The Road to Participation: The Evolution of a Literary Community in an Intermediate Grade Classroom of Linguistically Diverse Learners

CIERA Report #3-017

Ailing Kong, St. Joseph's University
P. David Pearson, University of California, Berkeley

CIERA Inquiry 3: Policy and Profession
How can teachers, together with their students, develop a shared classroom practice to engage with literature in a spirit of open-ended exploration?

This study examined the year-long process in which a teacher and her fourth- and fifth-grade students with diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds implemented Book Club, a literature-based instructional program. Data analysis revealed a gradual release of responsibility from the teacher to the students in carrying out book conversations. Five features highlighted the practice in this classroom. First, the teacher believed that all students brought with them rich experiences and knowledge to contribute to the discussions and the classroom learning community. Second, time and space were created for the students to discuss their responses to literature. Third, students were pushed to think critically and reflectively about what they read by responding to challenging questions. Fourth, the teacher employed multiple modes of teaching telling, modeling, scaffolding, facilitating, and participating (Au & Raphael, 1998). Finally, the teacher persisted in maintaining high expectations of the students.



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