Inventing a classroom: An ethnographic study of a third-grade, bilingual learning community.
AuthorWhitmore, Kathryn Faye.
Committee ChairGoodman, Kenneth S.
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractThis ethnographic study describes a third grade, bilingual, whole language classroom in detail. Data collected over a two year period includes field notes from participant observations, interviews, writing samples, and audio-tape transcriptions. Five critical events illustrate the construction of oral and written language, culture, and curriculum in the classroom: negotiation of curriculum early in the school year, a set of literature study discussions, genre development in writing workshop, a bicultural friendship, and a theme study about Native Americans. The critical events outlined in the study demonstrate the dynamic tension that exists between personal invention and social convention in natural learning experiences, thereby building on Kenneth S. Goodman's theory of language development. The specific evidence of a high level of intellectual expectation, symmetric power and trust relationships between students and teachers, authentic language and literacy events, and additive bilingualism and biliteracy contribute to the atypical, strongly inventive nature of this classroom community. The data suggests that classrooms that focus on creating conditions to support personal invention within natural and real world social conventions provide intellectually challenging, socially empowering learning experiences for children. Whole language classrooms provide rich opportunities for inventions in classrooms by creating authentic learning contexts for children from all cultural and linguistic backgrounds.
Degree ProgramLanguage, Reading and Culture