Troubling teacher talk: The challenge of changing classroom discourse patterns

Year: 2005

Author: Culican, Sarah Jane

Type of paper: Refereed paper

The middle years is a crucial stage of schooling where the gap in student achievement widens, and progress for some students slows significantly. Despite recent moves towards middle school reform and improved literacy standards, there remains a gap in literacy provision for young adolescent learners considered to be 'educationally disadvantaged' or 'at risk'. Many literacy intervention programs offered to underachieving adolescents fail to articulate to mainstream curriculum and assessment practices, or to scaffold students adequately in meeting the literacy demands of an increasingly abstract and specialised curriculum. Often underpinned by an individual deficit view of literacy failure, these programs lead to a differentiated curriculum which potentially compounds 'risk' and maintains stratified outcomes.

This paper is based on research into a literacy pedagogy which aims to scaffold students in accessing the literate discourses of schooling. Fundamental to this scaffolding approach, developed with Indigenous students, is rewriting traditional patterns of teacher-student interaction, or classroom pedagogic discourses, particularly those that take place around texts. In this paper, I explore issues surrounding the analysis of student and teacher talk, drawing on lesson transcripts and frameworks which allow particular attention to be paid to the challenges facing teachers in adopting new patterns of classroom talk.