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Identifying transitions from whole-class teaching to small group work in primary classrooms
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Paper presented at the 3rd Redesigning Pedagogy International Conference, Singapore, 1 - 3 June 2009
Transitions from whole-class teaching to small group work are important units for analysis not only for establishing the presence of group work but also for examining the contextual conditions for group learning. Studies have shown that the ‘open’ or closed’contextual conditions set up through the teacher's use of language to introduce the group activity influence the quality of pupil’s talk and interthinking (Corden, 2000; Mercer, 2000). The complexity of transitions, however, has not been fully characterized in the research literature. Very often transitions are coded impressionistically – e.g. when the teacher starts to give instructions to pupils to work in small groups. In our on-going study of transitions, we propose a mixed-method approach involving a combination of discourse-oriented and corpusbased analyses to identify and define transitions. In this paper, we present the first part of the procedural framework we are attempting to establish for our study. A specific stage in lessons where teachers introduce learners to and prepare them for group activities is identified by such discourse features as change in the interaction pattern, linguistic evidence of boundary markers, speech acts performed by utterances, and Zones of Interactional Transition (ZIT)(Markee, 2004). The initial analyses will reveal how teachers orchestrate conditions of entry into group work and how students are (un)successfully inducted into such tasks. The preliminary findings in this paper will help us to establish a list of lexical bundles for further analyses of a large corpus of lesson transcripts and to study pedagogical implications for the teacher’s use of language during transitions.
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