19 SES 06 B, Pedagogic Approaches and Diversity
Every classroom is affected by institutional conditions as well as curriculums and guidelines that steer and set standards for education, which are connected to and affected by ideas created and negotiated at the national level and within the EU and the OECD. Pedagogy within classrooms, including that of the two Swedish classrooms discussed in this paper, consolidates these levels. Drawing on a larger classroom study the paper focuses on teachers and students use of textual resources offline and online over one year in two Grade six classrooms. It is within the practices of classrooms that students’ participation, and abilities to understand, question and draw conclusions from text content can be supported and developed. ‘Mainstream’ classrooms of today are characterized of standardized curriculums and of diversity in relation to student’s multilingual and cultural backgrounds as well as of a plurality of texts offline and online. Students with different backgrounds, needs and resources, are in the middle school years facing demands of coping with more compact texts of subjects’ content, including more of specific academic language (Gibbons, 2009). Basic and functional literacy cannot be dismissed, but needs to be integrated with meaning-making and critical analysis of text content (Cummins 2001; Luke & Freebody 1997; Janks, 2010; Langer 2011; Schmidt & Skoog, 2017; Schmidt & Skoog, 2018). This study draws on Alexander's (2001) methodological framework regarding teaching talk and learning talk together with Cummins (2001) framework for successful academic learning. Cummins (2001) and Alexander (2008) shed light on the need for students to learn about subject content while at the same time having access to subject-specific ways of understanding, talking, reading and writing where critical approaches are embedded. Reading texts in active and critically reflective ways relates to critical literacy and to the research drawing on this concept (e.g. Janks, 2010; Comber, 2013, 2016). In Sweden, new knowledge demands regarding digital competence are to be implemented 2018/19. The reasons for these changes in the national Curriculum Standards for Compulsory School are, in short, to enhance the student’s abilities to use and understand digital systems and to relate to media and information in critical and responsible ways. These changes create increased challenges for teachers and students to sift, interpret, evaluate, question, compare and judge the trustworthiness of media. To understand who has produced a text and with what purpose, and how to evaluate this information, are part of fundamental critical approaches (Janks, 2010). This paper focuses on teachers’ and students’ use of textual resources offline and online during 24 lessons over one year in two Grade six classrooms in the subject areas of Information and Commercials and Laws and Rights. Our focus is on in what ways these textual resources and their content are introduced and drawn upon, and which approaches of criticality, including source criticism, that are integrated. Since digital resources, compared with printed resources, bring about other ways of producing and using texts in terms of multimodality and hybridity across time and space, this challenge the conditions for in what ways teaching and learning is carried out in classroom practices (Kress & Selander, 2011; Walsh, 2008). We ask:
- What textual resources are included?
- In what ways are these resources introduced and used?
- What approaches of criticality emerge?
- Do any differences emerge when comparing digital and printed resources?
 This paper is part of the larger project 'Understanding Curriculum Reforms - A Theory-Oriented Evaluation of the Swedish Curriculum Reform Lgr 11', funded by the Swedish Research Council.
Through ethnographic studies of children’s literacy practices, Heath (1983) revealed the different ‘ways with words’ that children from various socioeconomic and cultural-ethnic backgrounds had. The work of Heath (1983) illustrates how power works in relation to uses of languages and literacies, something which we in this paper strived to be aware of and take into consideration when conducting this study, and above all when analysing the ethnographic material. The data of this study encompasses video recordings of 24 lessons from two different classrooms in two different schools and municipalities in Sweden, which altogether means 21.5 hours of video recordings. In each class, 12 lessons have been recorded in order to capture dimensions of classroom interaction and to document the use of instructional materials and texts. Further, five individual interviews with the two teachers and five group interviews with 4-6 students from each class have been conducted and transcribed literally. The interviews lasted from 20 minutes to one hour and were focused on the teachers’ and the students’ reflections considering the purpose, forms and content of the recorded lessons and their learning repertoires. During the interviews, parts of the video recordings were shown in order to make retrospective reflections possible from both teachers’ and students’ perspectives. Both classrooms are characterized of being culturally and linguistically diverse, where at least one quarter of the students have another linguistic background and/or speak another language than Swedish in their respective homes. The study has been carried out in accordance with the general requirements for Research Ethics (Swedish Research Council, 2011). All participating schools and informants have been given fictitious names in order to protect their identities during and after the finished project. The students as well as their parents have been informed about the aim of the study, and then asked to give their written consent for participation in the study, which they all did. By analysing the video recordings and the transcriptions of the retrospective interviews, this paper presents in which ways the used texts and media were introduced and drawn upon in the two classrooms, and which approaches of criticality, including source criticism, that were integrated.
