertsch & Rupert, 1993). These tools, symbols, or social interactions, sometimes called mediational means, influence and shape human learning and development. When considering mediated activity, we note that, “an inherent property of mediational means is that they are culturally, historically, and institutionally situated” (Wertsch, 1993, p. 230). Therefore, in schools, mediating means may be instrumental (e.g., schedules, assessment tools, instructional materials), social (e.g., cultural practices, interactions with others, policies, procedures), or semiotic (e.g., language systems, mathematics).  Our study examined a range of contextual features in schools, mediational means that shaped future teachers’ actions.

Participants.

Initial work on this study included participants as preservice teachers from entire cohorts of teacher preparation candidates to more narrowly selected participants who had moved from preservice candidacy to student teaching. For logistical and practical reasons, the researchers could not track every member of the initial cohorts of preservice teachers.  From the initial cohorts, teachers in their first year of teaching were selected via convenience sampling for further participation.

Data collection and analysis.

Data collection included observation data, interview data from cooperating teachers, future teachers, and teacher preparation faculty, survey data (see, Henk, et al, 2000.), syllabi collected from the teacher preparation program, and student achievement data. More than 1100 distinct files comprise the data set.

During phase one, as researchers gathered data regarding teacher preparation programs, the individual institutions were treated as cases (Yin, 2009). In phase two (student teaching) and phase three (first year or novice teachers), the individual participants became the focus of the research and their cases informed cross-case analysis (Stake, 2006). Following the activity theory theoretical frame, researchers relied primarily on verbs (Saldaña, 2013) as an initial approach to coding, particularly in phases two and three where student and novice teacher actions were a particular focus of the inquiry.

Analysis was always undertaken using a two-step process to avoid halo effects and researcher bias . Typically, there were two stages of analysis: case-level and cross-case analysis.  In the first stage, researchers participated directly in preparing a case study summary for each candidate from their teacher preparation program. During the second stage, research teams conducted several rounds of cross-case analysis with all researchers reviewing, refining, and confirming results of these analyses.

Findings.

In phase one, university teacher preparation programs often demonstrated a clear vision of their programs, but standards were superimposed later as they were developed or revised. More important, there was typically a high degree of congruence between what teacher educators intended to teach and what candidates believed they learned (TERSG). Preservice candidates grasped the visible aspects of teaching literacy (e.g., having classroom libraries, understanding top down and bottom up approaches to learning to read), but they had more difficulty understanding the diversity represented in the classes they would teach and their roles as professionals.

Phase two (student teaching) findings indicated that student teachers often struggled to merge their knowledge of pedagogy and practice learned at the university with the approaches expected at the school or by the cooperating teacher. Those student teachers who were most successful had participated in preparation programs with clearly articulated signature aspects and were given some autonomy with useful feedback in their student teaching roles.

In the final phase of the study, researchers noted that first year teachers employed a variety of strategies as they attempted to meld their teaching experiences and knowledge with the new teaching context.  At times, the new teachers felt they were valued and treated as emerging professionals, but some new teachers felt constrained by external constraints such as the expectation to adhere to pacing guides or to teach in a certain way because that is how it was done at that particular school.

Conclusions.

Increasing the experiences preservice teachers have in a variety of teaching contexts in gradually released (see Pearson & Gallagher, 1983) experiences may serve to better prepare future teachers for work in school contexts that may not represent close matches to the ideals they encounter during preparation course and fieldwork.  Similarly, planning and executing such experiences may simultaneously promote greater communication between university teacher preparation faculty and the schools where their future teachers will serve.

Selected References

TERSG

Creswell, J. W. & Plano Clark, V. L. (2007). Designing and conducting mixed methods research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Engeström, Y. (1999). Activity theory and individual and social transformation. In Y. Engeström, R. Miettinen, & R. L. Punamäki (Eds.), Perspectives on activity theory (pp. 19-38). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Fontana, A., & Frey, J.H. (2000). The interview: From structured questions to negotiated text. In N.K. Denzin & Y.S. Lincoln (Eds.), Handbook of qualitative research (2nd ed.) (pp. 645-675). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Gonzales, N., Moll, L .C., & Amanti, C. (Eds.). (2005). Funds of knowledge: Theorizing practice in households, communities, and classrooms. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Henk, B., Moore, J. C., Marinak, B. A., & Tomasetti, B. W. (2000). A reading lesson observation framework for elementary teachers, principals, and literacy supervisors. The Reading Teacher, 53(5), 358-369.

Pearson, P. D. & Gallagher, M. (1983.) The instruction of reading comprehension.  Contemporary Education Psychology, 8, 317-344.

Saldaña, J. (2013). The coding manual for qualitative researchers. Los Angeles, CA: SAGE.

Spiro, R. (2004). Principled pluralism for adaptive flexibility in teaching and learning to read. In R. B. Ruddell & N. Unrau (Eds.), Theoretical models and processes of reading (5th ed., pp. 654-659). Newark, DE: International Reading Association.

