EXPLORING THE READING NON-ENGAGEMENT OF TWO GRADE SIX STUDENTS DURING SUSTAINED SILENT READING by Gregory Bryan A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Language and Literacy Education) THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA (Vancouver) November 2009 © Gregory Bryan, 2009 ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to investigate notions of engagement and nonengagement within sustained silent reading (SSR) in a grade six classroom in a metropolitan city in one of Canada‘s western provinces. The study explored what two students, identified by their teacher as non-engaged during SSR, had to say about SSR and reading. The study also identified factors that appeared to influence the children‘s SSR non-engagement. The students were observed during SSR over seven-and-a-half weeks. Each child participated in seven semi-structured interviews with the researcher, for a total of two hours of semi-structured interviews each. Other data collection methods were employed. Amongst other things, the students were observed in other classroom contexts. The students also completed an attitude survey. The things the students said were categorised. Despite 17 categories, the top 3 categories accounted for almost half of all the things the students said. Almost one-fifth (18.01%) of ideas were social remarks. The next highest ranks were remarks classified as discussion of text content (16.33%) and strategy use (12.4%). These figures and other data suggested that, although the students often were non-engaged during SSR, they were engaged readers in some settings, at some times. Although much of the research literature describes readers as engaged or not, this study demonstrated that such a view may be too simplistic. Based upon a variety of data sources, 11 factors were identified that appeared to have contributed to the students‘ non-engagement. These factors included the expectation of silence, as well as problematic perceptions of the purpose of SSR. Low motivation, limited ii perceptions of the usefulness of reading, and negative attitudes all seemed to contribute to the students‘ non-engagement. Other contributing factors appeared related to the classroom structure; for instance, the classroom library housed only limited attractive text options. There was also a limited sense of a classroom literacy community. In light of these findings, the author suggests the need to reconsider the one-size-fitsall model of SSR. Suggestions are provided for ways that teachers might restructure classroom reading in order to increase the likelihood of student engagement. iii TABLE OF CONTENTS Page Abstract .................................................................................................................................... ii Table of Contents ................................................................................................................... iv List of Tables ............................................................................................................................x List of Figures ......................................................................................................................... xi Acknowledgements ............................................................................................................... xii Dedication ............................................................................................................................. xiii Chapter 1. Introduction ..........................................................................................................1 Background to the Problem ...........................................................................................2 Statement of the Problem ...............................................................................................7 The Purpose and Questions for the Study ......................................................................8 Research Questions ........................................................................................................9 The Researcher.............................................................................................................10 Overview of Other Chapters ........................................................................................11 Chapter 2. Review of Related Literature .............................................................................13 Literacy as a Social Practice ........................................................................................13 Sustained Silent Reading .............................................................................................28 History..............................................................................................................31 Potential Importance ........................................................................................33 Rationale ..........................................................................................................34 Format ..............................................................................................................34 iv SSR as a Potential Motivator ...........................................................................35 Problems ..........................................................................................................36 Assumptions.....................................................................................................38 Need for More Study .......................................................................................41 Engagement..................................................................................................................43 Aesthetic Reading ............................................................................................46 Increasing Engagement ....................................................................................47 Characteristics of Reading Engagement ..........................................................49 Flow .................................................................................................................52 Gambrell‘s Diagram of the Engaged Reader ..................................................55 Non-engagement: A Study Definition .............................................................57 Motivation ........................................................................................................58 Social Interaction .........................................................................................................65 Notions of Support ...........................................................................................66 Conversations ...................................................................................................68 Authentic Conversations ..................................................................................70 A Missing Link ............................................................................................................72 Summary of this Literature Review Chapter ...............................................................75 Chapter 3. Method .................................................................................................................77 Research Site ................................................................................................................77 Participants ...................................................................................................................80 Participant Selection ........................................................................................80 Number of Participants ....................................................................................84 v Procedure .....................................................................................................................84 Data Collection ............................................................................................................90 Classroom Observations ..................................................................................90 Observations of Study Participants During SSR .............................................91 Semi-Structured Interviews with the Teacher..................................................98 Motivation to Read Profile...............................................................................99 Audiotaping and Transcription of Semi-Structured Interviews .....................100 Data Analysis .............................................................................................................102 Data Analysis for Classroom Observations ...................................................102 Data Analysis for Observations of Study Participants During SSR ..............103 Data Analysis for Semi-Structured Interviews with the Teacher ..................105 Data Analysis for Motivation to Read Profile ...............................................106 Data Analysis for the Transcriptions of Semi-Structured Interviews ............107 Summary of this Methods Chapter ............................................................................122 Chapter 4. Results ................................................................................................................124 The Study Setting .......................................................................................................125 The School .....................................................................................................126 The Teacher ...................................................................................................130 The Classroom ...............................................................................................130 SQUIRT Time ................................................................................................151 Jobe ............................................................................................................................156 Description of Jobe ........................................................................................156 What Jobe had to Say About Reading ...........................................................159 vi Jobe‘s Social Activity and Possible Relationships with Literacy ..................163 Evidence of Jobe Engaged Outside SSR .......................................................169 Jobe‘s SSR Struggles .....................................................................................171 Other Things Jobe Said About Reading.........................................................180 Jobe‘s Description of Engagement ................................................................185 Jobe: In Summary ..........................................................................................187 Nadia ..........................................................................................................................188 Description of Nadia ......................................................................................189 What Nadia had to Say About Reading .........................................................192 Nadia‘s Social Activity and Possible Relationships with Literacy................196 Nadia‘s Lack of Engagement with Traditional Paper and Ink Texts .............205 Nadia‘s SSR Struggles ...................................................................................208 Other Things Nadia Said About Reading ......................................................216 Nadia‘s Discussion of Engagement ...............................................................223 Nadia: In Summary ........................................................................................224 Combined Summary Table of what Jobe and Nadia had to Say................................224 Summary of this Results Chapter in Relation to the Research Questions .................228 Chapter 5. Discussion ..........................................................................................................230 Significance of the Study Findings in Relation to Pedagogical Practice ...................230 Factors That Appeared to Impact Jobe and Nadia‘s Non-Engagement During SSR ..................................................................234 Limited Attractive Text Options for SSR Reading ............................235 vii A Problematic Notion of There Being a ―Correct‖ Type of SSR Reading Material ..............................................................239 The Expectation of Silence During SSR ............................................241 An Absence of Discussions About SSR Reading ..............................243 A Problematic Perception of the Purpose of SSR ..............................244 Being Allowed Outside for SSR ........................................................248 Often Negative Attitudes About Reading ..........................................250 A Low Motivation to Read ................................................................251 Limited Perceptions of the Usefulness of Reading ............................253 A Low Task Value of Reading ..........................................................254 A Limited Sense of Being a Part of a Classroom Literacy Community .....................................................................255 A Summary of the Factors That Appeared to Impact Non-Engagement During SSR ...............................................................................................256 Theoretical and Research Implications ......................................................................257 Limitations of the Study.............................................................................................264 Concluding Remarks ..................................................................................................269 References .............................................................................................................................271 Children‘s Literature Cited ................................................................................................291 Appendices ............................................................................................................................292 Appendix A. Research Ethics Certificate of Approval ..............................................293 Appendix B. Research Ethics Certificate of Approval of Amendment .....................294 Appendix C. Interview Prompts ................................................................................295 viii Appendix D. SSR Observation Sheet ........................................................................298 Appendix E. Transcription Conventions Employed for this Study ...........................299 Appendix F. Jobe‘s Motivation to Read Profile ........................................................303 Appendix G. Nadia‘s Motivation to Read Profile .....................................................311 Appendix H. Nadia‘s ―Yeah‖ Response Transcript Extract ......................................319 Appendix I. Example #1 of the Brevity of Some of Nadia‘s Responses ...................321 Appendix J. Example #2 of the Brevity of Some of Nadia‘s Responses ...................323 ix LIST OF TABLES 1. Reflections of Non-Adherance to the SSR Routines ...........................................................95 2. Categories Used to Code the Transcripts of the Recorded Semi-structured interviews ....111 3. Explanation of the Examples Used for the Different Coding Categories ..........................117 4. Home Language of Students Attending Seacoast Elementary ..........................................128 5. Age of Students Attending Seacoast Elementary School ..................................................129 6. Snapshot #1 of SSR Reading Choices ...............................................................................154 7. Snapshot #2 of SSR Reading Choices ...............................................................................155 8. Number of Ideas Expressed by Jobe in Each of the Seven Recorded Semi-Structured Interviews .....................................................................................................................160 9. Observations of Jobe During SSR .....................................................................................174 10. Summary of Attitude Survey Results ..............................................................................191 11. Number of Ideas Expressed by Nadia in Each of the Seven Recorded SemiStructured Interviews ...................................................................................................193 12. Observations of Nadia During SSR .................................................................................202 13. Total Ideas Expressed in Recorded Semi-Structured Interviews .....................................226 x LIST OF FIGURES 1. Reading in Context ................................................................................................................4 2. This Study‘s Situated Literacy Context ...............................................................................15 3. Gambrell‘s Diagram of the Engaged Reader .......................................................................56 4. An Individual and Various Contexts....................................................................................79 5. Examples of Daily Schedules Written on the Blackboard .................................................135 6. Weekly Schedule for Ms. Robins‘ Class ...........................................................................136 7. SSR as an Island Apart ......................................................................................................245 8. Making Connections Between SSR and the Language Arts Programme ..........................247 9. SSR as an Integrated Component of the Language Arts Programme ................................248 xi ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS This thesis has been far and away the toughest thing that I have ever done. As such, I could not have finished without the assistance and encouragement of many people. First and foremost, a big thank you to my wife, Jennifer. She kept telling me I could do it, even when I didn‘t believe her. I am grateful for the patience and encouragement of the people at University of Manitoba. Drs. John Wiens, Francine Morin and Jon Young all had my welfare in mind and provided supportive leadership. I would not have finished without Dr. Wayne Serebrin. Without him, when things were blackest, all would have been lost. I am indebted to the many people who provided direction at The University of British Columbia—among others, Drs. Deb Butler, Theresa Rogers, Marilyn Chapman, Margot Filipenko, Rob Tierney and Jon Shapiro. I need also to thank Anne Eastham for her cheerful outlook and assistance as Language and Literacy Education Graduate Programs Assistant. A big thank you to Dr. Jim Anderson. As my thesis supervisor, he has suffered with me throughout this process. Somehow, we made it to the other side. Thank you, Jim. We have suffered enough. xii To Jennifer and also to my parents and to Bronwyn and Tegwen xiii 1 CHAPTER 1 Introduction ―It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us…‖ – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities. The paradoxes that mark the beginning to Charles Dickens‘ (1859/1995) classic tale of the French Revolution, A Tale of Two Cities, suggest that two seemingly mutually exclusive possibilities may co-exist. So it is here. In what follows—my tale of two students—I report on two grade six students from the same class, a boy named Jobe and a girl named Nadia. Note that, throughout this report, all names of participants and classroom members are pseudonyms. Their classroom teacher, Ms. Robins, had identified both Jobe and Nadia as being non-engaged during classroom sustained silent reading (SSR) time. Non-engaged students are often passive, inactive readers who lack confidence in their abilities and seldom see reading as pleasurable (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Yet, both students were engaged in some reading contexts. Both students revealed significant reservations about reading, yet both became animatedly enthusiastic in speaking about reading at other times. Other than the fact that the teacher identified them as nonengaged readers, the students selected to participate in this study were not what is generally termed struggling readers (i.e., students who have formally been identified as having any learning or reading difficulties). Indeed, Ms. Robins reported that both students‘ reading abilities 2 were average or above average for their age. Despite sharing these characteristics, both students also demonstrated divergent, sometimes seemingly opposite, behaviours and attitudes. Jobe seemed to revel in a circle of friends. Nadia talked largely of one friend. Jobe spoke of doing reading so that he was not isolated from the conversations of friends. Nadia, on the other hand, reported that she did not care about others. The similarities and the differences that characterised Jobe and Nadia played a significant role in each individual‘s reading life. These similarities and differences are central to the tale that I here intend to tell—my tale of two students. Background to the Problem The present study was designed to explore reading engagement, with a particular focus upon engagement in reading during classroom SSR time. As such, the background to the problem this study confronts is located primarily in notions of reading engagement and, of necessity, the reading process. Further background information is found in ideas about the influence of context upon reading, including the role of the classroom context in school reading and, most specifically for this study, the classroom SSR context. Engagement is central to the essence of what it means to be a reader (Au, 1999). As such, any practice that helps children engage in reading is important. Engaged readers invest time into reading and are capable of concentrating on the task, even blocking out potential distractions. Engaged readers are motivated, strategic, confident in their abilities, and enjoy reading. Many children, however, spend little time reading at all, but particularly in reading because they see it as a pleasurable or worthwhile activity (Guthrie & Greaney, 1991). Many children—many nonengaged readers—merely see reading as something one has to do, or is forced to do. The ability and inclination to read do not come naturally. Helping children develop a reader‘s identity 3 (Sumara, 1998) often requires careful attention (Lesesne, 1991). In the opinion of Guthrie and Anderson (1999), much of what the world considers to be important to know and to do is dependent upon engagement, and so fostering students‘ reading engagement should be the goal of all educators (Baker, Dreher, & Guthrie, 2000). Reading engagement is important, yet we do not know enough about it, including what children think about engagement and what factors facilitate or inhibit it. Indeed, it might be argued that some of our current understandings of engagement and other aspects of the affective domain are not only limited, but also contradictory (Mele, 2003). What we do know is that, despite its importance, some children fail to engage in reading. Thus, the question remains, how can we help non-engaged readers become engaged readers? Sustained silent reading time in classrooms is intended to offer students an opportunity to select their own materials and participate in reading for their own purposes and without interruptions (Pilgreen, 2000). It has been suggested that SSR should be regarded as the pinnacle of reading instruction (Hunt, 1984). It is also believed that SSR can be a means through which reading engagement can be developed (Krashen, 2005). As such, this study investigated notions of reading engagement within the SSR setting. The practice of sustained silent reading is incorporated into the literacy programme of numerous schoolteachers (Nagy, Campenni, & Shaw, 2000). This practice tends to be popular, not only with teachers (Baumann, Hoffman, Duffy-Hester, & Moon Ro, 2000; Baumann, Hoffman, Moon, & Duffy-Hester, 1998; Manning & Manning, 1984; Pressley, Yokoi, & Rankin 2000; Robertson, Keating, Shenton, & Roberts, 1996), but also with students (Fisher, 2004; McCracken, 1971; Robertson et al., 1996). It is widely embraced because it is seen to provide students with an ideal opportunity to participate in the total act of reading—putting into practice, 4 all at one time, those various skills and strategies students have been taught about how to read and how to become a better reader (Efta, 1984). Regardless of the popularity or theoretical efficacy of any reading practice, however, it must be remembered that a given practice takes place within a certain context (see Figure 1). This context greatly influences the practice and the day-to-day workings of individual students participating in that practice. The context represents the social setting within which reading takes place, and this context influences children‘s motivation to read (Moje, 2006). Context Reading event Figure 1. Reading in context. In this particular study, the reading event represented as being situated in the middle of Figure 1 is engagement in reading during SSR time. The context for the reading event is, however, considerably greater than just the classroom sustained silent reading practice and will be more fully discussed and illustrated in chapter 2. For the time being, I limit my consideration to the contextual setting of SSR because of its particular relevance to this study. Sustained silent reading is intended to be positive and relaxed in nature and to foster reading engagement (Efta, 1984; Krashen, 2005). In reality, however, we do not yet know 5 enough about the impact of time devoted to SSR. Not enough research has been conducted investigating just what it is that children are thinking and doing during that time set aside for SSR (National Reading Panel, 2000). In spite of support for the practice of SSR, there is recognition that some children derive little benefit from, and fail to make good use of, sustained silent reading time (Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000; Stahl, 2004). At the same time, it is acknowledged that social interactions, such as talking about reading, help to interest and even captivate readers (Almasi, 1996). While an individual‘s literacy development necessitates many independent experiences, the motivation and purpose for most literacy work is socially oriented (Zemelman, Daniels, & Hyde, 1998). Literacy is largely about communication and expression. It is the desire to communicate with others that motivates many of the literary acts that we perform. We often read so that we might understand others. We often write for the purpose of expressing ourselves and conveying information to other people. For some children, the silent, isolating conditions of SSR, therefore, might contribute to the problem of non-engagement. As such, this practice may see some children not taking full advantage of what is, in effect, critical time for reading development. Furthermore, the time set aside for SSR—when children might be disengaged—can add up to a significant portion of classroom time. Reading is an interactive-constructive process in which readers comprehend, interpret, and respond to text according to what they already know and according to the context in which the reading is taking place. Effective readers: have personal expectations about what they will get from a selection, and they bring those expectations to bear as they read by predicting and testing their predictions. They actively create meaning by constructing, or generating, 6 relationships between what is within the text and what they already know. (Hennings, 1994, p. 456) Freebody and Luke‘s (Freebody, 1992; Freebody & Luke, 1990) four resources model of reading emphasises the different roles that a successful reader adopts as s/he navigates texts. Freebody and Luke stress the necessity of a reader‘s ability to perform the interrelated tasks of a code breaker, a meaning-maker, a text user and a critical text analyst. Capable readers simultaneously decode, comprehend, use and analyse the textual components that they encounter. These simultaneous operations involve the interaction of various cueing systems— schematic, graphophonic, syntactic, and semantic—within a given context. As well as employing the cueing systems, readers also flexibly and independently employ a variety of reading comprehension strategies, such as sampling, predicting, inferring, confirming, and correcting. They do this for a variety of purposes and they do this with a critical eye toward how well their purposes are being satisfied. Rosenblatt (1978) insists it is necessary for these types of transactions to take place between the reader, the author, and the text in order for a mere paper and ink record to be transformed into a text of greater significance. The Poem is Rosenblatt‘s term for the whole reading event, and she says that the Poem is the ―experience shaped by the reader under the guidance of the text‖ (p. 12). This event is a process that encompasses the various offerings of both the author‘s text and the reader‘s life. Thus, even when a reader reads by him or herself, that reader is still involved in an interaction—indeed, one form of a social event—with the author. In Rosenblatt‘s transactional model of reading, the reader starts where the author ends. Rosenblatt employs the term transactional to describe her model of reading because it implies that the relationship between the reader and the text is not a linear one. Rather, the reader is constantly 7 acting upon the text, while at the same time; the text is acting upon, or influencing, the reader. Thus, engagement in reading is a dynamic process with the reader as an active, involved participant. In light of the New Literacy Studies (e.g., Barton,1994; Gee, 2000; Street, 1993b), literacy is now recognised as a situated phenomenon—the ways that people use and understand literacy vary according to the situation. With the New Literacy Studies, a shift in focus occurred, providing the genesis for an increased awareness of, and sensitivity toward, the social and cultural aspects and roles of literacy, and how social and cultural interactions influence readers. Gee (2000) reasons that literacy makes sense only in light of the context in which it takes place. Literacy is culturally situated and indicative of the broader social practices that sustain, and are sustained by, literacy practices (Bruner, 1996). Just what literacy is depends upon the context in which it occurs. Thus, in thinking deeply about reading, it is imperative to recognise the context in which the reading is taking place. As such, in this thesis, I endeavour to provide a deep, detailed description of the study setting. Statement of the Problem Despite considerable support for the practice of sustained silent reading (Krashen, 2005; Garan & DeVoogd, 2009), it is generally conceded that some children do not read during SSR time (Gambrell, 1978; Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000; Moore, Jones, & Miller, 1980; Robertson et al., 1996; Stahl, 2004). Theoretically, SSR provides conditions in which students can practice and develop their reading. It is intended to provide an opportunity for children to put all of their skills and strategies to work while they interact and participate with a text. Rather than merely learning about reading, children get to read. The problem is that we really do not yet know a lot 8 about what happenis during SSR. SSR is an imposed classroom practice that denies students some of the freedoms that otherwise exists when people participate in periods of sustained reading in other contexts. For instance, when reading at home on the couch, a reader can engage deeply in the exercise. That reader, however, has the freedom, if s/he so chooses, to do such things as simultaneously sip from a cool drink, listen to favourite music, pause from reading to consider text events, or to ask a question of someone else within the room. In classroom SSR, the student is not afforded such liberties. SSR provides what are, effectively, artificial reading conditions. Where else are 30 children asked to sit in silence for 20 to 30 minutes, attending only to the texts before them on that given day? In ignoring (or trying to ignore) the presence of the other people in the room, the conditions created are not only artificial but, indeed, potentially sterile. Silence becomes a governing principle and so interaction is limited only to that between the reader and the text, ignoring or eliminating the potential benefits that may be derived from interactions between the reader and other class members. The Purpose and Questions for the Study Building on my previous work (Bryan, 2001; Bryan, Fawson, & Reutzel, 2003), the research reported here further investigates notions of reading engagement within the SSR setting. Sustained silent reading is suggested by some research as a way of developing and reinforcing skilled and fluent reading behaviours, which are highly correlated with general academic achievement (Cunningham & Stanovich, 2003). This view suggests that reading is a skill that needs to be practised, rather than being something that students can master through merely learning about reading. 9 This study was framed by Vygotsky‘s social interaction theory of learning. According to this theory, human cognitive development is dependent upon social interaction with others. Development of our higher mental functions is not possible in isolation. Vygotsky (1978) states: ―Every function in the child‘s cultural development appears twice: first, on the social level, and later, on the individual level; first, between people…and then inside the child‖ (p. 57, emphasis added). It is necessary for the social level—the interactions—to be in place in order for individual, internal, higher mental development to take place. The general purpose of this study was to investigate notions of engagement and nonengagement within sustained silent reading. Within this general purpose, one specific purpose of the study was to develop a fuller understanding and description of the complex nature of reading engagement, particularly as it pertains to student engagement during SSR. As a part of this purpose, in this study I was interested to see what readers who are identified by their teacher as being non-engaged during SSR had to say about reading. Furthermore, I was interested to see what factors might influence a child‘s non-engagement in reading during SSR. In light of what I discovered, an additional purpose was to contemplate what teachers might do to assist their nonengaged readers, particularly pertaining to helping them to engage in reading during SSR time. Research Questions With the above problem and purposes in mind, my intent was to answer the following research questions: 1. What do students who are identified as non-engaged readers during sustained silent reading (SSR) say about their reading? 2. What factors appear to impact non-engagement of individuals during SSR? 10 The Researcher Given these research questions and the methodology selected for this study, whereby I participate in semi-structured interviews with the study participants, it is important for the reader to understand a little about me. This positioning is important to the reader because of the interpretive nature of this study. In other words, as I interpret the data, I am effectively telling a story from a particular point of view—my point of view—and so the reader must have some awareness of that viewpoint. I am a Caucasian male and, at the time of writing, I am 42 years old. I was in my late 30s at the time of data collection and was then a university graduate student teaching assistant. For the past four years, I have been a professor in a Canadian university Faculty of Education, teaching literacy education and children‘s literature courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels. My research background includes the completion of a Master‘s thesis (Bryan, 2001), in which I demonstrated my ability to conduct informative interviews with children and to interpret a variety of data related to reading engagement. Prior to the commencement of my graduate studies, I had four years of teaching experience, including teaching Middle Years students such as the children participating in this study. As a teacher, I used to tell my students that I considered SSR to be the most important time of the school day, in that it was a chance for the students to practice the things they had been learning about reading. At the same time, however, it always bothered me that some children did not appear to read very much during SSR. Although I have lived in North America for many years, I was born and raised in Australia and still speak with a noticeable Australian accent. I live in a middle class neighbourhood. I was raised in a lower middle class family in which literacy was encouraged and facilitated. For example, all of the family read a daily national newspaper and a local newspaper that was printed 11 three times per week. There were a lot of books in our house and we regularly gave and received books for gifts. This information helps the reader to position me as the thesis author and the interpreter of the data. The reader is encouraged to bear these things in mind as s/he proceeds with reading this thesis. Overview of Other Chapters In chapter 2 of this thesis, I present my literature review. In particular, the chapter focuses on the view of literacy as a social practice, the role of sustained silent reading as it pertains to literacy learning, the notion of engagement in children‘s literacy development, and the impact of classroom social interaction. Chapter 3 discusses the research methodology adopted for the study. A variety of data collection methods was utilized, including classroom observations, SSR observations, completion of the Motivation to Read Profile (Gambrell, Palmer, Codling, & Mazzoni, 1996), audiotaping and transcription of semi-structured interviews with the two children, and semistructured interviews with their teacher. The chapter then discusses the process of data analysis undertaken for this study. In chapter 4, I present the findings of the study. Given that this study focuses on two child participants, the study findings are presented for each of these two children, Jobe and Nadia. In this chapter, I also provide a detailed description of Jobe and Nadia and the setting in which this study was conducted. Chapter 5 consists of three sections. The first section focuses on the significance of the study findings and discusses them in terms of their implications for pedagogical practice. In the 12 second section, I discuss how the findings contribute to engagement research and theoretical perspectives. In the third section, I acknowledge the limitations of the study. 