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Jeffrey Reaser NC State University Presentation for the Institute for Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, University of Hawai’i, February 3, 2105.

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Presentation on theme: "Jeffrey Reaser NC State University Presentation for the Institute for Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, University of Hawai’i, February 3, 2105."— Presentation transcript:

1 Jeffrey Reaser NC State University Presentation for the Institute for Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, University of Hawai’i, February 3, 2105

2 Talk Organization The (continued) need for sociolinguistic information in teacher education Reassessing what PSTs know about language and how they talk about it Background on the current study Data sources Data analysis Tentative conclusions about curriculum effectiveness 2

3 Early Call for Sociolinguistic Tolerance in the Classroom “The claim that any one dialect is unacceptable amounts to an attempt of one social group to exert its dominance over another. Such a claim leads to false advice for speakers and writers, and immoral advice for humans. A nation proud of its diverse heritage and its cultural and racial variety will preserve its heritage of dialects. We affirm strongly that teachers must have the experiences and training that will enable them to respect diversity and uphold the right of students to their own language.” (CCCC/NCTE, 1974) 3

4 Language and the Achievement Gap “Students who arrive at school speaking languages or dialects other than mainstream English achieve substantially below their mainstream-speaking peers despite the fact that it is becoming increasingly clear that dialect difference does not cause educational difficulty in and of itself – dozens of studies have looked for linguistic barriers, especially in the reading process, and have failed to find convincing evidence of a direct relationship …. On the other hand, there is ample evidence of an indirect relationship between dialect and academic failure— and it is one mediated through the teacher” (Sweetland 2006). 4

5 Previous Findings Classroom studies and teacher surveys find that teachers: Believe standard English is more grammatical than dialects Form negative opinions of students (and their academic potential) when they use vernacular dialects in school See, e.g., Cross, DeVaney, & Jones (2001); Blake & Cutler (2003); Godley, Carpenter & Werner (2007); Dyson & Smitherman (2009) Sociolinguistic content is absent or under-represented in Teacher education programs (even for ELA teachers) resulting in: Deficit views of language/students’ literacy potential Poor pedagogy for literacy instruction for diverse learners See, e.g., Fairbanks (1998); Fairbanks, Godley, Carpenter & Werner, (2007); Dyson & Smitherman (2009) 5

6 Terminology Critical Language Awareness/Critical Language Pedagogy Draws from Critical Discourse Analysis Examines how power structures are reflected and created though literacy education Guides students to examine ideologies surrounding language See, e.g., Fairclough (1992); Delpit (1995); Janks (1999); Godley & Minicci (2008); Alim (2010). Pedagogical Content Knowledge (PCK) Knowledge about how to explain, frame, assess, and develop content knowledge for diverse students See, e.g., Shulman (1986); Ball & Bass (2000) 6

7 Exploratory Study In class discussionOnline discussion Literary DialectComfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Authentic dialectComfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? 7

8 Some Preliminary Questions How do Pre-Service Teachers (PSTs) talk and write differently about literary dialect and authentic dialect? Do PSTs communicate in similar ways depending on type of dialect? Do PSTs communicate about dialect in similar ways regardless of medium? Do PSTs employ “white talk” discourse strategies differently depending on topic? Do PSTs employ “white talk” discourse strategies differently depending on medium? We employ Haviland’s (2008) taxonomy of “discourse strategies for being evasive in recognizing whiteness as powerful” AND “discourse strategies for maintaining white power” 8

9 Exploratory Study In class discussionOnline discussion Literary Dialect Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Authentic dialect Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? Comfort level/style of discussions? Haviland’s discourse strategies? 9

10 Data PSTs in MAT program Collected during advanced methods courses concurrent with student teaching Spring 2013 (30 students) – in class discussions Spring 2014 (20 students) – online discussions Same core text (Dean’s Bringing Grammar to Life) Overlapping but not identical additional readings Overlapping but not identical discussion prompts 10

11 Participants (in person group) 30 MAT students 28 “White”; 2 “White and American Indian” 23 female; 7 male First 4 weeks of class focused on language Discussions were held in class Teacher led/moderated 11

12 Participants (online group) 20 MAT students All identified as “White” 15 female; 5 male First 4 weeks of class focused on language 2 online activities a week Each student required to respond twice in each discussion Something original Something that responds to a classmate 12

13 Haviland’s Discourse strategies for being evasive in recognizing whiteness as powerful Silence False starts Avoiding words Safe self-critique Asserting ignorance or uncertainty Letting others off the hook Citing authority Changing the topic 13