Stake, R. E. (2006). Multiple case study analysis. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.

Wertsch, J. V., ed. (1985).  Culture, communication, and cognition: Vygotskian perspectives.  New York:  Cambridge University Press.

Yin, R. K. (2009). Case study research: Design and methods (4th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

 

Interactive, Asynchronous On-line Discussions

A guest post by Nance S. Wilson, State University of New York at Cortland

This post describes how teachers can engage students in interactive, asynchronous on-line discussions. These discussions not only play an important role in online and hybrid classes; but are critical to assuring active participation by students. On-line discussions can also enhance students’ academic performance (Althaus, 1997), and promote higher-order thinking and critical thinking skills when discussion activities are properly designed (Larkin-Hein, 2001).

However, assuring that asynchronous discussions are truly interactive is a difficult proposition as students are often concerned with their grades and completing their assignments. Sun and Gao (2016) identified issues with the traditional threaded discussion forums because “the chronological and hierarchical structure fails to show the interrelationships of postings or the importance of threads, which may prevent effective discussions from happening” (p. 73).

Therefore, the instructor must use a variety of tools to design the discussion in a manner that compels students to interact with each other (Maddox, 2012; Wood & Bliss, 2016).

My research has revealed two important tools for this structuring in an online course. The first tool is the design of the discussion itself.  The second is the application utilized to facilitate the discussion.  This is true whether the asynchronous discussion occurs in a hybrid or completely on-line setting. The lessons reported in this post are from an on-line disciplinary literacy class with graduate and undergraduate students.

Interactive, asynchronous discussions should be designed around giving students multiple opportunities to collaborate around a single text and/or topic.  In my study of the on-line literacy class, students were asked to complete a series of activities around a textbook (Kane, 2011). For instance, when reading Chapter 3, students were given the following directions:

This is a collaborative reading activity. That means that you will work with your collaborative reading group in OneNote. You will also keep personal notes in your Collaborative Reading Personal Notes Journal. 

Go to Chapter 3 of the Kane textbook. 

Skim the chapter. 

Create three of your own questions to guide your reading of the chapter. (Note: In an earlier module students were introduced to Bloom’s Taxonomy and what makes a good question.)

Using OneNote, visit the Collaborative Reading Group. Share all of your questions with your small group by midnight September 29th.  You should also share the following with your group:  

  • Think about how you interact with your textbooks. Do you always read assignments? Why, or why not?
  • Do your teachers actually show you how best to read and use your textbooks?
  • Is it necessary to read the textbooks in order to do well in the classes?
  • Do your teachers know when a significant percentage of students don’t read the assigned material? If so, what is their reaction? Do they do anything about it, or try to find out why the text wasn’t read? Are there consequences?
  • What will you do if your students don’t read the textbook assignments you give? (Kane, 2011, p. 58)

Note/Mark the questions in the group collaboration space that you believe will help you comprehend the chapter and tell your group mates why. This happens asynchronously.

The discussion leader will use what you say about the questions to determine 3 to 5 questions you will answer beyond the guiding questions presented below. This needs to be completed by midnight September 30th.

Read the chapter individually. As you read, find the answers to your questions, answer the question below, and take notes in your Collaborative Reading Personal Notes Journal create a new journal entry and make sure that you include your responses to the questions from your group citing specific information from the reading and looking for ideas to use in your future classroom as well as personal notes to help develop your understanding of the chapter.

Also, answer the following question: 

Imagine that you are being interviewed for a teaching job in your content area. The search committee, consisting of a principal, a curriculum coordinator, and several teachers, informs you that the school you hope to work in has a policy of using no textbooks! They ask you to surmise what the philosophy underlying this decision might be and ask you what kinds of materials you would use and how you would teach under these circumstances. Write in your Journal, thinking through how you might envision your job and answer your interviewers (Kane, 2011, p. 85). 

After reading go back to your group collaboration page (OneNote) for the readings and share three things with your group:   

  1.  any problems you had with any of the questions
  2. a response to one question created by your group (not previously answered in the collaboration section by a member of your group)
  3. something from the reading that you can use in your future classroom or that you wish you had in school or that made you think about reading in your discipline.  

After sharing with your group, respond to at least one group member regarding their after-reading posts.

Notice that the directions encourage students to engage in multiple discussion opportunities with their peers. The first begins around a pre-reading of the chapter.  During reading, the students are working independently in a traditional BlackBoard journal (see figure 1).

Figure 1

Figure 1: Excerpt from a BlackBoard Journal

After reading, students return to their group to share their thoughts and talk asynchronously.  The back and forth of the actual assignment around the reading models both the interactive reading process and requires that students share with one another their reading process. It is important that students share their thinking processes because this helps to develop their metacognitive thinking about the content as well as the reading process (Paris & Winograd, 1990, Garrison, 2003; Akyol, & Garrison, 2011). Thus, the design of the discussion facilitates the students as they engage in interactive conversations and helps to build thinking and learning in an on-line environment (Wood & Bliss, 2016).

