Trading Spaces: Negotiating the Discourse of a New Classroom

By Jennifer C. Wilson and Diane L. Schallert.

Published by The Learner Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

As children move from one grade to the next, one teacher to a new teacher, they must reorganize and reconstruct how they view their membership in the new community. Using Gee’s (1999, 2003) construct of Discourse and supplemented with
the idea of social worlds from Lewis (2001) and of figured worlds from Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain (1998), we analyzed how students new to three 5th grade classrooms adopted the ways of being and the language of their new classrooms, some with ease but most with some difficulty. For the students, active literacy construction in the semiotic domain of the classroom exposed ways of being that provided them successful strategies for participation. Specifically, we considered how students changed their discourse to reflect the Discourse of the new classroom in authentic ways. Through multiple data sources (interviews, focus group discussions, journal writing, observation) and with prolonged engagement, we constructed three categories to reflect the theoretical lenses provided by Gee: (1) adopting new values, beliefs, and attitudes in the new community; (2) changing cultural practices in a new community; and (3) acquiring the language and Discourse of the new community. Results indicated that conceptualizing classrooms as Discourse communities yielded insights into
the processes learners experience as they experience transition into new classrooms.

Keywords: Discourse, Language, Learning, Cultural Practice, Transition

The International Journal of Learning, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp.191-198. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 516.997KB).

Dr. Jennifer C. Wilson

Assistant Professor, Curriculum & Instruction, Language and Literacy, Texas A&M University - San Antonio, San Antonio, Texas, USA

Jenny is an Assistant Professor in Curriculum and Instruction at Texas A&M University- San Antonio. She is interested in how children make meaning from the world, specifically how teachers can facilitate and engender a sense of self within the world.

Diane L. Schallert

Professor, Department of Educational Psychology, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, Texas, USA

Diane L. Schallert is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. She is interested in the interface between language and thought, particularly as experienced in classroom discussions both oral and written. In addition, she conducts reseaarch on college student well-being.

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