Sociocognitive Studies of Literary Instruction

In an article by Applebee et al., sociocognitive studies of literacy instruction is discussed.  It points to “high-quality discussion and exploration of ideas—not just the presentation of high-quality content by the teacher or text … [as being] central to the developing understanding of readers and writers” (688). Also they note that studies have “suggest[ed] that non-mainstream students—low achievers, children of the poor, and second-language learners—fare poorly in classrooms with traditional instructional approaches, which are structured in ways that fail to capitalize on these students’ strengths and instead magnify their weaknesses”(688-689). They suggest that such students would benefit from instruction that “builds on previous knowledge and current ideas and experiences, permits students to voice their understandings and refine them through substantive discussion with others and explicitly provides the new knowledge and strategies that students need to participate successfully  in the continuing discussion”(689).   We will be using the Reader Response Theory in order to “build on previous knowledge and current ideas and experiences”. Teacher resources will be offered that will supply the “new knowledge and strategies” mentioned by Applebee et al.  To provide the “new knowledge and strategies” this class will use such publications as Rethinking Multicultural Education, Teaching for Joy and Justice, Open Minds to Equality: Learning Activities to Affirm Diversity and Promote Equity, A People’s History for the Classroom, and The Line Between Us: Teaching About the Border and Mexican Immigration.  These publications are intended to promote knowledge and understanding of social justice issues, multicultural issues, and socio-political issues that affect schools, teachers, children, and communities.  These may prove to be  essential teacher resources for you to address student inquires and challenges in discussions within their classrooms.  They will also provide resources for your colleagues, parents, and administrators as well. We also will look at articles from the website of National Council of Teachers of of English (NCTE) as well as many others.

Applebee, Arthur N. Judith A. Langer, Martin Nystrand, and Adam Gamoran.   “Discussion-Based Approaches to Developing Understanding: Classroom Instruction and StudentPerformance in Middle and High School English.” American Educational Research Journal 40 (2003): 685-730.


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