The second tool, Microsoft OneNote, was chosen because it offers students opportunities to move beyond the vertical written asynchronous discussion.  In order to facilitate the discussion, the instructor divides the students into small groups and then sets up a notebook for each small group of students.  In OneNote student notebooks, there can be pages and subpages to differentiate between sections.  For instance, each module can have a page.  Then within the module page students can set up sub-pages for before, during and after reading tasks to be completed with the group.  On each page, students post into text boxes.  They can place their text boxes vertically and horizontally (See Figures 2 & 3).  Students can also insert audio comments (See Figure 3).

Figure 2

Figure 2: Overview of a OneNote Notebook

Figure 3

Figure 3: Close up of OneNote Conversation

Thus, using OneNote as a tool changes the nature of the discussion from “prompt to response” to “prompt to response to response:” to “student created questions to response to a student to student conversation.” By changing the format of the conversation from a purely print-based vertical format students are able to have asynchronous conversations on-line that more closely mirror a live discussion.  The discussion can be viewed with or without viewing the names of the participants.  The figure above is an example of how OneNote works with students’ creation of questions.

The figures are an overview of an extended conversation.  Figure 1 demonstrates students posting their initial pre-reading questions on the left while different group members discuss the questions to the right.  As the respond to each other’s posts, they indent or move their statements or questions further to the right.  The bottom left of figure 1 is a synthesis of the discussion by the discussion leader.

Figure 2 is also a look into a pre-reading discussion around questions.  You will notice how students identify questions that they like to the right of the questions posted.  Please will also notice that there are two audio posts.  The audio posts have student’s thoughts on the questions.  The content is similar to the post the written responses.  In both figures, you will notice that as students work to finalize their questions for reading they are discussing why they believe different questions will support them during reading with each student going back and forth at least two times before the leader uses the thoughts to develop final questions.

The figures of the discussions are just a glimpse of how careful design of both the discussion opportunity and the thoughtful selection of the tool can create a non-linear asynchronous discussion that supports students to develop a careful reading of the assigned text while engaging in a discussion that is interactive and multimodal.

Microsoft OneNote offers a way to build student engagement and involvement without some of the pitfalls of traditional on-line discussions threads. Since the discussions are not limited by chronological and/or hierarchical structure, students are able to think through their responses while providing a structure that promotes connecting ideas thus avoiding one of the negative issues of threaded discussions, inefficiency in promoting interactive dialogues due to structure (Thomas, 2002).  The move away from traditional threaded discussions allows students to post in a structure that follows more of a natural progression, such as one that would occur in a face-to-face class.

References

Akyol, Z., & Garrison, D. R. (2011). Assessing metacognition in an online community of inquiry. The Internet and Higher Education, 14(3), 183-190.

Althaus, S. L. (1997). Computer-mediated communication in the university classroom: An experiment with online discussions. Communication Education, 46, 158–174.

Garrison, D. R. (2003). Cognitive presence for effective asynchronous online learning: The role of reflective inquiry, self-direction and metacognition. Elements of quality online education: Practice and direction, 4, 47-58.

Kane, S. (2011). Literacy & Learning in the Content Areas, 3rd Ed. Scottsdale, AZ: Holcomb Hathaway.

Larkin-Hein, T. (2001). On-line discussions: A key to enhancing student motivation and understanding? 31st ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, Reno, NV. http://fie.engrng.pitt.edu/fie2001/papers/1121.pdf.

Maddix, M. (2012). Generating and facilitating effective online learning through discussion. Christian Education Journal 9(2), 372-385.

Paris, S. G., & Winograd, P. (1990). How metacognition can promote academic learning and instruction. Dimensions of thinking and cognitive instruction, 1, 15-51.

Sun, Y. & Gao, F. (2016) Comparing the use of a social annotation tool and a threaded discussion forum to support online discussions. Internet and Higher Education, 32, 72–79.

Thomas, M. J. W. (2002). Learning within incoherent structures: The space of online discussion forums. Journal of Computer Assisted Learning, 18, 351–366.

Wood, K. & Bliss, K. (2016). Facilitating successful online discussions. The Journal of Effective Teaching, 16, (2), 76-92

About the Blogger:

Nance Wilson

Nance Wilson

Nance S. Wilson, Ph.D., is Associate Professor, Chair of the Literacy Department, and Coordinator of Jewish Studies at SUNY Cortland. She can be reached at nance.wilson@cortland.edu

Meet the Influencer: Peggy Semingson

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Influencers

Literacy Beat bloggers have long taken inspiration from Peggy Semingson’s dedication to using technology to advance learning. We wondered what she is currently working on professionally for our Influencer series. Her answers follow. 

