Just Doing Our Jobs: A Case Study of Literacy-in-Action in a Fifth Grade Literature Circle
Keywords:Reading, New Literacies, Actor-Network-Theory
This case study examines the use of literature circles in a fifth grade classroom. Using the concept of literacy-in-action, it examines the question of why, in spite of critique, the use of defined student roles continues to dominate literature circle pedagogy. The study’s examination of the interaction of people, objects, practices and meanings associated with this particular classroom’s literature circles, demonstrates the way in which reliance on one particular literacy object, the role sheet, worked to radically alter the intended pedagogical purpose and meanings set out by those who first popularized literature circles. Through its travels to and from the fifth grade classroom, the role sheet accumulated an increasing status or power, along with a peculiar resistance to critique. The examination sheds light on the tensions and contradictions that arise when an instructional routine is transplanted from one context to another, a phenomenon occurring daily in classrooms worldwide. The findings illustrate the unintended consequences that arise when a literacy object is used as a proxy for the human mediation traditionally, and necessarily, associated with meaningful literacy pedagogies.
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