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  • Journal of Literacy and Technology Volume 18, Number 1: Spring 2017 ISSN: 1535-0975

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    Digital Poetry Practicum: Preservice English Language Arts Teachers Dispositions of New Literacies

    KatieDredger,Ph.D.JamesMadisonUniversity

    dredgemk@jmu.edu

    SusanneNobles,Ph.D.LearnerPositioningSystems

    DigitalPromiseGlobalsusanne.nobles@gmail.com

    JennyM.Martin,Ph.D.BridgewaterCollege

    jmmartin@bridgewater.edu

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    Abstract

    Thisqualitativestudyinvestigatedhowgraduatepreserviceteachers(PSTs)engagedina

    digitalpracticumexperiencewithageographicallydistantsecondaryEnglishLanguage

    Arts(ELA)classroom.ThegraduatePSTs,enrolledinaMastersofArts,EnglishEducation

    programatauniversityinthemid-AtlanticUnitedStates,mentoredthe9th-gradestudents

    intheonlinespacesofacoursewikiandvideoconferencing.Inthisportionofalarger

    study,PSTsmentoredthestudentsduringapoetryunitorganizedbytheELAcooperating

    teacherandhousedintheELAclassroom.AgoalofthispracticumwasbuildingPSTs

    PedagogicalContentKnowledge(Shulman,1986)andTechnologicalPedagogicalContent

    Knowledge(Koehler&Mishra,2009)specifictotheuseofemergingtechnologieswithin

    theELAclassroom.Thefindingsofthisstudyshowthatonlinespacescandevelop

    dispositionsofNewLiteracies(Knobel&Lankshear,2007)andcanbridgetheoryand

    practiceinteacherpreparationprograms.

    Keywords:Teachereducation;wikis;NewLiteracies;poetry;digitalliteracy;EnglishLanguageArts;collaboration

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    Introduction

    Effectivelyenhancingclassroomliteracyinstructionwithvalue-addedtechnology

    canbechallengingwithoutmodels.Evenexperiencedclassroomteachersoftenstruggleto

    leadstudentswithcurriculumratherthantoleadwithtechnology.Thisstruggleiseven

    greaterforthepreserviceteacher(PST),wholackscurriculumandlessondevelopment

    experienceinadditiontolackingmodelsfortechnologyintegration.Thisisthencoupled

    withthechallengeteacherpreparationprogramsoftenhavewithfindingpracticum

    placementsforPSTswheretheycanexperimentwithaconfidentteacherwhoeffectively

    integratestechnology.Whenanytheoryinvestigatedintheuniversityclassroomisnot

    enactedinaclassroomexperience,PSTsmaybelesslikelytoadoptit,andthedispositions

    ofNewLiteracies(Knobel&Lankshear,2007)arenodifferent.Thiscouldthenperpetuate

    thelackofmodelsofeffectiveintegrationofdigitaltechnology.Furthermore,K-12online

    coursesareofferedinall50states;however,lessthan2%ofrespondingprogramsin

    teachereducationaddressthisneedforonlineteachingandlearningexperiencesby

    providingPSTswithchancestoexploreteachingwithdigitaltools(Kennedy&

    Archambault,2012).

    DigitalpracticacanprovidePSTsanintroductiontoteachingstudentsinonline

    spacesandachanceforin-depthmentorship(Nobles,Dredger,&Gerheart,2012;

    Townsend,Cheveallier,Browning,&Fink,2013).TheonlinepracticumplacesPSTsina

    positiontoobserveaclassroomteacherscurriculumdesignindigitalspaces,aswellasto

    understandhowtoworkcloselywithstudentswhoarephysicallyfaraway.Thisstudy

    explorestheresultsofimplementingasix-weekdigitalpracticumforPSTs.Theprimary

    goalsofthispracticumexperiencewere1)buildingPSTsPedagogicalContentKnowledge

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    (PCK,Howey&Grossman,1989;Shulman,1986)andTechnologicalPedagogicalContent

    Knowledge(TPACK,Koehler&Mishra,2009),specifictotheuseofemergingtechnologies

    withintheEnglishLanguageArts(ELA)classroom,and2)supportinghighschoolstudents

    inthedevelopmentofacademicconfidencethroughcollegementorsandpeerreview.

    WhilethislargerprojectimpactedboththestudentsandthePSTs,thisarticlearticulates

    theimpactonthePSTs.

    LocalpracticumplacementsforPSTsdonotalwaysmodelpedagogiessteepedin

    effectivetechnologyintegration.Theteachereducatorsinthisstudydecidedtotakefull

    advantageoftheaffordancesofdigitalpracticumexperiencesandplacedPSTswitha

    teacherwhowasaleaderinintegratingtechnologyinherschools1:1program,even

    thoughherschoolwasover200milesfromtheuniversity.ThePSTsneverphysically

    traveledtotheirplacement.Instead,theyloggedintotheclassroomwikiand

    communicatedwiththeircooperatingteacherandherstudentspredominantly

    asynchronously.