I was asked to write for Literacy Beat about some of the latest projects and ideas I have been working on as they relate to the intersection of literacy and technology. A few of those ideas are shared here. Comments are most welcome!

Peggy Semingson

Peggy Semingson

What trends do you see having a significant impact in the coming 5 years in the space where technology and literacy meet?

There are two ideas I will briefly share: Open educational resources and self-directed teacher professional development via social media (e.g., Twitter).

Lately, I’ve been hanging out with librarians and attending library-focused presentations and events. Librarians are truly on the cutting-edge of the future and are in tune with trends like the changing nature of information and literacy access. One of the main topics of focus among librarians and those in the broader education community has been the concept of open educational resources, or OER.

Generally, OERs are text-based and multimodal resources freely available on the Internet. They are intentionally made and created to broadly share knowledge and information with the goal that others can remix and/or reuse the content to meet their needs. MOOCs (Massively Open Online Courses that are offered free of charge), such as those offered by edX, are steadily used by educators and others to participate in open learning and connected with others online. Teachers are providing MOOCs in more grassroots ways, for instance, through Canvas.

OERs, including free courses such as MOOCs, are increasing access to learning and are of importance in underserved areas like third world countries and for those who just need or want to learn a skill or acquire knowledge outside of formal schooling.

What is exciting is these open and freely available resources are gradually replacing expensive textbooks. I’m a firm believer that learning materials should be mostly current and with digital and open resources, they can be more readily updated. I have personally contributed to the OER space also in terms of my YouTube channel which has almost a million minutes of viewings! The most popular video is on the topic of phonological awareness, phonemic awareness, and phonics. I think this topic is confusing to a lot of people, globally, so I’m glad I can help add some clarity there! I also share micro-podcasts on literacy topics in my podcast channel on SoundCloud.

One of my goals is to revamp my professional website, Virtual Gadfly, to focus more on sharing concrete tools for K-12 teachers. Future plans include expanding my YouTube channel to include videos on other complex ideas in literacy, such as dyslexia and other high-interest topics.

Also of interest are creating more of what I call dialogue videos, where I am informally talking with another educator about a specific topic in an unscripted way. I have done some dialogue videos with my colleague Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl and she brings her background in neuroscience and linguistics into our conversations on literacy topics of mutual interest. These videos are then also incorporated into my literacy teacher education courses and they are freely available online.

Beginning Reading: Dialogue with Dr. Peggy Semingson and Dr. Jodi Tommerdahl

Another idea I am seeing is the whole idea of teacher professional development as incretamixes_twitterasingly decentralized away from formal training led by schools, districts, or outside vendors. Increasingly teachers are taking learning into their own hands via social media (e.g., Twitter), digital platforms, and mobile learning (m-learning).

We are all seeing and participating in self-directed learning, or what I call “DIY PD” (do-it-yourself PD) such as scheduled Twitter chats, hashtag learning and awareness (e.g., #weneeddiversebooks), crowdsourced resources, and direct teacher-to-teacher supports. This is part of a broader trend of decentralized learning across multiple social media platforms. I appreciate the grassroots nature of these types of digital learning activities that teachers can participate in. The dialogue taking place on Literacy Beat is another example of educators engaged in “DIY PD” and learning. I would like to do empirical research in this area of self-directed teacher professional development soon. Recently, I wrote a column about the use of Twitter in learning about young adult authors recently in The ALAN Review.

What significant event in your life changed the focus of your work?

Teaching online, starting in 2008, made a huge impact on the focus of my practice and research. At first, I was a complete “deer-in-the-headlights” about teaching online and really didn’t know what to do or what my role was as an instructor. Most people need an overarching framework to guide their thinking about teaching online.

Related to digital teaching and learning, I learned about the Community of Inquiry (COI) framework from a former professor I still keep in touch with, Dave Caverly at Texas State University, San Marcos (in Texas). Learning about the Community of Inquiry framework (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007) changed my whole approach to digital teaching and learning as a teacher educator!

The focus of COI is three-fold (Garrison & Arbaugh, 2007). First, there is the teacher presence and role in the course. Second, there is an intentional fostering a sense of trust and social presence in the course. Third, the teacher actively facilitates a cognitive presence, or an inquiry and problem-solving approach in the course.

It has worked quite well as a foundation and framework for my own teaching. I also create a lot of my own materials, mostly multi-modal. I have been well supported in my ongoing learning in digital teaching and learning by the Center for Distance Education at The University of Texas at Arlington.

What research are you currently working on related to literacy and technology?

I’m working with a small team of colleagues to analyze how a major literacy organization exchanges ideas in networked ways through Twitter. We are incorporating data analytics (“big data” approaches to research) as well social network analysis (SNA) of the publicly posted Tweets from a major conference. We are using mostly computational tools to look at the data.

