The eye of the beholder: An English teacher's attempt to transform her teaching through digital video composing
Knips, Merridy A.
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Arguments for reforming urban schools to include 21 st century learning tools focus on the current state of high drop out rates and student disengagement as trends that need to be addressed. A mature multimodal composing project in partnership with an urban school addressed these issues through digital video composing for students as part of the curriculum. My purpose in this longitudinal case study was to trace the path of a young English teacher out of professional development and into her classroom to understand her learning and pedagogical change as she introduced digital video composing for students. As a participant- observer in her classroom over a three year period, I documented her teaching while she worked to overcome numerous obstacles occurring due to the school district's changes in leadership and curricular vision. Data included fieldnotes, videotapes, interviews, classroom artifacts, and school district documents. Findings show how the teacher's personal, institutional and relational dynamics influenced her decisions as she attempted to include this technology as a new literacy tool for student learning. By following project materials and assignments, she began to make a shift towards developing a New Literacies stance during the first year as she facilitated students in creating their own stories. However, the following year, when computer access and increasing demands by administrators impacted her teaching, she took control of editing the videos, and students returned to their traditional roles as participants in the meaning making rather than creators. Over time, she included technologies as personal efficiency tools rather than the social literacy practices promoted by the project. Her professional stance towards her students undermined her attempts to connect with them. The priority of test preparation for timed essay writing overrode all other considerations as the personal, institutional and professional issues converged to undermine innovative pedagogy in her classroom. In contrasting her experience with another teacher in vii the building, this case provides a microcosm of the fate of this project in the school district. Situating the case within the framework for adaptive expertise, culturally relevant pedagogy, and Multimodal Literacy Pedagogy provides explanatory theories to account for the cross-currents at work in the teacher and her classes, including her inability to perceive the engagement and thinking that her students exhibited through multimodal composing as real learning.