14 Haviland’ Discourse strategies for maintaining white power Affirming sameness (“we’ve all…”) Joking Agreeing and supporting (“I know what you were trying to say...”) Praising and encouraging (instead of pushing students past initial interpretations or challenging their views) Teacher and student caring Socializing and sharing personal information Focusing on barriers to multicultural education (“this district…” “my students’ parents…” “our curriculum…”) 14

15 Other Strategies Definition by exclusion (“I’m not X…” “I don’t do X…”) Also found by Bonilla-Silva and Forman’s study of white college students’ racial discourse Constructed Other/Double orality “You hear people on the radio and they’re always saying, ‘I called the customer support line…’” 15

16 Literary Dialect (in class) Teacher: What learning goal do you want students to get out of studying dialect from the dialogue of characters within the text? Student 3: Possibly that dialects that are seen as not as intelligent as other dialects are just as structured and they have just as many rules as “correct” dialects or correct ways of speaking. Student 6: I think it could tie into a lot of literary elements, like characterization, setting, context, that kind of thing. Student 7: I think it’s important to tie that into cultural identity, too and personal identity. Like which groups they associate… what groups each character falls into…So what kind of language are they using, to be put into the groups Student 5: That students will understand that certain dialects perpetuate certain stereotypes 16

17 Literary dialect (in class) Joking: Teacher (quoting To Kill A Mocking Bird)” “Oughta not to. Oughta not to.” Student 5: That sounds like a summer camp or something. [Students laugh] 17

18 Literary dialect (in class) Asserting ignorance, affirming sameness, safe self-critique Student 10: I don’t think I’ve even really considered dialect or slang. I’ve mostly considered it as like one in the same and I think that like being more aware of it is definitely a conversation that I could have. But [NAME] and I, when we were in our smaller groups, we were struggling with the idea of like, the rest of the group too, once we are aware of this, how would be then integrate it into like something because you know this is like what entire courses are about and this is what an entire major can be centered on if you focus it… 18

19 Summary of discussions of literary dialect in class Comfortable Coherent Generally cooperative Few false starts Affirming sameness Agreeing Some joking (but typically not to diffuse tension) Some constructed other 19

20 Authentic dialect (in class) Silence, asserting uncertainty, avoiding words, Student 2: I find that… [pause]… I guess when I’m reading work or seeing my students work, I draw a big distinction between the written or what is learned or what is supposed to be considered “standard English” and what’s spoken is because I know that different neighborhoods use it differently. 20

21 Authentic dialect (in class) False start, asserting uncertainty, definition by exclusion, joking Student 8: Um, I think, [mumble] …but I also consider being a yinzer to be different from speaking Pittsburghese. It’s very different in my, at least in my personal opinion. And I would say yinzer has a very negative connotation to it whereas Pittsburghese doesn’t have to. Sometimes when I meet people who aren’t from Pittsburgh, they’re like, “Oh, you’re a yinzer!” I’m like, “No!” Student 1: How dare you! 21

22 Authentic dialect (in class) Avoiding words, false start, asserting ignorance Student 7: And there is like a hill dialect; they know the kids that live on the hill Student 9: I think that the, um, the other racial dialect in Pittsburgh are dialects that we’re very far out of, or that I’m very far out of because I’m white and I’m around predominantly white people, uh, right now, you know, with most of my schooling I’m around white people and so I think that I’m sure dialects exist that are racially diverse and I’m sure, you know, like when I’m with my kids like they’ll call it Clipsburgh and I think that that’s, like, very different but I think they’re all, like, I’m sure there’s a dialect in the hill that I’m not aware of. 22

23 Authentic dialect (in class) Avoiding words “certain groups move to certain places and that affected this and the shortening of that is like slave- trade or whatever” “You know, or if it were for a certain culture like if they were writing a hip-hop blog or something like that” 23

24 Authentic dialect (in class) Changes of topic Ethnic to regional dialects Stigmatized American dialects to British accents Language variation to baby sign language Grammar to lexicon Oral dialect to literary dialect Language privilege to semi-colon usage 24

25 Literary dialect (online) Almost absent of Haviland’s discourse strategies Comfortable Highly cooperative Some focus on barriers: J: Still, I worry about what would happen if the lesson didn't go the way I imagined it would - what if the stereotypes get out of hand? What if students get caught up in the generalizations and miss the point of challenging them? What if they all arrive at the "wrong" opinion of the speaker, and refuse to consider other possibilities? 25

26 Authentic dialect (online) Changing the topic (to literature) “I would most likely adjust the [Academic English Mastery] program to literary exploration” “With that being said, [NAME] makes a wonderful point of bringing a literary component to the program” “In this scenario, I would bring in a passage from the novel Blu's Hanging that demonstrates language variation connected to characterization” “I want to bring more literature into the classroom in order to celebrate English(es) and non-standardized dialects” 26