It’s really fascinating! This ties to my earlier point about teachers seeking to enhance their own learning spaces and backchannels outside of more traditionally sanctioned (e.g., school district or formal schooling) contexts. I’m really interested in how teacher knowledge production about literacy works in self-directed professional development digital spaces like Twitter, blogs, and other online forums. I believe that literacy organizations and publishers will play a big part in helping to facilitate such “backchannel dialogue” related to professional learning about literacy. Stay tuned for more on this soon!

I am affiliated with a small group of colleagues (“Obnoxious Academic Consortium”) in literacy. We want to advance thinking in our field about multimodality in literacy and academia. We want to also advance the idea that there are other venues besides traditional print journals to network and exchange ideas. The blog for this group is here.

Reference

Garrison, D. R., & Arbaugh, J. B. (2007). Researching the community of inquiry framework: Review, issues, and future directions. Internet & Higher Education, 10(3), 157-172.

Meet Peggy:

Dr. Peggy Semingson is an associate professor of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Texas at Arlington where she teaches online courses in Literacy Studies. Dr. Semingson has experience as a classroom teacher and reading specialist in both Southern California and Texas. Her research interests include social contexts of literacy learning, digital pedagogies, and online literacy teacher education. She has published in Teachers College Record, Language Arts, and Research in the Teaching of English. She was awarded the Jeanne S. Chall Research Grant from Harvard University in 2009–2010. She is on Twitter: @PeggySemingson. Her blog is: http://virtualgadfly.com

Contact Peggy at peggys@uta.edu

Peggy and Dexter

Peggy and Dexter

Teacher Education Research Study Group

By Thomas DeVere Wolsey & Dana L. Grisham 

The Teacher Education Research Study Group, or TERSG, is a professional learning community of the Literacy Research Association that sponsors research in the field of (you guessed it) teacher education related to literacy.

TERSG members consider the preparation of excellent literacy teachers to be both a professional and a personal priority. In addition, this study group provides an opportunity for educators to come together for further study of effective practices in literacy teacher education. In this post, I want to tell you a little bit about a longitudinal project that examined the pathways from teacher candidate to student teacher to novice teacher. This project is the work of a subset of the larger study group who have published many other articles and resources related to teacher education, as well.

The research team has changed members as personal and professional demands have changed over time, but the work has continued since we first started the three-phase project in 2009.  The group has been incredibly productive, but one of the things that has come out of our work has been the opportunity to demonstrate that faculty members from small teaching colleges can work together to gather a substantial data set and mold that into multiple presentations and publications.  In addition our little band of researchers, a subset of the larger study group, has strengthened friendships, as a result of this project.

In addition to face-to-face meetings at the annual Literacy Research Association conference, the researchers met frequently using technologies such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and webinar software. We stored and shared documents on Box.com, Google Drive, and occasionally in Dropbox.  The Box.com secure site houses over 1154 discrete documents from raw data, to minutes of our meetings, to draft and final manuscripts.

This post will serve as a home base listing of the publications and presentations completed to date. We hope that our work will help inform the ongoing discussions about how best to prepare candidates as exemplary teachers of reading. Whenever possible, I have included a link to the presentation and publication resources, as well. The Wordle slide show, below, is drawn from descriptors of the teacher preparation programs that participated in the project.

Publications:

Scales, R.Q., Ganske, K., Grisham, D.L., Yoder, K.K., Lenski, S., Wolsey, T.D., Chambers, S., Young, J.R., Dobler, E., & Smetana, L. (2014).  Exploring the impact of literacy teacher education programs on student teachers’ instructional practices. Journal of Reading Education, 39(3), 3 – 13.

Grisham, D.L., Yoder, K.K., Smetana, L., Dobler, E., Wolsey, T.D., Lenski, S.J., Young, J., Chambers, S., Scales, R.Q., Wold, L.S, Ganske, K., & Scales, W.D. (2014). Are teacher candidates learning what they are taught? Declarative literacy learning in 10 teacher preparation programs. Teacher Education and Practice, 27(1), 168-189.

Wolsey, T.D., Young, J., Scales, R., Scales, W. D., Lenski, S., Yoder, K., Wold, L., Smetana, L., Grisham, D.L., Ganske, K., Dobler, E., & Chambers, S. (2013). An examination of teacher education in literacy instruction and candidate perceptions of their learned literacy practices. Action in Teacher Education, 35 (3), 204 – 222. doi: 10.1080/01626620.2013.806230

Lenski, S., Ganske, K., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Dobler, E., Grisham, D.L., Scales, R., Smetana, L., Wolsey, T.D., Yoder, K.K., & Young, J. (2013). Literacy course priorities and signature aspects of nine teacher preparation programs. Literacy Research and Instruction, 52(1), 1-27. doi: 10.1080/19388071.2012.738778

Young, J.R., Scales, R.Q., Grisham, D.L., Dobler, E., Wolsey, T.D., Smetana, L., Chambers, S., Ganske, K., Lenski, S., & Yoder, K.K. (In press). Teacher preparation in literacy: Cooking in someone else’s kitchen. Teacher Education Quarterly. (scheduled for volume 44, 4 in the Fall, 2017 issue).