13 CHAPTER 2 Review of Related Literature The present chapter offers a review of theoretical perspectives and research findings from a variety of academic disciplines, subject areas, and research traditions that are relevant to this study. The intent of this review is to provide the reader with the major studies and theoretical works relevant to this area, as well as furnish background for the theoretical framework within which this study was conducted. The literature reviewed centres upon four principal areas: literacy as a social practice; sustained silent reading; engagement; and social interaction within the classroom. Literacy as a Social Practice Literacy is now recognised as a situated phenomenon (Barton, Hamilton, & Ivanič, 2000; Gee, 2004). That is to say, that what literacy means, does, represents, involves, and accomplishes, will vary according to the situation. This understanding of literacy, therefore, necessitates the acceptance of different definitions of literacies (Collins & Blot, 2003). As an avid cricket lover, I recognise a certain literacy involved with this sport, where maidens, overs, pitches, wickets, gullies, slips and googlies all have their own significance that may be completely beyond the comprehension of those foreign to the game. Indeed, within the situation or context of cricket, many of these words have different meanings than how they are generally defined and used outside of cricket. In cricket, a maiden, for instance, is not an unmarried woman or a racehorse that has not yet won its first race. Rather, within the cricket context, a maiden is a sequence of 14 six consecutive bowls (similar to baseball pitches), by the one bowler (or baseball equivalent, pitcher), from which the batter fails to score. In talking of literacy as a social practice, it is important to understand that the term practice refers not to the type of practice whereby we get better at something by doing it repeatedly, like in practicing for a piano recital, for instance. Rather, practice refers to the way that literacy is used, or what people do with literacy. When Barton and Hamilton (1998, 2000) discuss the theory of literacy as a social practice, they do so with a set of six propositions. First, literacy is best understood as a set of practices that can be inferred from the activities in which literacy plays a role. Second, there are different literacies for different contexts. Third, the social institutions that impact literacies vary in dominance, visibility and influence. Fourth, literacy practices are embedded within broader social practices and these often provide the motivation for literacy use. Fifth, literacy is also historically situated and, therefore, a given historical literacy practice is/was influenced by its own historical time and what has/had preceded that specific time. Sixth, literacy practices evolve and change and new ones develop. Literacy can be seen to be culturally situated and indicative of broader social practices (Bruner, 1996), or located in a particular time and place (Barton et al., 2000). What literacy is, therefore, is dependent upon the context in which the literacy event or practice takes place. The context for my study was one particular school classroom and, specifically, within the SSR time allocated within that classroom. It is, therefore, important to recognise that this study‘s notions of literacy, and literacy acts and events, must be understood to have been situated within that context. The context for this study is more fully illustrated in Figure 2. Figure 2 shows that the reading event, engagement in sustained silent reading, took place within, and was influenced by, 15 a number of increasingly broader contextual parameters. As illustrated, for this study, most immediately impacting the reading event was the social setting of sustained silent reading time. This setting imposed its own particular, and perhaps even peculiar, expectations or rules and restrictions. During SSR, children were expected to remain silent and to continue to engage in reading, without breaks, for an extended—sustained—period of time. Family / Community / Country Seacoast Elementary School Ms. Robins‘ grade six classroom Sustained silent reading time Reading engagement Figure 2. This study‘s situated literacy context. Figure 2 also shows the reading engagement during SSR was also a literacy practice situated within a specific classroom. Despite generally accepted components of typical SSR practices, variations exist among classrooms, creating a continuum of SSR experiences (Garan & 16 De Voogd, 2009), ranging from rigid adherence to all of the suggested components of SSR through a range of practices sometimes only moderately reflective of what others might consider SSR should look (and sound) like. Some teachers might more stringently enforce silence than do others. Some teachers might insist on having students read only at their desks, while others might grant more freedom to move. Some teachers will adhere to the recommendation that they, too, participate in SSR whilst the students read. Some teachers permit greater variety in terms of what types of texts students are permitted to self-select. In Figure 2, the specific classroom for the study is identified as Ms. Robins‘ grade six classroom. As will be illustrated in chapter 4, when I describe the setting for this study, Ms. Robins embraced and enforced some of the model SSR recommendations and ignored others. The influence of Ms. Robins and her grade six classroom was not, however, limited only to the ways that SSR was practised for a given 30 minutes four times a week. Rather, it must be remembered that an individual student‘s reading engagement during class SSR time is influenced by all that occurs in that classroom throughout each school day. Engagement in reading will be shaped by, and even dependent upon, all that occurs in the room at all times. This includes the various people in the room, well above and beyond the teacher and a particular individual student. The way that literacy is practiced across the curriculum will influence how a student engages in reading during SSR. The teacher‘s overall teaching style will have an influence. The general literacy practices of classmates, and their general attitudes toward literacy will have an influence. Specific close friends, and the way that they think about, and make use of, literacy will exert an influence on a given individual. Furthermore, the culture of the school represents a context within which the practice of reading engagement is situated. Figure 2 shows reading engagement situated within Seacoast 17 Elementary School. As with the people referred to in this report, the name of the school is also a pseudonym. Unavoidably, this particular school included and promoted certain literacy practices that differed from those ways of using literacy practiced and promoted at other elementary schools. One school practice of particular relevance involves school-wide SSR time. A number of schools have an established time during which all students, and even all employees, are expected to be involved in SSR. I have worked at a school where the first 20 minutes of each school day, from 9:00 a.m. until 9:20 a.m., were set aside for everyone to do SSR. It was only after 9:20 that the principal then came on the school public address system to greet and welcome everyone, and to read her morning announcements over that public address system. Taken to the extreme, such a school-wide policy sees workers such as janitors and clerical staff involved in reading in silence during that school-wide time period. This was the case in the high-school SSR practice reported by Fisher (2004). Most schools do not, however, employ such a wide-spread, all-encompassing SSR practice and SSR was not a school-wide practice at Seacoast Elementary. It was practiced in some classrooms, but not others. Of course, even expanding beyond the situatedness of a literacy practice in a given school, other influences exist. In Figure 2, these other influences are indicated as Family / Community / Country. A student‘s family, community, and country all exert tremendous influence, and reading engagement depends upon these forces. So potentially widespread and pervasive are the influences that might be exerted by a family, a community, and a country that, in designing the illustration, I chose not to include them within the confines of a concentric circle. Rather, their influence know no bounds and is illustrated as such. Different countries utilise literacy skills in different ways. Different countries maintain different levels of literacy skill. Certain 18 communities practice literacy in different ways. Families value and use literacy in vastly different ways from household to household. The understandings of situated literacies discussed above and illustrated in Figure 2 are borne of the New Literacy Studies (e.g., Barton, 1994; Cope & Kalantzis, 2000; Gee, 1996; Street, 1993a; 1995). These studies represent a ―social turn‖ (Gee, 2000, p. 184) away from a focus on individuals, to social and cultural interaction and influences and how knowledge, words and deeds impact, and are impacted by, the context in which they occur. Indeed, the New Literacy Studies can be seen as a reaction against the privileging of the individual mind (Gee, 2000), rejecting the idea that intelligence is best reflected through the manipulation and reproduction of ―facts.‖ Rather, educators must recognise the socio-cultural nature of literacy. Amongst other things, within a classroom context reflecting a socio-cultural perspective, teachers will consider it to be critically important to allow children to work together to construct meaning from text. When children collaborate around a text, they can co-construct meaning, compare responses, and learn from one another (Wilhelm, 1997). Having said this, it must be noted that literacy as a social practice does not necessitate the presence of more than one person at a given time. A person driving alone down deserted country roads—radio off—might not see or hear another individual for hours at a time. Yet, in responding to various traffic signs such as speed restrictions, posted road names, hazard warnings and the like, the driver is participating in literacy reflective of certain social and cultural contexts. Perhaps that same lone driver pulls over to the side of the road and consults a map. Perhaps the driver turns in frustration to the driver‘s manual to try to locate the jack required to replace a flat tire. Another example: My understanding wife well knows that, although my work writing this thesis is a literacy event reflective of a certain social practice, the assistance of two noisy daughters is not near the top of 19 my list of wants. As such, while I participate in the social practice of writing my thesis, I look about me and discover I am the only one at home. I marvel at how quiet the house is while I sit here alone, involved in this literacy practice that is shaped by the social context of academia. When literacy is understood to be a social practice, it is positioned in relation to the social institutions that sustain it (Barton et al., 2000). As such, it is subject to considerable changes, not just from place to place, but also over time (Barton & Hall, 1999; Brandt, 2001; Tusting, 2000). While the literacy of this study was situated in a traditional school setting in the new millennium, other social institutions with their own literacies might include—but are not limited to—church, jail, sport clubs, or the media. Heath‘s (1982, 1983) ethnography of the literacy of two communities in the south-eastern United States of America demonstrated how literacy is deeply embedded within a cultural context. Roadville was a white working-class community relying for generations for much of the community‘s employment on the local textile mills. Tracton was a working-class African-American community. Older community members grew up in farming families, working the land. More recently, however, community members had also come to rely on local mills for employment. Heath identified how the literacy practices of each community were not only significantly different, but that those practices reflected the larger lifestyle patterns of each community. These lifestyle patterns—things such as child rearing, attitudes and approaches to schooling, gender roles and the like—were also significantly different, despite the two communities being only a few miles apart. One literacy practice that Heath (1982) analyzed was bedtime story reading. Through the routine of bedtime story read alouds, children learned specific ways to make sense of print material and how to talk about print. At the same time, they learned also to place certain values upon certain types of print materials and on certain types of experiences. For instance, in Roadville, reality, non-fiction, or fact, was seen to have greater 20 value than fiction. Parents chose to share books with their children that emphasized knowledge and learning of facts—counting and alphabet books for young children, for instance—or stories of what might be seen to be facts—things such as Bible stories—that taught important life lessons. Heath (1982) wrote that ―adults in Roadville believe[d] that instilling in children the proper use of words and understanding of the meaning of the written word [were] important for both their educational and religious success (p. 60).‖ In Tracton, parents did not believe they had a formal instructional role to play in the education of their children. Babies were, however, almost always held in someone‘s arms while the baby was awake and so, from birth, a baby found her- or himself surrounded by constant verbal and non-verbal human communication. Children were rarely read to, and there were few books in homes. With the exception of Sunday School materials, there were no reading materials designed specifically for children. In the absence of print, and surrounded by verbal language, Tracton children developed oral story telling abilities, but were often lacking formal reading and writing skills. In an illuminating study, Brandt (2001) investigated the changing nature of literacy over time. Brandt interviewed people from different eras about their perceptions of text. Her study involved 80 people ranging in age from 10 to 98 years of age. All of Brandt‘s study participants lived in southern Wisconsin, but came from geographically and economically diverse backgrounds. The study participants also represented diversity in terms of ―ethnicity, income, education, occupation, religion, and experience‖ (p. 15). Brandt‘s interviews revealed that, from person to person, there existed considerable variation in the ways that people learned and used literacy skills over time. For each person, literacy was the product of experiences, exposures and opportunities far beyond those of family structure or, indeed, far beyond the impact of formal schooling. Brandt argued that forces outside of school impact what is valued and what is not, 21 concluding that contemporary literacy learning is influenced in ways never before imagined in terms of the changing role of literacy in technologically reliant societies. Brandt referred to sponsors, using this term to denote figures or entities recalled as people considered their memories of literacy learning. Such sponsors included older relatives and teachers, but also included people such as librarians, friends, favourite authors, religious leaders and supervisors. Sponsors also included such entities as radio and television, popular magazines, encyclopaedias, toys, writing utensils, and the like—things from which literacy experience was derived. For Brandt, the idea of literacy sponsors encompassed ―any agents, local or distant, concrete or abstract, who enable, support, teach and model, as well as recruit, regulate, suppress, or withhold, literacy‖ (p. 19). In one specific portion of her study, Brandt investigated four consecutive generations of one family, all living within a 20-mile radius of one another. Brandt explored how, under the influence of cultural and economic forces, reading and writing were passed from one generation to the next. The changing nature of literacy learning perhaps was best illustrated in fourthgeneration family member, Michael. Despite being an elementary school student, social changes necessitated that he not only achieved a higher level of literacy and education than his greatgrandmother, Genna, but that he encountered literacy contexts beyond those confronted by even the most highly educated elites of the past. The social nature of literacy means that many social factors impact the literacy identity that an individual adopts. In Brandt‘s study, Michael‘s literacy identity would, doubtless, have been considerably different from that of his great-grandmother, Genna. Sumara (1998, 2008; Sumara & Luce-Kapler, 1996) has written extensively about identities. He writes that the act of reading is an important means through which an individual establishes her/his identities. These 22 identities are constantly changing (Gee, 1996, 2000-2001, 2003), being borne of the combination of all that we experience (Probyn, 1996). Indeed, changes in identity are often indicative of learning (Lave, 1996), given that new knowledge is likely to impact the way that we view others and see ourselves. A good book ―does not reproduce me, it re-defines me,‖ Winterson (1995) writes, continuing, ―Strong texts work along the borders of our minds and alter what already exists (p. 26).‖ We adopt a variety of identities. In addition to writing about readers‘ identities (1998), amongst other identities, Sumara has written of sexual identities (2008) and the challenge to a student-teacher‘s ―teacher identity‖ when that beginning teacher was confronted with the problem of a student cheating on a math test (Sumara & Luce-Kapler, 1996). In each of these instances, the identity of an individual is profoundly impacted by others. In our schools, the proliferation of levelled reading texts is impacting the identity that children develop in relation to their own reading and the relationship each individual has to other class members. Many children are identifying themselves (let alone their reading) by the level of the book they are reading from the classroom reading text sets (Forbes, 2008; Pierce, 1999). Sumara (1998) argues that, while reading, the reader transforms the text into something meaningful to him/her. That is, based on the reader‘s own combination of knowledge, experiences, and standing, the reader transforms the text to create a unique interpretation. At the same time, however, the transformation taking place is not just to the text. Rather, the reader is also being transformed by the text. The act of reading endows the reader with new knowledge and experience and so has an impact on the identity of that reader as a reader and, indeed, as a human being. 23 I might, perhaps, illustrate this point with an experience from my own life. Well do I remember the first time that I read Richard Adams‘ 1972 novel, Watership Down. I was an elementary school student of about 11 years of age. I recall that my class went to the school library for what I presume was our regular weekly library visit. Because I had a personal interest in rabbits, when I saw the illustration of a rabbit on the cover of Watership Down, my attention was immediately drawn to the book. But what a book! It was a great big fat one, over 400-pages in length (remember that this was in the days long before the massive tomes that are the Harry Potter series of books for children). Although I did not consider myself a non-reader, I had certainly never read such a thick book. Nevertheless, my apprehension at the size of the book was overcome by my interest in the topic of rabbits. Ever Saturday morning, my father and I would load ferrets and nets into Dad‘s Volkswagen station wagon and drive into the country to go ferreting, or rabbiting. As such, my interest in rabbits lay not in their soft fur, their long ears or their twitching noses. I am not sure that it had ever really even crossed my mind that rabbits are adorably cute animals. For me, rabbits lay at the heart of what was my favourite thing to do. That is, without rabbits to hunt, there was no rabbiting with my father. Rabbits were to hunt, to kill and to eat. I borrowed Watership Down from the library and took the book home. I suspect that, although I was not conscious of the fact, until that day, I had probably never read more than, say, 10 or 15 pages of a novel in any given day. Yet, on that day, before I retired for the night, I had read 70-80 pages of the book. I could not put it down. I recall being amazed by how much I was reading and I also recall telling my family about it. Suddenly, I assumed this new identity as a voracious reader. Although I do not think I maintained the 70-80 page per day pace, it did not 24 take very long until I had finished a book that I probably suspected would take me months to read. Armed with my new identity as a reader, I next turned to one of W. E. Johns‘ Biggles books and then, when that failed to hold my attention, I began to read Alexandre Dumas‘ (1847/1973) The Man in the Iron Mask. Alas, despite confidently beginning both books and, indeed, even consciously determining that I would read each book in just a few sittings, I found each reading experience to be a difficult task. My interest was soon lost and, before I had progressed past the first 20 or 25 pages, I abandoned each book. Thus, my experience with Watership Down had, temporarily at least, endowed me with a new identity as a reader. Yet my subsequent experiences with the Biggles book and Dumas‘ classic 19th Century novel again forced me to alter my identity as a reader. I had taken a certain set of knowledge and experiences, and a social setting involving activity with my father, into my reading of Watership Down that enabled me to understand that book in quite a unique manner. Although only a boy, I doubt that many readers of Watership Down had ever killed and eaten as many rabbits as I had. This being the case, I transformed the text. At the same time, however, the text also transformed me. I recall that Saturday morning after I began to read Watership Down. I was sitting on an empty ferret box atop a rabbit warren, waiting for rabbits to run into our nets. As I sat there, I distinctly remember the mixed emotions I was feeling, thinking that the rabbits currently being chased out of their burrows by our ferrets may well have been Hazel, Fiver, Bigwig, Blackberry, Silver or any of my other favourite characters from Watership Down. Although rabbiting had always been my favourite activity, suddenly the thought of killing rabbits seemed almost entirely distasteful. I had transformed the book but, in at least two ways, the book had transformed me. I 25 had a new, albeit short-lived identity as a reader who could comfortably handle thick books and mature reading material, and I had a new and unexpected hesitancy about hunting rabbits. A reader‘s identity is created in socially constructed ways, often in response to the feedback one receives from others (Alvermann, 2001; Christian & Bloome, 2004). All these years later, I still recall the enthusiastic reaction of my mother and two older sisters at how quickly I was reading Watership Down. In some such instances, identities might not be so much created, but imposed (Collins & Blot, 2003). For example, some types of literacy are more highly regarded than others. Street (1993a) argues that, for a time, the literacy of women in their homes was rendered invisible, contrasting starkly with the highly visible literacy of men in the workforce. Elsewhere, Street (1994) compares the prestige given to the reading and writing done by doctors, against the reading and writing that a homemaker might do. In this way, some individuals find that their own literacy practices are not valued—value is imposed by outside forces. Author/librarian Patrick Jones (2005) relates a story from his own boyhood in which Jones was an avid reader of wrestling magazines. On one occasion, the 12-year-old Jones approached the librarian at a public library and nervously asked if the library housed any wrestling magazines. Jones says that the look that came across the librarian‘s face at the ―mere mention of wrestling magazines in her library‖ was so sour that Jones thinks he might accidentally have asked the librarian to show ―what her face would look like if she sucked on a lemon for a hundred years!‖ But, despite the humorous way in which Jones relates the story, there is little humour in Jones‘ concluding remark. The librarian ―made me feel stupid, and I never went back (p. 127).‖ Teachers (and librarians) need to ask the question, ―Do the literacy practices of my classroom disempower some and empower others?‖ (Cairney, 2000, p. 63). Clearly, Patrick Jones felt decidedly disempowered by the librarian‘s reaction to his wrestling 26 magazine enquiry. It is with such issues in mind that Gee (1996) refers to literacy as being a socially contested term. Depending on how we choose to use the term, ―literacy interrelates with the workings of power‖ (Gee, 1996, p. 22) and ―may become a focus for drawing boundaries against outsiders and for struggles between minority and dominant power‖ (Street, 1993a, p. 137). With regard to readers‘ identities and the way that people align themselves, Smith (1978, 1988) and Myers (1992) refer to clubs, Brown (1994) writes of learning communities, Lave and Wenger (1991) refer to communities of practice, while Gee (2003, 2004) uses the term, affinities. A person will have many simultaneous and, occasionally, contradictory identities (Gee, 1996, 2000-2001) and belong to a variety of clubs, communities or affinity groups. In my own instance, my identities include, but are not limited to, being a teacher whilst also having the role of a student. Simultaneously, I am a father, while still being my parents‘ son. I am a husband and a beginning scholar/researcher. I am a reader, a jogger, a sports enthusiast, an outdoorsman, a member of the Essendon (Bombers) Football Club and a pizza lover. I am an Australian, but also a resident of Canada. My identity also involves being a bird-watcher and a gardener and ―a 40something.‖ In some cases, these identities complement one another. I enthusiastically set out on a jog feeling inspired after watching my beloved Bombers Australian football team play well. In other cases, the identities contradict one another. I have often set out for a jog bemoaning the fact that I had too much pizza to eat the night before! Gee (2004) likens identity to a person playing a game, in that one adheres to the ―rules‖ of that identity. As a teacher, there are often different rules for me than when I am a student. Similarly, in my role as a son, there are often different rules that apply to those that apply to my identity as a father. Gee says, ―we are always playing one game or another‖ (p. 47) but, in 27 reality, we are probably always playing several games at once. This may be one factor that contributes to the constantly changing, evolving nature of group membership. When Smith (1988) writes of identities with regard to membership in clubs, he talks of the benefits that a club member enjoys. Yet, despite what some might think, for Smith, membership in a club is not limited to cigar-smoking, suit-wearing businessmen. Rather, Smith extends the notion of club to incorporate any group to which people might belong. For example, Smith talks of infants joining the spoken language club. When an infant joins this club, the benefits s/he enjoys include such things as authentic opportunities to see what functions are served by spoken language, tolerance of their imperfections as junior club members, mentoring to improve oral language proficiency, and identity as a group member—as someone who can talk. Similarly, when one joins the literacy club, Smith says that s/he avails her/himself of being assimilated into a world where, amongst other things, literacy is meaningful, useful, collaborative and conducive to learning. In both Gee‘s (2003, 2004) affinities and Smith‘s (1978, 1988) clubs, identification with a group is not solely, or, indeed, necessarily, determined by things such as age, race or gender. Rather, groups can be socially diverse, bonding through shared activities with common goals in such a way that people within a group can recognise other ―insiders‖ even, as in the world of computer games, where groups might not meet in traditional face-to-face ways (Gee, 2003). ―We reject clubs if we do not see ourselves as belonging to them,‖ Smith (1988) writes. Likewise, we ―differentiate ourselves from others whom we do not accept as belonging to our clubs (p. 5).‖ 28 Sustained Silent Reading One club that teachers often try to establish for students is a SSR club. Briefly defined, sustained silent reading is a period of time during the school day when students are permitted the luxuries of selecting their own reading materials (within the parameters established by the teacher) and reading quietly and without interruptions for their own purposes (Moore et al., 1980; Pilgreen, 2000). Many and varied are the acronyms employed as a title for the practice of sustained silent reading. These acronyms include SSR (Sustained silent reading), USSR (Uninterrupted sustained silent reading), DEAR (Drop everything and read), DEER (Drop everything else – read), RIS (Reading in silence), ERIC (Everyone reads in class), OTTER (Our time to enjoy reading), and SQUIRT (Sustained quiet uninterrupted and independent reading time). My personal preference has always been to ensure the additional emphasis upon student choice by labelling the process SSSSR (Self-selected sustained silent reading). For the purposes of this study, however, I employ what is currently the most common term in the literature, SSR, or refer to the practice as sustained silent reading. Additionally, it should be noted that in the study setting for this research, the teacher and students referred to the practice as SQUIRT. As the name suggests, during sustained silent reading time, students remain quiet while reading for an extended period of time. Such a practice appears to reflect what Street (1984; 1993a; 1993b) describes as an autonomous model of literacy. According to Street‘s description of autonomous literacy, the act of reading is associated with qualities such as rationality and objectivity, independent of social context. Reading is considered a discrete technical skill in which the text and the reader can be viewed as distinct, separate, autonomous entities. Under such views, reading takes place in the head. Literacy revolves around the technical skills of decoding and encoding written language. What‘s more, in decontextualizing these skills, 29 one assumes that literacy skills are portable in that, once learned, the skills of literacy can automatically be transferred from situation to situation and from setting to setting. Devoid of contextual constraints, reading is a cognitive skill that an individual performs in isolation. Sustained silent reading practice is also consistent with more traditional notions of learning. Traditional literacy learning philosophies have focused on individuals. Because of the solitary nature of many SSR practices, the SSR learning model is consistent with cognitive models of learning. With such an understanding of learning, it is assumed that solitary practice will necessarily promote cognitive development. As one practices a skill, one gets better at it. While this model is not without merit, it does ignore the role of persons beyond the individual and, in this case, the social dimensions of literacy. Where such is the case, there is little or no need for a reader to interact with peers or the significant others central to Vygotsky‘s (1978) notions of the zone of proximal development or Bruner‘s (1984; 1986) and Wood‘s (1980) notions of scaffolding. The reader is reminded that, as in my earlier discussion of literacy as a social practice, social literacy practices do not necessitate the presence of more than one individual at a given time. Whilst established SSR practices are consistent with the autonomous model of literacy, those who do not subscribe to such a model dispute that SSR is done completely in isolation. Indeed, if we think of reading and literacy as being socially situated, it is not possible to conceive of any literacy practice being done in a vacuum, devoid of outside influence. With regard to SSR, at the very least, the practice is influenced by the context in which it occurs. The SSR experience is further impacted by the influence of the individual or individuals who authored the text with which a reader interacts. Rosenblatt (1978) asserts that a two-way transaction takes place between a reader attending to a text and the writer who penned that text. This non-linear, 30 transactional relationship between reader and author involves one constantly acting upon, and being acted upon (or influenced), by the other. It is possible to conceptualize SSR in ways that are consistent with a socio-cultural view. Indeed, in chapter 5 in the discussion of the significance of the study, I discuss this issue. Suffice it for now to provide one example. Providing students with opportunities to discuss their SSR reading (before, after, or even during SSR) with their peers would help to position SSR in a manner more consistent with social literacy perspectives than is typically done with classroom SSR. Perhaps, as with Trudell (2007), teachers employ SSR in the way that they do because that is simply the only independent/voluntary reading structure they know. Returning to the autonomous model of literacy, reading is seen as a solitary activity— devoid of the need for, or influence of, interactions, and independent of contextual influences. Indeed, ―readers are treated as though they are autonomous,‖ explains Street (1993b), ―as though they can be separated from the society that gives meaning to their uses of literacy‖ (p. 82). Bruner (1996) claims that the idea of individuals learning separately and in isolation from their surroundings is consistent with the individualistic ideology of the Western world. Such a notion, however, is inconsistent with current views on literacy acquisition, development, practice, and enjoyment. Literacy use and learning is founded in, and dependent upon, social influences. Autonomous notions of literacy ignore the role that society plays in shaping reading practices and, indeed, ignore the fact that these practices are embedded within social contexts. For much of the school day, and for much of a student‘s life, reading is a socially-shaped, inspired, and -impacted activity. Students are given opportunities to collaborate with one another. Through interactions with a teacher and peers, students are assisted in their comprehension of the text and also in developing an understanding of how literacy skills can be used. Interaction also 31 plays a role in imparting a sense of value of literacy. Such notions are developed and reinforced through various written and spoken activities that are shared with classmates, teachers and, perhaps, parents and siblings. The often stringently enforced silent and solitary nature of reading during SSR, however, requires students to attend individually to the reading task, independent of whatever assistance peers or teachers might otherwise offer. During SSR, students are left to flourish or flounder on their own. During the daily 20 or 30 minutes of SSR time, the child is required to revert to an alternate reading practice, in some cases disparate from the reading activities students generally participate in during school hours. Whilst my own observations and experience suggest that most students are able to accommodate the change from ―normal‖ social reading practice, some students lack the flexibility, motivation and/or ability to adjust to the silent and solitary autonomous requirements of SSR. These students often flounder, deriving little benefit, and often no pleasure, from that time regularly set aside for SSR. Deprived of the assistance and social influence that students often experience during school literacy events or literacy practices outside of school, some students fail to engage during SSR (Stahl, 2004). These non-engaged readers lack the support they need to be the motivated, strategic, and confident readers they otherwise might be and, indeed, otherwise often are when in a different setting. History Although some (e.g., Berglund & Johns, 1983; Moore et al., 1980) claim that for as long as there has been reading, people have practiced sustained silent reading, in A History of Reading, Manguel (1996) asserts otherwise. In citing early examples of Saint Ambrose, Alexander the Great, Ptolemy, Julius Caesar, and others reading silently, Manguel insists these examples were 32 more the exception than the rule. Indeed, in schools, until the early 1900s almost all reading was done orally (Smith, 1926, 1934). Until this time, the emphasis was on ―eloquent and expressive oral reading‖ (Smith, 1926, p. 6). While the traditional instructional focus was on teaching children to read the Bible, or training them to ―read orally with such expression and eloquence that [they] will sway [their] audience,‖ the Twentieth Century saw a change toward reading silently for information (Smith, 1926, p. 9). It has, however, only been since the late 1960s that sustained silent reading has acquired prominence as a component of school reading programmes (Berglund & Johns, 1983; Moore et al., 1980). Hunt is credited with first introducing SSR to educators during the early 1960s (Halpern, 1981; McCracken, 1971). One criticism of school literacy is that children often are taught to decode, rather than to read (Berthoff, 1990; Winterson, 1995). While some argue that considerable time is invested into learning to read through decoding exercises, but that little time is spent actually reading (Moore et al., 1980), we could take this criticism further and suggest that much of the time supposedly invested into learning to read is actually time invested in learning about reading. From a holistic perspective, time spent with decoding worksheets, flash cards and grammar questions, provides opportunities to learn about reading. One learns to read, however, in the practice that one receives as one negotiates whole texts, employing different cueing systems, combining comprehension strategies, and making sense of the text according to one‘s background. Halliday (1973) stresses the distinctions between learning language, learning through language and learning about language. Learning language involves developing the ability to use language for a variety of functions. Learning through language concerns the use of language in order to enhance learning and increase one‘s knowledge. Learning about language involves thinking about language, noting the various parts of language and how the parts of language can be combined or 33 dissected. In schools, a disproportionate amount of time has been invested into learning about reading, rather than actually using reading to serve a variety of functions, including that of learning. One attempt to addess the imbalance between learning about reading and actually reading occurred during the 1980s and 1990s with the advent of the whole language movement (Goodman, 1986), and the shift toward literature-based instruction (Morrow & Gambrell, 2000; Norton, 1992; Yopp & Yopp, 2001). Sustained silent reading, however, pre-dates both whole language and literature-based instruction as a means of having students doing reading, rather than merely learning about reading. Potential Importance The act of ―sustaining silent reading over long stretches of print without interruption and without breaks‖ has been described as the greatest of all reading skills (Hunt, 1984, p. 193). This process is what is referred to as sustained silent reading and today sometimes includes a variety of text representations beyond the traditional concept of printed books. As such, in many classrooms, the concept of self-selection of reading materials may include such things as comic books, newspapers, popular magazines, and computer screen text. Sustained silent reading is said to encompass practice of ―the total reading act,‖ including the amalgamation of various cueing systems, comprehension, a reader‘s individual background, and personal enjoyment (Efta, 1984, p. 388). It is suggested that, insofar as teachers are concerned, SSR should be considered ―the pinnacle of achievement with regard to teaching skilful reading‖ (Hunt, 1984, p. 192). This may well be true, if it were not for the fact that some students do not spend SSR time engaged in reading (Clements, 2002; Trudel, 2007). 