All posts by Jessica Taylor

Gee’s An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Chapter 4)


                In the fourth chapter of James Paul Gee’s book, An Introduction to Discourse Analysis, the focus is on social languages, Conversations (with a capital C), and intertextuality. Gee begins by providing some insight into these three terms.

                Gee defines social languages as different varieties of languages that allow us to express socially significant Identities and enact socially meaningful practices and activities. Social language is how the whos and whats are communicated in language. Basically, we are looking at how people communicate who they are and what they are doing. Gee provides many examples, one of which is a warning label on medication. He notes that for this provided example, there are two “who-doing-whats”: a lawyerly voice and a voice of a caring yet authoritatively knowledgeable company. These two voices are used for different purposes and have different effects, and there is some tension between the two. Gee provides a term for this: “heteroglossic”, or double-voiced.

                Gee goes on to discuss how each “who-doing-whats” are linguistically expressed in different social languages. Each social language has its own distinct grammar. Another example is given; a woman has a two conversations about the same topic with two different audiences. Her social language changes based on the audience. Word choice, formal versus informal sentence structure, and level of directness are all effected.

                Conversations are discussed next. Gee defines Conversations (with a capital C) as debates in society or within specific social groups that a large number of people recognize. Gee notes that objects, values, and beliefs play a role in Conversations. And while people often know the themes and values of a Conversation, many do not know the historical events that create or sustain them.

                Intertextuality is the focus of the end of the chapter, and the term is defined as cases where one oral or written text directly or indirectly quotes another text or alludes to another text in more subtle ways. Gee notes that sometimes a text will switch between two or more varieties of language by borrowing words from another text that uses a different variety of language.

                There are a few ways in which a different language variety can be incorporated. Gee mentions direct quotes, indirect quotes, and the act of alluding to a different text. The choice to do one over the other is both meaningful and impactful. One can allude to research without ever quoting any research; this can, in certain instances, be manipulative.

                Gee writes about these three terms because they are tools of inquiry, “our way of talking about and, thus, constructing and construing the world”. They are “thinking devices”.  The chapter concludes with some examples of how one can use social languages, Conversations, and intertextuality as tools for inquiry.

                When reading a text, Gee encourages readers to think about:

“A. What social language(s) are involved? What sorts of grammatical patterns indicate this? Are different social languages mixed? How so?

B. What socially situated identities and activities do these social languages enact?

 C. What Discourse or Discourses are involved? How is “stuff” other than language (“mind stuff” and “emotional stuff” and “world stuff” and “interactional stuff” and non-language symbol systems, etc.) relevant in indicating socially situated identities and activities?

 D. In considering this language, what sorts of relationships among different Discourses are involved (institutionally, in society, or historically)? How are different Discourses aligned or in contention here?

E. What Conversations (public debates over issues or themes) are relevant to understanding this language and to what Conversations does it contribute (institutionally, in society, or historically), if any?

F. How does intertextuality work in the text, that is, in what ways does the text quote, allude to, or otherwise borrow words from other oral or written sources? What function does this serve in the text?”

Gee’s An Introduction to Discourse Analysis (Chapter 4)


                In the fourth chapter of James Paul Gee’s book, An Introduction to Discourse Analysis, the focus is on social languages, Conversations (with a capital C), and intertextuality. Gee begins by providing some insight into these three terms.

                Gee defines social languages as different varieties of languages that allow us to express socially significant Identities and enact socially meaningful practices and activities. Social language is how the whos and whats are communicated in language. Basically, we are looking at how people communicate who they are and what they are doing. Gee provides many examples, one of which is a warning label on medication. He notes that for this provided example, there are two “who-doing-whats”: a lawyerly voice and a voice of a caring yet authoritatively knowledgeable company. These two voices are used for different purposes and have different effects, and there is some tension between the two. Gee provides a term for this: “heteroglossic”, or double-voiced.

                Gee goes on to discuss how each “who-doing-whats” are linguistically expressed in different social languages. Each social language has its own distinct grammar. Another example is given; a woman has a two conversations about the same topic with two different audiences. Her social language changes based on the audience. Word choice, formal versus informal sentence structure, and level of directness are all effected.

                Conversations are discussed next. Gee defines Conversations (with a capital C) as debates in society or within specific social groups that a large number of people recognize. Gee notes that objects, values, and beliefs play a role in Conversations. And while people often know the themes and values of a Conversation, many do not know the historical events that create or sustain them.