Scales, R. Q., Wolsey, T. D., Lenski, S., Smetana, L., Yoder, K. K., Dobler, E., Grisham, D. L. & Young, J. R. with Wolsey, J.B. (in press). Are we preparing or training teachers?  Developing professional judgment in and beyond teacher preparation programs. Journal of Teacher Education.

Scales, R. Q., Wolsey, T. D., Young, J., Smetana, L., Grisham, D. L., Lenski, S., Dobler, E., Yoder, K. K., & Chambers, S. A. (in press). Mediating factors in literacy instruction: How novice elementary teachers navigate new teaching contexts. Accepted: Reading Psychology.

1 additional manuscript is in preparation. These will be added to the resources listed here as they are published.

Presentations:

Wolsey, T.D., Grisham, D.L., Smetana, L., Ganske, K., Scales, W.D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wold, L., Chambers, S., Young, J., & Dobler, E. (2013, April). A longitudinal investigation of teacher education programs across the United States. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association in San Francisco, CA. Poster session 45-086-5 #14. Juried.

Wolsey, T.D., Scales, R.Q., Young, J., Smetana, L., Lenski, S., Yoder, K., Ganske, K., Grisham, D. L., Dobler, B., & Chambers, S. (2015, December). A longitudinal perspective on teacher development: Investigation of teacher preparation. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association. Carlsbad, CA. Juried.

Wolsey, T.D., Grisham, D.L., Smetana, L., Ganske, K., Scales, W.D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wold, L., Chambers, S., Young, J., & Dobler, E. (2013, December). From teacher preparation through first-year teaching: A longitudinal study through the lens of professional standards for literacy professionals. Alternative session paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Dallas, TX. Juried.

Scales, R.Q., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Young, J., & Lenski, S. (2012, November). Exploring the impact of literacy teacher education programs on teacher candidates’ instructional practices. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, San Diego, CA. Juried.

Dobler, E., Grisham, D., Lenski, S., Scales, R., Wolsey, D., Smetana, L., Young, J., Yoder, K., Alfaro, C., Chambers, S., Ganske, K., & Wold, L. (2011, December). Expanding the investigation: Exploring the impact of teacher preparation programs on the instructional practices of teacher candidates. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Jacksonville, FL. Juried.

Scales, R.Q., Chambers, S., Wold, L., Dobler, E., Lenski, S., Smetana, L., Grisham, D., Wolsey, T.D., Young, J., Ganske, K., Alfaro, C., & Yoder, K.K. (2011, November). Signature aspects of literacy teacher education programs: A national study. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Literacy Educators & Researchers, Richmond, VA. Juried.

Lenski, S., Wolsey, T.D., Alfaro, C., Chambers, S., Dobler, E., Scales, R., Smetana, L., Grisham, D., Wold, L., Young, J., & Scales, W.D. (2010, December). The impact of teacher education programs on the instructional practices of novice teachers. Alternative format paper presented at the annual meeting of the Literacy Research Association, Ft. Worth, TX. Juried.


Multimedia digital books: Forward Thinking

Teaching the Language Arts: Forward Thinking in Today’s Classrooms by Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and Thomas DeVere Wolsey. Published by Holcomb Hathaway, ebook available via Inkling platform.

forward thinking

  When I received a copy of Forward Thinking I was immediately struck by the calibre of the authors (Elizabeth Dobler, Denise Johnson and our own Literacy Beat blogger De Vere Wolsey). In turn, each author is well respected within the literacy community for situating their research in classrooms and making strong research-to-practice connections. The six modes of the Language Arts- reading, writing, listening, speaking, viewing and visually representing provide the organisational framework of this etext. However, it is the enhanced etext publishing format which I want to particularly draw attention to in this post.

A number of distinctive features encourage active learning environments by combining traditional and electronic content. These features allow the reader to transact with the text in multiple ways through media elements such as, video, graphics, and audio which are embedded in the etext. Readers can watch lessons being taught in real classrooms; have instant access to multiple resource ideas that are shared through video clips (e.g. writing workshop); listen to podcasts of teachers and students; view graphics of work samples and follow hyperlinks to websites. In addition, links between research and practice are featured in interviews with scholars like Don Leu, Dorothy Strickland and Nell Duke. Finally, the etext incorporates a note sharing feature which could be used to create pathways to learning through listening, reading and viewing within a community of learners.

The authors of Forward Thinking note that the book models ways in which electronic resources can be integrated with and used to augment traditional classroom instruction. Forward Thinking  allows us  envision the possibilities when technology is integrated in meaningful ways to enhance literacy and learning in the 21st century classroom.