The analysis reveals that printed material such as subject specific textbooks are introduced during whole class in the initial phases of the subject areas, and also that this text content is elaborated on more thoroughly when compared with the online resources. The analysis sheds light on the multifaceted possibilities of digital resources, such as web sites, educational movies, video clips, online educational portals and so on, and makes it clear that interaction and dialogue in relation to these resources tend to be overlooked compared with the printed resources. Further, the result sheds light on the challenges regarding how to integrate approaches of criticality. In both subject areas, norms and values that target diversity in various ways are present, but those are not deepened in relation to the subject content. Source criticism are mentioned, but tend to be simplified. We argue, that in order to compare and evaluate information, and to create knowledge from textual and digital resources, students need to be supported in the beginning of and throughout the learning process (Alexander, 2008; Schmidt & Skoog, 2017, Schmidt & Skoog, 2018). In addition, we argue that critical reflections must be connected to subject specific content and in relation to diversity and equality, and articulated and practiced through teachers’ and students’ own talk (Alexander, 2008; Schmidt & Skoog, 2018). Altogether this refers to conditions and possibilities for students to master literacy within and about subject content, and in relation to democratic values of the curriculum. Through the use of various textual resources offline and online, it is crucial that education support student’s subject- and literacy learning in integrated ways across the curriculum (Cummins, 2001; Schmidt & Skoog, 2016, 2018). Reflecting the conference theme of ECER 2018, this also highlights complex issues of access, inclusion and exclusion within education.
Alexander, R. (2008). Essays on Pedagogy. London and New York: Routledge. Comber, B. (2016). Literacy, Place and Pedagogies of Possibility. London and New York: Routledge. Comber, B. (2013). Critical Literacy in the Early Years: Emergence and Sustenance in an Age of Accountability. In J. Larson & J. Marsh (Eds.), The SAGE Handbook of Early Childhood Literacy (p. 587-601). London: SAGE/Paul Chapman. Cummins, J. (2001). Negotiating Identities: Education for Empowerment in a Diverse Society. Second Edition. Los Angeles: California Association for Bilingual Education. Gibbons, P. (2009). English learners academic literacy and thinking. Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann. Heath B. S. 1983. Ways with words. Language, life and work in communities and classrooms. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Janks, H. (2010). Literacy and Power. London: Routledge. Kress, G. & Selander, S. (2011). Multimodal design, learning and cultures of recognition. Internet and Higher Education 15 (2012), 265–268. Langer, J. 2011. Envisioning Literature: Literary Understanding and Literature Instruction. New York: Teachers College Press. Luke, A. (2004). On the material consequences of literacy. Language and Education, 18(4), 331-335. Schmidt, C. & Skoog, M. (2018). The Question of Teaching Talk: Targeting Diversity and Participation. In N. Wahlström and D. Sundberg (Ed.), Transnational Curriculum Standards and Classroom Practices. The New Meaning of Teaching, (p. 83-97). London and New York: Routledge. Schmidt, C. & Skoog, M. (2017). Classroom interaction and its potential for literacy learning. Nordic Journal of Literacy Research 3, 45–60. doi:10.23865/njlr.v3.474 Swedish Research Council (2011). Good Research Practice. Stockholm: Swedish Research Council. Walsh, M. (2008). Worlds have collided and modes have merged: classroom evidence of changed literacy practices. Literacy, 42 (2), pp. 101–108.
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