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“Putting Ourselves in Their Shoes”: Case studies of four teenagers’ reading experiences with nonfiction literature in a social studies class. Shannon L.

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Presentation on theme: "“Putting Ourselves in Their Shoes”: Case studies of four teenagers’ reading experiences with nonfiction literature in a social studies class. Shannon L."— Presentation transcript:

1 “Putting Ourselves in Their Shoes”: Case studies of four teenagers’ reading experiences with nonfiction literature in a social studies class. Shannon L. Beach Kent State University

2 Louise Rosenblatt (1938) “Books do not simply happen to people. People also happen to books” (1956, p. 62). Reading is a “to-and-fro-spiral” (1938/1995) The Transactional Theory ▫The literary experience Efferent versus Aesthetic Reading ▫ Efferent—non literary: retention of concepts, ideas, and facts ▫ Aesthetic—literary: what the reader is thinking, feeling, and experiencing “The Poem” ▫ “most concentrated form” of all literary works (Rosenblatt, 1978/1994, p.12) ▫ Symbolizes aesthetic transactions

3 LITERATURE REVIEW: Nonfiction Literature Provides a visible author that ▫Connects with readers (Harvey, 1998; Hirth, 2002) ▫Engages and entertains readers (Daniels & Zimmerman, 2004; Hirth, 2002) ▫Promotes humanity (Glascow & Baer, 2011) Literature Emphasis on ▫Understanding other perspectives and cultures (National Governor’s Association, 2010) ▫Stressing responsibility, humanity, and and community (VanDeWeghe, 2011) ▫Shaping human beings (Wolk, 2009) Reading in the Social Studies Textbooks: ▫Absolute truths (Paxton, 2002) ▫Negative reading experiences (Beck, McKeown, & Worthy, 1993) ▫Relevance (Zhao & Hoge, 2005) NCSS (2010) themes: ▫Individual Development and Identity ▫Culture

4 RESEARCH QUESTIONS How do students transact with nonfiction literature in a social studies classroom? How does the reading of nonfiction literature in a social studies classroom enable students to understand themselves and society?

5 SETTING: FULLERTON, OHIO A suburban area in Northeast, Ohio The Fullerton community consists of approximately 4,000 people. ▫83% of them hold a college degree ▫97.5 % of the population is White ▫Middle to upper class families: average income in 2008 was around $150,000 and the average cost of a home was $234, 700 (2010 Census; Ohio Department of Education, 2010)

6 SETTING: SOCIAL STUDIES CLASSROOM Class of 17 freshmen Classroom library Social Studies teacher ▫At the time of the study, he taught for 14 years. ▫He started using literature in the classroom in 2005. ▫He used the textbook for notes only; students were not given a textbook (class sets only). ▫He read 8 pieces of literature throughout the 2008-2009 school year. ▫He is an avid reader. “ READING THE BOOKS ALLOWS MY STUDENTS TO RELATE WITH THE CHARACTERS WHICH IS ONE OF THE KEYS TO LEARNING—TRULY LEARNING HISTORY.”


8 MY ROLE AS THE RESEARCHER I found my experience as a teacher of literature and language to be foundational in the study. As a result, I met with the teacher and participants several times throughout the study to discuss the following: ▫Research goals and questions ▫Journal and annotative writing ▫Online postings ▫Poetry writing

9 PARTICIPANTS All participants were ninth graders in a social studies class. Brian ▫ Carried a 4.0 grade point average ▫ Participated in football, basketball, track, and Key Club Lisa ▫ Carried a 4.3 grade point average ▫ Participated in cross country, track, Key Club, and speech and debate Kevin ▫ Carried a 4.5 grade point average ▫ Participated in football, hockey, lacrosse, and the arts Allison ▫ Carried a 3.8 grade point average ▫ Participated in volleyball, Key Club, the musical, and church

10 METHODS Qualitative Case Study Design (Creswell, 2007; Merriam 1998; Stake 2000 ) Data Collection (18 Weeks) ▫ Individual interviews ▫ Focus group interviews ▫ Observations in the social studies classroom at Fullerton High School ▫ Documents  Online postings  Journal writings  Poems  Annotations

11 DATA ANALYSIS Constant Comparative Analysis (Merriam, 1998) Color coding system, data collection charts, and large-sized post-it-notes The four cases were first analyzed as individual cases The case studies were then analyzed as a collective unit (Merriam, 1998).

