Composing Literary Arguments in an 11th Grade International Baccalaureate Classroom: How Classroom Instructional Conversations Shape Modes of Participation
Keywords:literary argumentation, US English language arts classroom, community of practice
In U.S. secondary schools there is an overriding emphasis on formulaic approaches to argumentative writing instruction in English language arts that tends to trivialize disciplinary norms of argument and evidence because of institutional pressure to bolster students’ test performances. This paper seeks to provide an ethnographically-informed framework for understanding for whom, how, when, and to what extent it is possible for students to participate, through writing, in the study of literature as the central disciplinary content of English language arts. The corpus of data used in this study of an 11th grade International Baccalaureate (IB) classroom (26 students) consisted of classroom instruction (video-recordings and field notes) that occurred across an initial instructional unit (September 8th to November 3rd). Of particular importance is a summative writing assignment, teacher interviews and collaborative data analysis (with video clips), student interviews about instruction and their writing, samples of student writing, and related documents. We also analyzed two essays written by the two case study students in response to a writing assignment that the teacher, described as an IB “literary commentary with an unspecified topic” that she reframed as a literary argument.
Discourse analysis of a series of events within instructional conversations revealed that rather than prescribed forms, the teacher offered “possible” writerly moves for her students’ arguing to learn. Consequently, her students enacted their writerly moves in a variety of patterns suggestive of disciplinary ways of knowing in English language arts rather than in a pre-set formula that they had learned in previous grades. In order to trace how the students enacted modes of participation (procedural display and deep participation) in disciplinary activity (literary argumentation) as writing practices and shifting writer identities we also conducted a multi-phased and multi-layered analysis using procedures based off of previous intertextual analysis scholarship and backward mapping processes.
How to Cite
Copyright (c) 2021 George E. Newell, Theresa Siemer Thanos, Matt Seymour
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
LiCS is committed to an online open-access publishing model that encourages collaboration, innovation, and a broader dissemination of research and ideas. Submissions should be original, previously unpublished work not currently submitted for publication elsewhere. We do not charge authors publication fees. Authors retain the copyright to their work as well as an exclusive right to publishing without restrictions; readers may use the work following the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 Unported license.