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Ensuring literacy through didactic arranging – the Witting method set in context Stockholm Institute of Education, Department of Human Development, Learning.

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Presentation on theme: "Ensuring literacy through didactic arranging – the Witting method set in context Stockholm Institute of Education, Department of Human Development, Learning."— Presentation transcript:

1 Ensuring literacy through didactic arranging – the Witting method set in context Stockholm Institute of Education, Department of Human Development, Learning and Special Education University of Gävle, Department of Education and Psychology Ann-Katrin Swärd, Lecturer, MA, PhD student in Special Education Visiting address: Kungsbäcksvägen 47 Postal address: The University of Gävle, Gävle, Sweden Phone: work , home , mobile ,

2 Ensuring literacy through didactic arranging The proposed Grounded Theory derives from how teachers and their pupils, in four different contexts, have used the Witting method to ensure literacy development among their pupils. The theory has been grounded through repeated comparison and analysis of the empirical data. The data has been gathered from studying how the teacher in their teaching practice use didactic innovation along with their own professional competence. The theory explains how and why these teachers apply the Witting method to their work with literacy development, and also how a Special Education perspective reduce the risk of failing (i.e., to achieve literacy).

3 Aim and Objectives The specific aim of my doctoral thesis is to conceptualize and generate a theory about what four teachers and their pupils, in different contexts, and over a number of years, actually do when working with the Witting method. The aim is NOT to investigate and describe the development of any particular pupil. A wider goal is to try and apply the implications of the derived grounded theory to general and special education theory in helping to alleviate reading and writing difficulties and prevent pupils from failing?

4 Why this topic? In Sweden there is a lack of knowledge about what experienced and exceptional teachers do when they succeed in teaching children to read and write. Many of these professional practitioners will soon reach retiring age. Also, comparative international studies (ex. PISA) have shown in recent years that Swedish pupils reading and writing skills have been declining. Optimum didactic strategies for teaching children to read and write have been debated over many years. After an analysis of this controversy, Hjälme (1999) concluded that it was time for the debate to end, as new research had clarified those factors that are most important for the development reading and writing. Of most importance are teachers competencies; competence in teaching and knowledge of the process of reading and writing acquisition. Teaching methods should include both phonological skills and comprehension. It is also important to give teaching support as early as possible and to carry out regular assessment of pupils progress. (Adams, 1992; Chall, 1967; Juel, 1996;Barr et al, 1991; Lerkkanen, 2003; Blomqvist & Wood, 2006; Fröjd, 2005; Myrberg, 2003)

5 The Witting method The Witting method is a method of instruction for reading and writing at different grade-levels in use in Sweden since the 1960`s. The method was developed by Maja Witting, now retired Education Researcher and Teacher Training lecturer at Uppsala University. The method was developed through many years of close interaction with pupils learning in classroom situations. The theoretical base of the Witting method stresses the importance of meta-cognition and linguistic awareness. The method is based on the idea that the learner must first master the system of relations between letters and sounds. This is a prerequisite to comprehending what is being read. It is also based on the content neutral language structures, (ma, bi, is) and on a dialogue between the pupil and teacher where responsibility for the learning process is shared.

6 Grounded Theory (GT) The method of Grounded Theory was developed by Barney Glaser and Anselm Strauss whose collaborative research on dying in hospitals evolved into they termed a constant comparative method, or Grounded Theory. After their initial work, Glaser and Strauss parted ways. Glaser continues to develop the original methodology. Researcher wishing to use GT must choose a particular road. I am following Glaser. Grounded Theory is a general method that can be used with any kind of data. The goal is to generate and formulate hypotheses based on conceptual ideas that others may later try to verify. Hypotheses are generated by constant comparison of conceptualizations of data at different levels of abstraction. GT does not aim for a general truth but seeks to conceptualize what's going on by using empirical data. It involves a systematic generation of theory from data based on both inductive and deductive reasoning. The goal of a typical piece of GT research is to discover participants main concern and how they try to resolve them. Everything is data in GT which is taken to mean that anything and everything, that might get in the researchers way when studying a certain field is data. Memoing is the core stage of Grounded Theory methodology (Glaser, 1978, 1998, 2001).

7 Field of Study and Sampling Procedure The field of study is four teachers/special teachers and their pupils, in four different contexts, using the Witting method. The number of pupils vary from 15-44, (girls 6-16 and boys 9-28) due to changes over the years in different contexts. The four teachers are women varying in age and experience as follows: aged 50, 5 years experience, aged 48, 26 years experience, aged 59, 38 years experience, 61, 40 years experience. All subjects have been chosen through purposefully sampling, beginning with first teacher who put me in touch with the Witting method and with the second teacher. The last two teacher visited the same conference as me. The pupils are aged from 7 to 20 years old and all were chosen because of their connection with their teacher. Some lessons were video-recorded, Open questionnaires were distributed among pupils in order to study their learning process in relation to the Witting method. Small chats and regular interviews with all teachers and some pupils also contributed to the data. Gathering of data took place from January 2003 to June 2007.

8 Data Collection Methods Information about what teachers and their pupils do when they are working with reading and writing was gathered through observation and note-taking in the field. The first context involved beginners at primary school being exposed to their first formal teaching in how to read and write. The second context involved a teacher in special education working at both primary and secondary school giving individual support to pupils struggling with their reading and writing. The final context is at upper secondary school (Junior High School) where the pupils involved, have, for various reasons, failed in their reading and writing development.

9 Results All teachers have struggled to ensure each pupils reading and writing development and they do this through what I term didactic arranging. There are many factors that these teachers have to account for: Every pupil's wellbeing and learning development, societal demands for effectiveness and successful outcomes. Teacher must meet the variation of needs and experiences among pupils, where some can already read and others needs additional and perhaps increasing support. There is also a big difference between teaching beginners and younger and older pupils with vary level of reading acquisition. Varying teaching loads and strategies and supporting individual needs is important at all age-levels in school.

10 More results These teachers work in an organisation were they have to navigate between constrained spaces and liberated spaces. Their work is about discontinuity and continuity, about scheduling and teamwork, about collaboration and isolation. They also show an ability to adapt to situations, materials and time and space. They are in charge of me, you, and we – expressing this competence in documentation, by reflection and always in close collaboration with the pupils and their family.

11 What about The Witting method? The neutral content structures (ma, bi, rö) in the Witting method are of special importance. They are triggers for pupils creativity and help to develop vocabulary which in turn is important for the pupils creation of texts and ability to achieve reading comprehension. The use of the method enables a diagnostic mode of teaching as it contains tools that allow a teacher to follow each pupils reading and writing development and signals where early extra support may be necessary. Teacher competency is more important than the method itself. Teachers, pupils, and the didactical procedures are in constant interaction. It is also considered important that teachers believe that every pupil can learn and be ready to match adequat support to pupil needs as early as possible but also later, if found necessary. Never stop giving support and never stop assessing progress.

12 That´s all…. many thanks for your attention

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