Date of Award

8-2009

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Anne McGill-Franzen

Committee Members

Richard Allington, Trena Paulus, Kimberly Wolbers

Abstract

The purpose of this design study was to examine how two teachers revise their instructional methods in response to student outcomes and how students learn strategies of writing through classroom discourse in the context of interactive writing. The study was designed to explore the role of teacher and student in socially situated writing environments and reveal how conversation affects student learning and instructional decision-making. Throughout the study I was an active participant observer continually modifying the intervention with the input of the classroom teachers.

This study was based on the theoret ical model of reading as a meaning-construction process described by Ruddell and Unrau (2004). According to this model, the reader, or in this case the writer, the text, and the teacher negotiate meaning within the social setting of the classroom. Two first grade classrooms served as the bounded units of analysis for this case study with an emphasis on formative experiment. Data collected included classroom observations and transcripts, transcripts of afterschool planning and reflecting meetings, transcripts of teacher and student interviews, teacher reflection logs, written artifacts, and student assessments. Data analysis was based on Wells‟ (1999) progressive discourse analysis. Progressive discourse refers to the process of building knowledge through conversation. Dialogue is a tool used to gain new knowledge and modify existing knowledge.

The two participating teachers in this study were able to revise their instructional methods based on the individual needs of their students to varying degrees. The students in the more successful teacher‟s classroom had more significant academic gains in reading and writing by the end of the intervention. The findings from this study suggest that it is important to understand the prior beliefs of teachers, their knowledge of the reciprocal relationship between reading and writing, and their preferred avenues of reflection when attempting to implement an interactive writing intervention. For student learning outcomes it may be important to consider the need for explicit literacy instruction, interactive dialogic moves, student engagement, and the opportunity for students to take on the role of teacher to their peers

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