27 Authentic dialect (online) Focus on barriers “So instead of answering the prompts above (sorry NAME!), I'm going to pose some questions/concerns I've had about bringing this type of lesson into my own placement” “If I was in a placement … where there isn't a lot of access to technology regularly, I am having difficulty thinking of how this kind of project would come together as nicely without it.” “While I love to study literacy, and found most of my findings very interesting, I feel that it would be a struggle to adapt this in a way that students would find beneficial and worthwhile” 27

28 Authentic dialect (online) Other strategies employed Asserting ignorance Citing authority Agreeing Strategy (conspicuously) absent Joking 28

29 29 In class discussion Online discussion Literary dialect Comfortable Less criticism Affirming sameness Joking (humor) Comfortable Focus on barriers Authentic dialect Less comfortable Changing the topic Avoiding words Silence False Starts Constructed other Joking (diffusing tension) Less comfortable Changing the topic Avoiding words Focus on barriers Asserting ignorance Agreeing Citing Authority

30 Pilot Study: Conclusions Discussions of authentic dialect should be disruptive to PSTs’ linguistic ideologies, so it makes sense to see extensive use of Haviland’s discourse strategies How to disrupt safe “group think” in the online format? Student 3: “I wish I had something original or groundbreaking to add that my classmates have not already touched on, but I’m just not that brilliant.” Discussion of literary dialect can affect PSTs’ linguistics ideologies if they: Bridge from the literary dialect to student or dialect in general Examine the social context of language use Include strategies for incorporating knowledge into practice 30

31 Some Questions for the Current Study What do current PSTs know about language variation? What pedagogical strategies are PSTs already deploying for literacy instruction of diverse students? What sociolinguistic information and PCK are most useful to ELA teachers’ instructional practices? How do teachers develop PCK? 31

32 Mini-Course Overview 32 Module 1: Dialect in Literature Module 4: Language and discrimination Module 3: Language and Identity Module 2: Responding to student dialects Pre-test Online Discussions Post-test

33 Module Materials Articles from teacher trade journals (e.g., Teaching Tolerance) Academic articles Journalistic articles YouTube videos Vignettes from American Tongues; Pittsburghese; Language in Charlotte, NC; HUD advertisement, etc. Excerpts from literature (To Kill A Mockingbird, “Listen Mr Oxford Don”) Online teacher blogs/websites Original content and activities 33

34 Participants 24 MAT students 16 women, 8 men Mostly suburban background All white All had a previous course in linguistics Half teaching in low-income, mostly African American schools and the other half in suburban schools Mini-course taught for first four weeks of advanced methods Students reported spending about 3.5 hours a week on module readings/activities 34

35 Data: Pre-test & Post-test Demographic information Linguistic background Closed responses to 5 hypothetical teaching scenarios Free response to 2 hypothetical teaching scenarios Post-test only: evaluation of various aspects of the modules 35

36 Data: Online discussions 11 online discussions 373 posts ~95,000 words Coded for 6 dimensions of sociolinguistic knowledge 6 dimensions of PCK Comment focus/application (i.e., self, society in general, teaching in general, actual students) Features of White Educational Discourse (Haviland 2008) Turn-by-turn coding resulted in 4,512 data points for Sociolinguistic knowledge and PCK Inter-rater reliability tests using Cohen’s Kappas 36

37 Sociolinguistic knowledge Dialects are patterned and grammatical Dialects are valid (e.g., have historical rationales, are worth sustaining, have expressive value) Language varies by contexts (geography, history, purpose) Language varies by social/racial community (race, SES, etc.) Language use and identity are strongly related Language as basis for judgment/prejudices about other things (education, politeness, intelligence, etc.) (4 point scale + NA: 1 = inaccurate to 4 = very accurate) 37

38 Dimensions of PCK Accurate explanations about language Assessing students' language choices Developing students' use of SWE Considering learning needs and linguistic/regional/SES/racial background of students Discussing language variation with students Teaching about white privilege and systems of power (4 point scale + NA: 1 = very negative to 4 = very positive) 38

39 Results: Overview Content Knowledge Less than 5% of posts were coded as containing incorrect sociolinguistic content knowledge Most of these were misjudgments about the idea that “language is the basis for judgment” Range of responses per knowledge category: 2.14 – 2.58 The scores did not uniformly increase throughout the modules PCK Scores for PCK were slightly higher though less frequent overall than those for sociolinguistic content Range of responses per PCK category: 2.97 – 3.20 The scores did not uniformly increase throughout the modules 39

