Small-group literacy teaching: pedagogy and control.
In, British Educational Research Association Annual Conference, Edinburgh, UK,
03 - 06 Sep 2008.
It is the ‘generic properties of pedagogy’ that most essentially vary across cultures, such as how teachers organize time, space and pupil groupings; how they design and manage learning activities; how and what they evaluate; and ‘above all, the structure, content and control of pupil-teacher talk’ (Alexander 2000:552). These generic properties relate to the principle of pedagogic discourse identified by Bernstein as ‘framing’, which ‘is about who controls what ... selection, sequencing, pacing, criteria and the social base...’ (Bernstein 1996:12-13). Framing relations are primarily realized through pedagogic interactions, and recent studies suggest that certain combinations of stronger and weaker framing may be beneficial in terms of providing equal access to knowledge for learners from diverse backgrounds (Müller et al. 2004).
Since the introduction of the National Literacy Strategy in 1998, shifts have taken place in all these generic properties of pedagogy in terms of how 5-11 year old children in England are taught to read and write. One major change has been a move away from the individualized teaching of reading to whole-class and group teaching, and a number of studies suggest that this is typified by strongly-framed patterns of teacher-controlled question and answer, calling for teaching to incorporate more active involvement by pupils in their own learning.
Based on doctoral research in progress, this paper is drawn from a wider project in which teachers’ stated interpretations of their pedagogical practices are related to their observed teaching behaviours. It will examine elements of one small-group reading lesson taught by a teacher of acknowledged expertise to 6-7 year-old children, with a view to discussing the nature of framing in relation to the underlying pedagogic intention. It will utilize qualitative multimodal data derived from a video-recorded lesson, supported by an interview with the teacher. Analysis will draw on Bernstein’s conceptual lexicon and elements of discourse analysis frameworks.
Findings will contribute to current debate about the values and purposes of post-NLS literacy teaching and how this should best be enacted in the interests of developing access to literacy for all children.
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