12 Due to the nature of the transactions and Rosenblatt’s notion of “the poem,” I developed the following labels when analyzing the participants’ data: ▫ Self poems—personal transactions between the reader and his/her experiences. ▫Text poems—transactions between the reader and what has been read, viewed, or listened to in the past to what they are currently reading. ▫World poems—transactions between what the reader is actively reading to concerns of the society or the world in which they live.

13 Lisa Text Poems Experienced three text poems ▫God Grew Tired of Us and Three Cups of Tea ▫Nonfiction books in general and Lord of the Flies ▫Rap music in Memoir of a Boy Soldier and Easy listening/pop music Self Poems Experienced three types of self poems ▫The leader ▫The daughter and granddaughter ▫The compassionate teenager World Poems Experienced two world poems ▫Sudan ▫America “ To sum up my experience with nonfiction, it was truly an eye-opener to the world around me, specifically outside of the United States in third world countries.”

14 Lisa

15 CROSS-CASE ANALYSIS ▫Reading experiences influenced by individual experiences ▫Experienced other cultures while questioning and appreciating their own culture ▫Demonstrated empathy for other people in different countries and felt a sense of empowerment regarding their own country

16 FINDINGS 1. Created poems Self Poems All Participants experienced self poems. drew on past experiences. became active players in the book. related to the age of the narrators. Text Poems All participants experienced at least one text poem Three participants related nonfiction literature (NL) that they were currently reading to past NL in their social studies class. World Poems All participants related the experiences they read about to those in Fullerton. discussed plans for helping others. participated in the situations or crises that took place in the stories. “’The poem’ is what the reader, under the guidance of the text, crystallizes out from the stuff of memory, image, thought, and feeling and what he brings to it” (Rosenblatt, 1964, p. 126).

17 FINDINGS 2. Experienced cultures—”The Bubble” and the outside world “There is little diversity and little change from year to year.”-- Kevi n “The Bubble” “A sheltered, time warped area where everyone knows everyone else’s business and dresses similar.”--Lisa “A little town separated from the real world.”--Brian “Fullerton is sort of utopia”--Allison The outside world “When the child was hung. It’s amazing how inhumane that was. He wasn’t even heavy enough to die quickly, he just hung there. It’s awful that they kept him there as a reminder to ‘behave’”--Allison “The belief that others come first are still embedded in their [Sudanese] minds.”-- Kevin “I admire their unselfishness, responsibility, and ability to be thankful for everything they have.”--Brian “I learned that people have it rough out there especially in third world countries. It is not easy living.”--Lisa Rosenblatt (1938/1995) believes that by entering into a new world with literature, readers will see “with new emotions the conditions and lives about him” (p. 174).

18 FINDINGS 3. Experienced empathy Participants evoked empathy with the characters and their situations in the stories. Participants shared in the feelings of the characters in the stories by becoming a part of the story. Brian “That would be an awful way to lose somebody” Lisa “It seemed like they talked about death a lot. I think I was really upset during this chapter because I really didn’t want him to give up and leave his dad, and stuff, so I was sad.” Kevin “He [Elie] recalled ‘Infants were tossed into the air and used as targets for the machine guns.’ When I first read it, I had to stop for a moment and process the words that were in front of me. I can’t imagine how Elie must have felt witnessing the killing of innocent babies. It is unbelievable.” Allison “Oh no! What will he do?” Rosenblatt (1938/1995) believes that reading literature provides readers the “ability to understand and sympathize with others” (p. 40).

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