34 Rationale Many teachers incorporate sustained silent reading into their language arts programmes because of a belief that it makes common sense to do so (Pilgreen, 2000), believing intuitively that children get better at reading by reading (Allington, 1977; Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985; Gambrell, 2007; Stanovich, 1986). Most advocates, however, claim two main reasons why teachers devote valuable instructional time to sustained silent reading. One reason is the hope that it will increase reading achievement; the other is the prospect that it will positively influence students‘ motivation to read (Pilgreen, 2000, 2003). In Pilgreen‘s (2000) review of studies examining the impact of sustained silent reading practices, she concludes that SSR provides ―at least the same or better benefits for students in the areas of comprehension and motivation as traditional skills classes‖ (p. 6). She adds that sustained silent reading is clearly ―less work than skill and drill and a good deal more fun‖ for students (p. 6). Again, however, one does wonder about those students for whom SSR is not ―a good deal more fun.‖ My position is that some students fail to engage in reading during SSR and, indeed, derive little enjoyment from the practice. Less work and more fun, perhaps, but these cannot be sufficient reasons to continue with a one-size-fits-all practice that might not fit all. Format A sustained silent reading practice is also supposedly simple to implement (McCracken & McCracken, 1972). Proponents of SSR claim it is appropriate for students of all grade levels, including kindergarten (McCracken, 1971; McCracken & McCracken, 1972) and high school (Fisher, 2004), and all skill levels, including remedial readers (Allington, 1977; McCracken, 1971). If this is truly the case, one wonders why it so often is that teachers recognise a need to adjust and add to SSR to increase its effectiveness (e.g. Clausen-Grace & Kelley, 2007; 35 DeBenedictis, 2007; Kelley & Clausen-Grace, 2006; Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000; Marshall, 2002; Parr & Maguiness, 2005; Reutzel, Jones, Fawson, & Smith, 2008). Why is it that teachers like Clements (2002) and Trudel (2007) look about the classroom and see that some children do not read during SSR? There are many models or forms of sustained silent reading (Garan & DeVoogd, 2009), and each model appears to be governed by the personal preference of the teacher or the particular needs of the students (Nagy et al., 2000; Robertson et al., 1996). Knowledgeable teachers often consider quiet reading, rather than silent reading, to be a more realistic expectation, especially when working with younger children. The expected level of quiet generally increases with age. Younger children are usually not subjected to the same stringent standard of maintaining complete silence throughout the session (Pilgreen, 2003; Robertson et al., 1996). The elements each model has in common, however, are the notions of a fixed time period, self-selection of material for reading, freedom from interruption, a gradual increase in time, minimal external accountability, the availability of a wide range of materials, and teachers acting as a reading example to the children (Berglund & Johns, 1983; Efta, 1984; Gambrell, 1978; Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000; McCracken, 1971; Moore et al., 1980; Robertson et al., 1996; Wheldall & Entwistle, 1988). SSR as a Potential Motivator There can be little argument that SSR does have strengths. One would hope that no school practice could persist for so long if it did not. One of the most powerful aspects of the sustained silent reading practice is its potential to motivate students to read—both during SSR time and beyond. McCracken (1971) declared that students overwhelmingly, in fact even unanimously, support SSR. Such hyperbole, however, is easily refuted. One of the participants in 36 this study, Nadia, certainly did not support SSR. McCracken‘s point about SSR‘s popularity generally, but not unanimously, is taken. Many students do support SSR and, potentially, it is a source of reading motivation. Indeed, it is argued that sustained silent reading has the ―potential to improve both attitude and achievement‖ (Moore et al., 1980, p. 446). Cohen‘s (1999) observations reveal that even many reluctant readers enjoy sustained silent reading time. In a meta-analytic review of the effects of SSR on readers‘ attitudes, Yoon (2002) compared the attitude scores of students involved with SSR practices with students not involved in such practices. Yoon found that the average reading attitude score of individuals in SSR practices most often exceeded the scores of the individuals in non-SSR control groups, thus providing some evidence supporting claims that SSR can positively impact attitudes toward reading. Given that Yoon‘s review was presented in support of SSR, the fact that the average reading attitude score of individuals in SSR exceeded the scores of only 55% of the individuals in non-SSR control groups, the evidence about SSR and positive attitudes was not particularly overwhelming. Obviously, for 45% of students, SSR did not result in a more positive attitude. Problems Despite success stories, some schools experience so many problems with SSR that they decide to discontinue the practice (Halpern, 1981; Moore et al., 1980). Proponents stress the practice will fail if the guidelines are not followed and if behavioural expectations are not formulated (Berglund & Johns, 1983; Moore et al., 1980). Interestingly, the majority of problems are said to occur when the teacher is not involved in reading and when the classroom contains insufficient reading materials from which the students might select (McCracken & McCracken, 1978). While many teachers profess to be committed to SSR in theory, classroom observations reveal the principles thought to be essential to SSR success are often not enacted in those same 37 teachers‘ classroom practices (Robertson et al., 1996). One of the most common failures to adhere to the SSR principles is that teachers fail to read during SSR, preferring to use the time for lesson preparation or similar tasks (Pilgreen, 2003). Another problem is that some children become bored by the sustained silent reading routine (Gambrell, 1978; Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000). Some children also find it difficult to conform to the requirement of staying quiet. Some educators believe that these students may need more assistance to stay on task (Robertson et al., 1996). Another characteristic of floundering sustained silent reading practices is said to be the inclination to aim too high too soon—to initiate the practice with a daily SSR time period that is too long (Berglund & Johns, 1983). We are told that establishing a successful sustained silent reading routine takes time. Some have contended that it will fail if teachers do not persevere long enough for the practice to be successful (Berglund & Johns, 1983; Moore et al., 1980). Citing it as the most important advice they can give, Berglund and Johns (1983) offer the encouragement, ―Don‘t give up!‖ (p. 537). It is necessary to persist long enough for students to acclimate to the routine of SSR. In my own teaching experience, SSR did seem to improve over time as students became more aware of, and comfortable with, the SSR routine. While persistence and perseverance are admirable qualities, however, one must wonder how long educators can justifiably persist with a practice that does not seem to benefit some of their students. That said, we do not know enough about SSR to make confident declarations about it (National Reading Panel, 2000). In this study, I explore SSR, hoping to shed light upon some of the problems that are said to exist with SSR and, perhaps, offer some useful suggestions in relation to those issues. 38 Assumptions It is important to recognise that the practices of SSR—what I imagine, for some students, may be problematic practices—have their foundations in several assumptions. One assumption is that in schools, too much time and attention is devoted to learning to read (and, I add, learning about reading), and not enough time is devoted to practicing or doing reading (Berglund & Johns, 1983; McCracken, 1971). That is to say that students are often given isolated skill-and-drill tasks intended to increase their reading abilities, but that little time is set aside for actual participation in authentic reading experiences. In Durkin‘s classic 1978-1979 study, for instance, the gradethree, -five, and -six students she observed spent no more than 12% and, in some classes, as little as 3% of their supposed reading time actually reading. Durkin‘s assumption had been that reading teachers would adhere to a sequence of instruction, application, and then considerable practice. The data she collected, however, showed that this was certainly not the case. During reading time, the biggest percentages of time were spent in listening and writing. The students‘ purpose for listening was often to hear directions about assignments, and the writing was often for the purpose of completing those assignments, which usually entailed writing answers to questions about literal comprehension of the text. As with most things in life, however, it intuitively seems true of reading that the more we do it, the better we get at it. It is also often true that the better we get at something, the more we enjoy it, which in turn compels us to do it more often, allowing us to become better at it, and so on (Allington, 1977; Stanovich, 1986; Trelease, 1989). It should be noted, however, that this assumption is challenged by the National Reading Panel (NRP) (2000). The NRP states that there are few more widely accepted ideas than that the more we read, the better we get at reading. 39 The search conducted by the NRP, however, failed to find conclusive research evidence to support the assumption, stating that, even though encouraging students to read more is intuitively appealing, there is still not sufficient evidence obtained from studies of high methodological quality to support the idea that such efforts reliably increase how much students read or that such programs result in improved reading skills. (p.13) A second assumption is that many students do not read outside of school because they lack a quiet place to read (Fisher, 2004) and lack an adult role model. Sustained silent reading time attempts to impart both (Moore et al., 1980). McCracken (1971) reports that one of the primary reasons students enjoy SSR is because of the quiet time it affords them in otherwise hectic, noisy days. One of the most important SSR elements is that students are afforded the time and opportunity to read (Fisher, 2004; Kimbell-Lopez, 2003). In stressing the importance of the teacher acting as a reading model, Perez (1986) identifies SSR as one of the best ways to demonstrate the joy of reading. On the other hand, perhaps one of the reasons some children do not read outside of school is because they have negative experiences with reading inside school. Alternatively, this second assumption might also be challenged on the basis that some children do read outside of school, but in school are considered non-readers (Booth, 2006; Forbes, 2008; Worthy, 2000). A third assumption is that SSR releases students from distracting pressures and expectations. The reading experience supposedly becomes a more authentic one, more akin to the reading engaged in by proficient adult readers. Rarely, for instance, do adult readers submit written book reports about their reading, or answer a series of comprehension questions about what they have read. Being released from external accountability measures (like submitting 40 written reports), students theoretically are free to enjoy their reading time and focus upon making it a meaningful experience (Berglund & Johns, 1983). This freedom from external pressure is said to be important to both strong and struggling readers (McCracken, 1971). While it is true that authentic adult reading experiences oftentimes do not result in written responses, that is not to say that they do not result in responses. Authentic reading experiences often lead to the discussion of books and sharing and recommending of titles. People find that they like talking about, and responding to, books so much so that Book Clubs have sprung up around the world. Television and radio shows—sometimes considered an enemy to reading—garner enormous interest when the programme is dedicated to the discussion of books, as in the Book Clubs featured on the Oprah television show and the C.B.C. radio station. A fourth assumption upon which the practices of SSR have been built is that greater emphasis should be placed upon silent reading than oral reading (Berglund & Johns, 1983; Hunt, 1984). Hunt (1984; 1996-1997) argues that sustained silent reading is particularly preferable to oral reading for poor readers. This assertion comes despite the fact that convention generally dictates that poor readers are condemned to increased oral reading, at the expense of time they might spend reading silently (Goodman, 1996). Indeed, Hunt (1984) describes it as ―a gross and tragic mistake‖ to prefer oral reading to silent reading for struggling readers (p. 193). It is generally believed that sustained silent reading facilitates greater reading comprehension than oral reading because sustained silent reading enables the focus to be upon the construction of meaning, rather than on reading for performance (Wilkinson & Anderson, 1995). While I have little objection to this assumption, that is not to say that silence should be insisted upon, or that the silence—or a lack of discussion—should continue after reading has taken place or, indeed, 41 while it is taking place. The assumption seems fine, but the practices borne of that assumption may be problematic. A final assumption is that readers have the right to self-select the material from which they will read. In one study, of 35 grade six language arts teachers in nine different schools, all 35 teachers agreed that self-selection is a good way to improve reading attitudes and achievement (Worthy, Turner, & Moorman, 1998). Self-selection enables students to become more independent (Fresch, 1995). It might be noted that the very act of reading uninterrupted, without turning to the teacher or a classmate for assistance, is in itself a means of developing independence. ―With the power of sustained silent reading the reader is on his own [and] he can propel himself through print‖ and become an independent reader liberated from relying upon the assistance of others (Hunt, 1996-1997, p. 281). High interest and involvement in self-selected texts often allows readers to succeed with material that for all other intents and purposes would be classified as being well beyond their capacity (Hunt, 1996-1997). Again, I have little objection to this fifth assumption, but one must note that the notion of free choice is a matter of debate. We must ask ourselves how free students really are to self-select reading material. The choices that we make are heavily influenced by the setting in which we make those choices. Lewis (2000) has asked if there can be such a thing as free choice in reading, given that our choices are influenced by the need for social connection with those around us. Furthermore, our choices are influenced by the overpowering influence of the culture that surrounds and shapes us. Need for More Study Despite the prevalence of SSR within classrooms, and popularity among some students, the then-President of the International Reading Association, Timothy Shanahan recently (2006a; 2006b) called for more research into the efficacy of SSR, a call echoed by his successor, Linda 42 Gambrell (2007). The National Reading Panel (2000) also concluded that more research needs to be conducted into sustained silent reading. The NRP found a lack of research evidence to support the use of independent and voluntary reading practices such as SSR. Krashen (2001, 2005) and others (Cunningham, 2001; Garan & DeVoogd, 2009) disagree strongly with the findings of the NRP. In his critique of the report, Krashen indicates that by reviewing only studies conducted since 1984, the NRP ignored dozens of studies that showed that SSR readers did as well or better on reading tests than students in reading programmes where SSR was not employed. The NRP examined only 14 studies in compiling their report. The selection criteria the NRP employed were: the study had to consider the effect that encouraging more reading had on reading achievement; the study had to focus on K-12 students of English reading; the study had to have been published in a refereed journal; and the study had to be conducted with reading in English. By Krashen‘s count, he could find 53 studies that might have been included in the NRP report, 50 of which showed the same or better reading outcomes for SSR students. Many of the studies that Krashen cites appear to meet all of the NRP selection criteria and were, in Krashen‘s opinion, merely ―missed.‖ Krashen concedes that some studies ―violated‖ the NRP criteria. Examples include studies that involved slightly older students, or English as a second language students. Krashen feels that these studies should still have been considered by the NRP and that the criteria were unnecessarily stringent. Clearly, many unanswered questions still surround the practice of SSR, including ways to make the time more productive for non-engaged readers. This study was designed with a hope that it might provide some of the missing information. 43 Engagement The notion of engagement has attracted increased educational attention because it is seen as a potential means for combating on-going problems such as academic failure, student disinterest and high drop out rates (Fredricks, Blumenfeld, & Paris, 2004). The increased interest in this concept is such that one of the current ―buzz‖ words in reading is engagement. Much of the focus upon reading engagement has its origin in the work of Allan Wigfield and John Guthrie with others at the National Reading Research Center (NRRC) in Georgia and Maryland during the mid-1990s (for example, see Alvermann & Guthrie, 1993; Wigfield & Guthrie, 1995; Wigfield, Guthrie, & McGough, 1996; Wigfield, Wilde, Baker, Fernandez-Fein, & Scher, 1996). The NRRC‘s mission was to identify home, school and community conditions that promote reading skill and motivation. The primary goal of the NRRC was to investigate ―how to cultivate highly engaged, self-determining readers who are the architects of their own learning‖ (Alvermann & Guthrie, 1993, p. 2). Fredricks et al. (2004) identify three types of engagement: cognitive; emotional; and behavioural. They stress, however, that there is considerable overlap between the categories of cognitive, emotional, and behavioural engagement, and note that they are often discussed under the one broad heading of engagement. Although their distinctions between different manifestations of engagement are useful, as I will illustrate in the following paragraphs, Fredricks and colleagues‘ classifications perhaps neglect many of the socio-cultural aspects of engagement. Cognitive engagement refers to an investment in learning, including being strategic and self-regulatory. These qualities contribute to flexibility as problem solvers. Such students have an array of options through which they might tackle difficult tasks. Cognitive engagement also 44 includes a willingness to ―go the extra mile‖ or go well beyond the minimum requirements. As with behavioural engagement, cognitive engagement is considered to include trying hard, even to the point of seeking out challenges. Given their desire to face challenges, these students generally maintain a positive attitude even in the face of difficulty or failure. Such notions of cognitive engagement are, however, ―in the head‖ and this aspect of engagement might better be described as socio-cognitive. Such a term would not ignore learning by an individual, but it would recognise such things as alignment with friends, and how the expenditure of mental energies might be largely inspired by the desire to be a part of a club or community. The term cognitive engagement suggests to me an exclusive focus on an individual and I would prefer Fredericks et al. employed the term socio-cognitive, recognising that, although some learning is individual, it is not achieved in a vacuum, as it were. Where Fredricks et al. (2004) refer to emotional engagement, Linnenbrink and Pintrich (2003) refer to this second category of engagement as motivational engagement, while Schraw, Flowerday, and Reisetter (1998) call it affective engagement. Emotional engagement refers to the affective domain and includes student reactions to the classroom setting such as being interested or being bored, and being happy or sad. It refers also to positive and negative reactions to various school personnel, including teachers and classmates, as well as to social interactions and responses to social settings or social influences. Text choices, for instance, can be made for social reasons. This point emphasises where I think socio-emotional might be a better term. Choices are often made for social reasons. Our text choices might be a product of conversations with friends. We might also self-consciously ask ourselves, ―Am I fitting in? Am I choosing texts that others are choosing?‖ With adolescents such as Jobe and Nadia, in some cases, the desire is very much to fit in or to conform with friends. In other instances, however, adolescents‘ 45 text choices might be inspired by a desire to stand apart, be non-conformists, or to be seen to defy authority (Sanford & Madill, 2006). The choices that we make—text or otherwise—might be said to be coloured by culture. At least in my own mind, to refer to socio-emotional engagement does not eliminate the possibility of individual reasons to engage or not, but the term recognises social influences upon those individual reasons. Fredricks et al. (2004) discuss behavioural engagement in three ways. First, behavioural engagement involves following rules, doing the right thing, and not disrupting others. Second, behavioural engagement involves effort and concentration. Third, it involves participation in school activities, such as school councils or things like athletic teams or various clubs. Finn (Finn, 1989; Finn & Rock, 1997) discusses behavioural engagement in a similar manner. Finn interchangeably uses the terms participation and engagement behaviours. He states that, at the elementary school level, participation may be largely restricted to students‘ adherence to rules, including such things as school attendance and punctuality, and responding to the teacher‘s directions and questions. At what Finn describes as the second level of participation, students may display their enthusiasm for a subject. This includes participating in tasks and, while doing so, concentrating, trying hard, and persisting with that task. This level often overlaps with cognitive and emotional engagement. Level three participation refers to a student‘s involvement in social, extracurricular, and athletic aspects of school life. These students might often take on leadership roles through involvement in school councils. This third level of behavioural engagement is largely beyond the scope of this study. This being the case, for clarity, for the purposes of this study, behavioural engagement was limited to the types of things consigned to Finn‘s first participation level. In this study, behavioural engagement refers to positive, correct conduct, such as obeying the rules and doing what one is expected to do and, specifically here, 46 adhering to the established rules and expectations of conduct during SSR time. A student who is behaviourally engaged will avoid disruptive actions, but will willingly contribute to class discussions and respond to teachers‘ questions. As with the other categories of engagement, perhaps socio-behavioural engagement is a more appropriate term for this study. After all, our behaviour, and our own and others‘ interpretation of, and response to, that behaviour is socially driven and situated. Depending on the manifestation of engagement or of non-engagement—socio-cognitive, socio-emotional or socio-behavioural—various potential contributing factors have been suggested. In this study, the second research question asks about the factors that seem to contribute to non-engagement. For instance, challenge, or an appropriate level of text reading difficulty might influence engagement. In reading material that is either much too easy or far too hard, readers may find it difficult to engage (Chanel, Rebetez, Bétrancourt & Pun, 2008; O‘Connor et al., 2002). A text might be so easy as to be boring or so hard as to be off-putting. Either way, the text level might contribute to failure to engage. Similarly, self-selection is a widely accepted component of SSR. Self-selection is thought to positively impact socioemotional engagement (Schraw et al., 1998). Some argue that choice has this positive impact because it increases intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Deci, Vallerand, Pelletier, & Ryan, 1991). In answering the second research question, perhaps I can reveal evidence, taking the discussion beyond mere hypothesising or, at least, add further weight to the hypotheses. Aesthetic Reading Choice is a factor that promotes what Rosenblatt (1978) has described as aesthetic reading, which shares characteristics with notions of reading engagement. Rosenblatt differentiates between what she terms efferent and aesthetic reading. According to Rosenblatt, 47 the difference is primarily in the reader‘s focus of attention. During aesthetic reading, the reader‘s attention is focussed on what is happening during the reading experience. On the other hand, during non-aesthetic, or efferent reading, the reader‘s attention is focussed on what happens after the reading event. Efferent reading is concerned primarily with information gleaning, providing information and material that readers can take from their reading. According to Rosenblatt, aesthetic reading is characterised by a greater sense of enjoyment when reading, and with a focus on empathising with characters and text events. Rosenblatt asserts that most reading is done somewhere between the extremes of the aesthetic or efferent reading stances and involves changing foci of attention from reading for pleasure and reading for information. Rosenblatt‘s notions of efferent and aesthetic reading are important in that they recognise that, at different times, readers read in different ways, for different purposes. These differences can be largely dependent upon the situational context in which the reading is taking place. Increasing Engagement Engagement is understood to be malleable and, therefore, responsive to environmental variations (Fredricks et al., 2004). Engagement can be increased. In turn, the proficiency levels of many students can be enhanced if teachers increase their efforts to cultivate student engagement (Baker et al., 2000). It is important to note that teacher support can positively influence student engagement (Fredricks et al., 2004) provided, of course, that the teacher is aware of the type of support that students require. This being the case, all teachers should be striving to do what they can to facilitate their students‘ engagement (Baker et al., 2000; Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997; Wigfield, 1997). Of course, there may be socio-cultural reasons for engaging or not engaging. For instance, 48 there is a perception in some quarters that ―real‖ men don‘t read. Alternatively, one might want to be perceived by her or his peers as a ―sophisticated‖ reader. While much has been said, written, and even argued about what kinds of tasks most effectively promote literacy growth, ―much less attention has been devoted to the motivational effects of literacy tasks and instruction‖ (Turner, 1995, p. 410). Open-ended tasks include individually specified processes and goals, and require higher level thinking, as opposed to closed tasks wherein both the product and the process are generally governed by the teacher, and significant attention is paid to mastering recognition and memory skills. Open tasks also provide opportunities for challenge, student choice and control, and collaboration. It has been shown that the types of tasks a teacher provides will greatly affect students‘ motivation for literacy learning. Open-ended tasks generally have a compelling positive impact upon children‘s engagement (Turner, 1995; Turner & Paris, 1995) and SSR is an open-ended task. So too, however, can be conversations and interactions around literacy and literature. As well as showing that open-ended tasks and higher order thinking can increase engagement, it has been demonstrated that there is a positive correlation between student engagement and increased student performance. Through the course of the 2000-2001 school year, Taylor and colleagues (Taylor, Pearson, Peterson, & Rodriguez, 2003) studied 88 grade one through grade five classrooms. They included nine students per classroom in nine high-poverty schools across the United States, for an overall total of 792 students. The teachers participated in classroom observations and researcher interviews. The students‘ literacy growth was gauged after they were involved in a variety of assessments in the fall and spring of the school year. Among this diverse student group, variation in the growth of reading achievement over the duration of the year was shown to be significantly impacted by several teaching variables. The 49 most consistent finding, however, was that the greatest student reading performance growth coincided with classroom teachers who emphasised higher-order thinking. Higher-order thinking was promoted through the teachers‘ questions and assignments, increasing students‘ cognitive engagement and, in turn, promoting reading development in areas such as phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and comprehension. Characteristics of Reading Engagement As noted earlier, SSR is intended to allow students to participate in a pleasurable and a worthwhile reading experience. It is critically important that we help children to engage in their reading. In today‘s fast-paced, digital society, a major concern is that many students do not read (Guthrie, Alao, & Rinehart, 1997; Love & Hamston, 2003), at least in terms of traditional texts. Among elementary school children, the amount of engaged reading is extremely low (Baker et al., 2000). Guthrie and Greaney (1991) cite studies indicating that many children allocate little or no time to reading, let alone reading for pleasure. On the other hand, engaged readers do it, not only because they can, but also because they want to (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000), whether for the joy of the activity or because of the information they feel can be accessed through reading. There are many reasons why people engage in reading. Reading engagement can involve reading for information. It might be that pleasure can become an outgrowth of that reading, but the inspiration for some engaged reading is found in a desire to increase one‘s knowledge base as much, or more, than to have a ―pleasurable‖ experience. Some will engage in reading to disengage from reality. Some engage in reading to fit in with peers, or engage in reading for social purposes like book clubs. Engaged readers apply various strategies (Gambrell, 1996a; Guthrie et al., 1997; Guthrie & Anderson, 1999; Guthrie, Van Meter et al., 1996; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000) as they read 50 within what they consider to be a literacy community (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). They are enthusiastic about exchanging ideas with others (Guthrie et al., 1997; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000) and about fulfilling their own personal reading goals (Guthrie et al., 1997; Guthrie, McGough, Bennett, & Rice, 1996; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Indeed, ―they elect a wide range of literacy activities for aesthetic enjoyment, gaining knowledge, and interacting with friends‖ (Guthrie, Van Meter et al., 1996, p. 309). Engagement, and a love of reading, however, often do not come naturally. Rather, ―the love of reading . . . is a habit which must be cultivated‖ (Lesesne, 1991, p. 61). One way to cultivate the reading habit and to help children to ―switch on‖ to reading is through helping children find a text with which they fall in love. Such a text is referred to in some quarters as the home run text (Kim & Krashen, 2000; Trelease, 2006; Ujiie & Krashen, 2002; Von Sprecken, Kim, & Krashen, 2000). It is the text that endows children with the positive associations with reading that put them on the path toward becoming lifetime readers. As discussed earlier, my home run book was Watership Down. That book, with its heroic rabbits, is the one that I look back upon as the book that changed my life and made me a reader. As Trelease (1989) put it, ―It is time to stop fooling ourselves. Teaching children how to read is not enough; we must also teach them to want to read‖ (p. 205, italics in original). Engagement in reading is particularly crucial because of its importance to learning. Wigfield and Asher (1984), and Rosenshine and Stevens (1984), cite many studies indicative of the positive relationship between increased engagement and increased learning. Indeed, some consider it to be necessary for students to be engaged in order for them to learn (Rosenshine & Stevens, 1984) and to maintain long-term achievement (Baker et al., 2000). 51 A defining characteristic of successful classrooms is high student engagement (Dolezal, Welsh, Pressley, & Vincent, 2003). Because ―something magical happens when students become engaged in reading‖ (Au, 1999, p. ix), Guthrie and Anderson (1999) go so far as to state that engagement in reading has ―vital consequences for world knowledge and social participation‖ (p. 18). Cambourne (1995) states that engagement requires close attention to the task. Engaged readers concentrate upon their reading for extended periods of time during which they strive to avoid or overcome distractions. They maintain their concentration while reading from a variety of genres (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Indeed, an engaged reader is one who might be said to be absorbed in the task (Almasi, McKeown, & Beck, 1996). Csikszentmihalyi (1990; 1991) refers to engagement as a state of flow, where the reader becomes completely involved in the activity. This deep involvement in reading has also been described as an ―intense and highly energized state of concentrated attention‖ (Nell, 1988, p. 263). The engaged reader is an active participant who is prepared to experiment and take risks (Cambourne, 1995) because engaged readers develop a sense of ownership of the task (Au, 1997). While they are knowledgeable (Baker, Afflerbach, & Reinking, 1996), engaged readers also are filled with a desire to gain new knowledge (Baker et al., 2000). The engaged reader is ―committed to the subject matter,‖ wants to learn the content, is confident of her or his capability, and wants ―to share understandings from learning‖ (Guthrie et al., 1997, p. 439). While engagement requires a purpose for learning (Cambourne, 1995), the engaged reader will elect to read for a variety of purposes (Guthrie, Van Meter et al., 1996). Reading for information, for instance, is a purposeful reading experience. This purpose helps a reader to 52 engage with the text. Engaged readers also remain steadfastly committed to constructing meaning while they read (Almasi et al., 1996; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Flow Csikszentmihalyi (1990) otherwise describes flow as optimal experience. It is not restricted to the confines of a school classroom. Rather, flow might be experienced by a sailor with the wind whipping through her/his hair, a painter discovering previously unknown brilliance through the development of her/his own colourful creation, or a parent seeing her/his child respond to a smile for the first time. Csikszentmihalyi identifies these optimal experiences as among the best of our lives. He is careful to point out, however, that they are not passively relaxed and unenergized times. Rather, optimal experiences are facilitated through an individual‘s voluntary expenditure of effort. Partly because of the expenditure of such effort, flow experiences are not necessarily pleasant at the time that they occur. An Olympic swimmer whose lungs scream out for air does not feel pleasure in that moment of weariness and fatigue but, instead, upon reflection the swimmer recognizes the magnitude of her/his triumph in pushing herself/himself to new limits of achievement. Flow is that state in which a person is so involved in the activity that nothing else seems to matter. The swimmer is so involved in her/his pursuit of excellence that the potential for fatigue to distract her/him from that pursuit is rendered almost irrelevant. Those immersed in texts can also achieve this same optimal experience. Indeed, reading is the intellectual pursuit most often associated with flow (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Massimini, Csikszentmihalyi, & Delle Fave, 1988). A reader‘s sense of self and others—what might be termed a reader‘s attitude—is an important element of flow or reading engagement. Engaged readers remain positive about their 53 task (Schraw & Bruning, 1999) and maintain a strong belief in their ability (Guthrie et al., 1997). If they should stop to think about themselves, they are able to reassure themselves that they are doing well and making steady progress (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). They are on the path toward success and their confidence and positivity assures them that they will stay there. Reading engagement, however, is not just about attitudes. Indeed, attitude might be considered another individualistic term. Instead of a reader‘s attitude, it might be better to refer to social identifications, or identifying as a part of a social community. There are elements of enjoyment associated with flow experiences. In talking about the enjoyment that people feel when they have a positive flow experience, Csikszentmihalyi (1990) says that people make mention of at least one, and oftentimes many, of the following eight things that are good indicators of flow. First, the task being undertaken is one in which there exists a good likelihood of success. Second, the person is able to concentrate on the task at hand. Third, there are clear goals associated with the task. Fourth, the task provides immediate feedback. Fifth, involvement in the task is such that extraneous worries and potential external distractions are set aside or ignored. Sixth, there is an element of control over the task. Seventh, self concerns disappear, yet, after the experience is over, the sense of self is even greater. Finally, one‘s sense of the passage of time is altered. Time can seem to fly by or, alternatively, there might be an abundance of time where none previously seemed to exist. All of these indicators of flow might also be said to be indicators of socio-cognitive and socio-emotional engagement. Because of the nature of SSR practices, SSR time seems to be among the most likely times of a school day when students might enjoy flow experiences. The relaxed, low-key nature of sustained silent reading time, with the general lack of external student accountability, and minimisation of distractions, can promote a positive environment conducive to flow reading 54 experiences. Students are free to concentrate on having enjoyable, absorbing experiences with texts. Such conditions provide a setting within which Csikzentmihalyi‘s optimal experiences might be enjoyed, with students free to become lost in a book (Nell, 1988). Despite these conditions, some students regularly fail to engage in reading during sustained silent reading time (Clements, 2002; Lee-Daniels & Murray, 2000; Trudel, 2007). Csikszentmihalyi (1990) chose the term flow to describe optimal experiences because, when interviewed, many people used this term to describe how they felt when they were in top form and fully engaged in an activity. When everything is proceeding smoothly and we lose ourselves in an experience, we might say that we were ―in the flow,‖ or that ―things just flowed along.