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‘Improving girls’ attitudes to talk: a meta-cognitive approach’ Teacher Research Conference Lauren Haywood Dissertation 21/06/14.

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Presentation on theme: "‘Improving girls’ attitudes to talk: a meta-cognitive approach’ Teacher Research Conference Lauren Haywood Dissertation 21/06/14."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Improving girls’ attitudes to talk: a meta-cognitive approach’ Teacher Research Conference Lauren Haywood Dissertation 21/06/14

2 "Some may think that to affirm dialogue - the encounter of women and men in the world in order to transform the world - is naively and subjectively idealistic. There is nothing, however, more real or concrete than people in the world and with the world, than humans with other humans.” Freire, 1970

3  Literature suggests that there are fewer opportunities for girls to talk in a range of contexts in the classroom and that the teacher has a vital role in providing opportunities for classroom talk (for example, Swann and Graddol, 1989; Baxter, 2002; Boaler, 2002; Burns and Myhill, 2004; Coultas, 2010, 2012).  PPI girls might have the least access to classroom talk (Dunne and Gazeley, 2008; Reay; 2006)  Lack of research on the relationship between gender identity and talk (Leman, 2010)  Students benefit from a meta-cognitive approach to talk (Capel, Leask and Turner, 2oo5), especially group work (Sutherland, 2010, 2013) Topic and Rationale: Research

4  Interest in talk since completing PGCE – Special Study on meta-cognition and talk  Interest in gender identity  Personal observations - in many classes, even confident, high achieving girls are reluctant to talk, especially in a whole class context.  PP students and/or those with SEND the quietest; possible that girls’ underachievement could be attributed partly to their silence in the classroom. Personal Rationale

5  White Paper (2010), Teacher Standards (Dfe, 2012) and new NC (Dfe, 2014) emphasise importance of classroom talk and oracy across the curriculum yet many exam boards recently dropped 20% Speaking and Listening unit  Little mention of gender equality in policy documents other than the UNICEF’s ‘Rights Respecting Schools Award’: ‘greater equity in terms of gender, ethnicity and special needs’ (Sebba and Robinson, 2009, p.12)  Where gender has been the focus of policy, it has been largely been concerned with ‘the underachieving boy’ (Baxter, 2002)  Increasing onus on teachers to create opportunities for classroom talk because it is no longer formatively assessed National Policy

6  Newport School (anonymised) is a large, mixed comprehensive in a relatively affluent area. It is larger than the average secondary school: there are currently 1650 students on roll from Year 7 to 13 (11-18 years). The majority of students are White British from a wide range of backgrounds.  The number of SEND, EAL and PP students are all below the national average.  In 2013, Ofsted rated the school a 2: ‘Good’ however, a drop in GCSE attainment triggered another visit where the school rating dropped to a 3: ‘Requires Improvement.’  For five consecutive years boys outperformed girls in several subjects including English, against the national trend though this changed last year. Context

7  ‘when the constructed status of gender is theorized as radically independent of sex, gender itself becomes a free-floating artifice’ (Butler, 1990, p.6).  Starting point – link between gender as a performance and classroom talk as a performance Drawing back the curtain…

8  What are the key factors that affect girls’ attitudes towards speaking in English?  To what extent can an intervention on talk influence quiet girls’ attitudes towards speaking in English lessons? Research Questions

9  My research questions informed my epistemological position as an interpretivist researcher conducting Action Research, through qualitative means  I triangulated my data using: semi-structured group interviews, talk diaries and my own observations recorded in a research journal  Pupils as researchers – the findings of the initial interview informed my planning of the intervention (Fielding, 2001)  Categories for analyses were derived from the data using inductive and deductive coding (Altrichter, 2008) Methodology

10 Research Design  My research questions were concerned with understanding what girls’ attitudes to talk are and how we can change them as well as reflecting on my role as the teacher to intervene in order to provide opportunities for dialogic classroom talk for all students.  McNiff (2002) was a starting point but I deviated from the focus on the self – more of a collaborative process  This diagram is the model suggested by Kemmis and McTaggart though they emphasise that in reality the process may be much messier than this as the stages overlap (2000).

11  Semi-structured group interview with four girls (University of Sussex ethical procedures followed)  9 lesson intervention/SoW designed based on interview findings  2 lessons – relationship/trust building, collaborative work, ownership of talk diaries, group rules  1 lesson – range of activities on pair work  1 lesson – gender and identity: a meta-cognitive approach  3 lessons – group work: writing a radio play  1 lesson – performing radio plays  1 lesson – reflection on project, talk and group work  Final semi-structured group interview with four girls Intervention design

12  Rachel -PP student who very rarely speaks in lessons and has erratic absences; not very well integrated in the class and seems isolated.  Catherine - SEND student with a moderate learning difficulty ; weak literacy skills. Very anxious about coming to school so her attendance is erratic. Has an LSA and is somewhat integrated with the others on her table.  Millie – not very confident and isolated in the group.  Beth - SEND student with a moderate learning difficulty. She is starting to become more integrated with the other students on her table.  All students working below the national average (DCFS 2008c, 2010) for reading, writing and S & L. The students

13  ‘Getting it wrong’  Relationships with other pupils  Working in groups/pairs rather than whole class  Boys Findings… What are the key factors that affect girls’ attitudes towards speaking in English lessons?