                Intertextuality is the focus of the end of the chapter, and the term is defined as cases where one oral or written text directly or indirectly quotes another text or alludes to another text in more subtle ways. Gee notes that sometimes a text will switch between two or more varieties of language by borrowing words from another text that uses a different variety of language.

                There are a few ways in which a different language variety can be incorporated. Gee mentions direct quotes, indirect quotes, and the act of alluding to a different text. The choice to do one over the other is both meaningful and impactful. One can allude to research without ever quoting any research; this can, in certain instances, be manipulative.

                Gee writes about these three terms because they are tools of inquiry, “our way of talking about and, thus, constructing and construing the world”. They are “thinking devices”.  The chapter concludes with some examples of how one can use social languages, Conversations, and intertextuality as tools for inquiry.

                When reading a text, Gee encourages readers to think about:

“A. What social language(s) are involved? What sorts of grammatical patterns indicate this? Are different social languages mixed? How so?

B. What socially situated identities and activities do these social languages enact?

 C. What Discourse or Discourses are involved? How is “stuff” other than language (“mind stuff” and “emotional stuff” and “world stuff” and “interactional stuff” and non-language symbol systems, etc.) relevant in indicating socially situated identities and activities?

 D. In considering this language, what sorts of relationships among different Discourses are involved (institutionally, in society, or historically)? How are different Discourses aligned or in contention here?

E. What Conversations (public debates over issues or themes) are relevant to understanding this language and to what Conversations does it contribute (institutionally, in society, or historically), if any?

F. How does intertextuality work in the text, that is, in what ways does the text quote, allude to, or otherwise borrow words from other oral or written sources? What function does this serve in the text?”

Teachers as Researchers


“Developing a Definition of Teacher Researcher” defines teacher research as being intentional, systematic, public, voluntary, ethical, and contextual.

 

Intentional:

Teachers choose research questions that matter to them, and their research is responsive to their learning needs. While teachers can’t predict their discoveries, they approach the process of research with the intention of learning more about their teaching and their students’ learning.

 

Systematic:

Teacher researchers analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. They collect a variety of kinds of data in order to triangulate findings. They formulate theories in relation to their analysis.

 

Public:

Often, students and colleagues are enlisted as co-researchers. Teacher researchers discuss data, hunches, assumptions, methods, and their interpretations. They also make an effort to make their research public and join the professional discourse.

 

Voluntary:

There is a potential risk and vulnerability to this kind of work because teachers publically examine their beliefs, assumptions, and understandings.

 

Ethical:

A teacher researcher’s primary responsibility is to the students. They should seek student affirmation and acknowledge discrepancies.

 

Contextual:

Rather than attempt to control variables, teacher researchers “strive to define, articulate, and elucidate the context as a whole”. The research shapes and is shaped by its context.

 

Marian M. Mohr’s article, “The Teacher as Researcher”, was very interesting. Mohr begins by mentioning that she began work as a teacher researcher almost by accident—at least not intentionally. She started keeping a journal of her day to day experiences in the classroom in order to make sense of her seemingly overwhelming introduction into life as a teacher. She mentions that there was just too much going on each day to really process any of it fully.

Mohr notes that teacher researchers are like students in their own classrooms. They need to pay attention and notice the details of their classes’ experiences. One of the learning experiences that she writes about came from an experience of misspelling a spelling word. She writes about the “humiliation of not knowing everything”—a teacher’s worst nightmare. But the class as a whole seemed to grow from the experience. She also writes about discussing her students’ writing habits with them. At first, she thought some students made noise or could not sit still while writing because they were not paying attention. She thought this was something that had to be stopped. It happened to be the opposite; the students were paying so much attention to their writing that they simply tuned out their habits and those of their classmates.

In closing, Mohr writes that she became more of a professional because she became more of a student in her own classroom. She learned and grew from her experiences and observations.

In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action”, Schecter and Ramirez conducted a study which sought to address several concerns about teacher research. The authors were concerned with the kinds of support that a teacher researcher needs in order to conduct classroom research, the effects of becoming researchers on teachers’ views of classroom practice, and the kinds of knowledge that teacher research can provide.