40 Content Knowledge Summary Content knowledgeTotal comments Rank by number of comments Rank of accuracy/ specificity Average comment rating Dialects are valid307132.35 Language varies by context 278212.58 Language as basis for judgment 217322.48 Dialects are patterned165452.15 Language varies by social category 88542.15 Language use and identity are connected 43662.14 40

41 PCK Summary Content knowledgeTotal comments Rank by number of comments Rank of accuracy/ specificity Average comment rating Considering the learning needs of diverse students 2371Tied-43.06 Discussing language variation with students 222223.19 Developing students’ use of academic English 1063Tied-43.06 Accurate information/terminology 94413.20 Addressing students’ language choices 66533.11 Teaching abut white privilege and systems of power 65662.97 41

42 Summary of Qualitative Data Sociolinguistic knowledge resulted in more codes (1098 vs. 790) but lower scores (2.39 vs. 3.11) In both cases, students talked about what they knew and avoided what they were unsure about Items that were included more frequently in responses were typically rated higher than items excluded For both data groups, the lowest rated item was also the least frequently coded item “Language use and identity are strongly related” “Teaching about white privilege and systems of power” 42

43 Discussion of Qualitative Data None of the 12 categories followed a linear trajectory But, responses were made immediately following exposure to content information and pedagogical strategies The broad rating categories may have missed the subtly of sociolinguistic knowledge and PCK concretizing Some knowledges may need to be asked about more specifically so students are less likely to avoid them 43

44 Terms of Resistance PSTs repeatedly expressed concern and/or fear about teaching sensitive topics, employing terms like: “difficult” “delicate” “complicated” “touchy” “taken personally” “complex” “I agree with my peers that navigating this issue sensitively yet effectively would present the biggest challenge.” (Richard, module 4) “I'm a white body teaching language politics to a group of African American students--there's a lot of pressure to make things feel ‘right.’ I wouldn't want to ever insult my students, or make them believe that I was not on their side, or that I was harboring discrimination against their home languages. Power is a difficult and tricky topic to explore, considering its depth and its pervasive potential. Teaching this concept to a group of white, Central Pennsylvanian, students would, I imagine, be less daunting for me. Of course I don't want to eliminate conversation simply because I'm afraid of the impact or implications, but I'd want to be careful.” (Monica, module 4) 44

45 Regional vs. Social Variation Responding to a prompt about Calpurnia from TKAM: “I want my students to understand that people should not be judged based on the way they speak, because the way that one speaks is largely determined simply by the area that individual grows up in, rather than due to factors such as intelligence or character. A Southern dialect is representative of people in the south, but it does not mean that people with a Southern dialect are less intelligent than people with other dialects; in fact, it’s pretty preposterous to assume someone’s intelligence based on dialect alone.” (Camilla, Module 1) 45

46 “Color Blind” Discussions “For many summers I taught cheerleading camps, often in places such as rural Ohio, PA, NY and West Virginia. While teaching in these places, I encountered many different dialects, and often the staff would laugh at the differences in dialect, and passing judgment that these students just did not know how to speak ‘correctly’." (Kelly, Module 1) “Students tend to look down on those who do not speak the same dialect as the majority of the school’s population, rather than simply accepting the fact that there are a number of dialects that exist within any community.” (Parker, Module 1) 46

47 “Color Blind” Discussions “The end result should be to give students the perspective that dialect is a two-way street and perhaps the characters would have thought the students in this class speak differently as well, but neither of the language variations are stupid or wrong.” (Nina, Module 1) “I would want to teach students that discrimination and profiling happens to all people, no matter their race.” (Jamila, Module 4) “We all code-switch in our everyday lives… I was able to make it through my undergrad program doing just that.” (Titus, Module 2) 47

48 Evidence of Growth “The subject of dialects is all about fitting in and standing out, and that is why it’s so interesting. Dialect is about how we speak, but it’s even more about how we are. … If dialect is a function of personality, then no one can escape it, no one can deny it, and that means that we can all come to know it and accept it from the same place, which is important. … If a teacher works to dispel the myth, and gets his or her students seeing their own dialects as just one colorful part of a big attractive dialect puzzle, then the students gain an appreciation for language in all of its varieties, which is important in an ELA classroom.” (Nile, Module 1) 48

