Effective new literacies pedagogy in a 7th grade classroom: The "nerd-mama" teacher, makerspaces, and high-stakes assessment
Reed, Leah M.
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This was an instrumental case study (i.e., Stake, 1995) of an exemplary teacher and the students from one of her 7th grade ELA classes. The collection of data investigated a New Literacies teaching stance that also managed testing and standards requirements. Research questions for this study included: (1) In what ways, if any, does the teacher take and implement a New Literacies stance in her classroom in a school and policy context that press for higher test scores?; (2) What do the New Literacies practices she initiates look like in action in these contexts?; (3) How do students engage with and respond to these practices, if at all? As a qualitative case study (i.e., Creswell, 2007; Kaarbo & Beasley, 1999), data were collected using ethnographic methods (i.e., Glesne, 2006; De Munck & Sobo, 1998). Data sources included: (1) Over 100 pages of field notes from 30 classroom observations; (2) Teacher and student artifacts including lesson plans, assignments, and scores; (3) Audio recordings and transcripts of over 20 teacher interviews and talks throughout the time at the school; (4) 2 student questionnaires; and (5) Audio recordings and transcripts of 9 focal student interviews. Open coding (Ely, 1991), discourse analysis (Gee, 2011), and the constant-comparative method (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) were used in data analysis. Through New Literacies pedagogy, Mrs. Blazel positioned students as capable and active participators in learning, shifting the traditional educational paradigm. I found that despite straying from traditional pedagogy, Mrs. Blazel’s students more than met high-stakes assessment scores and flourished in her classroom. This research contributes to the growing field of research on NL teaching, learning, high-stakes assessments in education.