The authors used audio recordings, field notes, formal interviews, participant journals, and participant progress reports in order to conduct their research. They found that a theme of professional self-growth emerged amongst the teachers. Many reported positive effects as they sought to address the question: “what works in the classroom?” There were some concerns surrounding support. Some teachers expressed concern with “being able to find time to sit down and concentrate and do some writing”. Others were concerned with “the structure and content of the group meetings”. However, the research seemed to point to more benefits than not.

Teachers as Researchers


“Developing a Definition of Teacher Researcher” defines teacher research as being intentional, systematic, public, voluntary, ethical, and contextual.

 

Intentional:

Teachers choose research questions that matter to them, and their research is responsive to their learning needs. While teachers can’t predict their discoveries, they approach the process of research with the intention of learning more about their teaching and their students’ learning.

 

Systematic:

Teacher researchers analyze both quantitative and qualitative data. They collect a variety of kinds of data in order to triangulate findings. They formulate theories in relation to their analysis.

 

Public:

Often, students and colleagues are enlisted as co-researchers. Teacher researchers discuss data, hunches, assumptions, methods, and their interpretations. They also make an effort to make their research public and join the professional discourse.

 

Voluntary:

There is a potential risk and vulnerability to this kind of work because teachers publically examine their beliefs, assumptions, and understandings.

 

Ethical:

A teacher researcher’s primary responsibility is to the students. They should seek student affirmation and acknowledge discrepancies.

 

Contextual:

Rather than attempt to control variables, teacher researchers “strive to define, articulate, and elucidate the context as a whole”. The research shapes and is shaped by its context.

 

Marian M. Mohr’s article, “The Teacher as Researcher”, was very interesting. Mohr begins by mentioning that she began work as a teacher researcher almost by accident—at least not intentionally. She started keeping a journal of her day to day experiences in the classroom in order to make sense of her seemingly overwhelming introduction into life as a teacher. She mentions that there was just too much going on each day to really process any of it fully.

Mohr notes that teacher researchers are like students in their own classrooms. They need to pay attention and notice the details of their classes’ experiences. One of the learning experiences that she writes about came from an experience of misspelling a spelling word. She writes about the “humiliation of not knowing everything”—a teacher’s worst nightmare. But the class as a whole seemed to grow from the experience. She also writes about discussing her students’ writing habits with them. At first, she thought some students made noise or could not sit still while writing because they were not paying attention. She thought this was something that had to be stopped. It happened to be the opposite; the students were paying so much attention to their writing that they simply tuned out their habits and those of their classmates.

In closing, Mohr writes that she became more of a professional because she became more of a student in her own classroom. She learned and grew from her experiences and observations.

In “A Teacher-Research Group in Action”, Schecter and Ramirez conducted a study which sought to address several concerns about teacher research. The authors were concerned with the kinds of support that a teacher researcher needs in order to conduct classroom research, the effects of becoming researchers on teachers’ views of classroom practice, and the kinds of knowledge that teacher research can provide.

The authors used audio recordings, field notes, formal interviews, participant journals, and participant progress reports in order to conduct their research. They found that a theme of professional self-growth emerged amongst the teachers. Many reported positive effects as they sought to address the question: “what works in the classroom?” There were some concerns surrounding support. Some teachers expressed concern with “being able to find time to sit down and concentrate and do some writing”. Others were concerned with “the structure and content of the group meetings”. However, the research seemed to point to more benefits than not.

3/28: Yancey and Lauer


Yancey’s “Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between”

In this article, Yancey discusses reflective transfer. She begins by asking some important questions: “How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?” Yancey points out that because we work with human beings—students are not lab rats—it’s not that simple to “know” that they have learned or how well your teaching methods work. She argues that this sort of “knowing” is “too singular, too reductive, ultimately too inhuman”. But we doneed to know what works, and so Yancey suggests reflection as a means of identifying causes of desired effects.

There are four steps to reflective transfer.

1.       Observe and examine your own practice.

2.       Make hypotheses about successes and failures and the reasons behind them.

3.       Shape the next iteration of similar experience based on your learning.

4.       Begin the cycle again.

Yancey notes that reflection is collaborative. The teacher plans and delivers the curriculum, and the students experience it. The points of intersection among delivered and experiencedis where learning and teaching occur.

“good teachers are always students: learning about their own learning processes, about their teaching, about curricula, about students.”

Yancey goes on to discuss her experience with reflection in her own class. One of the reflective aspects that she mentions is providing a list of questions for her students at the end of the term. Some of the questions: “Describe the student who came through the door in January”, “Describe the teacher who will be leaving in May”, “What has this person learned about theory?”.

