Wrestling with some data…

So, concurrent with teaching this class, I’m also plowing through data gathered from a multi-state study of upper elementary and middle school first and second year teachers’ teaching practices using new literacies tools and, bigger, tasks. Of the 112 participants, about 15% actually worked during their first year to integrate new literacies practices throughout their teaching — and 50% used at least one instructional strategy or activity that fell into that work. The challenge of how we’re looking at that is that in order to “count” the practice needs to put kids’ hands onto the tools – and kids need to be using them to create, produce, evaluate, synthesize, etc. (In other words, it isn’t enough to lecture using PowerPoint and call that multimodal presentation of information…) The survey data and follow-up interviews of randomly selected teachers reflects that there were three basic ideas that guided their decisions about what to teach and how (and, SURPRISINGLY, none of those had to do with tangible access to “stuff” or tools as we talked about in class) — they consider (in no significant order) what their students have learned in past work – and how a new literacies task would thrust that forward (to use an interviewees’ phrase), their students’ likely knowledge of the tool/task, and what the positive impact would potentially be of implementing it. What surprises me about this is that they don’t consider what they do and do not know as users/teachers/writers… Nor are they thinking about instructional time, access to resources, or, what I thought would REALLY be a big deal – if anyone else had ever done it in that way (again, either in that school or within the community influencing/informing their practice – i.e., like those who are writing about their teaching). Does it surprise you?

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2 responses to “Wrestling with some data…

  1. So, are you saying that these teachers are not hindered by what they don’t (yet) know and are willing to figure it out/try it out? Or that the practices are already familiar to them and therefore not an issue that would get in the way? Or they are just not talking about this aspect at all as a factor?

    Without knowing more about these questions, based on what you’ve said in your post, I suppose that it does surprise me a bit… based on my experiences with teachers. But maybe it’s because these are new teachers? But I don’t see old or new teachers taking on or trying out new literacies in my school (sadly). I’m curious to know more about their teacher preparation and the culture of the schools/communities where they teach – and how those may be variables at play. But maybe that is beyond the scope of your study!

  2. It doesn’t really surprise me that much… I remember I was in “survival mode” my first year of teaching. I just hope these teachers will come back to everything…

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