Act of Teaching English

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The 24 studies in this book explore discrete teaching acts such as proximity and use of touch, the first two minutes of class, question formation and creating authentic conversations. Each of the studies compares the responses of students in the four teachers’ classrooms. The major sections of the book investigate four crucial classroom concerns: Impinging Phenomenon, Structuring Instruction, Imposing, and Learning Dynamics. The studies are offered to help readers understand the impact that seemingly small teaching differences make as measured by their students’ responses. Because each of the studies examines the same teaching act in four teachers’ classrooms, some important differences are found that may cause readers to institute these teaching acts in their own classes and evaluate them by measuring the engagement of their own students.


“ ,,, As the editors point out in their introduction, the authors of these papers do not have ‘deeply entrenched pedagogical or philosophical positions.’ These young teachers are able to observe closely with eyes unclouded by ideology, and consequently offer fresh perceptions of original findings. Because their observations are carried out in the classrooms of experienced teachers who display vastly different approaches and styles, the importance and nuances of context are made obvious, and the virtue of taking a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to curriculum and instruction implicitly are called into question .... When these authors document and analyze teaching acts by carrying out what the editors call ‘a protracted and exacting form of reflection,’ they make visible the teachers’ invisible decisions and enrich their understanding as well as ours ... ” – (from the Foreword) Professor Eileen Landay, Brown University

“ ... These writers provide a fresh look, one which offers rational, insightful glimpses into the classrooms of four respected, professional teacher leaders. From a teacher educator’s perspective, I could see how the authors genuinely and gently conducted their classroom-based research, a process which clearly guided their own learning. Watching their perspectives change as the process evolved reminded me that the research process creates the researcher. This book would be welcome in a teacher research class or as part of a methods class that includes a focus on classroom-based research.” – Professor Carol Pope, North Carolina State University

Table of Contents

Foreword by Eileen Landay

I. Impinging Phenomena
1. Emily Dolim – One-on-One Interactions in the English Classroom
2. Melanie Fehrenbacher – The Effect of Oral Feedback
3. Cameron Morris Meador – Proximity, Touch, and Participation

II. Structuring Instruction
4. Marcus Eure – Opening Salvos: The First Five Minutes
5. Elizabeth Cho – Student-Teacher Interaction Before and After the Bell
6. Mary Beth Braker – Transitions in the Classroom
7. Rodney Allen – To Sprint or Crawl
8. Kelli Zellner – Managing Classroom Outbursts
9. Jennifer Rawlings – The Last Five Minutes

III. Imposing Questions
10. Mary Stokes – Examining English Teachers’ Questions
11. Katherine Greene – Controlled Chaos
12. John Brently Steele – Questioning Reformulation Patterns
13. Kathy Taylor – Teacher Response and Classroom Discussion
14. Anna Shirley – Wrong Answers and Raised Hands
15. Mary Beth Fay – Language Departures
16. Courtney Conanan – Teacher Corrections and Student Responses
17. Kiron Terrell – Teacher Response to Non-Standard Language

IV. Learning Dynamics
18. Mary Graciano – Creating Authentic Conversation
19. Stella Beale Allen – Developing Conversation
20. Angela Watkins – Teaching Outside the Box
21. Rebecca Johnson – Contemporary Allusions in the English Classroom
22. Rebecca Nunan – Student Gender and Class Participation
23. Connie Pullum – Maximizing Discourse
24. Joan Ferran – Frequency and Depth of Moral Discussion

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