The article concludes with the idea that when reflection works, it raises more questions than it answers. But that is a good thing: reflection and learning should be a continuous endeavor.

 

Lauer’s “Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention”

                Notes on Part One: Theoretical Issues

-Invention has been positioned differently in rhetorical history.

-3 issues: differences over what constitutes invention, its purpose, and its underlying epistemology

 

Greek views:

-3 dominant Greek conceptions of invention

-Interpretations of Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle

-Differences exist over which inventional acts and arts are included

- Disagree over purposes of invention:

                -Initiating discourse with questions, issues, contradictions

                -Creating knowledge

                -Reaching probable judgment

                -Finding arguments to support existing theses

                -Communicating truths

                -Supporting persuasive propositions

 

Roman Views

 

-Differed from the Greeks and among themselves and their interpreters

-Invention was largely viewed as finding support for judgments and material for sections of the text

Cicero’s conceptions of invention would prevail through hundreds of years and influenced theory and practice through the Renaissance and still characterize pedagogies and textbooks today

 

Invention in Second Sophistic, Medieval, and Renaissance Rhetoric

 

-Invention narrowed to function and rarely served an epistemic purpose in the Second Sophistic period

-Classical status and topics were transfigured for new generic purposes

-Epistemic function of rhetorical invention practically disappeared, giving way to theology and the scientific method

-Renaissance: version of classical invention was adapted for vernacular culture

-Bacon: rhetorical invention dealt only with retrieving the known, while science created new knowledge

 

18th -19th Century Invention

 

-Scottish and British rhetoricians considered logic the home of invention. Rhetoric was assigned to communication

- Invention was compartmentalized into faculties of understanding, imagination, emotion, and will

-19th century: rhetoricwas replaced with composition, which was devoted to practice and criticism.

-women rhetorical theorists brought new interests to composition

3/28: Yancey and Lauer


Yancey’s “Theory, Practice, and the Bridge Between”

In this article, Yancey discusses reflective transfer. She begins by asking some important questions: “How have I taught? How do I understand my own teaching? What have my students learned?” Yancey points out that because we work with human beings—students are not lab rats—it’s not that simple to “know” that they have learned or how well your teaching methods work. She argues that this sort of “knowing” is “too singular, too reductive, ultimately too inhuman”. But we doneed to know what works, and so Yancey suggests reflection as a means of identifying causes of desired effects.

There are four steps to reflective transfer.

1.       Observe and examine your own practice.

2.       Make hypotheses about successes and failures and the reasons behind them.

3.       Shape the next iteration of similar experience based on your learning.

4.       Begin the cycle again.

Yancey notes that reflection is collaborative. The teacher plans and delivers the curriculum, and the students experience it. The points of intersection among delivered and experiencedis where learning and teaching occur.

“good teachers are always students: learning about their own learning processes, about their teaching, about curricula, about students.”

Yancey goes on to discuss her experience with reflection in her own class. One of the reflective aspects that she mentions is providing a list of questions for her students at the end of the term. Some of the questions: “Describe the student who came through the door in January”, “Describe the teacher who will be leaving in May”, “What has this person learned about theory?”.

The article concludes with the idea that when reflection works, it raises more questions than it answers. But that is a good thing: reflection and learning should be a continuous endeavor.

 

Lauer’s “Historical Review: Issues in Rhetorical Invention”

                Notes on Part One: Theoretical Issues

-Invention has been positioned differently in rhetorical history.

-3 issues: differences over what constitutes invention, its purpose, and its underlying epistemology

 

Greek views:

-3 dominant Greek conceptions of invention

-Interpretations of Sophists, Plato, and Aristotle

-Differences exist over which inventional acts and arts are included

- Disagree over purposes of invention:

                -Initiating discourse with questions, issues, contradictions

                -Creating knowledge

                -Reaching probable judgment

                -Finding arguments to support existing theses

                -Communicating truths

                -Supporting persuasive propositions

 

Roman Views

 

-Differed from the Greeks and among themselves and their interpreters

-Invention was largely viewed as finding support for judgments and material for sections of the text

Cicero’s conceptions of invention would prevail through hundreds of years and influenced theory and practice through the Renaissance and still characterize pedagogies and textbooks today

 

