The power of children's dialogue: The discourse of Latino students in small group literature discussions
KeywordsEducation, Language and Literature.
Education, Bilingual and Multicultural.
AdvisorShort, Kathy G.
MetadataShow full item record
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 study examines the discourse of second grade bilingual students participating in small group literature discussions over one academic year. The main research question is "What is the nature of the talk in which second-grade bilingual Spanish/English students engage as they discuss children's literature in small groups?" The study is based on a qualitative research design, using methods and techniques from ethnography and case study research, and was conducted in a collaboration with a teacher researcher. It describes the conversations of 21 Latino students, Mexican American children from working-class families, during 19 literature discussions. Each literature discussion consisted of four small groups of students for a total of 75 literature circles. Ten students were English dominant, and 11 were Spanish dominant. The students were sometimes grouped by language dominance, but most of the time they were heterogeneous groups where both English and Spanish dominant students talked with each other about the same self-selected book. Nine students and 11 literature circles were chosen as case studies to examine in depth the range of the students' responses to literature. Data gathering methods included field notes from participant observation, audiotapes, transcripts, videotapes of 75 literature circles, and samples of the students' written responses to literature. Through a detailed description and analysis of the children's responses to literature, this study documents how young bilingual children can have sophisticated literary responses and meaningful discussions of texts given opportunity and an appropriate context. Small group literature discussions, informed by Rosenblatt's reader-response theory, are proposed to be a crucial component of an intellectually challenging curriculum, especially in facilitating various forms of talk about text. This study shows that the small groups created a collective zone of proximal development for students' meaningful discussions. The findings of this research illustrate that there is no need for delaying children's development of critical thinking until they first learn to decode, emphasizing skills at the expense of content and thoughtfulness. A collaborative approach to research where the classroom teacher participates in the study is also proposed as an effective research model aimed toward educational change.
Degree ProgramGraduate College
Language, Reading & Culture