Literacy Beat @ IRA (Sunday)

Last year at IRA, Dana was awarded the TILE-SIG Research  Award. This year, she is the keynote speaker. The title of her keynote is “Changing the Landscape of Literacy Teacher Education: Innovations with Generative Technology.”  Congratulations go, also, to our friend and colleague, Denise Johnson at the College of William and Mary, who is the TILE-SIG Research Award recipient this year and next year’s keynote speaker.

Bloggers Dana and DeVere with colleague Linda Smetana discussed their work with Vocabulary Self-collection Strategy Plus (VSS+) at the Meet the Researchers Poster Session on Sunday. Their poster (via Slideshare) you can view here:

VSS+ Poster Session at Meet the Researchers
Learn more about VSS+ on this blog here and here.

View video examples of students’ VSS+ work below.

Dana and Linda Smetana presented research on the manner in which preservice teachers approached and used ebook formats.

And great news! Bloggers Jill and Bernadette with colleague Colin Harrison wrote a new book that debuted today.

image

Colin, Bernadette, and Jill presented shared resources and ideas excerpted from their new book published by Shell Education.  The IRA session entitled Transform Your Literacy Practice Using Internet Tools and Resources: Meeting Students’ Instructional Needs while Addressing the Common Core State Standards.  Click here to access the presentation materials and website for the session.

In the book, readers will discover how to effectively use technology to support students’ literacy development. New classroom uses for technology are introduced in this easy-to-use resource that help educators enhance students’ attention, engagement, creativity, and collaboration in reading and learning. Great for struggling readers, this book provides strategies for making content-area connections and using digital tools to develop reading comprehension.For more information about the book, click here.

 

Pecha Kucha, a Presentation Format with Many Possibilities

By guest posters W. Ian O’Byrne & Sue Ringler Pet, & regular blogger Thomas DeVere Wolsey

The nature of literacy is rapidly evolving and these changes demand an expanded view of “text” to include visual, digital and other multimodal formats (Rose & Meyer, 2002; New London Group, 2000; Alvermann, 2002). A richer and more complex definition of literacy requires a complex theoretical framing of the “multiple realities” that exist between educational research and practice (Labbo & Reinking, 1999).  Several colleagues* decided to experiment with the pecha kucha presentation style at a session of the Literacy Research Association, December 5th, 2013. What they learned from the session and their ideas for PK-12 classrooms and teacher preparation coursework is summarized in this post of Literacy Beat. Our pecha kucha session used multiple methods united by similar perspectives to investigate shifts in the space and stuff (Lankshear & Knobel, 2006) of learning.

Evolving pedagogical models for new literacies and emerging technologies hold “explosive possibilities” (Barab & Kirshner, 2001) for reading and writing spaces. Specifically, these studies examine literacies as cutting across chronotopes of time and space (Bakhtin, 1937) and evolving into “communities of inquiry” in which participants require new knowledge and identities (Gee, 2005).

Since the technological advances documented in these studies drove much of the change that we see in information and communication, researchers and educators attempted to answer the important question:  How can the use of new and digital literacies in instruction enable “explosive possibilities” for meaning-making and identity construction? These studies examined literacies and digital texts while documenting perceived changes in social practice through the lens of teachers and students as agents of change.

What is Pecha Kucha?

Pecha kucha, Japanese for the sound of conversation, is a presentation method in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (6 minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format utilizes images more than words, keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powers multiple-speaker events, keeps the interest level up, and gives more people the chance to show. Would you like to hear several Japanese speakers pronounce the term? Click here.

Teachers and Students use Pecha Kucha

Pecha kucha is well-suited for the age of the Common Core and other rigorous standards.  The Common Core calls for students to evaluate information from diverse sources, present information in an appropriate style, and make strategic use of digital media. Further, the pecha kucha style requires student presenters to be concise and choose their words and images wisely and well. Students might present pecha kucha via webcast or video (think, YouTube or Vimeo) so that parents and other community members can participate. They may work in small groups around selected topics. Who says every presentation has to be made to the entire class, anyway?

Teacher Educators and Teacher Candidates use Pecha Kucha

The IRA standards for Literacy Professionals call for teacher candidates to employ traditional print, digital, and online resources to “meet the needs of diverse students” and “prepare learners for literacy tasks of the 21st century.” Arguably positioned in one of the most influential roles with regard to the explosive possibilities of digital literacies in PK-12 education, teacher educators must continually model well-considered integration of digital tools in university classrooms. Within the context of a disciplinary literacy course, for instance, professors may choose the pecha kucha platform for in-class presentations in lieu of the tired Powerpoint® platform, especially in cases where visuals are preferable to print text, to effectively encapsulate and express important concepts, terms, or ideas. In this setting, pecha kucha presentations can be posted and revisited on Blackboard or similar course platforms for review. Professors may also invite undergraduate and graduate students to learn and employ pecha kucha to explore and represent basic literacy concepts with digital images and metaphors — and teach them to classmates. Teaching and/learning such “basic” literacy terms (e.g., phonemic awareness, syntax, semantics) through a multimodal digital platform (pecha kucha) may lead to enriched understandings of the ways in which reading involves the coordination of multiple systems including traditional “components” theory of teaching reading instruction as well as sociocultural theories of literacy acquisition.