Invention in Second Sophistic, Medieval, and Renaissance Rhetoric

 

-Invention narrowed to function and rarely served an epistemic purpose in the Second Sophistic period

-Classical status and topics were transfigured for new generic purposes

-Epistemic function of rhetorical invention practically disappeared, giving way to theology and the scientific method

-Renaissance: version of classical invention was adapted for vernacular culture

-Bacon: rhetorical invention dealt only with retrieving the known, while science created new knowledge

 

18th -19th Century Invention

 

-Scottish and British rhetoricians considered logic the home of invention. Rhetoric was assigned to communication

- Invention was compartmentalized into faculties of understanding, imagination, emotion, and will

-19th century: rhetoricwas replaced with composition, which was devoted to practice and criticism.

-women rhetorical theorists brought new interests to composition

Christopher Ferry: "Theory, Research, Practice, Work"


Christopher Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” begins with Paulo Freire’s argument that education must be a process by which students and teachers transform reality and become more fully human by working together. Ferry notes that “Praxis” is central to this process—praxis being the interaction between thought (refection) and action. In order for the process to be effective, both components must be present.

Ferry then goes on to use Freire’s praxis concept to examine the different components of composition studies: theory, research, practice, and work. He also seeks to find the place in which “work” fits within the realm of higher education. What exactly is this “work”? What exactly is it that we do?  

“what we have in composition now is an unbalanced praxis, one that seems focused on reflection at the expense of action (or to put in more appropriate terms for this essay, a praxis focused on theory at the expense of work).”

“I want to make a case that in composition our focus on theory leads us to overlook the teaching of writing”

Ferry writes that we perceive theory and practice as separate. He discusses the historical shift that occurred within universities, a change that placed more emphasis on research than teaching. Now, there are apparently some who see writing teachers as part of the “academic working class”. Ferry notes that most of the time, when academics are referring to their work, they are not referring to the act of teaching; they are referring to their own writing or their research.

The divide between the two realms of the English department—literature and composition studies—is also discussed. Referring to writing teachers, Ferry references David Bartholomae: “As a professor, you’re not identified with something of great cultural value, like Shakespeare or the English novel…. You’re identified with the minds and words of 18-year olds”.   

Going back to Paulo Freire’s concept of praxis, Ferry stresses the idea that there must be a dialog between reflection and action, between humans to name and transform the world. Teachers must work with students; learning must take place together, continuously. Ferry discusses the idea the classroom as “a culture in progress” and as a grounds for theory-work. Learning environments should be inclusive and there is a need to replace the “us versus them” model, to break down the power structure.

Christopher Ferry: "Theory, Research, Practice, Work"


Christopher Ferry’s “Theory, Research, Practice, Work” begins with Paulo Freire’s argument that education must be a process by which students and teachers transform reality and become more fully human by working together. Ferry notes that “Praxis” is central to this process—praxis being the interaction between thought (refection) and action. In order for the process to be effective, both components must be present.

Ferry then goes on to use Freire’s praxis concept to examine the different components of composition studies: theory, research, practice, and work. He also seeks to find the place in which “work” fits within the realm of higher education. What exactly is this “work”? What exactly is it that we do?  

“what we have in composition now is an unbalanced praxis, one that seems focused on reflection at the expense of action (or to put in more appropriate terms for this essay, a praxis focused on theory at the expense of work).”

“I want to make a case that in composition our focus on theory leads us to overlook the teaching of writing”

Ferry writes that we perceive theory and practice as separate. He discusses the historical shift that occurred within universities, a change that placed more emphasis on research than teaching. Now, there are apparently some who see writing teachers as part of the “academic working class”. Ferry notes that most of the time, when academics are referring to their work, they are not referring to the act of teaching; they are referring to their own writing or their research.

The divide between the two realms of the English department—literature and composition studies—is also discussed. Referring to writing teachers, Ferry references David Bartholomae: “As a professor, you’re not identified with something of great cultural value, like Shakespeare or the English novel…. You’re identified with the minds and words of 18-year olds”.   

Going back to Paulo Freire’s concept of praxis, Ferry stresses the idea that there must be a dialog between reflection and action, between humans to name and transform the world. Teachers must work with students; learning must take place together, continuously. Ferry discusses the idea the classroom as “a culture in progress” and as a grounds for theory-work. Learning environments should be inclusive and there is a need to replace the “us versus them” model, to break down the power structure.