01 SES 00 PS, General Poster Exhibition - NW 01
Posters can be viewed in the General Poster Exhibition throughout the ECER week.
This research project involves teachers in four schools with different literacy profiles: one school specialising in dyslexia and neuropsychiatric disabilities; one with explicit excellent teaching; one with a majority of students with non-Swedish mother tongue; and one special needs school. The project is divided into three parts. In the first part (2018-2019), focus group discussions were carried out with the teachers at each school. In the second part (2019), focus group exchanges between the participating teacher groups will be carried out at a mini conference at Karlstad University. In a third step, feedback is given at each school to follow up on the collaboration project so far has led to. The feedback also aims to give the participating teachers, an opportunity to reflect together with a researcher, who can contribute to deeper reflections on the teachers´ own practice.
The aim of the project is to study how teachers in varying early years literacy practices understand and talk about the knowledge they have gained of success factors in developing reading and writing skills to pre-empt, identify and remove obstacles. Our ambition is to initiate and stimulate discussion and exchange of information between teachers at the four schools. The experiences of the first part of the project are reported in the project presentation.
The study draws on design-oriented theories. Design-oriented theories focus on the design of teaching and learning processes. Design for learning makes learning explicit in relation to a context and the conditions created for learning in various environments and situations (Selander & Kress, 2010). These conditions can be described as possible relationships between actors and objects . Resources are important in the context. Jewitt (2009) highlights the concept of semiotic resources. Choosing and using the different resources have direct impact on interaction, the collective activity between individuals, between individuals and artefacts and how subject content is constructed. Different resources have different consequences for meaning-making and learning. Selander (2008) underlines that even the choice of different forms of expression, modes, is a way of choosing content as the form of expression cannot be separated from content.
On the basis of design oriented theory, learning is defined in various ways. Learning can be described as an increased ability to engage in a social domain (Selander, 2009) or as an increased ability to use a set of signs in a meaningful way (Kress, 2009). Sign production is used in a wide sense, as something transforming the culturally available forms of representation and creating new signs, which is synonymous with learning (Kress, 2009). Actors, i.e. teachers and pupils in a school context, and their different roles provide agency in social interaction and when they choose signs and sign systems they become meaningful. Since communication takes place through different and concurrent sign systems, each meaning-full, communication is multimodal (Kress, 2003). The issue of meaning-making is linked to teachers' ability to be flexible in their teaching practice, and to the resources used in different situations, as well as how teachers and pupils shape the social processes and conditions for learning, by designing and re-designing information in their own meaning-making processes (Elm Fristorp, 2014; Forsling, 2017).
The intentions of learning environments and how learning situations are designed and implemented have impact on learning and meaning-making (cf. Jewitt, 2009; Forsling 2017). This is all the more important regarding special needs pupils (cf. Ahlberg, 2009; Tjernberg, 2013; Forsling, 2017). In this study the implication is that we take an interest in participants' statements on their intentions to prevent, identify and remove obstacles to pupils' literacy development.
The project was carried out in four schools in two Swedish municipalities with participating teachers of pre-school class, lower primary class and special education. Data collection was made through focus group discussions, documented by means of audio recording and transcription in full, subsequently subject to a qualitative content analysis. Qualitative focus group interviews (Wibeck, 2010) is a form of knowledge-seeking dialogues (Kvale, 2007). Each focus group comprised 3-8 teachers and an interviewer. The interviews were preceded by preparatory talks with the principals concerned. Participants' gave consent in connection with information on how the study was to be conducted. The interviews lasted for around 1 hour each. The interviews were voice recorded and transcribed in their entirety. In the data collection phase the interviews were conducted in a semi-formal collective activity, in which the participants could raise issues, discuss and reflect on the intentions of their designs for learning, thus focusing on special needs design pedagogy for preventing, identifying and removing obstacles to literacy development. The analysis was carried out through meaning categorisation on the basis of the aim of the study, that is, a qualitative content analysis was made (Ryan & Bernhard, 2003). Different themes were identified and searches were made for frequent words, phrases and concepts.
The teachers have developed theoretical and methodological knowledge regarding success factors in developing reading and writing skills. The material displays several examples of how teacher can work pre-emptively and remove obstacles in the learning process. This is realised through a multimodal and collaborative method adapted to students’ different potentials and needs. The teachers’ descriptions make evident that they operate on different linguistic levels and switch between teaching form and function and connecting teaching content to the students’ world and various social issues. The project is expected to provide specialised knowledge regarding success factors in developing reading and writing skills as well as generating theoretical and methodological knowledge in the field. In addition, the project can offer opportunities for cooperation between different professions and for establishing practice-based research and learning environments. As we see it, this study could be a starting point to interrogate the capacity of educational research to address the complexity of the challenges that are encountered in connecting and reconnecting communities in contemporary Europe. The results of the study show the barriers and the possibilities in teachers exchanging educational experiences in a smaller, more local context. It would be interesting to examine what would happen if the school exchange were made in a broader, international context.
Forsling, K. (2017). Att överbrygga klyftor i ett digitalt lärandelandskap. Design och iscensättning för skriv- och läslärande i förskoleklass och lågstadium. Doktorsavhandling Åbo: Åbo Akademi University Press, Åbo Akademi. Jewitt, C. (2009). Technology, literacy and learning: A multimodal approach. London: Routledge. Kjällander, S. (2011). Designs for learning in an extended digital environment: Case studies of social interaction in the social science classroom. Doktorsavhandling, Stockholm: Stockholms universitet. Rose, D.H. & Meyer, A. (2002). Teaching every student in the digital age: Universal design for learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Timperley, H. (2008). Teacher professional learning and development. Wellington: Ministry of Education. Tjernberg, C. (2013). Framgångsfaktorer i läs- och skrivlärande. En praxisorienterad studie med utgångspunkt i skolpraktiken. Doktorsavhandling, Stockholm: Specialpedagogiska Institutionen. Stockholms universitet.
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