How to Create Pecha Kucha: Resources and More

What are the steps to creating a pecha kucha presentation?

  • This website lists presentation steps in pecha kucha format and a template is available there, as well.
  • A few tips for beginners might be helpful to teachers who want to coach their students and minimize frustration.
  • Richard Edwards suggests that pecha kucha can be easily adapted to two-person teams; that is, a 20 slide X 20 second presentation by one student can become a 10 slide X 20 second presentation by two students. He also staggers presentations over class sessions such that no one class session is devoted to a long series of pecha kucha presentations, which, like traditional presentations, can be quite tiring for the audience.
  • Because pecha kucha is image intensive, it is very important that students learn the basic principles of Fair Use and apply them. This post from an earlier LiteracyBeat column may be a good start.  Learn more about Creative Commons and how it works to give students and other users the tools to share and use the creative work of others.

Similar to pecha kucha, Ignite presentations include 20 slides but they advance at the rate of 15 seconds each (total of five minutes). Some fairly good information about both ignite and pecha kucha are available from Trinity Valley Schools (opens as a PDF).

Assessing Pecha Kucha

Of course, any presentation in a classroom is an opportunity to learn and a chance to demonstrate what has been learned.  Assessment includes the possibility of feedback about content knowledge, processes leading to learning, and presentation, speaking, and listening proficiency appropriate to the grade level. Mr. Holliday designed this rubric as a means of assessing and providing feedback on the pecha kucha format. This university rubric from iRubric takes into account content knowledge  and this  one, by Danny, is designed with the junior high or middle school audience in mind. Educator Jeff Utecht suggests that participants rate the pecha kucha presentation using a form in Google Docs for quick analysis and feedback. Also on the blog post are additional ideas and a rationale for using pecha kucha.

Typical assessments measure and provide feedback as to how the presenter met the pecha kucha criteria (including 20 slides X 20 seconds each, 6 minutes 40 seconds total), concision, design, and cohesion, as well as content. Choo (2010) suggests that makers and composers of digital texts consider the following:

•           How do words function to “relay” or contribute to the meaning of an image?

•           Where will the image be placed in relation to the words and why?

•           How much of the frame-space will the image occupy, compared to the words?

•           Is the focal point of the text on the image or on its words, and why? (p. 172)

Here is one attempt at pecha kucha by DeVere recreated from the December 2013 presentation at Literacy Research Association. It is not quite perfect (you will notice it is longer than the allotted time!), I am sure you’ll agree, but do play the video and let us know what you see.

What have you done in your PK-12 or university classroom with pecha kucha?

*Presenters at the Literacy Research Association, Dallas, TX: Kelly Chandler-Olcott (Chair), Stergios Botzakis (Discussant), Sue Ringler Pet, Greg McVerry, Junko Yukota with William Teale, Joan A. Rhodes, Katina Zammit, William Ian O’Byrne, Thomas DeVere Wolsey

Guest posters:

W. Ian O’Byrne is an assistant professor of educational technologies at the University of New Haven. Read his blog post on the topic of pecha kucha here.

Sue Ringler-Pet works at Iona College, and you can read more about her here.

References:

Alvermann, D.E. (2002). Adolescents and literacies in a digital world. New York: Peter Lang.

Barab, S.A., & Kirshner, D. (2001). Guest editors’ introduction: Rethinking methodology in the learning sciences. The Journal of the Learning Sciences,10(1-2), 5-15.

Bolter, J.D. (1991). Writing space: The computer, hypertext, and the history of writing. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Choo, S.S. (2010). Writing through visual acts of reading: Incorporating visual aesthetics in integrated writing and reading tasks. High School Journal, 93(4), 166-176.

Gee, J. (2005). Semiotic social spaces and affinity spaces. In D. Barton & K. Tusting (Eds.). Beyond communities of practice. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Labbo, L. & Reinking, D. (1999). Negotiating the multiple realities of technology in literacy research and instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 34(4), 478-492. doi:    10.1598/RRQ.34.4.5

Lankshear, C. and Knobel, M. (2006). New Literacies: Everyday Practices and Classroom Learning. 2nd ed. Maidenhead & New York: Open University Press.

The New London Group. (1996). A pedagogy of multiliteracies: Designing social futures. Harvard Educational Review, 66(1), 60–92.

Rose, D. H., & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. Retrieved from http://www.cast.org/teachingeverystudent/ideas/tes/

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