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  • ISBN/ISSN(s):
    0034-527X

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Editors’ Introduction: Reading and Writing Identities in English Language Arts
Mary M. Juzwik, Ellen Cushman, and Cori McKenzie

Resources Preservice Teachers Use to Think about Student Writing
Leah A. Zuidema and James E. Fredricksen
Abstract: This article identifies five categories of resources that preservice teachers drew on as they considered student writing and planned their own approaches to assessing and teaching writing. Identifying these resources helps us better understand how beginning writing teachers think about student writing—and better understand mismatches that commonly occur between what teacher educators teach and what new teachers actually do. Our study builds on literature that considers how writing teachers are prepared, extends research about how preservice teachers use what they learn,and adds layers of detail to literature about the resources that beginning teachers draw upon to aid and support them in their work. The pedagogical and research projects described in this study stem from a communities-of-practice framework. Our methods surfaced preservice teachers’ claims about writing and the resources they drew upon to support those claims. Drawing upon our rhetorical view of writing, we worked inductively to identify these claims and resources, using grounded analysis of transcripts from preservice teachers’ VoiceThread conversations to develop a taxonomy of 15 resources grouped into 5 categories: understanding of students and student writing; knowledge of context; colleagues; roles; and writing. This research has implications for educators and researchers working in teacher preparation. Scaffolded instruction is essential to help beginning teachers use particular resources—and to employ resources in ways connected with rhetorical conceptual frameworks. To that end, the taxonomy of resources can be used as a tool for individual and programmatic assessment, as well as to facilitate scaffolded instruction.

The Intersection of Reading and Identity in High School Literacy Intervention Classes
Katherine K. Frankel
Abstract:  It is common practice to enroll adolescents in classes designed to improve their reading. Previous studies of literacy intervention classes have focused on students’ acquisition of reading skills and strategies, but few studies have considered how reading identities may contribute to literacy learning. To address this gap, I used theories of positioning and identity to answer the question: How did students’ understandings of literacy and their own reading identities interact with the figured worlds of their literacy intervention classrooms? I analyzed interviews, field notes, and artifacts for two students and teachers in different classrooms, focusing on students’ acts of agency.Analyses revealed that both students’ identities as good readers conflicted with the figured worlds of their classrooms, but they responded differently. One challenged the norms of his classroom in a manner contrary to his teacher’s expectations and was unable to disrupt his positioning as a struggling reader. The other acquiesced to the norms of her classroom in ways her teacher recognized as characteristic of a capable reader, ultimately upsetting her struggling reader subject position. The findings reveal that students’ acts of agency and teachers’ interpretations of those acts are informed by students’ perceptions of themselves as readers and teachers’ understandings of literacy and learning in intervention classrooms. The findings problematize the practice of placing students in classes that position them as deficient. Additional research that attends to sociocultural factors in classrooms is necessary to understand the academic, social, and personal implications of particular approaches to literacy instruction and intervention for individual students.

“I Don’t Really Have Anything Good to Say”: Examining How One Teacher Worked to Shape Middle School Students’ Talk about Texts
Leigh A. Hall
Abstract: A growing body of research suggests that adolescents’ reading identities play a significant role in how they make decisions about their involvement with classroom literacy practices. In this yearlong study in an eighth-grade English classroom, I used a formative design to consider how an instructional model intended to support students’ reading identities and development influenced their talk about classroom reading practices. I closely followed five students with varying reading identities and abilities, documenting how they talked about texts within the context of the instruction they received. I found that both the quality and quantity of students’ talk shifted over the course of the study. All students, but particularly those with reading difficulties and negative reading identities, increased how often they talked about texts. They also changed the ways they spoke about texts, shifting from asking questions primarily about assignments to asking more questions about the content they were reading about. However, as students began to change their talk, others responded by attempting to silence them or limit what they said. This study shows that while teachers can create a context that helps students reconstruct their reading identities, they will need to foster a climate where students support each other’s growth as readers and development of reading identities. Therefore, changing the habitus as it relates to reading and being a reader becomes the responsibility of everyone in the class.

Resisting Readers’ Identity (Re)Construction across English and Young Adult Literature Course Contexts
Wendy J. Glenn and Ricki Ginsberg
Abstract: This phenomenological case study explores the disconnect that high school readers labeled as struggling perceived between their reading identities and experiences in traditional English classes. It analyzes how participation in a young adult literature (YAL) elective provided participants space in which to enact identities and exhibit agency in ways that were different from those afforded in their English classes. This paper contributes uniquely to the larger research conversation by examining two different spaces (traditional English classes and a YAL class) and demonstrating how students’ identities as readers manifested in different ways across two contexts. Using Holland, Lachicotte, Skinner, and Cain’s (1998) theory of identity as a lens of analysis across student-generated oral reflections gathered through Seidman’s (2006) interview protocol, the study reveals how student participants were supported in their attempts to deconstruct their experiences in traditional classroom spaces, build new conceptions of their reading selves in a unique classroom setting, and, in the process, assume greater agency in shaping their individual reader identities, advancing the argument that differing classroom contexts can provide students with varying levels of opportunity to reject and/or accept ascribed reading identities. This work is significant in the way it emphasizes the importance of classroom and school contexts, the possibilities that come with inviting students to engage as readers in school rather than engage in school reading, the benefits and risks of reimagined relationships between students and teachers and students and peers, and the possibility that young adult literature in and of itself offers implications for reader agency.

Forum: Teaching Close Reading with Complex Texts across Content Areas
Zhihui Fang
Abstract: The Common Core State Standards accords great importance to close reading, but offers no specific guidelines for how it can or should be taught. This essay provides a critical review of existing instructional models of close reading and addresses issues related to their implementation in content area classrooms. It shows that current models of close reading offer different ways of engaging students in their interaction with complex texts, with some focusing on reading and rereading for understanding and others providing more intensive linguistic support. It argues that effective close reading practices must attend simultaneously to all key elements involved in the complex process of reading, including the reader, the text, the task, and the context, with a special emphasis on developing students’ understanding of how language and other semiotic systems construct meaning, embed ideology, and structure discourse in genre- and discipline-specific ways. The essay demonstrates that the contention about what close reading is and how it could be implemented stems from its varied interpretations by scholars with different theoretical and epistemological beliefs about reading, language, text, literacy, and schooling. It further suggests that an awareness of the critical issues that have been raised about close reading can help teachers avoid potential pitfalls and maximize effectiveness when implementing the practice.

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