    ThisstudyinvestigatedhowthesesixPSTs,allpreserviceELAteachers,mentored

    19ninth-gradestudentsinpoetryinterpretation,response,andrecitationwithinthedigital

    collaborationspaceofawiki.ShulmansPCK(1986)establishedthepremisethatPSTs

    neededtobenotonlystrongintheircontentarea(ELAinthisstudy)butalsointhespecific

    effectivepedagogiesthataremostsuccessfulinteachingELA.PCKimpliesthatteacher

    preparationprogramsaremosteffectivewhendeliveredinacontext,thatmathteaching,

    forexample,isdistinctivelydifferentthantheteachingofELA.Likewise,TPACKimplies

    usingtechnologiesspecifictotheenactingoftheELAcurriculum.

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    Thepoetryunit,commoninhighschoolcurriculum,isoneinwhichmanyteachers

    lackconfidencebecauseofthesubjectiveartistrythatcandefinepoetry.Thislackof

    confidencecan,inturn,affectstudentinterest.Somearguepoetryistheleastwell-taught

    genre,atleastinpartbecauseofthiscycle:teachersthemselveswerenottaughtpoetry

    wellwhentheywerestudentsandthereforelackconfidenceand/orinterest(Dymoke&

    Hughes,2009).Thiscyclecanbehardtochangewithoutchangingpeoplesexperiences

    withpoetry.

    Toattempttobreakthecycle,theunitforthehighschoolstudentswasdesigned

    aroundobjectivesfocusedonstudentchoiceandexplorationsupportedbythePSTinthe

    roleofmentor.Thestudentswereasked:

    Toconnectwithpoetrybyfindingpoemstheyenjoyreading;

    Toreciteapoemtheyenjoybymemoryandwithexpression;

    Tounderstandthatpoetryisdifferentthanproseinwritingexpectations;

    Toidentifyandexplainanauthorspurposewiththesupportofamentor;

    Tobeabletowritepoetryusingliterarytechniquestointentionallycreate

    meaningwiththesupportofamentor;and

    Tosubmitanoriginalpoemforpossiblepublication.

    Forengagementpurposes,thestudentschosetwopoemstopostontheirwikipagesand

    annotateoverthecourseofseveralweeks,leadingtoafinaldeepanalysisofonepoemthat

    includedanaudiorecordingofthestudentrecitingthepoem.Thecooperatingteacher

    offeredthestudentsachoiceofthesepoemstheywouldstudyindepthtoincrease

    engagement.Thestudentsalsoposteddraftsofatleastthreeoftheirownpoemsoverthe

    six-weekperiod,culminatinginpostingthreefinalpoemsandsubmittingatleastonetoa

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    poetrycompetition.Tohelpherstudentsfeelcomfortablewithsharingallofthiswork,the

    cooperatingteachercreatedawidesafetynetforherstudentsexplorationsofpoetry,anet

    thatincludedherselfandthePSTsservingascollaboratorsandmentorsforthestudentsin

    theirpoetryanalysisandcompositioninthisdigitalspace.Thiscollaborationofferedthe

    highschoolstudentsanexpandedsetofreadersfortheirpoetrywritingandrecitations,

    makingthisworkmoremeaningful(Applebee&Langer,2011;Gee,1989).

    TheunitwasdesignedtoofferthePSTspracticewithrespondingtostudentspoetry

    interpretationsinasmallergroupsettingtohelpthemdevelopskillstheycouldthen

    transferwithconfidencetotheirownfutureclassrooms.Objectivesfromthecoursethat

    applieddirectlytothepracticumrequiredstudentsto:

    Evaluate and experiment with multiple strategies and a range of content materials

    and texts, both traditional and alternative and both explicitly and in the context of

    writing instruction, in order to move toward the goal of reaching all students;

    Use multimodal composition and communication technologies to facilitate

    reflection and instruction; and

    Utilize major components of reader-response theory as a means of enhancing

    reading within content-area environments.

    ThispracticumwastitledRealWorldReaders,andthecollaborationcountedtoward

    10%oftheirELAmethodscoursegrade.Followingtheexpectationsprovidedtothe

    studentsbythecooperatingteacher(seeAppendix),thePSTsvisitedtheirstudentswiki

    pageseachtimethestudentspostedaneworrevisedanalysisorpoemorrepliedtothe

    commentthread.Inthisway,thePSTswereaconstantpresencetotheirstudents,

    supportivelyencouragingthemtodevelopasthinkersandwriters.

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    Asanationallyaccreditedteacherpreparationprogram,thepracticeofformally

    aligningactivitieswiththeNCTE/NCATE(nowNCTE/CAEP)standardsfocusedthiswork.

    ThedigitalpracticumsupportedStandard2,3.1,and3.7:

    Standard2.Throughmodeling,advisement,instruction,fieldexperiences,

    assessmentofperformance,andinvolvementinprofessionalorganizations,

    candidatesadoptandstrengthenprofessionalattitudesneededbyELA

    teachers.

    Standard3.1:Candidatesdemonstrateknowledgeofandskillsintheuseof

    theEnglishlanguage.

    Standard3.7:Candidatesdemonstrateknowledgeofresearchtheoryand

    findingsinELA.(NCTE/NCATEProgramStandards,2003)

    Thisdigitalpracticumhousedwithinthepoetryunitservedthesestandards.Additionally,

    self-efficacyinteachingwasdevelopedasPSTsworkedalongsideanexperiencedteacher.

    Finally,thisdigitalpracticumgavePSTsaneededopportunitytoworkwithatech-

    savvyEnglishteacher(Hicks,2016:Kajder,2010;Kist,2005).TPACKmakesasimilar

    argumenttoPCKaboutthecriticalimportanceofcontext.Technologyint