‖ Some might also state that the experience is like floating, as if perhaps being carried along by the flow of a stream. These types of descriptors are similarly indicative of engagement in a reading event. Abbott (2000) demonstrated that grade five students are capable of identifying and talking about flow experiences. While Abbott‘s report focused upon writers, much of it is relevant to this study and the focus upon readers. Abbott‘s study involved two boys, Anthony and Tamarik, who elected to participate in self-sponsored writing activities at least once a week. Self-sponsored writing referred to choosing to spend free time writing. Abbott collected data over a four-month period. Both Anthony and Tamarik were talented young writers who occasionally enjoyed flow experiences while writing. When 11-year-old Anthony spoke about his flow experiences, he referred to it as ―blinking out,‖ saying that he ―blinks out‖ everything else, effectively removing himself from distractions. Anthony described being so absorbed in his writing that he was unaware of his surroundings. He also described this experience as like being in a deep sleep, or 55 being in a bubble that isolated him from outside distractions. In his bubble, it was always silent. Anthony even suggested that an earthquake might occur but, when in flow, he would not even notice, being ―aware of nothing‖ (p. 76). When deeply engaged, Anthony likened his writing to a bullet train on a fast track. Under normal, non-engaged circumstances, writing was more like a freight train shunting along and stopping at lots of little red stop signs. Ten-year-old Tamarik described his flow experiences as ―having the touch.‖ He likened it to a soccer game in which he kept scoring goals, presumably having something akin to the Midas touch. Tamarik also said that when he experienced flow while completing written tests, he was confident, indeed sure, when he was finished that he had performed well. Tamarik referred to a flashlight in his brain, again presumably, illuminating spaces in which information was stored. Gambrell’s Diagram of the Engaged Reader Gambrell (1996a) has provided a diagram of engaged readers (Figure 3). In it, she illustrates her belief that motivation, knowledge, strategy use and social interaction combine to produce the engaged reader. This diagram, with the various components of engagement, has influenced my way of thinking about engagement and helped to frame this study. One of the ways it did this is because it clearly illustrates that there is a distinction between engagement and motivation. 56 The engaged reader Motivated Knowledgeable The engaged reader Strategic Socially interactive Figure 3. Gambrell‘s diagram of the engaged reader. (© International Reading Association, 1996, used with permission). The distinction between engagement and motivation is not always apparent in the professional literature. Because reading engagement is closely associated with motivation to read, the two terms are often used conjunctively and interchangeably (see Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997; Schraw & Bruning, 1999). Such conjunctive and interchangeable use of reading motivation and reading engagement is not only confusing, but also misleading in light of Gambrell‘s diagram. There is confusion surrounding a number of ambiguous terms dealing with the affective domain. Indeed, many affective factors are difficult to define and terms such as attitude, motivation and interest are difficult to distinguish one from the other (Mathewson, 1985). As a result, many affective terms are used interchangeably and, often, inappropriately or 57 inaccurately. The misuse of terms relating to the affective domain causes confusion and represents a barrier to progress being made in this important sphere of literacy education (Mele, 2003). Gambrell‘s diagram makes the distinction between engagement and motivation clear when she identifies motivation as one of four components of the engaged reader. She writes, ―It is not by accident that motivation is mentioned first in the description of the engaged reader,‖ (p. 17) and goes on to stress the essential nature that motivation plays in engagement. Clearly, motivation and engagement are, however, different. Engagement requires motivation, but is not the same thing. As a corollary, we might say that a healthy lifestyle requires physical exercise, but they are not the same things. Further adding to the confusion surrounding these terms, however, is the fact that, in the past, some labelled the use of a particular comprehension strategy as reading engagement. When Tierney and Pearson (1983) described readers trying to visualize text scenes from the vantage point of a character, they referred to this strategy as engagement. Non-engagement: A Study Definition Non-engaged readers generally remain passive and inactive. Wherever possible, they avoid reading and minimize the effort they invest into reading. The non-engaged reader derives little enjoyment from reading (Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000). Rosenshine and Stevens (1984) identify behaviours such as ―daydreaming, socializing, doodling, not paying attention, sharpening pencils, and the like‖ as being indicative of non-engagement (p. 784). Having searched the relevant literature, and in consideration of my earlier discussion of engaged readers, for the purposes of this study, during SSR, non-engaged readers were defined as readers who possessed a number of the following traits during the classroom time set aside for SSR. These students are passive, inactive readers who seldom see reading as a pleasurable 58 experience. These students are often unwilling to take risks and, as such, rarely venture beyond their limited reading comfort zone. That is, they generally have a small range of texts or genres that they read. Additionally, selected texts are rarely challenging. Indeed, wherever possible, they avoid reading. They are generally disinterested and unenthusiastic about reading during SSR. They often lack confidence in their reading abilities and are generally not strategic in their approach to reading. They see little purpose in reading and lack reading goals. These students are inattentive. They fail to maintain concentration as they read and, as such, they are easily distracted from the task, and participate in behaviours that could potentially prove distracting to their classmates. Motivation While engagement is not comprised only of motivation, it is a key factor and, given the confusion of terms mentioned earlier, motivation here deserves further elaboration. The important role of motivation in school achievement has long been recognised (Krathwohl, Bloom, & Masia, 1964). Teachers consider student motivation to be one of their principal concerns (Veenman, 1984). In a National Reading Research Center survey, teachers rated ―creating interest in reading‖ as the number one priority for reading research (O‘Flahavan, Gambrell, Guthrie, Stahl, & Alvermann, 1992, p. 12). Merely teaching children how to read and write achieves little if they have no desire to do so (Morrow, 2004), yet this is not an uncommon educational outcome (Moser & Morrison, 1998). Teachers‘ concern with the motivation of their students is well founded, given the wellestablished link between motivation and achievement (Baker et al., 2000; Ford, 1992; McKenna & Kear, 1990; Walberg & Tsai, 1985). 59 Many believe that the more children read, the better they get at it (Allington, 1977; Anderson et al., 1985; Gambrell, 2007), opening up a reading ability gap over their struggling and unmotivated peers that continues to widen as the children get older. Stanovich (1986) described this phenomenon as the Matthew effect, whereby the rich (capable and motivated readers) get richer and the poor (struggling, unmotivated readers) get poorer. Significantly, a child‘s motivation to read has been shown to be a predictor of the amount and breadth of their reading, even after controlling for previous amount and breadth of reading (Wigfield & Guthrie, 1997). A highly motivated, voracious middle school reader might read as many as 50 million words per year, compared to an average for that age level of about one million words per year. The least capable and least motivated middle school readers might read just 100,000 words per year (Nagy & Anderson, 1984). Despite the recognition of the importance of motivation to academic success, the manner in which the affective domain influences reading has traditionally received surprisingly little research attention (Alexander & Filler, 1976; Athey, 1985; Mathewson, 1985) and is often ignored in models of reading (Athey, 1971). Most surprisingly, despite recognition that motivation in reading has not received the attention it warrants, this situation persists (Guthrie & Wigfield, 1997; Morrow, 2004; Shapiro, 1993; Wigfield & McCann, 1997). Motivation theorists seek to explain why people do the things that they do (Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999). Those interested in studying motivation endeavour to understand and explain the choices that people make—why they do what they do, given the vast array of options that they have (Wigfield, 1997). Motivation theorists are also interested in the amount of effort that people invest into their chosen activities and the degree of persistence with which they stick to these chosen activities (Weiner, 1992). 60 Pintrich and Schunk (2002) say that motivation is ―the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained‖ (p. 5). This definition bears closer examination. First, motivation is a process, rather than a final product. We talk so much in education about motivating our students. When we do so, we really are thinking of motivation as a product— something to be achieved or produced. As a process, however, Pintrich and Schunk tell us that we cannot directly observe motivation (as we might if it were, indeed, a product). Rather, we infer motivation from those things—those products—that we can observe, such as our students‘ persistence and efforts, and the things that they say to us about the activities in which they are participating. The motivation process is goal-directed. The goals provide impetus for action. These goals vary greatly from individual to individual and situation to situation. They may, indeed, oft times be considered by teachers to be rather inappropriate (doing things with the goal of esteeming oneself above others, and showing off or misbehaving as an attention-seeking device) but the fact remains that the goals exist. These goals provide a target that the motivated individual is trying to attain. Pintrich and Schunk‘s definition of motivation involves activity. They emphasise that the activity might be mental or physical. The activity is undertaken to attain the goals. The physical activity is often readily apparent; the mental activity can be more complex and includes thinking, planning, and decision-making. Finally, Pintrich and Schunk tell us that motivated activity is instigated and sustained. Motivated individuals do things. They do not merely desire to do things. According to Pintrich and Schunk, motivated individuals also persist. They do more than merely start a project; they sustain their action, even in the face of obstacles and setbacks. 61 Overall motivation is often considered in terms of intrinsic and extrinsic motives for doing things (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Intrinsically motivated behaviours include those that are performed for no apparent reward except for that of actual participation in the activity itself (Deci, 1975); one is motivated to engage in an activity for its own sake (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). The flow experience is an end in itself. It can be such an enjoyable experience that people report that even their work can give them such pleasure that they would do it even if they did not have to. Things that we initially resist might surprisingly become flow experiences. Because most enjoyable activities demand an effort, they may often be resisted on the basis that we do not want to put forth that effort. In doing so, however, that which we might once have been forced to do can become intrinsically rewarding (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). This intrinsic motivation provides the impetus necessary to initiate and sustain activity, and it does so because of the inherent satisfaction one feels through involvement in the given activity (Deci, Koerstner, & Ryan, 1999). Intrinsic motivation is often manifested in behaviours such as play, exploration of the unknown, and seeking challenges to overcome. Intrinsic motivation to read also includes reading for one‘s own purposes. While this may include reading for pleasure, it is not necessarily so limited. Reading to obtain information and advance learning is often an intrinsic reason why many people pursue reading. Reading for social purposes can also be intrinsically motivating. There are many socially inspired, intrinsically rewarding reasons for reading. Briefly, such behaviours might include completing reading because one belongs to a book club; reading about a topic that is currently in the news; reading a text because it has been recommended by a peer, or because it is receiving public attention; and reading so as to enjoy a sense of belonging to a group, perhaps, as is well illustrated by the Harry Potter phenomenon, or the immense popularity of Oprah’s Book Club. 62 On the other hand, extrinsic motivation has generally been said to exist when an activity is rewarded by incentives not inherent in the task (Cameron, Banko, & Pierce, 2001) or when one is motivated to engage in an activity as a means to an other end (Pintrich & Schunk, 2002). The ends may include such things as reward, praise, and avoidance of punishment. Extrinsically motivated students can be worrisome for teachers for they ―may have to be enticed, cajoled, or prodded, [and] are often interested in performing easy tasks and meeting minimal standards‖ (Ormrod, 1998, p. 476). One view of the relationship between intrinsic and extrinsic motivation is that they combine to produce what might be considered a greater overall level of total motivation—a sum of the parts (Cameron et al., 2001). An alternative viewpoint suggests that extrinsic rewards detract from intrinsic motivation and may eventually decrease the level of overall motivation (DeCharms, 1968; Deci et al., 1999). When we think of reading as the construction of meaning (Goodman, 1986), we recognise that reading is a deliberate act (Guthrie & Wigfield, 1999). This understanding of reading, then, concerns purposeful, deliberate attempts to understand text and might be distinguished from the subconscious interpretation of unavoidable exposure to environmental print and texts, where we seemingly unavoidably process words in an automatic, unconscious manner. With the understanding of reading as the construction of meaning, we recognise that reading takes effort and, therefore, one must make the choice to read (Wigfield, 1997). In so choosing, an individual elects to read when that person‘s choice could otherwise have been any one of a number of other options—to watch television, go for a walk outside, take a nap, or however else one chooses to pass the time. Because it involves effort and choice, reading is influenced by motivation (Wigfield, 1997). 63 It is possible to apply Pintrich and Schunk‘s (2002) general definition of motivation (―the process whereby goal-directed activity is instigated and sustained‖) specifically to reading. As a process, we cannot observe the motivation to read. We can, however, infer motivation from the reading behaviours of our students. We can observe the veracity with which students read texts. We can watch as our students persist with difficult texts. We can hear the things they say about reading in general, or specifically about given texts or passages. The goal-directed nature of reading motivation provides the impetus for reading to take place. Whether reading to satisfy extrinsic or intrinsic goals, they remain goals nonetheless. Reading to earn rewards, reading to complete an assignment, reading to avoid other assignments, reading for pleasure, reading to learn—all of these pursuits are reflective of the goal-directed nature of reading motivation. Applying Pintrich and Schunk‘s motivation definition to reading tells us that motivated readers will instigate and sustain reading acts. Motivated readers will choose to begin reading. Depending on the context and the nature of their task, they will continue to read despite obstacles such as difficulties with the text or breakdowns in comprehension. One important component of motivation is a reader‘s self-efficacy. This concept pertains to students‘ perceptions of their own capabilities, or their confidence about their ability to perform a given task in a given situation. Self-concept is a more general term than self-efficacy. A high self-concept might lead children to conclude that they are good readers. High selfefficacy, being more specific, might lead children to say they are confident they can read and understand a given poem, or a certain book, or genre (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003). Students with high opinions of their abilities are more likely to confidently tackle and persist with difficult tasks (Schunk, 2003) and, as they do so, to further enhance their abilities and inspire increased 64 motivation. Efficacy also contributes to the likelihood of a learner becoming engaged (Jinks & Lorsbach, 2003). While both self-concept and self-efficacy can be said to motivate behaviour, these individualistic terms might also be considered in conjunction with the notion of identity as a reader. Gee (1996) uses the term identity toolkit because our identities are something we use. For example, Jobe identified himself as an authority figure in the role playing games that he and his friends participated in during lunchtime breaks. As such, Jobe created and explained the rules of the games. Nadia saw herself as an authority on Anime graphic novels and she employed that identity when she instructed me with relation to the genre, deciding which things were important for me to know. We put on different identities at different times. Luke (2000; Luke & Kale, 1997) also uses tools and toolkits to refer to language use. Luke asserts that language and literacy are powerful tools that one uses to position oneself in the world, gaining access to knowledge and information from which one would otherwise be deprived. Literacy is a tool for making sense of the world and for interacting with others within that world. One‘s identity toolkit and one‘s use of that toolkit are obviously influenced by such things as self-concept and self-efficacy. It is, thus, possible to apply a reading-specific application to Pintrich and Schunk‘s general definition of motivation. Doing so produces a definition similar to Morrow‘s (2004): ―Motivated readers and writers initiate and sustain literacy activities, and they choose to read and write for pleasure and for information‖ (p. 6). This definition is also consistent with Guthrie and Wigfield‘s (2000) definition of reading motivation as, ―The individual‘s personal goals, values, and beliefs with regard to the topics, processes, and outcomes of reading‖ (p. 405). 65 Social Interaction One way to foster student engagement with reading is to encourage social interaction around texts. Vygotsky (1978) emphasized the importance of a social learning environment. Indeed, Vygotsky‘s celebrated zone of proximal development is centered on the notion that one benefits from collaboration with others. This idea is compatible with current views of reading instruction and, indeed, with views of literacy as a social practice. These views are based in socio-cultural theories of learning, wherein emphasis is placed upon learning as a social process (Raphael & McMahon, 1994). Traditionally, literacy learning theories have concentrated on individuals, but recent ideas about education emphasize the social nature of learning and the importance of others in creating understanding (Turner, 1995). Because of these current notions about learning, there has been a revival in attention toward classroom conversations (Gambrell, 1996b; Gambrell, Mazzoni, & Almasi, 2000). The first Russian edition of Vygotsky‘s Thought and Language (English version, 1962) was published posthumously a few months after the author‘s death in 1934. This book and the 1978 reprint of Mind in Society brought Vygotsky and his ideas to prominence in the Western world. Vygotsky‘s notion of the zone of proximal development is central to the theoretical perspective within which this study is constructed. The zone of proximal development is the ability gap between what a student can achieve on his or her own, and what that same student can achieve with the assistance, of a companion. Essentially, the significant other provides the assistance, encouragement, mentoring, and inspiration necessary to enable the student to enhance her/his performance. The role of significant other was one that sometimes seemed lacking with Jobe and Nadia insofar as SSR reading was concerned. 66 Notions of Support In response to the zone of proximal development, Bruner (1984, 1986) and Wood (1980) introduced the notion of scaffolding. Bruner says that it is a matter of someone with greater knowledge and awareness providing assistance to a less knowledgeable and less aware associate, in order to assist the latter in metaphorically climbing to higher ground. Talking specifically of families, Wood proposed that the less capable a child is to perform a task, the greater the role undertaken by the child‘s parent or significant other. Wood, Bruner, and Ross (1976) described scaffolding as ―controlling those elements of the task that are initially beyond the learner‘s capability, thus permitting him to concentrate upon and complete only those elements that are within his range of competence‖ (p. 9). Whether it be a parent, as described in Wood‘s case, or a teacher working with a student, the more capable other will offer more assistance if the task is particularly demanding, and less assistance if the task is more easily achievable. Wood et al. (1976) identify six functions served by scaffolding. Scaffolding helps, first of all, to attract a child to a given task. Second, scaffolding breaks larger tasks into manageable smaller pieces. Third, scaffolding assists a child to remain on task and move forward. Fourth, scaffolding helps the child to identify the most important aspects of a task. Fifth, scaffolding serves to motivate and encourage the child. Sixth, scaffolding provides an example or model for the child to follow. Another notion of support consistent with Vygotsky‘s zone of proximal development is what Rogoff (1990) labelled guided participation. Rogoff described guided participation as children‘s active involvement in culturally structured activities, with the support of their companions. Indeed, Rogoff also suggested adults and more capable children might best facilitate a child‘s development by challenging and constraining less able children. Rogoff 67 described this process as an apprenticeship in thinking—children learning how to think by observing and collaborating with others. The instructional method is, of course, not dissimilar to that of trades people and their plumbing, building, or electrical apprentices. The tradesperson will invariably not only support, but also constrain and challenge, his or her young associates. More recently, Rogoff (2003) has stressed mutual involvement in guided participation. That is to say, children‘s learning is not best promoted through mere observation of more capable companions, but through actual participation alongside, and conversations with, their companions. Knowledge and ability are constructed through participation, not merely absorbed through observation. O‘Flahavan (1995) has also employed notions of scaffolding when explaining the role that a teacher takes in supporting classroom literature conversations. The teacher effectively helps the students to help themselves. The teacher‘s input assists students in their move toward literary independence. O‘Flahavan distinguishes between scaffolding, which he says occurs during conversations, and coaching, which occurs before and after a conversation. To most effectively promote learning through authentic conversations, the teacher needs to determine the type and the amount of assistance that is required. Teachers might choose to coach, or to scaffold, or to do both. Daniels and colleagues (Daniels & Bizar, 1998; Zemelman et al., 1998) identified discussion, sharing, and social interaction as elements of educational Best Practice, indicative of ―serious, thoughtful, informed, responsible, state-of-the-art teaching‖ (Zemelman et al., 1998, p. viii). They emphasize that literacy is both constructed, and rooted, in a social setting. Literacy essentially involves making meaning within a social context (Gambrell et al., 2000). 68 Conversations Collaboration and social discourse can also be motivating for children (Gambrell & Morrow, 1996; Turner, 1995; Turner & Paris, 1995). Almasi (1996) asserts that students who participate in conversations about what they read are more active readers. Theories of motivation suggest that literacy education is made possible by social relations (Gambrell et al., 2000). Literary conversations also foster important listening, speaking, and thinking skills (Gambrell, 1996b). While there must be opportunities for children to have solitary literacy experiences, ―the beginning motive and ending pay-off for most literacy work is profoundly social‖ (Zemelman et al., 1998, p. 45). As Kasten (1997) points out, educators often invest considerable energy into maintaining classroom quiet, mistakenly believing that student silence equates with student productivity. The conventional classroom approach to literacy has been one that has effectively prevented children from connecting socially (Zemelman et al., 1998). In the opinion of Bruner (1996), the notion of solo learning is an unfortunate projection of the individualistic ideology of the Western world. Bruner emphatically dismisses such notions as inaccurate. We do not learn unassisted and unscaffolded. Bruner says that it is in the give-andtake of conversations and discourse that we develop new understandings and come to know new things. Many schools, however, continue to demand students work alone. In some cases, attempts at collaboration are still considered to be cheating, and may result in severe punishment (Daniels & Bizar, 1998). Such views are embedded in the notion of competition—perhaps another unfortunate individualistic projection of the Western world. In such settings, students 69 match themselves against one another, as opposed to developing a sense of classroom community (Cole, 1998) and having students working with one another (Daniels & Bizar, 1998). Teachers who insist upon keeping children quiet fail to recognize the critical role in learning played by social interaction (Kasten, 1997). Social interaction, and having children share what they have read, is a significant motivator in getting children to read (Palmer, Codling, & Gambrell, 1994; Perez, 1986) and is also important in improving and increasing their reading strategies (Wilkinson & Silliman, 2000). Indeed, an important early step toward helping children become avid readers is for them to converse with others about what they read. In their study of recreational reading models, including SSR, Manning and Manning (1984) randomly assigned 24 teachers and 415 grade four students to one of four groups, including a control group. Manning and Manning concluded that recreational reading models that contained some form of social interaction and sharing after reading, whether it be in the form of peer interactions, or conferencing with the teacher, were the approaches that had a positive impact upon reading attitudes and abilities. SSR is a reading approach that generally does not include external accountability measures. That is, teachers often do not impose follow-up activities to assess what has been read and learned during sustained silent reading time (Pilgreen, 2000). It has been suggested that nothing should be required of children after sustained silent reading that does not come ―willingly and naturally‖ (McCracken & McCracken, 1978, p. 407). While such a stipulation precludes written book reports, vocabulary study, worksheets, or testing, McCracken and McCracken (1978) feel that it still allows for a conversation about what has been read. Indeed, students want to talk about what they have read during sustained silent reading time (McCracken, 1971). Interestingly, as one of the components of a sustained silent reading practice, Moore et al. 70 (1980) advocated for the inclusion of time for conversations and sharing of what has been read during SSR. My own experience and observations, however, suggest this is not usually the classroom practice. Authentic Conversations Natural, authentic conversations are engaging (Daniels, 1994, 2002). Participation in real conversations with other individuals is a natural extension of our identity as social beings and, as such, there should be little doubt that elementary aged children can and will meaningfully talk about texts if the conditions are conducive to such talk (O‘Flahavan, 1995). With the increasing use of book clubs (McMahon & Raphael, 1997; Raphael, Pardo, & Highfield, 2002) and literature circles (Daniels, 1994, 2002) in the classroom, it has been shown that conditions conducive to student talk are those in which adults do not dominate the conversation. Freire (1970) suggests that in classrooms where there is an emphasis on authentic conversations, the teacher is no longer the only teacher, or only the teacher. Individuals learn from, and teach, one another. Almasi (1996) says that authentic conversations are not to be confused with what Cazden (1988) has identified as traditional classroom recitations. According to Almasi, in recitations, there is no collaborative attempt by the participants to construct and enhance their individual and collective understanding of the text. In recitations, students are merely respondents. The teacher does all of the questioning and almost always only asks questions to which he or she already knows the answer. The student‘s role is to do little more than respond to the teacher‘s questions, effectively reciting answers to scripted questions. The accuracy or value of those responses is dependent on what the teacher considers to be the ―right‖ answer. In authentic conversations, however, students often ask questions as they seek deeper understandings. Students also express 71 their opinions, oftentimes respectfully challenging the opinions of others. Students also are involved in determining the focus and direction of the conversation, not merely being led by the authority of the teacher. According to Nystrand (1997), authentic conversations are dialogic. They involve a dynamic conversation between participants. There is genuine dialogue as individuals combine to find unknown answers to the questions that arise during the dialogue. Nystrand says that, on the other hand, recitation is monologic. First the teacher speaks, asking questions for which there is a specific answer. When the teacher has finished, it is the student‘s turn, but the turn to talk is used only to provide the answer the teacher wants to hear. There is nothing dynamic or active about the conversation. Gambrell (1996b) agrees with the understanding of authentic conversations as dialogic. They occur as a natural and fluid exchange of ideas in a free and open collaboration that is not controlled by a particular individual. Authentic conversations are purposeful and engaging (Johannessen, 2003). One purpose is to construct meaning, which is in itself often an engaging pursuit. Johannessen (2003) suggests seven strategies for initiating authentic conversations. First, create controversy, as exploration of controversial topics can inspire increased interest. Second, use collaboration. This involves working together to solve problems or answer difficult questions. Third, pose questions that do not have easy answers. Pose puzzles, questions, or problems, to which there can be several answers, none of which is clear-cut. Fourth, make connections between the topic of conversation and the lives of the participants. Fifth, connect the text being discussed to the prior knowledge of the students. Sixth, pose questions that necessitate critical thinking. Questions should go beyond literal interpretations of the text, demanding more than just a superficial understanding. Seventh, provide sufficient time for deep exploration and explanation. 72 With these things in mind, it was my intention to participate in semi-structured interviews that had the feel of authentic, meaningful, two-way conversations with the children involved in this study. Despite these intentions, I found that my semi-structured interviews were not always as authentic and dialogic as I intended. I concede that there were occasions when I dominated the conversation or when I reverted merely to posing questions. While there were occasions when I participated in authentic conversations, my struggles in this area revealed to me that such dynamic conversations/interviews may not always be possible and that, despite one‘s best intentions, we educators sometimes fall back into known practices, rather than what we perceive to be ideal practices. There can sometimes be disconnections between what we believe and what we do, or what we want to do and what we actually do. As I will elaborate on later, in this study, compared to my semi-structured interviews with Nadia, I generally found my semi-structured interviews with Jobe to be more authentic, more dialogic, more collaborative, and more freeflowing. A Missing Link It has been reported that many readers do not get as much out of sustained silent reading time as they might (Robertson et al., 1996). My own observations and experiences support such research findings. This being the case, a need exists to find ways to increase the value of independent reading time for all readers. Several reports suggest that the inclusion of social interaction and relaxing the rule of silence may assist non-engaged readers to derive greater benefit from their sustained silent reading time (Gambrell, 1998; Guthrie & Wigfield, 2000; Lesesne, 1991; Moser & Morrison, 1998; Palmer et al., 1994). 73 In reporting a summary of 50 years of research into the development of lifetime readers, Lesesne (1991) identifies five key points. First, the love of reading needs to be fostered through enjoyable reading experiences. Second, children need adult role models who enjoy reading and discussing what they have read. Third, students need to be given time in school to read for pleasure. Fourth, ―free‖ reading time motivates students in that it liberates them from the pressures of having assignments attached to their reading, and allows them to select their own reading materials. Finally, readers need opportunities to respond to a text. Significantly, each of these key components is typically standard fare in school sustained silent reading practice, with the notable exception of the responding to, and talking about, what has been read. In a series of studies, Gambrell (1998) asked elementary students how teachers could increase reading interest and excitement. The studies focussed on grade-one, -three, and -five students. In the first of the 4 grade-one studies, more than 7,000 children from 49 schools in 9 U.S.A. states were involved in the Running Start early reading programme. The studies explored the notion of motivational reading programmes and the effectiveness and value of such initiatives. The grade three and grade five studies were used to develop and trial the Motivation to Read Profile. As mentioned in chapter 1, that same tool was used as a data gathering instrument in this study. In answer to the question of how teachers might make reading more interesting, the responses included requests for the following: more time to read; fewer interruptions; student self-selection; opportunities to share; wide selections of titles from which to choose; teacher encouragement; and teacher modeling. With the exception of sharing time, each of these requests can be accommodated through the introduction of a standard sustained silent reading practice. 