14  Beth - : ‘I don’t feel confident because…if I get it wrong I think that I’m in trouble and people will say ha ha ha you got it wrong and then you get the mick taken out of you which I’m used to’ (Interview 1)  Millie: ‘I do like talking but I don’t like talking in class because when people put me on the spot…I don’t know what to say and I panic a lot…maybe like they let me think about it before they pick on me …just let me think about it and then I’ll say it’ (Interview 1 and talk diary)  Catherine: ‘I don’t feel confident at all because if I got a question wrong then everyone would laugh at me’ (Interview 1)  Rachel – stated in both interview and talk diary that she did not feel confident but was not sure why ‘Getting it wrong’

15  When asked what encourage them to talk more Beth said: “either if my friends were there or if maybe like us and a group of boys getting into a group and being able to talk about something then we’ll get to know each other better and then we will be really confident speaking with them.”  Two lessons at start of intervention on trust/relationship building based on Beth’s comments in the initial interview Relationships with other pupils

16  Millie: ‘because it’s just easy to talk to everyone instead of like you on the spot talking to everyone in the class like in a group you can say it together and then all figure it out and then I would put my hand up and say that’ (Interview 1)  Rachel: ‘I like it because you don’t really have to um like say it to the like whole class you can like put your ideas together first…you feel more confident’ (Interview 1)  Catherine: ‘I feel more safe because there isn’t [sic] as many people to talk to and it’s less embarrassing.’ (Talk diary) Pair/Group work

17  Millie: ‘they’ve got bigger voices and deeper voices and we’ve got higher voices so we like yeah get embarrassed’  Rachel: ‘cos they like talk a lot when they’re out of class and that means they can talk more in class maybe’  Catherine: ‘I just think they are in bigger groups and they just mess about and they just think that like they don’t have to do anything because they think they’re better. They don’t care if they get it wrong.’  Beth: ‘girls are really scared of talking …and boys just aren’t, they think their ideas are better than girls’  (Interview 1) Boys

18  Clear from all data that all girls value talk and like talking but talk can be problematic for them in the classroom, especially whole-class talk  Being part of the intervention and having their ideas implemented boosted their confidence  Millie, Beth and Catherine all spoke more in class during the intervention, especially in group and pair work, though they also volunteered during whole-class talk. Rachel spoke a little bit more in all contexts through not as much as the others.  Supports research that girls respond to collaborative, dialogic talk in a safe environment that has been set up for them  Also supports findings that PP girls could have the least opportunities/need the most intervention  Meta-cognitive aspect generated most interest  Millie: ‘it made me want to talk more’ To what extent can an intervention on talk influence quiet girls’ attitudes towards speaking in English lessons?

19  Catherine: ‘the group work really helped because I’ve been a more confident since we did that’  Millie: ‘I speak quite a lot more in my lessons in front of the class because I’m not really frightened now…if we work in pairs and groups I especially like it’  Beth: ‘I think that working in groups with other people made me feel more confident about talking because no one laughed at me or made fun of me so now I feel more relaxed about saying what I think…especially in front of boys’  Rachel: ‘A bit but I’m not really sure’ Their comments – Final interview

20  Catherine: ‘Glad that I had a go’  Millie: ‘Proud of myself that I did it and people listened to me’  Beth: ‘Really good ‘cos I used to feel really worried all the time but I felt like I could just have a try and nothing bad happened’  Rachel: ‘I’m not sure’ How do you feel now when you speak in front of the whole class in English?

21  Rachel found the group interview challenging – individual interviews may have produced more valid data  Attendance – Rachel missed the important relationship/trust building lessons  I was unable to evaluate any longer term impact; final interview took place shortly after end of intervention Limitations

22  Take a meta-cognitive approach to group work and carefully choose groups  Share findings about talk behaviour of girls and boys with the class and initiate discussions about stereotypes – encourage critical debates and reflection  Give students clear roles for group work  Encourage them to make rules in their groups  Consult pupils where possible  Try to create a dialogic classroom, where you ‘constructively intervene’ (Alexander, 2006)  Provide students with the meta-language they will need to talk about talk Recommendations…

23  Give students, especially girls, very clear warnings and thinking time if you are going to ask them to volunteer an idea  Wherever possible, allow students to discuss ideas in pairs or groups before asking individuals questions so that they can ‘practise’ their ideas  Encourage more creative, divergent thinking, rather than factual recall or ‘correct’ answers, emphasising the importance of personal opinion and of exploring ideas Recommendations…

24  Alexander, R. (2006) Towards Dialogic Teaching. (Second Edition) London: Dialogos UK Ltd  Baxter, J. (2002) ‘A Juggling Act: a feminist post-structuralist analysis of girls’ and boys’ talk  in the secondary classroom’, Gender and Education, 14:1, 5-19  Butler, J. (1990), Gender Trouble. London: Routledge  Dunne, M. and Gazeley, L. (2008): Teachers, social class and underachievement, British Journal of Sociology of Education, 29:5,  Fielding, M. (2001) ‘Students as Radical Agents of Change’, Journal of Educational Change, 2:  Freire, P. (1972) Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin.  Kemmis, S. and McTaggart, R. (2000) "Participatory action research", in N.K. Denzin and Y.S. Lincoln (eds) Handbook of Qualitative Research (2nd ed.). Sage, CA, pp. 567–605.  Myhill, D. (2002) Bad Boys and Good Girls? Patterns of Interaction and Response in Whole Class Teaching, British Educational Research Journal, 28:3,  Reay, D. (2006) The Zombie Stalking English Schools: Social Class and Educational  Sutherland, J. (2010) Developing exploratory talk and thinking in secondary English lessons: theoretical and pedagogical implications, Unpublished EdD thesis, Sussex School of Education, University of Sussex.  Swann, J. (1992) Girls, Boys and Language. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers Bibliography – key texts

25 Thank you!


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