ERIC Number: EJ840843
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2009-Apr
Individual Goals and Academic Literacy: Integrating Authenticity and Explicitness
Beck, Sarah W.
English Education, v41 n3 p259-280 Apr 2009
Finding a way to integrate authentic learning experiences and explicit instruction is essential if teachers are to adapt to the current policy environment while at the same time acknowledging the rights of students to determine their own goals for literacy learning. Toward this end, the author presents a case study of one student's development as a writer in the context of an English classroom in which both curriculum and instruction were strongly influenced by a districtwide context of standards-based reform and the accompanying pressure surrounding high-stakes testing. Sheila, the African American student who is the subject of this study, challenged the values that underlay her teacher's expectations for observing the conventions of Standard English in her writing and, in doing so, contributed to a compelling illustration of the limits of explicitness in the teaching of writing. It has been argued that when students have a chance to declare "who they are, what they know, and that they care about" (Oldfather & Dahl, 1994, p. 144) in their literacy activities, and when they "perceive a sense of competence as literate persons--as readers and writers who use tools of literacy for their learning goals" (p. 144), they are more likely to be motivated to take an active stand as agents in the pursuit of their own literacy learning. Interviews with Sheila about her essays offer insight into the sources of motivation that inspired her to develop complex analytical ideas in her essays, even as she maintained her stance on the seeming irrelevance of Standard English as a criterion for a high-quality paper. Drawing on these interviews and samples of her writing, along with teacher interviews and field notes from observations of her English class, the author discusses both her resistance to and her enthusiasm for certain aspects of the writing tasks her teacher set for her, highlighting the significance of points at which the teacher's instruction intersected with her goals and where it did not. A larger aim of this paper is to urge teacher educators, and the teacher-candidates whom they are charged with educating, to consider the nature of authenticity in tasks and contexts for writing development against the present backdrop of standards-based reform and high-stakes testing.
Descriptors: Standard Spoken Usage, High Stakes Tests, Essays, Literacy, Writing Instruction, Teacher Educators, English Instruction, Student Attitudes, Teacher Student Relationship, Case Studies, African American Students, Black Dialects, Urban Schools
National Council of Teachers of English. 1111 West Kenyon Road, Urbana, IL 61801-1096. Tel: 877-369-6283; Tel: 217-328-3870; Web site: http://www.ncte.org/journals
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education; High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A