74 Moser and Morrison (1998) cite a review of literature that suggests four methods of fostering a love of reading. Three methods are included within most sustained silent reading practices. Indeed, the first method they identify is actually allowing time for sustained silent reading to occur. Second, they note that readers should be given the opportunity to self-select. Third, they suggest an adult role model should be provided. Again, however, the one method SSR lacks is the opportunity for children to be involved in sharing what they have read. Palmer et al. (1994) identify four aspects of literacy learning that are significant motivational factors for students of all reading proficiency levels. They list prior reading experiences, social interaction, access to reading materials, and self-selection as being critical. Sustained silent reading clearly provides access to, and self-selection of, reading materials. Significantly, with regard to SSR, social interaction is again neglected, and of further significance, it should be noted that through this interaction, children can build prior reading experiences, telling and learning about different texts. In discussing engaged readers, Guthrie and Wigfield (2000) state that engagement requires cognition, social interaction, and motivation. Sustained silent reading allows for the cognition, or employment of strategies and knowledge in practicing reading. Sustained silent reading is also recognized as a means of increasing motivation to read (Moore et al., 1980; McCracken, 1971). Again, however, the social interaction component of engagement is a neglected element of SSR. With relation to the development of engaged readers, these several reports contain support for the practice of sustained silent reading. The authors of these reports identify a number of factors they see as being critical to the development of engaged readers. Of the factors they identify, however, a factor repeatedly missing from standard sustained silent reading 75 practice is that of social interaction. Provision for conversations in conjunction with a SSR experience would allow children opportunities to share what they have read and may assist nonengaged readers in becoming engaged. Summary of this Literature Review Chapter This study explored non-engagement within the SSR context. This study aimed to provide insights into what students identified as non-engaged SSR readers say about reading. The study was also intended to provide information about the reasons these students failed to engage. With these things in mind, this chapter has presented a review of the theory and research that is relevant to the ways in which we may understand children‘s non-engagement/engagement during sustained silent reading, and the importance of engagement to children becoming motivated, strategic readers with confidence in their reading abilities. The review began with a discussion of the idea of literacy as a social practice. The situatedness of literacy was reviewed, emphasising the essential role that the context plays in literacy. I then provided an overview of SSR. This overview included details of the assumptions that underlie the practice of SSR. There was also discussion of calls for more research into the efficacy of SSR. In discussing engagement, mention was made of the increased attention being paid to notions of student engagement and how it might be increased. The characteristics of engagement were discussed, including focus upon the role that motivation plays in student engagement. The literature review then examined social interaction as it pertains to this study, including notions of support and authentic conversations. In reviewing this relevant literature, it became clear that there is a need for studies that focus on the common classroom practice of sustained silent reading and the problem of students 76 who are unable to, or choose not to, engage in reading during this classroom time. Further, studies are needed which extend and broaden our understanding of engagement and nonengagement and the ways in which social interaction may assist some children‘s development as readers. 77 CHAPTER 3 Methods This study was designed to answer two research questions: 1) What do students who are identified as non-engaged readers during sustained silent reading (SSR) say about their reading?; and, 2) What factors appear to impact non-engagement of individuals during SSR? Given the complexities of notions of non-engagement and engagement, and given how little we know about students during SSR, I employed various data collection procedures, in an effort to yield as much information as was practical that would be of use in developing further understanding of this important area of research. In this chapter, I provide details of the methods employed in conducting this study. The remainder of the chapter is divided into five sections. The first section includes a discussion of the research site. In the second section, I discuss the study participants. In the third section, I explain the procedure followed during semi-structured interviews with the students involved in the study. In the fourth section, I focus upon data collection and include details of the types of data collected and the procedures followed in collecting those data. In the final section, I describe the procedures that I followed for data analysis. Research Site Because of the theoretical frame of this study that recognizes situated nature of reading engagement and, indeed, literacy in general, the context of the research site is of great importance here. An individual and that individual‘s attitudes and ―performance‖ is not merely a product of the various contexts in which the individual finds herself or himself. An individual 78 also influences that setting. The individual is not just being acted upon, but is also acting upon the setting. Figure 4 is designed to show that an individual student is influenced by the contexts in which the student is situated, but also influences those contexts. In the figure, the individual student is depicted as ―cutting across‖ contexts, influencing the setting and being influenced by it. A given child will influence, and be influenced by, the family, the community, and the country. The child will influence, and be influenced by, the school and class that the student attends. An individual will be influenced by the practice of SSR, but will also influence that practice as the child adheres, or not, to the SSR rules and routines. Finally, a student is influenced by her or his engagement in reading, but at least equally, that same student‘s individual make-up will influence the child‘s ability and/or willingness to engage in reading. 79 Family / Community / Country Seacoast Elementary School Ms. Robins‘ grade six classroom Sustained silent reading time Reading engagement Individual student Figure 4. An individual and various contexts. My data gathering visits to the classroom research site were not limited only to the class SSR time. I also regularly observed classroom procedures beyond SSR, focusing most specifically on literacy practices in the classroom. Whole-day classroom observations were made on an on-going basis throughout the seven-and-a-half-weeks of data collection. As mentioned earlier, bearing in mind notions of literacy as a social practice, the study setting is critical to understanding the results of this study. Therefore, it is appropriate that much of the detail of my description of the study setting is withheld until the next, Results, chapter of this thesis. As such, suffice it for now to specify merely that the research site for this study was a 80 grade six classroom in an elementary public school in a large multicultural metropolitan city in one of Canada‘s western provinces. Participants In the following section, I discuss the participants involved in this study. This section contains two sub-sections. In the first sub-section, I explain the procedures I followed in selecting Jobe and Nadia for participation in the study. In the second sub-section, I include a brief discussion of the reasons I elected to proceed with two study participants. Participant Selection The two students, Jobe and Nadia, eventually selected to participate in this study were identified by their teacher as non-engaged readers during SSR. Both participants were grade six students from Ms. Robins‘ public school classroom. Ms. Robins also identified both Jobe and Nadia as being of average or above average reading ability for their grade level. This assertion was also consistent with the impression that I formed during seven-and-a-half-weeks of closely observing them and meeting with the two of them. It was my desire to conduct this study in a classroom with students in grade five or above, because I considered that, at such a grade level, the study participants would likely be able to identify and articulate their feelings associated with engagement and non-engagement more fully than would younger students. Indeed, Abbott (2000) has previously demonstrated this capability with grade five students. Being able to identify and talk about engagement was of significance to this study because, through these abilities, the students could potentially have yielded illuminating data during the semi-structured interviews I conducted with each of them. 81 Other than being identified by their classroom teacher as non-engaged readers during SSR time, the students selected to participate in this study were not what is generally termed struggling readers. That is to say, these were not students who had formally been identified as having any learning or reading difficulties. There is often a relationship between learning difficulties and non-engagement. Indeed, it often is the case that the learning difficulties prevent engagement. Students who cannot control their attention and maintain focus cannot invest and maintain the concentration necessary for immersion in a reading event (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990). I should also insert the rider here that this study was limited to students who were proficient English readers who selected only English language texts during SSR time. It is appropriate to insert this stipulation because of my lack of a second language, because of the high population of English as a Second Language learners in the study area, and because of the self-selection element of SSR. Self-selection potentially allows students to be reading nonEnglish texts during SSR time (Pilgreen, 2003).Throughout this study, however, I did not observe any of Ms. Robins‘ students reading during SSR from anything other than Englishlanguage texts. Interestingly, however, toward the end of data collection, Nadia did make mention of reading at home some Chinese language texts in preparation for a summer visit to China. Having submitted a research proposal to the relevant school board, I was granted permission to conduct this research study within a school in the board. After a review by the University Behavioural Research Ethics Board, I was provided with a Certificate of Approval (appendix A) stating that the procedures described in my ethics application were found to be acceptable on ethical grounds for research involving human participants. In my initial application, I stated that I intended to conduct my research in a grade five classroom. After 82 discussing the matter with the grade five and grade six teachers, the school principal asked me to conduct the research project in a grade six classroom. As such, I submitted a request for approval of this amendment to my plans to the University Ethics Board. I was then issued with a second Certificate of Approval (appendix B). I contacted the school board, the individual school principal, and the grade six classroom teacher, Ms. Robins, to obtain permission to conduct the study in Ms. Robins‘ classroom. After permission was granted, my initial data collection efforts involved observing and documenting the literacy practices of the classroom for two days, from opening exercises through to the end of the school day. The criteria used to select the study participants initially included referral by the classroom teacher. This study‘s definition of non-engagement (see pages 56 and 57) was explained to the teacher and then Ms. Robins was asked to nominate students she believed to be capable readers who were, however, generally non-engaged during sustained silent reading time. I then sent a letter to the parents or guardians of each of these children, seeking consent for their child to be involved as a study participant. The consent forms were accompanied by an explanatory cover letter. The children were also issued with an assent form to sign. Ms. Robins also agreed to sign a consent form indicating her willingness to allow me to conduct research in her classroom and to interview her regarding the project. Ms. Robins nominated six students that she felt were suitable for participation in the study. Of the parents of the six students, only three returned the consent forms within the time specified on the cover letter. Once parental permission was granted, and the consent forms returned, for two days during their classroom sustained silent reading time I observed those children for whom 83 permission to participate was granted. This observation period served to verify the teacher‘s assertions that these seemed, indeed, to be non-engaged students during SSR. When I had observed a nominated student engage in 10 or more behaviours suggestive of non-engagement during at least one of the two 15-minutes-long verification sessions, that student was deemed to be an appropriate candidate for participation in the study. The types of behaviours that I considered to be suggestive of non-engagement were those behaviours that were in violation of the established classroom rules or expectations for the SSR time period. Such observed behaviours included such things as talking with neighbours, completing math homework, walking about the room in areas where the student was not permitted during SSR, arm wrestling and sitting at one‘s desk without a text to read. There may be inconsistencies between what appears to be non-engagement and what really is non-engagement. There may also be inconsistencies between socio-cognitive and socioemotional engagement and socio-behavioural engagement. The verification sessions, therefore, did not necessarily verify non-engagement, but they served to verify that the students were appropriate participants for this study in that their teacher had identified them as non-engaged during SSR and that my initial observations suggested those same students appeared often to not be engaging in the routines of SSR. Although the verification sessions focussed only on one manifestation of engagement (socio-behaviourally engaging in the SSR routines), this provided a suitable starting point for the study. Finally, after study approval was granted, the classroom literacy environment had been observed and documented, the teacher‘s nominations were received, parental and child participant permission was established, and potential student non-engagement was verified through observations, two participants were selected for the study. As the signed consent form 84 had been returned by only one girl, she was selected as the female study participant. One of the two boys was then randomly selected from the still-eligible males. Number of Participants There are a number of reasons why two child participants were selected for the study. Given that data collection included classroom observation, it was important that I could accurately observe the students. The greater the number of study participants, the greater the likelihood that I would miss certain things. My attention might have been distracted from some participants as I focussed on others. Provided I was physically located in an appropriate position, it was possible for me to thoroughly observe and create an accurate record of the two students. Arguably, it would be possible for me to observe more children if I utilized alternative observation methods. Consideration was given to videotaping the classroom or employing additional observers. These alternatives, however, would prove more intrusive. As such, the decision was made for me to be the sole observer, with the exception of using an additional observer to establish reliability (as is discussed later in this chapter). Two students also allowed for me to include within the study a child of each gender. It is of interest to ponder what role gender might play in SSR engagement because gender does play a role in adolescents‘ literacy expectations and opportunities (Sanford, 2005-2006). Although gender generalizations are not possible with this study, it may well prove that this study provides impetus for future research exploring notions of gender differences and reading engagement. Procedure For the purpose of guiding me through the semi-structured interviews, I constructed Interview Prompts sheets (see appendix C). These prompts were intended only to serve as 85 guidelines, acting as a reminder of what questions might be asked, and what topics might be discussed throughout the course of our semi-structured interviews. So that my study was not overly disruptive to the classroom, I deemed it important that each semi-structured interview ideally be limited to about 10 to 15 minutes in duration. This allowed each study participant to participate in some of their SSR time, to then meet with me, and then to return to their regular classroom activities as SSR finished and the next period began. During the semi-structured interviews where Jobe and Nadia completed the Motivation to Read Profile, however, these meetings took more time. Overall, each child participated in seven semistructured interviews with me, for a total of approximately two hours each. The Interview Prompts sheets were designed as a flexible tool to be used to guide me in talking with the children. Where appropriate, I planned to adhere to the prompts, but always intended to raise other questions, and to prompt other topics of conversation as necessary, and in response to the things that the student said. Indeed, I did not intend to be responsible merely for the instigation of student input by asking questions. My role was intended to be that of an active participant in the semi-structured interviews, not just that of an interviewer asking questions. I planned to share insights into the student-selected texts, leading some points of conversation and, following the student‘s lead, responding to other points of interest. Assuming this role of co-participant in the semi-structured interviews potentially promoted free-flowing, decentralized discussions (Wiencek, 1996). My intention was that the semi-structured interviews would involve shared researcher and student responsibility for control over such things as topic of discussion, whose turn it was to speak, adequacy of response, and the discussants‘ stance. Almasi, O‘Flahavan, and Arya (2001) believe that authentic conversations 86 are impossible when members do not feel that they are permitted to speak freely, or in settings in which they are made to feel that their contributions are not valued. Because of the intended dynamic nature of the semi-structured interviews, the specifics discussed each day necessarily changed, but my input was always dependent upon what I perceived to be of interest to both myself and the student. This was consistent with Wiencek‘s (1996) assertion that the role adopted by teachers in conversations with students is often influenced by what the teacher feels will best satisfy the needs and interests of their students. In addition to the overall dynamic, active nature of the semi-structured interviews, the various interview prompts were also derived after considerable investigation of sources dealing with classroom conversations (for instance, see Daniels, 2002; Gambrell & Almasi, 1996; Gambrell et al., 1996; Gambrell et al., 2000; Gavelek & Raphael, 1996; Johnston, 1997; McKenna & Kear, 1990; McMahon & Raphael, 1997; Raphael & Hiebert, 1996; Raphael & McMahon, 1994; Raphael et al., 1992; Yopp & Yopp, 2001). When I constructed the Interview Prompts sheets, I included some initial interview prompts and some of what I termed on-going interview prompts. The initial prompts were particularly useful in the early semi-structured interviews, helping me to get to know the children. The on-going prompts were useful at different times throughout all of the semi-structured interviews. I also included some interview prompts regarding my observations of the children during SSR. Given the importance of dialogic semi-structured interviews, it is worth reiterating that the prompts served merely as flexible guidelines for me. If I was to be involved in dynamic and authentic conversations, I could not be the only one responsible for the choice of discussion specifics. I tried to both lead and follow during the semi-structured interviews. 87 In compiling the interview prompts, I referred back to Gambrell‘s diagram of the engaged reader (Figure 3). I endeavoured to incorporate what Gambrell identifies as the four components of an engaged reader: motivated; knowledgeable; strategic; and, socially interactive. Looking specifically at the initial interview prompts, many of them dealt with motivation. Questions such as, ―How would you describe yourself as a reader?‖ and, ―Are you really good at some types of reading?‖ were related to motivational ideas of self-concept (the first question) and self-efficacy (the second question), or students‘ perceptions of their own capabilities. A question like, ―While they are reading, what kinds of things do good readers do that help them to read so well?‘ dealt with Jobe or Nadia‘s knowledge. What did Jobe or Nadia know? This included task knowledge and, therefore, also included questions like, ―Do you ever read anything other than books during sustained silent reading time?‖ Had the student not been aware that, during SSR, reading selections need not be restricted to just reading books might have inhibited engagement in SSR. The question, ―Do you think that what you read today was too hard, too easy, or just right?‖ could further illuminate the student‘s knowledge. Asking questions about whether Jobe or Nadia ever discussed reading with friends was aligned to the socially interactive element of Gambrell‘s diagram. Encouraging students to tell me about something interesting they had recently read was also socially interactive. There were instances where I shared similar interests, or had read similar texts, to the ones mentioned by Jobe and Nadia. Many of the questions fit into a number of categories. One such question was, ―How did you choose/discover the text you are reading?‖ This question probed the student‘s knowledge of techniques for text selection, as well as knowledge of texts and genres. The question also probed the notion of social interactivity in that the two students‘ reading choices were influenced by 88 what others had suggested. That same question also probed the notion of motivation because of the suggested link between choice and intrinsic motivation (Deci & Ryan, 1985). Although there were initial interview prompts that referred to strategy use, such questions were more prevalent in the on-going interview prompts. Much of the comprehension of text research in the past 25 years has centered around the development of strategic readers (Dole, Duffy, Roehler, & Pearson, 1991; Harvey & Goudvis, 2000; Pressley, 2000; Pressley & Woloshyn, 1995). Strategic reading involves the use of a variety of cognitive and socio-cognitive processes before, during, and/or after reading. The strategic reader deliberately selects these processes to enhance her or his comprehension. Strategy use is a ―prime characteristic‖ of skilled reading and is fundamental to students‘ academic progression (Paris, Wasik, & Turner, 1991, p. 609). As such, many of the discussion prompts referred to strategic reading. In reviewing strategy research, some primary comprehension strategies emerge: making connections with the text; engaging with the text; active meaning construction; monitoring understanding; analysis and synthesis; and critical reading. These strategies are based upon the approaches suggested by Pearson (Duke & Pearson, 2002; Pearson, Roehler, Dole, & Duffy, 1992) and are similar to the comprehension strategies promoted by Keene and Zimmermann (1997): connecting; determining importance; questioning; visualizing; inferring; and synthesizing. These strategies are also compatible with the comprehension methods recommended by the National Reading Panel (2000). There were a number of questions related to the strategy of prediction. Such questions included, ―What do you think will happen in what you read tomorrow?‖ and, ―What clues do you have that might indicate what the text might be about?‖ 89 Questions asking the students if anything like the events in the text had ever happened to them and asking if the students were anything like the text protagonists, were included as being indicative of the strategy of making connections. These are text-to-self connections. I also included text-to-text questions, looking for similarities between the SSR text and other reading the student had done. McMahon (1996) says that in trying to promote authentic conversations, it is important to encourage students to make personal connections with the text. I also occasionally reminded Jobe and Nadia that the inner connections that they made—and the personal reactions that they had—to a text were of value to our conversation and of interest to me. Asking, ―Do you think such a thing could ever really happen?‖ also opened avenues for textto-world connections. This same question also encouraged the strategy of critical reading. Other critical reading questions included amongst my interview prompts were, ―Why do you think the author wrote his/her text in that way?‖ and, ―How did the author make this an interesting piece to read?‖ As well as their value in probing and encouraging the critical reading comprehension strategy, many of the same questions should also be recognised for their potential to encourage higher-order thinking. Turner (1995) has demonstrated the value of higher-order thinking as a means of promoting engagement. Included within the interview prompts were some lower-order thinking questions that required a more literal interpretation of the text. Text mapping questions were included. These lower-order questions served to ―prime the pump,‖ and get the conversation started. Many of the questions also were designed in recognition of the important role of the reader. Rosenblatt (1938/1976, 1978) rejects the idea of the reader as a ―passive recipient.‖ Readers are actively involved in the construction of meaning. Readers are involved in such active and individual behaviours as drawing on past experience, and focussing not just on 90 interpreting the text, but also paying attention to how those interpretations elicit various ―images, feelings, attitudes, associations, and ideas‖ (1978, p. 10). I was interested to know how active or passive Jobe and Nadia seemed to be when they were reading. Iser (1978) is similarly interested in the role of the reader and the relationship between the reader and the text. For Iser, each text has an artistic and an aesthetic side to it. The artistic side is that which the author presents. The aesthetic side is that which the reader brings to the text. Interaction between the two sides is what creates a literary event. With Iser and Rosenblatt in mind, many of the questions included in the interview prompts were deliberately designed to facilitate interaction between the reader and the text, often focussing on personal and individual connections with that text. Data Collection Although this study primarily investigated what children who have been identified as non-engaged readers have to say about reading, and what factors appear to impact nonengagement, because of the many facets of engagement and non-engagement, I felt that a single data collection procedure could not investigate the matter as thoroughly as I wished. Each of the data collection procedures employed provides a lens that shines additional light on these matters. Classroom Observations In discussing the research site, I have already emphasised the critical role played by the setting when considering notions of engagement and non-engagement. Because of the situated nature of engagement, and literacy in general, the data collection phase of the study included classroom observations for the purpose of understanding and describing the specific context of Ms. Robins‘ classroom. The initial data collection stage involved spending two days in the 91 classroom, documenting the general classroom literacy practices. After these initial observations, I continued regular observations of classroom procedures beyond the confines of SSR time. Two further whole-days were spent observing the classroom during the middle of the data collection period. A final two whole-day visits and observations occurred again toward the end of the data collection period, for a total of six whole-day classroom observations over a seven-and-a-halfweek period. The general ―enactment‖ of literacy in the classroom was a focus for me. As is revealed in the chapter 4 descriptions of the study setting, observations of the general classroom context or environment included noting things such as environmental print in the room—including the amount and type of print on the walls—desk arrangements, and the nature and extent of the classroom library. I also observed the varied literacy practices of the class. I observed and recorded things such as worksheet completion, individual and collaborative work, textbook tasks, the whole class The Westing Game (Raskin, 1978) novel study, computer word processing assignments, and work on spelling tasks. My classroom observations provided me with things to ask and talk about with the students in relation to my first research question. The observations also potentially could yield information pertinent to the second research question. For instance, as I will elaborate on later, I observed that, in many ways, classroom SSR time was not consistent with other aspects of Ms. Robins‘ classroom through the day, where noisy chatter and collaboration on assignments was noticeable. Observations of Study Participants During SSR Another data collection method was that of observation of the study participants during SSR, paying particular attention to those times when Jobe and Nadia were not adhering to the routines established for SSR. I conducted SSR observations on 28 separate occasions. 92 Observational recording is a common measurement procedure used in small participant number, or small-N, research (McCormick, 1995). A typical observational data collection method is that of event recording. This involves observing and counting the number of times an event occurs. I carefully observed Jobe and Nadia, taking note of the number of times each student was doing something outside of the expectations of student adherence to the classroom SSR routines. Given Hunt‘s (1984) assertion that ―the test for sustained silent reading consists basically of observing‖ the reader (p. 193), observational data collection was suitable for gaining some insight into what Jobe and Nadia were doing during classroom SSR time. These observations gave me some things to talk about with the students and, as such, in turn helped provide some answer to the first research question. My SSR observations also helped me to see the students as Ms. Robins viewed them. She had identified the students as nonengaged and these observations potentially helped me to understand why she made that identification. I considered it possible that some of the things I observed could also be factors apparently contributing to non-engagement, thus providing some answer to the second research question. As an obvious example, if a child had no text to read, there was no possibility of reading engagement. Additionally, I was interested to see if I might tease apart instances in which the student was doing something that the teacher might perceive to be in violation of expectations for SSR, yet was actually potentially engaged. It might have been, for instance, that a child who was talking during SSR was, indeed, not adhering to the SSR routines in that s/he was breaking the SSR rule of silence. That same student may, however, have been deeply engaged in reading. Perhaps the student was so deeply socio-emotionally engaged that the student could not contain her or his enthusiasm for what was being read, and could not constrain the urge to share the reading with a close friend. A student out of place would not be adhering to 93 the SSR routines in that the student was not reading where s/he should have been. The explanation for being out of place may, however, have been that the student was in search of a dictionary to look up an unknown or intriguing word. If so, the student would have been employing a comprehension strategy reflective of socio-cognitive engagement. I wondered if, when a student was gazing out a window, might that student be daydreaming in a world completely removed from the reading, or was the student, indeed, engaging in the text world and imagining her- or himself there? When conducting the semi-structured interviews with the children, it was of interest to ask them what they were doing at given times. Questions about what I observed provided an important piece of information in conjunction with the actual observation. Although it was not practical for me to ask Nadia and Jobe about everything I saw, I received some interesting responses to the questions I asked about some of my observations. Wasson, Beare, and Wasson (1990) reviewed the literature, discussed the matter with teachers, and reviewed techniques for impartially monitoring classroom behaviour. As a result, they described seven specific observable reading behaviours. From this list of seven observable behaviours, all but volunteering to answer questions or verbally participating in class discussions is applicable to the observation of behaviour during sustained silent reading time. The six applicable behaviours (see Table 1) were used as a guide during my SSR observations. The behaviours, including a brief, modified definition of each, were: 1. Seconds to start: The number of seconds from when the teacher indicated sustained silent reading was to commence, until the student first opened her or his book and began to read. In this case, Ms. Robins expected students to commence SSR as soon as they returned to the classroom from their lunch break. Students were expected to begin 94 reading as quickly as they could, having entered the room and moved to their designated seats. 2. Materials present: Did the student have a text to commence silent reading? In Ms. Robins‘ room, because of the established routine of SSR, most students usually had their SSR material inside their desk. If they did not, they had to select a text from the classroom library. 3. Not engaging in the expected routines of SSR; defined as any one or more of the following: A. Noise: Any seemingly deliberate sound the student created that may have distracted the teacher or other students. During SSR, this often took the form of whispered conversations with classmates. Other noises I observed included slamming books on desks, deliberate bodily noises, calling out, and other deliberate and potentially distracting noises. B. Out of place: Movement beyond the boundaries in which the student was allowed to move during the sustained silent reading period. Ms. Robins generally required the students to read at their desks although, when the weather was sunny, students were also allowed to read outside on the lawn. Depending upon the roster, some students were permitted to sit on the couch to read during SSR, while others could sit at a computer. C. Physical contact: Physical contact with another person, another person‘s property, or contact with materials other than the text they were reading. D. Other departures from the SSR routines: Any movement away from the activity of sustained silent reading that did not fall into one of the previously defined 95 categories. This category included such things as sitting at one‘s desk without anything to read, or any other observable movement away from the assigned task. Table 1 Reflections of Non-Adherence to the SSR Routines Category Explanation Seconds to start How long did it take for the student to commence reading? Materials present Did the student have a text from which to start reading? Noise How many deliberate noises did the student make that were potentially distracting to others? Out of place How often did the student move out of bounds during SSR? Physical contact How often did the student make physical contact with others, or with items other than her/his reading materials? Other departures from How many other times did the student participate in other behaviours the SSR routines that appeared to be a departure from the activity of sustained silent reading? 96 It is of significance that I labelled these observations as non-adherence to the SSR routines. It is important to remember that such things do not necessarily indicate socio-cognitive or socio-emotional non-engagement. For the sake of consistency and comparability, it was important that each of the observation periods be for the same duration of time. This being the case, the information I recorded was always obtained from observing the first 15 minutes of each sustained silent reading session (remembering that my semi-structured interviews with Jobe or Nadia took place during the second half of the time allocated for SSR). A constant observational time is not the only factor to consider with event recording that involves measuring the frequency of an event. Measuring frequency is an appropriate technique when the target behaviour is generally of a short duration and does not happen so often that it cannot easily be counted (Richards, Taylor, Ramasamy, & Richards, 1999). It was conceivable that Jobe or Nadia might have persisted with the same behaviour for the duration of the observation period and yet the record would then have shown that he or she had only spoken or been out of bounds, or whatever the behaviour was, on one occasion. This being the case, where a certain behaviour extended over a period of time, I tallied an additional score for each minute that the single behaviour continued. If, for instance, a student remained out of place for four minutes, I documented four out of place scores. Having said this, however, I only recorded one score at a time. If, for example, Nadia was talking while out of bounds, I documented only one score. For the purposes of this study, I was interested in the number of times that Jobe or Nadia appeared outside the routines established for classroom SSR. An Observation sheet was constructed to assist in recording my observations (appendix D). 