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Volume 2, Issue 1

June 2014

2014 Annual Meeting Report


the Discussants and Chairs. On that note, the
ing was a great success, portal is now open for volunteering for these
with two informative roles at the 2015 meeting. Please consider
paper sessions that cov- volunteering in this capacity next year.
ered a range of topics
relevant to current in- The SIG business meeting was a wonderful
vestigations into con- opportunity for attendees meet our Outstandstructivist
practice. ing Conference Submission winner,
Thank you to the Ses- Dr. Suzanne Porath, as well to hear from Dr.
sion Chairs and Discus- Paul Vermette's presentation, Using the
sants for these sessions. E N G A G I N G framework to help p-12
Those serving as Ses- students construct their own understandsion Chairs were Dr. ing.Additionally, business was conducted
Linda Kroll and Dr. Terry Robertson. Those regarding the state of the SIG, including fiserving as Discussants were Dr. Kathy Schuh nances, election of officers, and the newly
and Dr. Patrick Jenlink. The sessions ran adopted SIG awards. A wine and cheese resmoothly, were well-attended, and the dis- ception and networking with SIG members
cussions that ensued were quite thought pro- rounded out the evening. All SIG members
voking. The quality of our SIG sessions re- are encouraged to consider attending the SIG
lies not only on the quality of papers being business meeting in Chicago at the 2015
presented, but also on the preparedness of meeting. We would love to meet you!

Newsletter

THE CONSTRUCTIVIST THEORY,


RESEARCH & PRACTICE SIG

The 2014 annual meet-

Conceptual, Pedagogical, Cultural, and Political


Dilemmas of Implementing a Constructivist Workshop
Approach to Teaching Literacy
Dr. Suzanne Porath: Edgewood College/Concordia University
As a pedagogical method, the reader's/writer's workshop approach has particular
components - such as mini-lessons, workshop time, conferences and sharing time - which
can be copied and instituted. Yet, a well-run workshop can still be very teacher directed
(Mulcahy, 2010) and not change the dynamics of traditional education. However, as a
change in epistemology, implementing a workshop approach can challenge the traditional
paradigm of teacher-focused instruction and transform the classroom to one in which students construct knowledge together and learn through active engagement in authentic reading and writing. This study focused on the epistemological shift two third-grade teachers
made as they managed the dilemmas of shifting from their previous traditional authoritarian
curriculum model and its recitation scripts to their new perspectives of constructing meaning and building knowledge together with their students. This shift forced the teachers to re
-examine their understandings of what teaching meant and what learning looked like in
their classrooms.
Windschitl (2002) provided four frames of reference to describe the dilemmas the
teachers encountered when implementing constructivist instruction including conceptual,
pedagogical, cultural and political dilemmas. One of the first conceptual dilemmas the
teachers had to confront was the question, What counts as knowledge and evidence of
learning? and the teachers began to interrogate what they believed the purpose of reading
was for themselves and their students. (continued on page 2)

Conceptual, Pedagogical, Cultural, and Political Dilemmas cont


As they were new to the workshop approach, many pedagogical dilemmas arose when they felt they did not have enough
expertise in the workshop approach to deviate from the published teacher guides. The teachers also felt cultural tensions
because of differing expectations and models for the roles of teacher and students in this new model for classroom interaction. Political dilemmas with administration and parents emerged as the teachers transformed their classroom environments from ones of production and assessment to environments of supportive discussion, construction and revision.
As the teachers learned to manage (not solve) the various dilemmas, they became more articulate and confident
in their new approaches to teaching and learning. Reporting this study validates the disquiet and discomfort teachers
may feel as they embrace new pedagogues and epistemologies - especially constructive approaches. It illustrates that
implementing a workshop approach is more than duplicating practices, but includes an understanding of methodological
and personal beliefs about teaching and learning and highlights the need to understand any curriculum's epistemology
when implementing it. Finally, it encourages administrators to recognize that change is messy and implementation of
curriculum may not be smooth as teachers need time and space to take risks and reflect on their work.

Congratulations Dr. Jannah Nerren


In

April 2014, Dr. Jannah Nerren, our


SIG Chair, received the Service Learning Excellence Award from Stephen F.
Austin State University. Jannah was
recognized for her work and dedication
in creating an extensive mentoring program that partners preservice teacher
candidates with elementary students
from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Here is what the elementary school principal where the mentoring program is
located had to say about Jannah mentorship program: With one year of the
project behind us, we are already seeing an impact with

our selected students and know the future will be much


brighter for each one chosen. We believe our students
will not only gain academically but also socially and
emotionally through this mentoring project. Additionally, one of the pre-service teacher candidates shared the
following about the mentoring program: I have formed
a bond with my student that will always be with me. This
is a bond that could have never come from reading about
a study in a textbook. Having the one-on-one relationship and interaction has been life-changing for me.
These comments reflect the impact and difference that
this mentoring program is making in the lives of everyone involved. Congratulations, Jannah, for your award
and for making a difference!

Deadline for Paper and Session Submissions is July 22: Please review the Call for Submissions as it contains
important information about this years Annual Meeting theme and submission requirements.
Volunteer to Serve as a Chair or Discussant by August 29: Please review the Call for Volunteer Session Chairs and
Discussants and consider volunteering. The quality of the AERA Annual Meeting depends on education researchers
with appropriate expertise who serve as chairs and discussants for paper sessions and roundtables.
For more information: http://www.aera.net/EventsMeetings/AnnualMeeting/tabid/10208/Default.aspx
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T H E C O N S T R U CT I V I S T T H E O R Y , R E S E A R C H & PR A CT I C E S I G