49 Evidence of Growth “Throughout the first three modules, we were encouraged to think about times when we felt uncomfortable or ‘other’ because of our language. While I was able to recall a few incidents where I felt this way, none of them were particularly jarring, and none of them really had an impact on anything major in my life. Reading about the linguistic discrimination in the housing market specifically was depressing, not only because it is a shame that it happens in the first place, but also because it didn’t surprise me at all … There’s the passive kind of prejudice that gets people hating one another quietly, but that passive prejudice doesn’t stay passive—sooner or later it always turns active, and it’s the active prejudice that does the damage that you can touch and see and measure. Nowadays, at least in the United States, it’s not acceptable to gratify your hate with a noose or a whip, but you can gratify it with a telephone, and it’s still just as poisonous. If you allow students to see prejudice actively, I think that they’ll be far more aware of what they can do to stop it, or at least take steps to blunt its edge.” (Nile, Module 4) 49

50 From Empathy to Empowerment “Today, I gave a mini-lesson on empathy and the human experience and how that relates to reading texts and emotionally investing in characters. …Teaching empathy and understanding alongside of a dialect related lesson could be beneficial. However, it would be essential to avoid a seemingly oppressive ‘pity’ when discussing difference.” (Monica, Module 1) “It’s important that students from any background become aware that there is not one correct dialect or way of speaking. I think that the more people who are educated to understand that dialects are all legitimate varieties of a language, the fewer instances of discrimination based on dialect will occur.” (Hailey, Module 4) 50

51 Curriculum Design Element of the courseAverage rating Videos about language and language variation3.52 Readings about language and language variation3.43 Teaching scenarios (video/blogs)3.26 Individual activities2.96 Teaching scenarios (written)2.83 Wiki discussions2.73 51 PSTs Ratings of the Course Elements 1 = “not useful” to 4 = “very useful”

52 Most Important Ideas 52 Important ideaNumber of students Raise students’ awareness of language discrimination, stereotypes, and systems of privilege 9 Teach about the quality and validity of all dialect8 Acknowledge that language varieties are closely tied to students’ identities 8 Help students change language discrimination and systems of privilege 7 Teach students to value and celebrate dialect diversity7 Teach students about code-switching or how to code- switch 7 Give students access to “codes of power”6 Know myself and unconscious prejudices and privileges5 Use new sociolinguistic content knowledge in my teaching3 Teach that linguistic discrimination “goes beyond race”2 Think carefully about how I, as a white privileged teacher, will teach about language to black students 2

53 Conclusions The PSTs brought more sociolinguistic content knowledge to the course than expected based on previous research We observed growth in Critical Language Awareness for teaching ELA Our coding procedures and survey tools did not capture the subtle and nuanced changes Confirming previous findings: PSTs were more comfortable discussing literary dialect than authentic dialect and regional variation than ethnic variation Many students developed a critical understanding of dominant language ideologies, but still struggled to enact these knowledges as teaching strategies in line with Critical Language Awareness or Critical Language Pedagogy 53

54 Curriculum Revisions The need for expert teacher input Revised prompts to include, in addition to pedagogical choices, discussion of learning goals Introduce sensitive topics earlier in the sequence Focus less on building content knowledge and more on PCK 54

55 Thank You Questions? For a copy of this PowerPoint, email 55 Spencer Foundation grant # 201300128 Collaborators: Amanda Godley, Kaylan Moore, and Jessica Hatcher Consultants: Carolyn Temple Adger and Julie Sweetland NC State University Office of Undergraduate Research CHASS Undergraduate Research Initiative Special thanks to Christina Higgins, University of Hawai’i, for organizing, the Charlene Junko Sato for Pidgin, Creole, and Dialect Studies for sponsoring, and the UH- Manoa’s Diversity and Equality Initiative for funding this event.

56 Scenario: You are teaching 7th grade ELA in a diverse urban high school and you notice that your students regularly use features of their vernacular dialect in their academic essays, the most common of which if the subject-verb agreement pattern seen here: "Esperanza wish she have different hair.” You give students substantial feedback on their ideas and organization in their papers. In addition: 1.Since you’ve already reviewed subject verb agreement in Standardized English, you circle the errors on students’ papers and tell students that they can earn back grammar points by independently correcting the errors. 2.You take 15 minutes of class time to conduct a short lesson about the grammatical patterns of verb endings in Standardized and vernacular varieties of English. You end by explaining to students that they can use grammatical patterns of vernacular dialects in their journals, but they must use Standardized English in their formal essays. 3.You take 15 minutes of class time to lead a discussion about Standardized English, asking students to think about who decides what “Standard” is and the rationales for using vernacular dialects in school and writing. You conduct a short lesson about the grammatical patterns of verb endings in Standardized and vernacular dialects, concluding by telling students to be deliberate about their language choices. 4.You ignore these grammatical patterns in your students’ academic writing. 5.You share your observations of the subject/verb patterns with your students, saying, "It’s fine to talk that way with your friends, but in school or for a job interview you need to use Standardized English.” 56

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