97 With regard to the seconds taken to start reading, latency recording involves measuring how long it takes for something to occur (Richards et al., 1999). In this case, the time taken was from that moment when the teacher expected students to commence sustained silent reading until the time at which they actually began doing so. In Ms. Robins‘ classroom, the students were required to commence reading as quickly as possible after they returned from their lunch break. I allowed a one-minute grace period after each of the study participants entered the room before I actually began recording the length of time it took Jobe or Nadia to commence reading. I used a stopwatch to measure the number of seconds it took beyond that first minute of grace. With regard to missing materials, I simply entered the appropriate ―Y‖ to indicate that yes, Jobe or Nadia had a text from which to begin reading, or ―N‖ for no, materials were not present. For each of the four remaining categories of noise, being out of place, physical contact, and other departures from the expected routines of SSR, I tallied each time one of these events occurred. At the beginning of the study—before I began the observations—the teacher informed her students that I would be visiting and observing the class for a period of several weeks. Jobe and Nadia were informed as to the purpose of the observations. During the time that I observed Nadia and Jobe while they participated in their normal class sustained silent reading time, I positioned myself so as to have an unobstructed view of both students. I endeavoured to be as inconspicuous as possible, remaining still and silent at the side of the room while recording observations. In order to help ensure inter-rater reliability, a second observer conducted three additional observations. At these times, both observers were present and independently recorded observations. The second observer had two years of teaching experience as a public school 98 substitute teacher and as an education assistant working with a struggling reader. She and I met before and after each of her observation sessions to discuss what we were observing and to compare our observation tallies. Prior to entering the classroom, I explained to my assistant the various category headings that I was using to record the observations. As a part of her training, I suggested specific types of behaviours that she might observe and the appropriate classification for each of those types of observations. Semi-Structured Interviews with the Teacher In addition to talking with the two students for the purpose of data collection, I considered that it was also necessary to talk with their classroom teacher, Ms. Robins. Because I was making observations of her classroom and teaching in order to provide a description of the classroom environment, I felt that it was necessary to discuss with Ms. Robins the things that I observed. I wanted also to discuss with Ms. Robins her attitudes and beliefs related to literacy instruction including, of course, the role that might be played by the inclusion of SSR in the classroom schedule. The semi-structured interviews helped to provide information relevent to the situational setting for the answers to the first research question. The semi-structured interviews also provided some insights to the teacher‘s perceptions of what were emerging as potential answers to the second research question. Although I tape-recorded my semi-structured interviews with the children in this study, the semi-structured interviews with Ms. Robins were not recorded in this way. Rather, I kept field notes in which I wrote down things that Ms. Robins said to me about reading and also about Jobe and Nadia. Throughout the time that I was a visitor to her classroom, Ms. Robins and I held frequent, informal, often unrelated, conversations with one another. Although they remained largely informal, the most structured conversations took the form of semi-structured interviews 99 that I conducted with Ms. Robins after each of the ―whole days‖ in which I was in the classroom making observations beyond SSR time. As mentioned, I asked Ms. Robins about things that I had observed, including observations related to Ms. Robins‘ teaching practices. In order to provide a full description of the study setting in which Jobe and Nadia functioned, I also questioned Ms. Robins in relation to her experience, qualifications and interests. Motivation to Read Profile An additional data collection procedure was the use of an attitude survey. The attitude survey utilised was the Gambrell et al. (1996) Motivation to Read Profile. Gambrell and her colleagues stated that, in developing the Motivation to Read Profile, they intended to create an efficient public-domain instrument that reliably quantitatively and qualitatively assessed motivation to read. This instrument was selected for this study for a number of reasons. The MRP is easy to administer, score, and interpret. It is a widely known and used instrument. I also had familiarity with the MRP. I had previously used the instrument as both a classroom teacher and as a university researcher and had been satisfied with the information that it provided to me. In this case, the survey provided a series of potentially informative questions that could help me with both research questions—the things the children said about reading and things that might have an impact on non-engagement. The MRP assesses readers‘ self-concept and their task value. Self-concept refers to how a child sees her- or himself as a reader. Task value refers to the value a child places on reading. The MRP consists of two basic instruments: the reading survey and the conversational interview. The reading survey is comprised of 20 questions with a 4-point response scale. The 100 survey explores two dimensions of reading motivation: self-concept (10 questions); and the value of reading (10 questions). The authors report that administration of the reading survey takes about 15-20 minutes and a classroom teacher can administer it to a whole class at one time. The second instrument in the MRP is the conversational interview. The interview is comprised of three sections relating to motivational factors: narrative text (3 questions); informational text (3 questions); and general reading (8 questions.) Administration of the conversational interview also takes about 15-20 minutes; however, it needs to be administered individually. In self-report surveys such as the MRP, participants are required to report upon their own thoughts, feelings, opinions, or practices. Self-report questionnaires are one of the main methods employed for research into educational motivation (Brophy, 1999). This approach to descriptive research utilises questionnaires and interviews, which often take the form of mail surveys or telephone interviews. In this case, the survey was completed in a face-to-face interview, with me reading the questions aloud to the student. Interview studies can yield in-depth data; however, they are subject to bias. The bias may sometimes be due to the direct contact between the interviewer and the interviewee. Self-reporting is also sometimes criticised on the basis of inaccurate reporting, given the tendency for some people to under- or overstate their behaviour and feelings. Audiotaping and Transcription of Semi-Structured Interviews Using a voice-recording device, I recorded the one-on-one semi-structured interviews that I conducted with Jobe and Nadia. I then transcribed these semi-structured interviews for analysis. Although the students were made aware that the interviews were being recorded, the compact nature of the voice recorder (approximately 5 cm X 8 cm) meant that the recording 101 device was as unobtrusive as possible. The voice recorder was placed in a convenient location on a surface between me and the student I was interviewing. I conducted semi-structured interviews with the students because I perceived that to be an efficient way to collect information in answer to both research questions. Furthermore, in talking with the students, I was able to learn things that I could not see—could not have observed—like the students‘ thoughts, but also including, for instance, literacy practices and activities beyond the confines of the classroom. All of the 14 one-on-one semi-structured interviews between me and Jobe or Nadia were later transcribed. Before beginning the transcriptions, I consulted Markee (2000) and Richards and Seedhouse (2005) in order to establish the marking conventions I would use to construct the transcriptions (appendix E). These conventions are included in this report to facilitate understanding of the transcript extracts also included amongst the appendices material. In chapter 4 and chapter 5, I also include several excerpts from the transcriptions. I should here note, however, that the quotations from the transcripts I include within chapters 4 and 5 have been edited for clarity and to facilitate a smoother reading of the extract. Although these excerpts have not necessarily been edited into standard written English, most superfluous details such as the length of pauses, speaker hesitations and misstarts, and the identification of things such as simultaneous or contiguous utterances have been eliminated. The included excerpts have, however, been presented in a manner which I feel stays true to the essence and meaning of the part of the semi-structured interview being represented. Having listened closely to the contextual meaning of the transcripts from which I have extracted quotes, I have been careful to ensure that I have not distorted the meanings of the utterances as I understood them. The editing merely allows for an easier and, I believe, more meaningful, reading experience. In contrast, the excerpts included as appendices materials have not been edited in this manner. 102 Data Analysis Because of the variety of data collection techniques, it was also necessary that there be a variety of ways in which the data was analysed. Following the order established in the previous section, I first discuss the analysis of the data collected through field note records of my whole day classroom observations. I then discuss the analysis of the information collected during the observations of Jobe and Nadia during SSR time. Next, I discuss the analysis of the semistructured interviews with the teacher and then the MRP survey data. Finally, I discuss my analysis of the transcripts of the recorded semi-structured interviews that I participated in with Jobe and with Nadia. Data Analysis for Classroom Observations The analysis of my on-going, broad observations of the classroom learning environment yielded important setting or situational data. These data were important to help understand what literacy ―looked like‖ in this setting, and such things as what was valued and promoted, and the functions that literacy served in that setting. The physical structure of the classroom might have contributed to a student‘s view and use of literacy. As such, I paid careful attention to the details of my field notes as I constructed my depiction of the classroom setting (chapter 4). My analysis of the classroom observation field notes focussed on means by which I could accurately describe the classroom setting and how that context potentially influenced engagement and non-engagement in SSR. This analysis was descriptive and interpretive in nature. I sought to understand the impact of the context in which this study was situated. It was necessary for me to consider the classroom teacher‘s expectations (or rules) regarding SSR time and how student engagement might have been impacted by those expectations. As such, the depiction of Ms. Robins‘ particular form of SSR was important. 103 The various classroom literacy practices also potentially impacted student engagement during SSR. These practices were considered in relation to how they might have contributed to, or impeded, engagement. The manner in which students completed their literacy tasks was also analyzed in relation to contributing to engagement during SSR. Having observed classroom procedures outside of SSR, I considered how these procedures compared to SSR. For instance, it was significant that so many activities in the classroom, with the exception of SSR, were completed in collaboration with others. Students rarely were required to work alone or in silence. As was the case with all of the analyses, when analysing the data obtained from my classroom observations, I was guided by the principle of wanting to organise and present that data in such a way as to most accurately and completely reflect the classroom setting, as I understood it. Working with narrative text, tables and figures, and working within my own limitations, this was no small task. Yet, I constantly asked myself, ―Does this piece of information add to the accuracy and totality of my portrait of the classroom setting?‖ If the answer was yes, that piece of information was included in my classroom portrait. Data Analysis for Observations of Study Participants During SSR In analysing and presenting the data obtained through observing Jobe and Nadia during class SSR time, I was guided by the same principle referred to above. That is, I wanted to ensure that I portrayed what I observed during SSR in a way that was as accurate and complete as could be. Tables have been utilized to analyze and display the data recorded during my observations of Jobe and Nadia during their SSR time. The use of tables allows for the maintenance of the individual data from each of the six categories on the SSR observation sheets. 104 In analysing the information that I organised into tables, I looked for consistency of ―performance.‖ I looked also for extremes of performance, or those occasions when the student departed from the SSR routines on very many or very few occasions. Although I conducted SSR observations on 28 days, in this thesis report, I decided to use only the SSR observation data obtained before I began to meet with Jobe or Nadia. I began conducting semi-structured interviews with Jobe after the 10th observation session and I began semi-structured interviews with Nadia after the 15th session. The semi-structured interviews between myself and the study participants may have had an impact on what the students did during SSR. Whether consciously or not, I suspect that the students began to alter their conduct as they became increasingly aware of my presence in the classroom after I began conducting the semi-structured interviews with them. As such, in presenting the data from my SSR observations, I made the decision to include only data from the first 10 times that I observed Jobe during SSR and data only from the first 15 times I observed Nadia during SSR—those observations before I began the semi-structured interviews with each student that seemed to affect their adherence to SSR expectations and routines. As mentioned in discussing the data collection, there were occasions when a second observer research assistant was in the classroom, simultaneously recording SSR observations. The purpose of the additional observer was twofold. The second observer helped establish the reliability of my own observations through inter-observer agreement. The second purpose for the additional observer was to ensure that the observations that I recorded when the second observer was present were compatible with observations I recorded in the absence of an additional observer. The second observer was present for the 5th, 10th, and 21st observation sessions. Results recorded for each of these sessions were consistent with results recorded during other sessions in 105 which the additional observer was not present. For reasons discussed above, because I had been conducting semi-structured interviews with Jobe and Nadia between the 10th observation session and when the second observer returned to the classroom for the 21st session, when I calculated the inter-observer agreement, I did not use the results recorded by, and during the presence of, the second observer in this 21st session. The overall percentage of agreement between my observation totals and those recorded by my research assistant was 90.2%. The percentage of agreement for each observer‘s recorded scores for the four individual categories were: noise 87.5% agreement; out of place 100%; physical contact 63.6%; and, other SSR routine departures 84.2%. The other observer and I had 100% agreement regarding the ―materials present‖ category, while I was the only one to record the number of seconds taken by each student to begin reading. Data Analysis for Semi-Structured Interviews with the Teacher The analysis of my semi-structured interviews with the classroom teacher, Ms. Robins, was important to develop a stronger understanding of the study setting, and to be more able to portray fully that study setting in this report. Although my observations revealed certain things about the classroom in which Ms. Robins was the teacher, it was useful to ask her about the attitudes and beliefs that she held that might have contributed to the types of things that I observed in her classroom. My analysis of the field notes that I recorded during my semi-structured interviews with Ms. Robins focussed on the usefulness of the data contained in those field notes in supplementing data that I had collected through other means. Having observed such things as Ms. Robins‘ classroom set-up, her teaching style and her instructional approaches, I analysed the 106 semi-structured interview field note data to see where our discussions revealed information that added to my understanding of the things that I had observed. Mindful always of a desire to be as accurate and comprehensive as possible, I also analysed my field notes with an eye toward extra information that these field notes contained that I had not recorded in other ways. A rudimentary example serves to illustrate my point. In portraying Jobe and Nadia and the situational setting in which they completed SSR, it is interesting to know how the students‘ teacher viewed their personalities and their reading abilities. None of my other data collection methods could reveal such information. Because I did not ask Ms. Robins for numerical or assessment data concerning Jobe or Nadia, my analysis of information recorded during semi-structured interviews with Ms. Robins was descriptive in nature. As was the case when analysing all of the data collected from the various data gathering methods employed for this study, my analysis was guided by a desire to organise and present the information in a way that would accurately and thoroughly reflect the situation, as I understood it. Data Analysis for Motivation to Read Profile The Motivation to Read Profile is easy to administer and score. Once I had administered the MRP, a score was determined for each student and I made a comparison between the selfconcept and task value score of each child. As well as comparing the scores, I paid particular attention to the responses to specific individual questions. The questions provided information of use to me in developing my understanding of Jobe and Nadia as readers. The way that the MRP is constructed helped me to gather some information that might, otherwise, have been neglected. In analysing the MRP data, therefore, I gave consideration to each question, asking myself what additional information the students‘ responses provided and how I might best use that 107 information for the purpose of accurately portraying Jobe and Nadia and for the purpose of discussing their reading experiences. Given that I had audiorecorded the semi-structured interviews that took place while the MRP was administered, the transcripts of those conversations were analysed in the same way as the other audiotaped semi-structured interviews conducted with each student. An explanation of the method of data analysis for all of the audiotaped semi-structured interviews follows in the next sub-section. Data Analysis for the Transcriptions of Semi-Structured Interviews The initial analysis of the semi-structured interview content included searching for the themes and trends that described the data. I wanted to identify the range of topics covered and how these topics related to engagement. These topics included such things as students‘ sharing of titles and genres of interest to them; using reading strategies such as making predictions about events, comparing themes, identifying with characters, and making text-to-life connections; and demonstrating reading comprehension. In analyzing the transcriptions, I looked for semi-structured interview content that indicated factors that might have contributed to the students‘ non-engagement, as well as what might have promoted engagement. In conjunction with the Motivation to Read Profile data, the semi-structured interview transcriptions were analysed with an eye toward identifying individual, home, and school factors that contributed to the students‘ lack of engagement during SSR. As expected, the students mentioned factors within and without the classroom. Consideration necessarily was also given to social elements, including the influence of friends, classmates, and family members. The students‘ perception of literacy, including how they valued 108 it and made use of it, did influence, and was influenced by, the choices they made with regard to literacy, and how these choices were influenced by others. It was also of interest to see how each student identified the relationship between SSR and general school reading, and reading outside the classroom. The semi-structured interviews yielded some interesting information regarding Jobe‘s and Nadia‘s home and school literacy lives. The transcripts were coded by themes. The various categories and units were determined in consultation with my thesis advisory committee. Whereas most utterances contain one central idea, there are instances, where, in a student‘s turn to talk, that student expressed more than one idea. With this in mind, I analysed the data in such a way that the units being classified were not by utterance, or talk turn, but rather by the various ideas expressed in each utterance. I eventually designated 17 sub-categories within which I classified all of the semi-structured interview content for all of the transcripts of all of my recorded semi-structured interviews with Jobe and Nadia. In any instance where it might arguably have been possible to categorise an idea unit under more than one heading, the guiding principle was to categorise according to the notion of ―best fit.‖ Consideration was given to the context in which each utterance was made, bearing in mind the topic or topics that we were discussing, rather than merely considering each utterance in isolation. Wherever an idea unit might have fallen under more than one heading, I asked myself the question, ―Which category most accurately and most fully encompasses this idea?‖ For example, at one point I mentioned that one of Jobe‘s classmates had told me that he, the classmate, had attended Jobe‘s laser tag birthday party. In reeling off a list of his friends‘ names, Jobe asked me which classmate I was talking about. One could argue that such an utterance might be classified under the heading of Personal Identity, in that Jobe‘s response was suggestive 109 of Jobe‘s large circle of friends. On the other hand, however, I thought that the Social category was the best fit for this utterance, in that the Social category encompassed family and friends. In saying these things, I should note that, although I decided to isolate and separate ideas into different categories for the purposes of clarity and data management, in reality, the various ideas expressed could otherwise have been categorized under more than one heading. I made the research decision to separate ideas but, again, in reality, many of the ideas and the category headings used to classify those ideas do intersect. Table 2 lists each of the 17 sub-categories used for classification of the semi-structured interview transcripts. I include a brief explanation and then an example of each sub-category from the transcripts. It is worth noting my use of the term ―sub-category.‖ Some of the classifications included in Table 2 logically and neatly fit together beneath a broader ―category‖ heading. For instance, there are three classifications that I feel are all closely related and are essentially ―social‖ in nature. For ease in making distinctions and more fully understanding the data, however, I found it useful to divide such social ideas into three different sub-categories. Similarly, I made four distinctions concerning various judgements that Jobe or Nadia made when talking with me about reading. All four sub-categories could be lumped together under the one heading of ―judgements,‖ but I found it more informative and useful to divide these judgements into separate groups. Finally, I also employed sub-categories for ideas involving a specific focus on the child‘s identity. Although ―identity‖ could have sufficed as a broad heading, I created subcategories to separate identity ideas that focussed on reading identity and other identities—what I have termed identity as a person, or personal identity. With this explanation in mind, I find it sufficiently clear, and less cumbersome, to most often refer, from this point forward, to the various sub-categories and categories merely as categories. 110 In Table 2 and Table 3, the example provided contains some highlighted text. This highlighted text is the specific idea unit being referred to as the example. Any other text that is included helps to provide some context to the example. 111 Table 2 Categories Used to Code the Transcripts of the Recorded Semi-structured interviews SubCategory Category Social Social Description Example Mention of things such as family Greg: tell me about Just Ella and friends, social influences, Nadia: um and sharing with others. Greg: just what you know about it and how you found out about it Nadia: my best friend told me Affinity Mention of social alignments Jobe: there is this game that we groups beyond traditional groupings play called RPG. Role playing along lines of family groups, age game, I call it. I have a lot of and gender. friends that play it. Probably about 10, 11, 12. About 12 people play it and I have a number of different games. One of them is based on medieval fantasy and another one is based on ants and if ants could actually live and walk. It‘s a game that we play and often people play each other. Like they try and beat each other using their skills and you‘ve got to develop your own little country saying how you‘ve built things and how everything works 112 SubCategory Category Social Description Discussion reflective of an awareness awareness of an author‘s or text‘s social standing. Example Jobe: have you ever read the Artemis Fowl books? Greg: no I haven‘t, no Jobe: ‗cause they‘re really famous Judgement Specific Mention of specific reading Greg: if it‘s from Japan, you‘ll positive preferences or a positive read it and if it‘s not from Japan, judgement in relation to reading you won‘t? a specific text, genre or author. Nadia: yeah Greg: why is that? Nadia: because Japan‘s drawing is way better than American or any other country Specific Mention of specific reading Nadia: well, I don‘t like any negative dislikes or a negative judgement mysteries or adventure stories in relation to reading a specific text, genre or author. General Positive statement(s) in relation Greg: [Do you] think reading is positive to the act of reading, generally. a boring way to spend time; an okay way to spend time; an interesting way to spend time; or a great way to spend time? Jobe: it‘s a great way to spend time as long as you‘re reading something interesting 113 SubCategory Instrumental Category Description Example General Negative statement(s) in relation Nadia: I can‘t think of anything negative to the act of reading, generally. that‘s fun about reading Mention of the importance or Nadia: I read Chinese books just use of reading as a tool. to get ready for going back to China Content Naming text(s) read or being Greg: can you tell me a bit read, and discussion of content about what has happened? Sort from those texts. of what things that you have read today… Jobe: alright, so what happened? Not just what I‘ve read today? Greg: yeah, sort of bring me up to where you‘re up to Jobe: alright. Okay. So far there has been a slave camp on an island. Well, it‘s not really a slave camp. It‘s more of a huge castle that has lots and lots of slaves in it and there was three slaves that escaped Strategy use Discussion reflective of reading Greg: is there anything else that strategy knowledge or use, you can tell me about [the including such things as book]? metacognition and making Jobe: the person‘s my age. The text connections. main character‘s my age 114 SubCategory Category Description Example SQUIRT Discussion of classroom SSR Greg: how do you feel about (SSR) time, including the mechanics of the amount of time that you SSR routines. have for [SQUIRT], because you come in after lunch and then you usually have about 20 or 25 minutes or so? Jobe: it‘s a little short Identity Person Reflections of the child‘s Greg: why is that book personal identity. important to you? Nadia: ‗cause the teacher said it talks about your body and I also am concerned about my looks Reader Engagement Reflections of the child‘s Jobe: reading aloud: I‘m still identity as a reader or a literate not quite perfect at it, but I‘m entity. really quite good at it Specific discussion of the notion Greg: what do you think it is of reading engagement. that sort of helps you to cut those distractions out so that you can really concentrate? Jobe: well, you are just completely concentrating on your book. You don‘t really care about your surroundings. You‘re just reading a book 115 SubCategory Consideration Category Description Example Checking for understanding, Greg: do you see, in your own considering and/or critiquing life and in other people‘s lives, questions. places for reading and writing in other subjects like math? Jobe: explain what you mean by places Social chatter Unrelated social chatter or Jobe: I think we have ―small talk.‖ intermediate assembly Greg: that‘s not for another half an hour I think Not able to Utterances I was otherwise not Greg: so that‘s how you found categorize able to categorize. out about that [series of books]? Jobe: (unintelligible) finished (unintelligible) Having identified these classifications through my own analysis and in discussion with members of my thesis advisory committee, I then employed a graduate student research assistant to conduct an analysis of her own, coding the data according to the categories that I had established. The graduate student was given the training necessary for the data analysis. She was instructed regarding the categories that had been identified, including specific examples of different classifications. I also provided an explanation of why each example best fit into the particular category it was being used to exemplify. For the benefit of the reader, and given that 116 the research assistant was provided with this explanation, see Table 3 for the explanations of the use of each example. 117 Table 3 Explanation of the Examples Used for the Different Coding Categories Category/Sub -Category Social Example Explanation of Example Greg: tell me about Just Ella Nadia made a specific reference to her Nadia: um best friend, making mention of the fact Greg: just what you know about it and that the book she was planning to read had how you found out about it been recommended to her by that friend. Nadia: my best friend told me Affinity groups Jobe: there is this game that we play Although this activity involved Jobe called RPG. Role playing game, I call it. I playing with a group of his friends and have a lot of friends that play it. Probably might, therefore, have been classified as about 10, 11, 12. About 12 people play it Social, the reference was to a specific and I have a number of different games. game that the group played together. The One of them is based on medieval fantasy group came together for the game, and another one is based on ants and if adhering to the rules of play that had been ants could actually live and walk. It‘s a established. The alignment was around the game that we play and often people play RPG game. each other. Like they try and beat each other using their skills and you‘ve got to develop your own little country saying how you‘ve built things and how everything works Social Jobe: have you ever read the Artemis In referring to Eoin Colfer‘s Artemis Fowl awareness Fowl books? books, Jobe‘s comment made it clear that Greg: no I haven‘t, no Jobe was well aware of how popular the Jobe: ‗cause they‘re really famous books were. 118 Category/Sub -Category Example Explanation of Example Specific Greg: if it‘s from Japan, you‘ll read it and Talking about graphic novels and Anime, positive if it‘s not from Japan, you won‘t? Nadia stressed her preference for texts judgement Nadia: yeah that originated in Japan, arguing that the Greg: why is that? quality of the artwork was superior. Nadia: because Japan‘s drawing is way better than American or any other country Specific Nadia: well, I don‘t like any mysteries or Nadia referred to specific genres and said negative adventure stories that she did not like those types of stories. General Greg: [Do you] think reading is a boring Although he went on to qualify his positive way to spend time; an okay way to spend statement, in response to a Motivation to judgement time; an interesting way to spend time; or Read Profile question, Jobe made a a great way to spend time? positive statement about the act of Jobe: it‘s a great way to spend time as reading, generally. judgement long as you‘re reading something interesting General Nadia: I can‘t think of anything that‘s fun Nadia‘s negative comment was about negative about reading reading in general and there was no judgement suggestion that she was limiting her comment to specific texts or genres. Instrumental Nadia: I read Chinese books just to get Nadia was preparing for a summer break ready for going back to China holiday to China. Her comment made it evident that Nadia felt that her preparation for the trip could have been enhanced by reading. In other words, she was using reading as a tool of preparation. 119 Category/Sub -Category Content Example Explanation of Example Greg: can you tell me a bit about In response to my request, Jobe shared what has happened? Sort of what details of the content of the book that he things that you have read today… was reading. Jobe: alright, so what happened? Not just what I‘ve read today? Greg: yeah, sort of bring me up to where you‘re up to Jobe: alright. Okay. So far there has been a slave camp on an island. Well, it‘s not really a slave camp. It‘s more of a huge castle that has lots and lots of slaves in it and there was three slaves that escaped Strategy use Greg: is there anything else that you can Although this comment dealt with book tell me about [the book]? content, Jobe made a specific connection Jobe: the person‘s my age. The main between a book character and himself. character‘s my age Whether consciously aware of it or not, Jobe was demonstrating the comprehension strategy of making text-toself connections. SQUIRT (SSR) Greg: how do you feel about the When I asked him for his opinion of the amount of time that you have for time allotted to SSR, in Jobe‘s answer he [SQUIRT], because you come in stated he would prefer more time was set after lunch and then you usually aside for classroom SSR. have about 20 or 25 minutes or so? Jobe: it‘s a little short 120 Category/Sub -Category Example Explanation of Example Personal Greg: why is that book important to you? Nadia here provided an insight into her identity Nadia: ‗cause the teacher said it talks personal identity. Although that identity about your body and I also am concerned included her identity as a reader and about my looks although she was talking here about reading a specific text, her comment more particularly focused on her as a person rather than as a reader. Identity as a Jobe: reading aloud: I‘m still not quite Again, although personal identity and reader perfect at it, but I‘m really quite good identity as a reader are related and, at it arguably, interconnected, Jobe‘s focus here was very much on his reading. The comment was suggestive of his confident personal identity, but the specific focus here was on reading and his confidence as a reader. Engagement Greg: what do you think it is that In this utterance, Jobe was explaining sort of helps you to cut those what it felt like to engage deeply in distractions out so that you can reading, ―completely concentrating.‖ Such really concentrate? an utterance might alternatively have been Jobe: well, you are just completely classified as Strategy Use, but the narrow concentrating on your book. You don‘t focus here was on what was going on really care about your surroundings. when Jobe was engaged. You‘re just reading a book 121 Category/Sub -Category Consideration Example Explanation of Example Greg: do you see, in your own Jobe was seeking clarification. He had not life and in other people‘s lives, understood what I had asked, presumably places for reading and writing in thinking that I was asking him about other subjects like math? physical or geographical locations, rather Jobe: explain what you mean by places than, as I intended, situations or circumstances in which reading might be used in subject areas other than language and literacy classes. Social chatter Jobe: I think we have intermediate Jobe pointed out that there was going to assembly be a school assembly. The comment was Greg: that‘s not for another half an hour I not closely related to our topic of think conversation and was, essentially, something of an aside. Not able to Greg: so that‘s how you found out about Although I was able to decipher one word categorize that [series of books]? from the audiorecording, because I could Jobe: (unintelligible) finished not make out the word or words that (unintelligible) preceded and followed it, I was not able to determine the meaning of what Jobe said and, as such, I simply was not able to categorise the comment. The graduate student and I together conducted an analysis of the transcripts of two of the audiotaped semi-structured interviews. After this training, the graduate student research assistant completed her own analysis and coding of another of the semi-structured interview transcripts. We then came together to compare and contrast her analysis with my own. I had deliberately selected the longest transcript for the research assistant to code. I felt that in doing so, should our independently conducted analyses reflect a high degree of agreement, 122 it would add weight to that reliability. Rather than merely achieving agreement on a relatively short semi-structured interview, I was of the opinion that it would be more persuasive to achieve agreement over a longer semi-structured interview. There were a total of 224 idea units in the transcript I asked the graduate student to code. Of those 224 units, the research assistant and I independently agreed upon the classification of 182 of those units, for a percentage of agreement total of 81.25%. Given there were a possible 17 categories for each idea unit, this is a high percentage of agreement. As indicated above, percentage of agreement was 81.25%. We looked back at those places where there existed discrepancies. For the 42 units in question, we discussed our different interpretations, explaining our rationale for the decisions that we made. Through this process of discussion and deliberation, we were able to come to a level of understanding and, in almost all cases, we eventually reached agreement. The graduate student who assisted me with the analysis is an experienced educator with over 20 years of teaching experience in the public school system, including the past three years working primarily as a support teacher working in staff professional development and with struggling readers. Summary of this Methods Chapter Working from the premise that there is a need for further research studies into the common school classroom practice of sustained silent reading and the problem of students who fail to engage in reading, this study investigates the issue of non-engagement during classroom SSR time. With this in mind, this third, Methods, chapter was divided into several sections. I began with a brief discussion of the research site and study participants, including the procedure followed for the selection of the site and the participants. Next, I provided details of the 123 procedure that I followed during the semi-structured interviews that were conducted with each of the two students. In the following section, I described my methods for data collection, including the types of data that were collected, and the procedures followed in the collection of that data. I then discussed the procedures that were followed for the analysis of the collected study data. 124 CHAPTER 4 Results This study was designed to explore notions of engagement and non-engagement during Sustained Silent Reading . One means of proceeding with this investigation was to record and analyse the things said about reading by two students identified by their classroom teacher as non-engaged readers during SSR. In this chapter, in figures and tables and narrative, including liberal use of transcript extracts, I provide a summary and details of the things that Jobe and Nadia had to say in our recorded semi-structured interviews. In addition to providing a record of the things that Jobe and Nadia had to say about reading, this study was also designed to identify factors that appeared to impact Jobe and Nadia‘s non-engagement during SSR. Such are the complexities of the workings of the mind and, indeed, notions of engagement and non-engagement that, of necessity, information provided in relation to this second research question is somewhat speculative in nature. In this chapter, I present a combination of data from the recorded semi-structured interviews with each of the two students, discussions with their classroom teacher, field notes from observations of Jobe and Nadia during SSR time, whole day observations of the classroom context beyond the confines of that time set aside for SSR, and responses to the Motivation to Read Profile attitude survey. Because all of these data combine to create a fuller description of Jobe‘s and Nadia‘s thoughts and experiences, throughout this chapter, I intermingle the results from the various data collection procedures, incorporating the data in a manner that most accurately and fully represents the experiences that I observed and shared in Ms. Robins‘ classroom. These various data are used to provide a form of triangulation that allows me to hazard informed judgements as to some of the various factors that 125 appeared to play a role in contributing to Jobe and Nadia‘s non-engagement during SSR. I reiterate though, that I am proceeding with caution, remembering that the second research question for this study is: What factors appear to impact non-engagement of individuals during SSR? Otherwise stated, what factors might impact Jobe and Nadia‘s non-engagement? In stressing this point, however, it is my intention to support my suggestions with data from the various data sources.. In this chapter, I begin with a description of the study setting. Other results are then displayed in the order that the study participants began to participate in semi-structured interviews with me, with Jobe‘s results shown first and Nadia‘s results presented second. The Study Setting As mentioned in chapter 3, in light of notions of literacy being situational, understanding the classroom context in which the study took place is important. As such, I begin this Results chapter by reporting on the study setting. The data were collected in a grade six classroom in a large multicultural metropolitan area in western Canada. For the purposes of this report, the school is identified as Seacoast Elementary School. Seacoast Elementary is located close to a major Canadian university. Residential property in the area is expensive. Because of the neighborhood‘s close proximity to the university, in many houses, homeowners rent basement suites to university students. Aside from the student population, neighbourhood residents tend mostly to be high-income professionals. The city in which Seacoast Elementary is located is recognised as one of the world‘s major multicultural cities. Seacoast Elementary‘s local neighbourhood is characterized by a wide variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds, no doubt influenced in part by the university student population. 126 Several popular public beaches are located near Seacoast Elementary and, in addition to the university services, located nearby are community and fitness centres, popular public parklands and forest walking and biking trails. Although Seacoast Elementary is positioned some distance from the city centre, a busy commercial strip with shops and restaurants is located nearby. A well-developed, heavily-used public transportation system services the city, including the Seacoast Elementary area. The Seacoast Elementary neighbourhood houses a public library and Seacoast Elementary is just one of a number of schools within the surrounding area. The School The Seacoast Elementary School day commenced at 8:45 in the morning. Recess was taken from 10:30 a.m. until 10:45 a.m.. Students then returned to the classroom until the lunch break commenced at 12:00 noon. Students returned from lunch at 12:45. In Ms. Robins‘ class, this was the time in which the class participated in SSR. SSR typically ran through until 1:15, allowing 30 minutes for silent reading time. The school day ended for the students at 2:45 p.m.. Because the school lunch room could not accommodate all of the school‘s students at one time, ―early lunch‖ alternated each week between the primary and intermediate grades. Early lunch began 10 minutes early and so, on those weeks, the lunch break extended from 11:50 a.m. until 12:45 p.m.. In reference to the need to stagger the arrival of students into the lunch room, Ms. Robins said, ―the school was built for 375 students and we have 500.‖ Seacoast Elementary actually housed 501 students from kindergarten through to grade seven. The student body consisted of 44 different student birth countries, amongst which there were 28 different languages spoken in student homes (see Table 4). Only 183 (36.5%) of the students were born in Canada. The school identified 282 students (56.3%) as English as Second Language students. Of the 501 students, there were 252 boys and 249 girls. 127 Table 4 provides a reflection of the multicultural diversity of the school and of the surrounding community. School personnel seemed proud of the multicultural make up of the school and were committed to ensuring it was viewed in a positive light. Throughout the year, the entire school conducted days of celebration, recognising and promoting the diversity of the school population. Such heritage days included opportunities for students and others to attend school dressed in clothing reflective of their countries of origin and to share foods and games similarly reflective of students‘ origins. Parents and others also visited the school to talk about countries outside of Canada. Students did research and prepared oral and written reports about other countries and cultures. 128 Table 4 Home Language of Students Attending Seacoast Elementary Language Number of Students Arabic 10 Bengali 4 Cantonese 20 Chinese 24 Croatian 2 Czech 1 Dutch 2 English 184 Faeroese 4 German 2 Hebrew 4 Hindi 4 Italian 2 Japanese 4 Korean 65 Mandarin 121 Other African 4 Other Indo Iranian 1 Other Languages 3 Other Nigero-Congo 1 Pashto 2 Persian 11 Romanian 1 Russian 6 Serbian 3 Serbo-Croatian 2 Spanish 13 Telugu 1 129 The study classroom reflected the overall multicultural nature of the school in that 26 of the 30 students spoke another language in addition to English. The classroom housed nine Korean-born students, nine Chinese, three Indian, two Kenyan, and one Iranian-born student. Of the six Canadian-born students, two had First Nation ancestry and spoke their Aboriginal language as a second language. Three of the students in the class had been formally identified as having a learning disability. The ages of the school‘s students are shown in Table 5. The ages shown are for the student population at the start of the school year in which the data were collected. One of the children who participated in this study, Jobe, celebrated his 12th birthday during the time that I was collecting data. As such, he is recorded in Table 5 as one of the 33 11-year-old boys in the school. Although 12 before I met her, the female study participant, Nadia, is listed as one of the 30 11-year-old girls in the school at the start of the year. Table 5 Age of Students Attending Seacoast Elementary Age 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Males 13 30 33 26 32 41 24 33 20 Females 13 39 37 33 24 26 36 30 11 Totals 26 69 70 59 56 67 60 63 31 130 The Teacher Ms. Robins had worked in her current school for eight years, where she had always taught in either grade six or grade seven classrooms. Over the course of her career, however, she had taught grade six, grade seven, or split-level grade 6/7 classes for 17 years. Overall, she had 31 years of public school teaching experience. Ms. Robins had garnered considerable educational leadership experience. She had taught methods courses at a university and supervised teacher candidate practicum (student teaching) placements. She had also worked on the production of some of the province‘s Ministry of Education documents and resources and held a leadership position in one of the province‘s education associations. Ms. Robins was certified as one of the markers for the Ministry of Education‘s Foundation Skills Assessment, grading province-wide responses to tests of reading comprehension, writing, and numeracy. Ms. Robins held special certificates and qualifications in the areas of English and Physical Education instruction. She held a variety of other certificates including coaching and first aid. She said that she had once commenced studies to earn a Master‘s degree, but had withdrawn from her studies when she gave birth to her first child. The Classroom Ms. Robins‘ classroom arrangement featured clusters of individual student desks placed together into groups of four, with one cluster of six desks together. The room occasionally underwent minor physical adjustments and students were occasionally moved from one desk to another. In addition to the students‘ chairs, there was a couch against a wall to the rear of the room. The class contained 17 boys and 13 girls. The teacher‘s desk was located at the front of the room, but off to one side. The two study participants initially were seated at the front of the room, 131 nearest to the class blackboards. By the study‘s end, however, as a part of the occasional student desk relocation, Jobe had moved to the rear of the room and Nadia had been relocated to the centre of the room. A feature of the room was the classroom library. The shelved books were mostly novels, with a dozen or so picture books. The picture books were almost exclusively informational picture books, rather than fictional narratives. Ms. Robins also placed some magazines in the library. She told me that she included them whenever she ―happened across‖ a magazine. There were two or three recent issues of People magazine, four or five National Geographic magazines, and a small assortment of science magazines, including six copies of Canada’s Science Magazine for Kids. The library also contained about half a dozen Archie, Betty & Veronica, and Jughead Jones comics. There was also a Casper and a Smurfs comic book. The classroom library housed more than 200 novel-length books. The library contained mostly single copies of each novel, although there were occasional duplicates. There were 13 French-language novels in the collection; the other texts were all written in English. Students were free to choose books from the classroom library for SSR. Most often, however, it appeared to me that students read from a book borrowed from the school library or, on occasions, a book brought from home. During SSR, there was no occasion where I observed any student reading from material in a language other than English, although I concede that I was not closely observing students other than the two study participants, so there might have been instances in which a class member read from a foreign language text. The classroom walls in Ms. Robins‘ room were adorned with a number of professionally produced posters. Displayed at the front of the room, running the length of the two blackboards, and positioned above the blackboards, was a long handwriting chart. The chart featured a cursive 132 writing exemplar for all of the letters of the alphabet. Elsewhere at the front of the room was a mathematics place value chart, two posters explaining the steps of long multiplication and long division, and a poster featuring the quote, ―To wonder is to begin to understand.‖ Ms. Robins had also constructed and posted some charts of her own. One such poster was a chart displaying the symbols and abbreviations that Ms. Robins employed when she was marking student papers. For instance, if a student‘s paper was returned with ―sp‖ marked on it, the student could see from the chart that ―sp‖ designated a spelling error. Ms. Robins had also posted the general rules for the classroom. The three rules were: play safely and in a caring way; respect others‘ feelings, space, and property; do nothing to keep teachers from teaching and students from learning. Another of the posters Ms. Robins had constructed displayed how she evaluated students‘ work. When she graded assignments, she often gave a score out of five. Her scoring chart revealed what each number score reflected. The chart read: 5. Outstanding, excellent 4. Very good, well done 3. Good job 2. Satisfactory, alright 1. Could do better, tried Displayed on the wall above the coat rack and storage shelves were two other teacherconstructed posters. One poster explained the scientific method. The other poster, presumably made by the French teacher, contained a list of French words. I should make mention of the fact that Ms. Robins had her lesson preparation time while the students took their French language 133 instruction from another, specialist, French teacher on Tuesdays. Ms. Robins also had preparation time while the students were with another teacher in the school computer laboratory on Thursday afternoons. A noticeable feature of the classroom was the general absence of student work on display. Above the coat rack was the area of one exception to this general condition, in that six pieces of student work were on display. The posters all contained ―Mars Facts‖ from a science project the class had been working on midyear. Above the classroom library bookshelves was a poster entitled, ―Ten Ways to Become a Better Reader.‖ The 10 ways that were listed on the poster were all Read (written 10 times). Above each Read, was an illustration of a child reading from a book while participating in a variety of other activities. The 10 illustrations showed somebody reading while: walking a dog; sitting in front of a television set; sitting beneath an umbrella; meditating; snorkelling; riding on a bus; skateboarding; eating; dancing; and, relaxing in a hammock. Displayed along the back wall of the classroom were a number of other professionally produced posters. One was of the solar system, while another was a large map of the world. Along the back wall was also a chart, entitled, ―The Making of a Music Student.‖ Beneath that title were the following components that were said to be the ingredients of a music student: 1. Participates 2. Enthusiastic 3. Works Independently 4. Co-operates with Others 5. Treats Instruments with Care 6. Sense of Humour 134 7. Attentive 8. Treats Others with Respect when Performing On top of the filing cabinet at the rear of the room was a small blackboard, measuring less than a metre squared. Upon this blackboard were written each day‘s homework assignments and forthcoming assignment due dates. Ms. Robins updated this board each day, using cursive handwriting to post the information. An easel with chart paper was located toward the rear of the room. On the chart paper, Ms. Robins had recorded steps for writing mystery stories. She also had written a ―Recipe for Mysteries.‖ At the time of my visits to the classroom, the class was working through reading a class novel. The classroom housed over 30 copies of Ellen Raskin‘s (1978) Newberry Medalwinning mystery novel, The Westing Game. The easel chart paper focus on mysteries was a connection to the class novel reading experience and the resultant mystery writing Ms. Robins had students working on. When the students entered the classroom each morning, they found the day‘s schedule written upon one of the two large blackboards at the front of the room. Almost without exception, the teacher‘s writing on the blackboard was done in cursive handwriting. Figure 5 provides examples of six days‘ schedules that were written on the blackboard on different mornings. 135 Tuesday May 10, 2005 Friday May 13, 2005 Monday May 30, 2005 Listening exercise Aquarium field trip Listening exercise Announcements / News Lunch (early) Announcements / News Collect homework SQUIRT – computers #1, Problem of the day Math: Using %, p. 249 odd only Spelling: couch #4 Science New Teams Math review: p. 255 p. 81 Exploring patterns, #1-3 Language arts Novel Recess Recess Library French Language arts - Novel Language Arts Lunch Lunch (early) SQUIRT – computers #4, SQUIRT – computers #6, couch #1, buddies #6 couch #3, buddies #1 Intermediate assembly Sports day colour meeting Tuesday June 7, 2005 Thursday June 16, 2005 Monday June 20, 2005 Listening exercise Listening exercise Listening exercise Announcements / News Announcements / News Announcements / News Collect homework Spelling: Unit 19 test Problem of the day Math: Probability Book Fair Collect homework Spelling: Corrections Recess New teams Recess Science Fair Math: Bar graphs, p. 265 #1, 2, 3 Language Arts – Novel Lunch Spelling: - Correct story SQUIRT – computers #2, Lunch (early) SQUIRT – computers #7, couch #3 P. E. couch #5, buddies #3 Computers Art p. 90 Exploring patterns, #1-4 Recess Music Science Lunch (early) SQUIRT – computers #7, couch #2 Golf Figure 5. Examples of daily schedules written on the blackboard. 136 Although there were changes from time to time, Ms. Robins provided me with a general weekly lesson schedule, designating certain times and certain days for different subject areas (see Figure 6). It is important to recall that SQUIRT (sustained quiet uninterrupted independent reading time) was the term used for silent reading time in Ms. Robins‘ classroom. Figure 6 reveals that SQUIRT was practiced each day of the school week except on Wednesdays. As a part of their fitness programme, on Wednesdays, the whole school participated in a walk or run on a course that extended outside the school boundary, encompassing several nearby streets as well as the nearby forest trails. Upon completion of the course, there was school-wide early dismissal on Wednesdays. Weekly Schedule for Ms. Robins‘ Class Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday 8:45 – 9:05 Listening exercises / News 9:05 – 9:45 Math 9:45 – 10:25 Friday Spelling 10:25 – 10:40 P. E. Recess 10:40 – 11:20 Language French 11:20 – 12:00 Arts Social Studies Social Studies 12:00 – 12:45 Language Language Arts Arts Lunch 12:45 – 1:15 SQUIRT SQUIRT Walk / Run SQUIRT SQUIRT 1:15 – 2:05 Music Art Early P. E. Science 2: 05 – 2:45 Science Dismissal Computers 2:45 Dismissal Figure 6. Weekly schedule for Ms. Robins‘ class. Dismissal 137 Aside from each day‘s opening, listening exercises and sharing of current affairs, or news, math was the only subject area included for instruction every day. In Figure 6, note that a distinction has been made between spelling and language arts. During spelling time, students most often worked from a spelling textbook titled, The Canadian Spelling Program (published by Gage). Students generally worked through a weekly cycle of pre-tests, corrections, writing the unknown words several times, using words in sentences, defining the words, identifying antonyms and synonyms, homework practice, and re-testing. During language arts, students also often worked from a textbook, in this case a basal reader. Language arts also involved student completion of worksheets. As an example, on one occasion while I was observing, the students completed a worksheet titled, ―Punctuation: Dialogue and Direct Quotation.‖ After the completion and student grading of this particular worksheet, the teacher began to read aloud from the class novel. ―I want you to pay particular attention to quotation marks,‖ Ms. Robins said. As she read, the teacher also encouraged students to ―look for other words for said.‖ She continued by directing students to ―see what other ways the author is able to indicate a speaker is speaking.‖ Language arts time also included writing activities. Just as Ms. Robins made a connection between the punctuation worksheet and the class novel, she also made the same sort of connection with much of the time dedicated to writing. The students were all working on their own mystery novel to coincide with the class mystery novel, The Westing Game (Raskin, 1978). Ms. Robins also used language arts time for reading aloud from that class novel. The class was divided into seven teams of four or five students each. The names of the students making up each team were written on one of the blackboards. Both of the children who participated in the study, Jobe and Nadia, were initially in team four. Ms. Robins informed me 138 that the teams were rearranged every few weeks. Each team could be awarded points for things like homework completion, tidy desks, and respectful or helpful behaviour. Points tallies were kept on the board for each team. At the end of each week, the team with the most points was awarded a small prize, including things such as stickers, fruit snacks, or early dismissal. This reward system seemed designed as an extrinsic motivator and as a means of further facilitating the smooth-functioning of the classroom by encouraging and rewarding positive behaviour. The numbered teams also served to designate student options. For instance, in Figure 5, note that where SQUIRT was mentioned in the daily schedule, depending on their team number, some students had the opportunity to read while working at one of the classroom computers. Other students were permitted to read while seated on the couch during SQUIRT time. Still others were designated for participation in Buddy Reading. Ms. Robins‘ class was involved with one of the school‘s grade two classes in a Buddy Reading programme where the older readers provided assistance to struggling children from grade two. My understanding was that the grade six students were largely at liberty to either read to the grade two student, or to ask the grade two student to read to them. Ms. Robins explained that her students rotated on what was approximately a three-week cycle where, on different days, about four or five of her grade six students at one time would go to the grade two classroom during SQUIRT to each read with a grade two child. As an example of how the team numbers worked, Figure 5 reveals that, on Monday, May 30th, during SQUIRT time, those four or five students in team number four were permitted to be on the computers at the rear of the room. Members of team number one could sit on the couch to read. Students in team number six were rostered for involvement in Buddy Reading. 139 For most activities throughout the school day, students worked in groups. In my field notes, I often recorded things that reflect the fact that there was lots of energetic student collaboration in the classroom. For instance, for a collaborative math activity involving probability calculations, my notes read, ―Lots of collaboration. Lots of talk. Lots of energy!‖ When I asked Ms. Robins about the amount of group work within her classroom, she stressed that students were still individually accountable for their own work. She continued by saying that, ideally, students should be working individually, but sharing their data. Ms. Robins then indicated that the physical structure of the classroom, with students sitting in table clusters, facilitated the opportunity for students to assist one another if such help was required. When asked about the role of collaboration, Ms. Robins said that it was sometimes out of necessity because of limited resources. On the other hand, she felt that students could bring their own strengths to a group and that each group member could capitalize on those strengths. She also said it was an opportunity for students to learn from one another. Ms. Robins said that she believed that collaboration helped to consolidate knowledge. One of the ways that she said this occurred was through the students articulating their knowledge to others. She also said that, when collaborating, students could stimulate one another, trigger different ideas, and model appropriate language. Most of Ms. Robins‘ teaching could be described as whole class instruction. Although students participated in a lot of group work, they almost invariably were working on the same tasks, regardless of their groups. The students that I suspected were the children identified with learning difficulties participated in the same group activities as the rest of the class, although it seemed that expectations for them had been modified. A male education assistant was usually, although not always, in the classroom during language arts. When students worked 140 independently, he would move around the classroom, providing assistance. Although it was never specifically indicated to me which students within the classroom were formally identified with learning difficulties, the education assistant seemed primarily, but not exclusively, to work with three children. It did, however, appear that the education assistant did not limit his attention and assistance only to those students but, rather, he assisted whichever students seemed in need of help. Ms. Robins‘ instructions were generally given to the entire class, all at one time. Before having students proceed with their individual or group work, Ms. Robins checked for understanding by verbally posing several questions to the class. Whenever students raised their hands and were called upon to provide an answer, the answer needed to be correctly stated as a complete sentence. If it were not, Ms. Robins would say, ―Can you speak in a sentence, please?‖ Ms. Robins also often asked students to expand or explain an answer. ―Why do you think that?‖ she would often ask a student after the child had provided an answer, regardless of whether the answer was correct or incorrect. Oftentimes, but perhaps especially during math, when the allotted time for completion of an assignment had expired, Ms. Robins called all the class back together and asked students to exchange their workbooks or worksheets with a neighbour. When the exchange had taken place, Ms. Robins proceeded to reveal the answers and students would grade one another‘s work. On several occasions, the answers were revealed on an overhead projection and no explanation of the answer was provided. Ms. Robins‘ classroom was an orderly one, characterized by well-established routines. As an example, I noticed that students wrote their names on one of the blackboards before they left the room, for instance, if they needed to go to the bathroom. Students were not required to ask 141 for permission to leave the room, but the expectation seemed to be that this freedom was not to be abused. Rather, it seemed to me that this routine was in keeping with what I perceived to be Ms. Robins‘ expectation of student accountability and individual responsibility. In saying that it was an orderly classroom, that is not to say that it was a particularly quiet one. Given that there was so much opportunity for collaboration amongst students, there was often lots of student talk. Ms. Robins generally seemed diligent about trying to ensure that the talk remained on the topic at hand. When the noise level rose beyond what Ms. Robins deemed appropriate, she would often call the class to quieten down by saying, ―Oh, we are noisy today.‖ In order to provide the reader with a better understanding of how the teacher and her students used literacy throughout the school day, I here insert a description of what might be considered a typical day in Ms. Robins‘ classroom. In this description, I endeavour to give the reader a sense of what language and literacy use looked and sounded like. This description is constructed from the field note records of my classroom observations and thus is an aggregate of these. After the school bell rang to signal that it was time to begin school in the morning, Ms. Robins‘ students entered the school building but, as Ms. Robins was not in the room, the classroom door was locked and so the students formed a line outside of the room. Ms. Robins soon appeared and unlocked the door for the students to enter. Once the students had hung up their coats, taken books from backpacks and moved to their desks, Ms. Robins quickly moved into what appeared to be a well-established and well-understood morning routine. This routine commenced with a listening exercise. The teacher read aloud a passage about a zoo exhibit on extinct animals. The text took only about two minutes to read but, on the day being portrayed, the teacher‘s reading was interrupted by an announcement from the school principal over the 142 public address system. The principal reminded the students of bicycle safety and garbage clean up. The principal also announced that Ms. Robins was looking for missing ―probability spinners.‖ After the announcements, Ms. Robins resumed reading. Once the passage was finished, she proceeded to ask a series of multiple choice questions related to what she had read. As the students were recording their responses to each question, the listening exercise was again interrupted, this time by a knock at the closed classroom door. Students from another class were returning the missing probability spinners that Ms. Robins wanted for math classes. Ms. Robins returned to the series of questions and then students were directed to exchange books so that they could grade one another‘s work. The correct answers to the questions were displayed on an overhead projection. Once the questions were graded, students returned the workbooks to one another. At the completion of the listening task, the teacher then proceeded to make several classroom announcements. Students were reminded that today was an ―early lunch‖ day. Notes sent home to parents were due to be returned and Ms. Robins collected those that were available, reminding the other students of the necessity to return the signed forms the following day. The teacher then provided the students with notices to parents regarding a forthcoming field trip and forthcoming immunization injections. With the approach of the end of the school year, students were reminded of the need to ensure the return of all school library books. Ms. Robins then asked for volunteers for school cross-walk/traffic duty for the week. Once the volunteers were enlisted, Ms. Robins directed the students‘ attention to the day‘s schedule she had written on the blackboard. ―Are there any questions for the day?‖ she asked. When there were no questions, Ms. Robins invited class members to share news and current affairs items. One student raised his hand and relayed the scores from a basketball game played the previous evening. ―We should 143 pray for Miami,‖ the student concluded. ―Why should we pray for Miami?‖ another student asked. ―Because they have never won,‖ the first student replied, referring to Miami Heat‘s ultimately unsuccessful bid for an NBA Championship that season. The second student to share a current affairs item read from a newspaper clipping about the artificial insemination of whooping cranes in a bid to help the birds toward recovery from the endangered species list. With Ms. Robins‘ assistance, a number of students then participated in a discussion of what is involved with artificial insemination. Four more students elected to share a news item. One mentioned the death of a former basketball star. Another mentioned that one of the students in the class had completed a fivekilometre fun run on the weekend. A student said that he heard on the radio that morning that a search for a hiker missing in a nearby mountain range had been called off. The final student read from a newspaper about a boy who had made claims of being the victim of a racial hate crime, but had since confessed that the allegation was unfounded. Ms. Robins thanked the students who had shared the news items and then announced the new class teams that would take effect from that day, before moving on to the day‘s math lesson. Ms. Robins began by saying, ―What is probability? Tell me what probability is.‖ Ms. Robins waited for a few students to raise their hands, before calling on one to provide an answer. ―How likely something is to happen,‖ the child said. ―How do we determine how likely something is to happen?‖ On this occasion, Jobe was called upon to answer. ―By considering the number of favourable outcomes and number of possible outcomes,‖ he said. Ms. Robins turned to the blackboard and wrote: probability = # of favourable outcomes # of possible outcomes 144 Ms. Robins then used the blackboard to demonstrate how students should determine the probability of rolling a six on a die with the shape of a regular dodecahedron (a polyhedron with 12 faces). She then rolled the die several times, but did not roll a six. ―You can see that the actual occurrence can be different to the probable occurrence,‖ Ms. Robins said. Working in their table clusters, each cluster sharing one regular dodecahedron die between them, students were directed to spend five minutes rolling the die, calculating the actual occurrence of each number. During this time, the students were generally energetic and active, with lots of noisy chatter. When five minutes had elapsed, Ms. Robins asked each table cluster to compare the actual occurrence to the probable occurrence that she had previously calculated on the blackboard. Ms. Robins distributed some sheets upon which had been copied nets for the construction of different solids. She then directed the students‘ attention to the overhead projector, where she displayed her prepared, handwritten instructions to the students for the remainder of the math period. The instructions recorded on the projection were: Construct 1. A regular tetrahedron from the net. Colour or mark each face: red, red, blue, yellow. 2. A square-based pyramid. Label each face as you like. 3. A cube. Choose any numbers from 1 to 6. You may omit numbers. 1) List the possible outcomes for each solid: a) tetrahedron b) pyramid 145 c) cube d) octahedron 2) Calculate the probability of each outcome 3) Suppose you were to roll each solid 40 times. How many times do you expect each outcome to occur? 4) Roll each solid 40 times. Record your results. As students began to work on the tasks detailed on the overhead projection, Ms. Robins attended to paperwork. Some students worked alone and in silence, but most students appeared to be working in pairs or small groups, sitting at their own desks, but occasionally crossing to another desk to confer and compare results with others. It appeared that most of the students were experiencing little difficulty with the math tasks (although a number of the solids that were constructed had odd, imprecise and messy appearances). As different students began to complete the math assignments, I noticed that they simply turned attention to the spelling assignments Ms. Robins had written on the blackboard: p. 86 #1. Inflected words – words ending in ―s,‖ ―es,‖ ―er,‖ ―est,‖ ―ed‖ and ―ing.‖ #2. Suffixes & prefixes Students turned to the class spelling textbook and began working through the assignments. I noticed that there appeared to be some confusion about the spelling tasks and at one point, Nadia approached the teacher‘s desk and asked, ―What do we do?‖ Ms. Robins responded, ―You answer the questions.‖ Before the period was over, three other students approached the teacher and asked the same question and were given the same response. 146 Two or three minutes before the scheduled morning recess time, Ms. Robins announced, ―You all need to finish your math and spelling before recess.‖ When the school bell rang to announce recess, some students left the room. At 10:30, five minutes into recess time, more than half of the class were still in the room, finishing their work. During recess time, Ms. Robins visited with the students remaining in the classroom, providing assistance and direction to help them complete their work. Nadia put her books away and left the room about five or six minutes into the scheduled recess break. Jobe finished his work at almost the same time as Nadia, but he waited for a friend to finish before he and the friend left the room together, about 10 minutes into recess, with only five minutes remaining before the bell rang to signal the end of the break. Six students remained in the classroom throughout the recess break and were still working at their spelling assignments when the other class members returned to the classroom. When everyone was seated, Ms. Robins spoke to the students about reports of bullying on the playground. Students were reminded that this type of behaviour was ―unacceptable.‖ Shortly after 10:45 a.m., Ms. Robins informed the students that she was going to continue reading the class novel, The Westing Game (Raskin, 1978). Students retrieved their copies of the novel from the education assistant who was in the classroom throughout the time scheduled for language arts that day. Having received a book, the students then moved toward the rear of the room, where most sat on the floor around Ms. Robins, who was seated on a stool. Five boys crowded onto the couch but, when another child informed Ms. Robins that team #3 was scheduled for the couch, the five boys were asked to move to the floor and another four children took their place on the couch. Five students remained at their desks, still completing their spelling assignments. As those students completed their spelling, they eventually joined their peers gathered around Ms. Robins. Ms. Robins proceeded to read about a dozen pages from the 147 novel, occasionally pausing to ask the students questions about what was happening in the novel and, on one occasion, ―Why do you think the author would say that?‖ When Ms. Robins completed the chapter she was reading, she said, ―We are getting toward the climax. What is the climax?‖ Two or three students raised their hands and one student was called upon. ―It is the main part—the most exciting part of the book.‖ Ms. Robins replied, ―Speak in correct sentences please.‖ The student responded by saying, ―The climax in a book is the most exciting part of a book.‖ After about 25 minutes seated on the floor, students were instructed to return to their desks to continue working on what Ms. Robins described as ―corrections and revisions‖ to the mystery story each child was writing. By the time most students had commenced their work, Ms. Robins again was seated at her desk. ―If you finish with revisions, work on the title page for your stories,‖ Ms. Robins directed the class. During the remaining 35 minutes until it was time to get ready for early lunch, the students generally worked individually, attending to their own stories; however, the class did not work in silence. Many students chatted with one another, often about things that seemed not to be directly related to the task at hand. For instance, one student was overheard asking a friend about after-school plans. Another group of three students were overheard talking about the basketball game from the previous night. During this time, the education assistant provided assistance to various students. At 11:45 a.m., Ms. Robins directed students to put their work away and to line up at the door for lunch. Many students retrieved lunch boxes from their backpacks and then lined up. When the class was standing quietly in line, Ms. Robins indicated the need to remain quiet by placing a finger to her lips. Without saying a word, she then turned and proceeded to lead the students from the classroom to the lunch area. 148 After lunch, classroom time resumed at 12:45. In Ms. Robins‘ room, students participated in 30 minutes of SQUIRT immediately after lunch. Details of Ms. Robins‘ classroom SQUIRT practices appear below, but on the day in question, Ms. Robins spent all of the SQUIRT period preparing and organizing materials for that afternoon‘s science class. At 1:15 p.m., Ms. Robins indicated that it was time for students to put away their SQUIRT reading materials and for those students who were not seated at their desks to return to their seats. Although Ms. Robins‘ weekly schedule indicated that SQUIRT would be followed by music and then science, on the day in question, Ms. Robins inverted the schedule and the students completed science activities before finishing the day with a short music period. Ms. Robins placed a tray of small plants in the middle of each table cluster. Each tray held nine different types of tomato plants. The students had worked with the plant trays before. Ms. Robins instructed the students to record the plant measurements. As I observed what the students were doing, I noted that they were recording and charting the number of leaves on each plant, the plant height, and the length of the stem from the soil to the first leaf. I noticed that the students were charting the plants in such a way that they were comparing seeds on the basis of what was labelled earth, water and space. I asked the students at three different table clusters what the ―space‖ heading meant. One child told me the seeds ―came from space somehow.‖ At the second table cluster, I was told, ―She got them from space.‖ At the third table cluster, when I asked what the ―space‖ heading meant, one response was simply, ―I dunno [sic].‖ Later, I asked Ms. Robins about the ―space‖ seeds and she told me that she had obtained the seeds through a science instruction programme with which she was involved. The seeds apparently had been taken to space on a space shuttle flight. The ―water‖ seeds originally had been sown in an underwater habitat, while the ―earth‖ seeds were used as a control group for the students to make 149 comparisons. Ms. Robins explained to me that the students were testing to see such things as which seeds germinated first, which grew the fastest, and which were the hardiest, or survived the longest. Ms. Robins explained that the students were learning about hypothesis testing, control groups and experimental designs. Throughout the science period, students worked within their table clusters. As with the earlier mathematics probability exercise, there was a lot of chatter amongst the students while they collaborated on the activity. Whereas during math, each table cluster generated one record of their results (one tally of actual outcomes), in the science class, each student kept her or his own record sheet and chart for the plants‘ growth. As such, I noted that, although at most table clusters the group worked together and made one measurement that each child then recorded, this was not always the case. At two or three groups, I noticed that students were working independently (and, therefore, a given plant might be measured four separate times) or in pairs. While the students participated in science, Ms. Robins moved from group to group, providing direction and assistance if someone asked for it, or if she felt it was necessary. During science, an announcement over the P.A. system called for students in the school choir to go to the gym for a practice session. I noticed that four students left the room at that time and did not return to the classroom until the end of the school day, about an hour later. As it began to be apparent that a number of students had completed and recorded all of the required plant measurements, Ms. Robins announced that students had two more minutes to complete the task. Ms. Robins asked those students who had completed their work to assist her in packing things away at the rear of the room and to tidy up ―the mess.‖ Five or six minutes later, Ms. Robins announced that it was time for the students to finish their work with plants. Anyone still working was instructed to put the plant materials away. 150 When all students again were seated at their desks, Ms. Robins said, ―I‘ve got some questions for you to see if you can answer them on your own.‖ She indicated that the questions represented a review of the science work that the students had completed the previous Friday afternoon. Ms. Robins then passed each child a worksheet with a series of questions requiring the student to identify whether each described scenario was an example of a change resulting from a physical reaction or a chemical reaction. Although Ms. Robins did not say that the worksheet needed to be completed in silence, the noise level in the classroom was very low and, at times, the classroom was almost silent. Students continued to work in this manner for almost 20 minutes. During this time, Ms. Robins completed cleaning and putting away any remaining science materials. As the students continued working on their science worksheet, and with only about 15 minutes remaining in the school day, Ms. Robins placed guitars beside students‘ desks. There were only enough guitars for about half of the students in the room. Ms. Robins asked those students to whom she had given a guitar to gather around where she sat on a stool at the rear of the room. The remaining students were asked to continue to work toward completing the science worksheet. Ms. Robins then instructed those students with guitars in some fingering techniques for various chords. Ms. Robins would indicate the correct finger placement and then ask the students to replicate that finger placement and strum the guitar a few times. The choir members returned to the classroom a short time before the bell rang to signal the end of the school day. Ms. Robins asked students to return the guitars to a storage room. When all of the students were back inside the classroom, she wrote on the small homework blackboard that the science homework for the evening was to ―keep a record of observed physical and chemical changes.‖ Ms. Robins‘ instructions to her students were to ―keep your 151 eyes open at home for these things.‖ Students were dismissed at 2:45 p.m., with most students leaving the room almost immediately. Two or three stragglers took some time to collect together what items they needed to take home, but all students had left the room within five minutes of dismissal. SQUIRT Time As mentioned, in Ms. Robins‘ classroom, silent reading was referred to as SQUIRT. When I asked Ms. Robins why she chose to employ the term SQUIRT, as opposed to the range of alternate monikers, including SSR, she responded that SQUIRT was ―just the term that [she had] always used.‖ A typical SSR period in Ms. Robins‘ grade six class was scheduled to run from 12:45 until 1:15 p.m.. In reality, each session most often lasted for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, although SSR occasionally ran for longer than 30 minutes. Questioned as to why she employed sustained silent reading and what she saw as the benefits of SSR, Ms. Robins said that the benefits of SSR included the fact that it allowed for children to have enjoyable reading experiences. She said that it provided students with time to practice their reading. Ms. Robins specified that SSR helped children to develop their vocabularies. She said it allowed students to gain exposure to a variety of genres. Ms. Robins pointed out that SSR allowed students to be ―in control,‖ saying that this was important for a number of her students. She also stated that she felt SSR was important in that it ―open[ed] up the world‖ for children. On a more pragmatic note, Ms. Robins stated that SSR helped ―instil discipline into the children,‖ explaining that it helped ―quiet the kids down‖ when they returned from the lunchtime playground. Ms. Robins went on to further explain that SSR offered a routine that could be important to children, saying, ―they know what to expect.‖ She said that it provided ―stability‖ for some children ―who don‘t have that in their lives.‖ 152 Ms. Robins almost always (but not always) played music in the classroom during the SSR period. The softly-playing music was usually Classical music, without accompanying lyrics, although there were two occasions during my seven-and-a-half weeks in the class when the day‘s musical selection did contain lyrics. When I asked Ms. Robins why she played music during silent reading time, she explained that she believed the music helped to calm the students down after having returned from their lunch break. She also stated that the music helped the students to ―unwind.‖ Furthermore, Ms. Robins stated that having the music playing in the classroom helped to ―drown out noise from the hallway‖ and that the music also served the purpose of negating any distracting noises that her students might make, either accidentally or deliberately, during SSR. Playing the music was an interesting feature of SSR in Ms. Robins‘ classroom. Although there are common characteristics of the way that SSR is conducted in most classrooms, individual classrooms often having their own specific ―flavour‖ of SSR. As mentioned, some teachers stress some things and others stress other things. The differences from classroom to classroom appear primarily to be dictated by the individual preference of the classroom teacher or some specific student needs (Nagy et al., 2000; Robertson et al., 1996). Ms. Robins informed me that, during SSR, her expectation was that students read in silence. If they were noisy, she would call to the class, saying things like, ―settle down,‖ or ―quieten down,‖ or ―get on with your reading.‖ On one occasion, she approached a noisy group and said to them, ―That doesn‘t sound like reading.‖ On another occasion, she went to a group of boys who were supposed to be reading outside. ―That doesn‘t look like reading,‖ she said, as the boys hurriedly abandoned their games and picked up their books. 153 As explained, during silent reading time in Ms. Robins‘ class, some students were permitted to be seated at a computer, while others were allowed to sit on the classroom couch. Others were with grade two Buddy Reading students. On sunny days when it was not raining, students were permitted to go outside the classroom onto a lawned area to read. With the exception of Buddy Reading participants, if the students were not rostered to sit at a computer or on the couch, students were permitted only to be seated outside or at their own desks. Students were not allowed to sit at someone else‘s desk or to find any other place to sit and read. Ms. Robins also explained that students were not allowed to wander about the classroom. If they were not reading, students should only otherwise have been selecting a book from the classroom library. Wherever they might be going to read, students were expected to begin as soon as they were able to do so after returning from the lunch break. Those students seated at a computer during SSR occasionally appeared to be browsing the Internet. Most often, however, the students were observed playing a variety of computer games, including such games as Where in the World is Carmen San Diego?, The Oregon Trail and a haunted house computer game. During SQUIRT, Ms. Robins rarely spent the time reading herself. As an example, on the day described earlier, she spent the time preparing science experiment materials for the afternoon class. At other times, she was observed grading assignments, recording scores in her grade book, putting away materials, and tidying the classroom. Students were free to self-select their own texts to read. There was a wide variety of text types that the students selected. In my field notes, on two occasions I recorded the texts students were reading during SQUIRT. The field notes represent a snapshot example of text choices from two specific moments on two different days (see Table 6 and Table 7). One snapshot was taken during a Thursday when a number of the students were away at a water park (Table 6). This 154 water park excursion was a reward for the students who had acted as library monitors and is discussed in further detail later because Nadia participated in the excursion. On that particular day, 10 students were at the water park, leaving 20 students at school. Table 6 shows that, of the 10 who were on the excursion, two were boys and eight were girls. Most of the girls from Ms. Robins‘ class served as library monitors; indeed, few library monitors were boys. Table 6 Snapshot #1 of SSR Reading Choices Text Choice Boys Girls Total - Computer 2 1 3 - Novel 7a 1 8 - Comic book 2 1 3 - Graphic Novel 1 1 2 - Atlas 1 0 1 - Buddy Reading 2 1 3 - On Water Park Excursion 2 8b 10 Other Activity a b Jobe was reading a novel at his desk. Nadia was on the excursion. The second SQUIRT snapshot (Table 7) was from the Tuesday of the following week. At the specific moment reflected in Table 7, there was a total of 22 students either inside the classroom or outside on the lawn. 155 Table 7 Snapshot #2 of SSR Reading Choices Text Choice Boys Girls Total - Computer 2 3 5 - Novel 7a 3 10 b, c - Comic book 2 2 4 - Graphic Novel 0 1d 1 - ―Home-made‖ book 1 0 1 - Magazine 0 1 1 - Buddy Reading 2 3 5 - Library 2 0 2 - Bathroom 1 0 1 Other Activity a b c d Jobe was reading a novel at his desk. Of the 10 students reading novels, five were reading Roald Dahl novels. Five students were outside on the lawn. All five were reading novels. Nadia was reading a graphic novel at her desk. As is typical of SSR in many contexts, there were no follow-up discussions or assignments associated with what the students read during their silent reading time. At around 1:15, Ms. Robins would indicate that it was time to finish. She indicated that it was time to move 156 to the next activity by announcing to the class the instructions pertaining to the next subject or activity. Jobe In the following section, I report on Jobe, focusing largely on his SSR and other reading experiences. I begin with a description of Jobe. Elements of Jobe‘s relationships with his peers come to the fore, as does the fact that much of his reading motivation, strategy-use, and confidence seemed to be derived from social interactions. I also suggest that Jobe‘s ability to engage in reading was inhibited by the classroom SSR practice. Description of Jobe Jobe was a Caucasian boy and was one of the six Canadian-born students in the classroom. Other than the French language skills he was developing through the classroom French instruction, Jobe spoke, read and wrote only in English, and English was the language of his home environment. During the course of the study, Jobe celebrated his 12th birthday. Jobe‘s description of himself as a reader was characterized by his high self-esteem. Jobe described himself as ―a very good reader,‖ saying, ―I read above my level.‖ Jobe also said that reading was ―very easy‖ for him. When Jobe was talking about his ability to read aloud, he conceded, ―I‘m still not quite perfect at it,‖ but he then added, ―But I‘m really quite good at it.‖ Jobe claimed he possessed ―a very good vocabulary.‖ Jobe also said that he read at home ―pretty much every day.‖ Many of these comments were given as part of Jobe‘s responses to the administration of the Motivation to Read Profile questionnaire (Gambrell et al., 1996). Jobe‘s raw score for the MRP was 68/80, a full survey score of 85%. Interestingly, his self-concept score, reflecting his view of himself as a reader, was 92.5%, whereas his task value score, reflecting the value Jobe 157 places upon reading, was considerably less, being 77.5%. (See appendix F for Jobe‘s completed MRP survey). Gambrell and colleagues do not provide norms or comparison data for MRP scores. Jobe‘s task value score suggested that a low value of reading might have been a factor influencing his non-engagement during SSR. If Jobe saw little value in the task, he was not likely to invest a great deal of effort into trying to engage in that task. As with the other factors I identify that might have contributed to Jobe and/or Nadia‘s non-engagement, I discuss this possible factor further in chapter 5. Jobe was the eldest of four children in his family. He had two brothers and a sister. His youngest brother and his sister had not yet started school. Jobe told me of his morning routine, saying that, after he had awoken and showered, he would then complete what he described as his ―workout‖—presumably the type of physical workout that I consider to be consistent with what I interpreted as his pre-teen, athletic, energetic disposition. Jobe informed me that he was ―good at improv.,‖ having trained and participated in theatrical improvisation ―for a couple of years.‖ Jobe‘s mother worked with her father, where she was vice president of a family business involved with medical research. Jobe‘s maternal grandfather had published two books recalling his World War II experiences. Jobe‘s father was an elementary schoolteacher, teaching grade one or kindergarten children. Jobe said he had a public library card and that he often visited the public library. He also said that his home contained two libraries. Others have since asked me what Jobe meant by this comment. At the time, I did not pursue the matter further because I took it literally to mean that, in the house in which Jobe lived, there were two rooms that were designated as libraries. Although the rooms might not have served exclusively as libraries, I expect that each of these rooms contained many books on bookshelves. 158 Ms. Robins described Jobe as an ―academically average student.‖ Jobe was also described as having poor work habits and difficulty in articulating his ideas in writing. Ms. Robins said that Jobe‘s strengths included his verbal skills, his vocabulary, and his selfconfidence. Interestingly, however, she also said that one of Jobe‘s primary weaknesses was his self-confidence. It is perhaps useful to explain this seeming contradiction. In talking with Ms. Robins, it seemed that she felt that Jobe‘s confidence endowed him with a willingness to take risks and to try different things. Such willingness to take risks is sometimes said to be an important trait in learning to read and in developing reading skills (Pinnell, 1989). On the other hand, Ms. Robins seemed to suggest that Jobe‘s confidence was such that he sometimes failed to bother to check his work or even invest a strong effort, incorrectly assuming that, regardless of effort, his answers would be correct. Jobe‘s confidence was further suggested in other things that he said on other days. One day, he commented on the fact that he remembered ―a lot‖ from the books that he read. Another time, he said that he ―never‖ worried about what other students thought of his reading ability. Jobe once said to me that there were only, as he specified, ―two books out of hundreds‖ that he had read that he had found difficult to comprehend. One further quote to evidence his confidence: In discussing his interest in Medieval times, Jobe once said to me, ―I pretty much know pretty much all there is to know about that.‖ Jobe told me that he ―possibly [had] the best vocabulary in the class.‖ He also told me that he was ―the arm wrestling champion‖ who found it ―just really annoying‖ when one of his classmates kept saying ―he is better than me‖ at arm wrestling. ―I try it and then I always beat him,‖ Jobe stated. Jobe claimed to have ―beaten him nine times now, in a row….He‘s not beaten me once.‖ When discussing a lunchtime game that he played with his friends, Jobe commented that he was ―the one that tells [the players] how everything works.‖ 159 What Jobe had to Say About Reading In this next section, I include a table that provides details of the various things that Jobe said to me during data collection (see Table 8). Table 8 shows the number of different ideas expressed by Jobe in each of the seven recorded semi-structured interviews. In the column entitled, Semi-Structured Interview Number 1, for instance, it shows that Jobe expressed 33 ideas that I categorized as being social and 33 ideas involving a positive judgement about a specific text, author or genre. The first recorded semi-structured interview was the one in which I administered the MRP survey. This helps to explain the particularly high number of times (34) that Jobe said things critiquing, clarifying or considering my question (the Consideration category). 160 Table 8 Number of Ideas Expressed by Jobe in Each of Seven Recorded Semi-Structured Interviews Semi-Structured Interview Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Social 33 5 8 21 10 31 27 Affinity groups 0 0 0 2 1 7 0 Social awareness 6 0 2 0 0 2 0 Specific positive judgement 33 1 2 3 2 3 10 Specific negative judgement 7 0 0 0 3 4 5 General positive judgement 11 4 0 0 0 0 5 General negative judgement 8 9 0 0 0 0 5 Instrumental 2 10 0 6 0 0 1 Content 30 5 25 13 15 15 27 Strategy use 10 1 25 30 24 9 4 Squirt (SSR) 0 23 0 1 11 7 0 Personal identity 10 1 2 8 0 5 11 Identity as a reader 30 4 2 1 4 0 30 Engagement 0 0 0 0 19 0 0 Consideration 34 7 10 16 4 1 18 Social chatter 5 1 10 3 6 1 25 Not able to categorize 5 0 1 2 0 1 0 Totals 224 71 87 106 99 86 168 Idea Category 161 The total number of idea units recorded along the bottom row of Table 8 suggest that the first recorded semi-structured interview was much longer than the others. The 224 idea units compared, say, to the 71 in the second semi-structured interview, reflect the nature of the MRP as well as the additional length of time it took to administer the survey. Some other noticeable anomalies also bear highlighting. One can see that Jobe expressed ideas I classified as being a specific discussion of engagement in the fifth semi-structured interview only. Given this particular topic had not previously been discussed in our conversations, I made a point of raising the issue in the fifth semi-structured interview, probing Jobe‘s thinking about the topic. Although Jobe made explicit reference to SQUIRT on 23 occasions in the second semi-structured interview, there were no such instances in the first semi-structured interview. This is partly— probably largely—because no questions on the MRP specifically ask about SSR routines. The total number of idea units expressed in semi-structured interview number seven is noticeably greater than in the five semi-structured interviews preceding this one. This is true also of my semi-structured interviews with Nadia. This is because, with the final interview taking place, I endeavoured to collect as much additional data as I was able to do so before the opportunity no longer existed. It is interesting to note the categories in which ideas were expressed by Jobe in each semi-structured interview. Of the 17 categories, including the category of being ―not able to categorize,‖ there are six categories in which Jobe expressed at least one idea in each of the seven recorded semi-structured interviews. The six categories are: social; specific positive judgement; content; strategy use; consideration; and, social chatter. The recurring mention of ideas classifiable within these six categories provide an interesting insight into Jobe as a person. 162 The social and social chatter categories reflect what seemed to me to be an outgoing, friendly disposition. The strategy use and knowledge of content categories hint at Jobe‘s capabilities as a reader. Although his teacher identified him as being often non-engaged in reading during SSR, Jobe was a capable reader. What‘s more, the specific positive judgements suggest that, with the right material and in some settings or contexts, Jobe not only could read, but that he enjoyed reading. It is also interesting to note that, as well as occurring in each semi-structured interview, the category of ―consideration,‖ includes the most frequently occurring idea in any single semistructured interview. That is, outside of the overall totals for each semi-structured interview, the highest number in Table 8 is 34—in semi-structured interview number one, Jobe ―considered‖ my question 34 times. Again, I think this fact provides an interesting reflection of Jobe. My impression was that he was an insightful, thoughtful, inquisitive and sharp-minded student. As a specific example of a consideration/critiquing utterance that, perhaps, partly illustrates these tendencies, when I asked Jobe how he considered his own reading ability compared to the ability of his friends, Jobe quite rightly responded by saying, ―Well, it matters which ones, really.‖ In hindsight, I think that Jobe‘s incisive response made my question seem rather a poor one! As indicated, in the ―social chatter‖ row of Table 8, there was always some social chatter between Jobe and myself. Jobe‘s own social chatter idea expressions twice reached double figure totals, including a high of 25 social chatter idea units in our final semi-structured interview. Although in my social chatter example in chapter 3 Jobe expressed an idea related to school (an upcoming school assembly), his social chatter at other times seemed even more ―social,‖ inquisitive and, frankly, more unrelated to a specific discussion of reading. Knowing my Australian origins, at one time Jobe asked me about Australian history. Another time, he told me about how he knew that the introduction of rabbits into Australia had a detrimental and 163 destructive impact on Australia‘s countryside. Other times, he told me about various movies that he watched, as well as things that he did on the weekend. On another occasion, he talked to me about having once attended a show featuring some impromptu comedy from two comedians we both enjoyed watching on the television programme, Whose Line Is It, Anyway? When meeting with him and when observing him in the classroom, Jobe appeared to be a friendly, social boy. Jobe’s Social Activity and Possible Relationships with Literacy In addition to the numerical ―social chatter‖ data included in Table 8, classroom observations and interviews with Jobe revealed ample evidence of social activity. Jobe had a large circle of friends. This was evident to me throughout my time visiting Ms. Robins‘ classroom. He appeared to be a cheerful, confident boy who seemed to have little difficulty working and socializing with a wide variety of people, of different genders, different ages, different cultural backgrounds, and different abilities. It was interesting to me as I read back over the semi-structured interview transcripts to note how many different boys Jobe referred to as his friends. Although the transcripts contain pseudonyms, it is important to realise that I was careful to employ the same pseudonym for each person mentioned. For instance, Jobe‘s friend who attended a special math class for gifted young mathematicians was always identified in the transcripts and, subsequently, in this report, by the same pseudonym, Ronald. A friend described by Jobe as an especially good runner was always identified as Andrew. As I transcribed the semi-structured interview recordings, I was careful to ensure that I did not just substitute any name to conceal a child‘s identity. Rather, I always used the same pseudonym for the same child. By doing this, I can now see that there were many friends that Jobe referred to in our conversations. 164 Jobe‘s social activity during the course of data collection included hosting a birthday party, which was attended by a number of friends from within and without his class. In a spontaneous, informal chat in the hallway with two boys from the class one morning, they were telling me what an enjoyable time they had at the party. During my period of data collection, Jobe also stayed at a friend‘s house for a sleepover. He was involved in a variety of games in the playground, including one role-playing game where Jobe played the central role, organizing the game for his friends. ―I have a lot of friends that play it. Probably about 10, 11, 12,‖ Jobe said. This was the same game about which Jobe said, ―I‘m like ref[eree], basically. The one that tells you how everything works.‖ Significantly, Jobe‘s social activity also included literacy pursuits such as talking about books, enjoying group reading activities, and reading popular texts. One indicator of his social awareness was that Jobe commented on the popularity of some books he read. ―They‘re really famous,‖ he said of the Artemis Fowl series of books by Eion Colfer. Another time, when talking about Brian Jacques‘ Redwall series of books, Jobe said, ―These books are unique. That‘s why there‘s so many people reading them…they‘re very famous books.‖ Jobe revealed his awareness of his friends‘ perceptions about reading. He also stated that his friends recommended books to him and that they influenced his reading choices. In explaining how he first encountered a book that he came to enjoy, Jobe told me that ―lots of people were just getting it out‖ of the library. Jobe suggested that Ronald, in particular, seemed to have a good taste in books and was a reliable source of good recommendations. Jobe claimed that whenever he was in a group, talking about what the group had read, he ―almost always‖ talked about his ideas. On this particular occasion, he was most likely talking about a school setting, but it was apparent that he also discussed reading and books outside of the 165 school setting. It was also apparent that he was involved in general and specific conversations about reading with his friends. On one occasion, he specifically mentioned going to a friend and discussing reading comprehension difficulty. Neither Jobe nor his friend could understand the complex writing style the author had employed in a book that both boys had decided to read for their pleasure. Although he had trouble articulating his reasoning, it was clear that Jobe had a strong preference for whole-class novel reading experiences over those reading experiences where he was required to read alone. As far as Jobe was concerned, when the whole class came together for the purpose of reading and discussing the class novel, it was simply ―all round better‖ than reading alone. He said that he preferred such instances to ―just reading it by myself.‖ Jobe also expressed his desire for the teacher to read aloud to the class every day. He said that a story ―is more fun when someone else reads it to you.‖ The semi-structured interview transcripts revealed some significant information about the relationship between social activity and Jobe‘s literacy. As the following edited transcript extract reveals, Jobe claimed to have picked up his sizeable vocabulary from his friend, Ronald: Jobe: I have a very good vocabulary. When Miss [sic] Robins is calling them out, I‘m always the one that is putting up my hand. Along with, Francis. Greg (the author of this thesis): Along with whom? Jobe: Francis. My friend… Greg: So you have a good vocabulary? Jobe: Mmm-hmm [nodding in the affirmative]. Greg: So, where do you think you picked up a good vocabulary, Jobe? 166 Jobe: Mainly at my friend Ronald‘s house. Greg: Really? Jobe: Yeah. He has a way better vocabulary than me. Greg: Oh, yeah? Jobe: He‘s constantly saying words I don‘t know and I‘m supposed to have a good vocabulary, but I wonder what the hell he has. The concluding remark in the above extract perhaps gives an insight into Jobe‘s identity. Certainly, in meeting with Jobe and in observing him closely over a seven-and-a-half-week period, I found him to be a charming, likeable and pleasant boy. As has been mentioned before though, he seemed very confident and, as they say, ―comfortable in his own skin.‖ Bravado seemed a part of his identity and that bravado is somewhat reflected in the above ―what the hell‖ comment. At the same time, it is noteworthy that Jobe felt comfortable enough in the research setting that he gave voice to things that I believe accurately reflect his personality. The following transcript extract demonstrates that, like so many others, Jobe was also caught up in the Harry Potter/J. K. Rowling craze. Jobe‘s involvement, however, was not without reservations. At one early point, Jobe conceded, ―I don‘t especially like those.‖ Nonetheless, as this later semi-structured interview extract reveals, Jobe was not about to be left out: Greg: Can you tell me anything that you‘ll be reading over the summer? Like, do you already have plans for any books or anything? Jobe: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. 167 Greg: You‘re going to read that one over the summer? That comes out, I think, in the middle of July, so that‘s probably just under a month now. Jobe: Hhh-hmm [nodding]. Greg: So, you‘re looking forward to that? Jobe: Yep. Greg: Will you get that one straight away? Jobe: I‘ve already got it pre-ordered. Greg: Oh, do you? You already have it—already have it ordered? Jobe: Yeah. Greg: Oh, well, that‘s really good. Jobe: Even though I‘m not a true Harry Potter fan and I think the movies are really quite bad, I always watch the movies anyway, and I don‘t like—the books are not my favourite books in the world. I‘m not a huge fan, but I still get them because everyone else likes them so much…if I don‘t read it, I won‘t have anything to talk about with everyone else. I‘ll be like, ―Well, uuuum, yeah, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince. My favourite part was when he said hello to Hermione.‖ This interesting admission is consistent with data from a recent study (Scholastic, 2006), in which one finding was that the majority of boys said it was important to read the Harry Potter books in order to feel ―in‖ with their friends. In Jobe‘s case, his desire to have things to ―talk about with everyone else‖ outweighed the fact that he was clearly ―not a huge fan.‖ The following semi-structured interview piece contains strong evidence that Jobe could see the prevalence and importance of reading in society. In Jobe‘s opinion, an inability to read 168 can have dire consequences—even going to the extreme of saying that someone would ―just die‖ if one could not read: Greg: …talking about home and the fact that you can read, and you have a brother and a sister who can‘t…do you think that it is important that they learn how to read? Jobe: Yes! Reading is a—you need reading to be part of our society. Greg: Oh, yeah? What do you mean by that, Jobe? Jobe: Everything is put in words. If you can‘t read, you‘re pretty much screwed. Greg: Oh? Jobe: You can‘t go to school ‗cause you can‘t read the worksheets. Can‘t read instructions. Can‘t do anything. Greg: So what would happen to you in that sort of situation? Jobe: You‘d get killed. You‘d just die. Greg: You would? Jobe: Ah, yeah. You‘d stay in the hot tub too long if [unintelligible] doesn‘t give you a warning. Greg: [laughs]. Jobe: You can‘t realize it‘s burning so, ah, it says, ―Do not touch. Dangerous.‖ Greg: Right. Jobe: Blaaah [presumably, the final utterance of somebody boiling in a hot tub]! 169 Evidence of Jobe Engaged Outside SSR It is significant to note that classroom field notes also revealed evidence suggesting Jobe was an engaged student and an engaged reader outside of the SSR setting. Jobe seemed often to be an active, willing participant in classroom activities and in a variety of learning opportunities. Some general examples from my field note data suggest Jobe‘s apparent classroom engagement in learning included his seeming diligence and willingness to set to work, even when the teacher was not specifically watching him. During independent work, Jobe usually appeared to work well. During small group work, Jobe appeared generally to contribute to his group‘s successful completion of assigned tasks. More specific details from my field note data also suggest Jobe‘s apparent engagement in learning. For instance, Jobe was observed volunteering the correct math answers as Ms. Robins guided the class through the math textbook example about working with percentages. Similarly, during French instruction, Jobe volunteered to go to the front of the classroom and was correctly able to match French phrases with the corresponding illustrations. During Ms. Robins‘ class novel read alouds, Jobe was observed sitting cross-legged on the floor at the teacher‘s feet, following along in his own copy of the book. Jobe was also successfully able to complete the lengthy mystery writing assignment Ms. Robins linked to the reading of the mystery novel. Jobe‘s own writing assignment included working through the stages of the writing process, providing illustrations, painting a cover design, and stitching the book binding to create a finished book product of which he seemed justifiably proud. Jobe was observed participating and contributing in a small group, hands-on science experiment around the topic of matter. He appeared to be a similarly involved, participating member of his small group during another science class when they worked with plants that the class had grown from seeds. At the 170 completion of math tasks, Jobe was seen to be able to smoothly transition without any verbal instructions from the teacher to the succeeding spelling assignments. He did this by following the teacher‘s directions that were written on the blackboard, seamlessly following the established classroom routine. My field notes also record a number of other general and specific notes suggestive of Jobe‘s engagement in learning. Oftentimes I recorded that he seemed attentive during the teacher‘s oral instructions, whether it related to math, language arts, science, or music. He was very often observed raising his hand in response to various teacher questions during a variety of content lessons. As further evidence of Jobe‘s willingness to participate in class activities, he seemed always willing and eager to participate in class read alouds, whether it was from the class novel or a textbook. Jobe also voluntarily contributed to the class current affairs/early morning news discussions with which Ms. Robins commenced each school day. The interview transcripts also contain evidence hinting at Jobe‘s engagement outside of the SSR setting. The following transcript extract reveals his willingness, indeed his desire, to participate in class discussions: Jobe: Whenever she‘s wondering what the vocabulary words are, I possibly have the best vocabulary in the class. If she‘s wondering then… Greg: ―She‖ being the teacher, you mean? Jobe: Yeah. Greg: Yeah. 171 Jobe: When Ms. Robins is wondering in the book, ―What does this mean?‖ I always have my hand up. It‘s really annoying because she doesn‘t pick me. She only picks me as much as everyone else when, like, I have my hand up way more than everyone else… Greg: [laughs]. Jobe: …when the person—so it gets really annoying [joins Greg‘s laughter]. Greg: Yeah, I can see that bothers you, Jobe, but I‘m sure that you can understand that there‘s others and she has to give everybody a chance. Jobe: I think, there‘s always like me or someone else. Like, she picks me one out of 30 times. Greg: [laughs]. Well, because there‘s 30 students. Right? Jobe: Yes, but there‘s only one person putting it up and then another person puts it up, I should get half the times. Greg: Oh, okay. Well… Jobe: Because I have my hand up half the—I have my hand up every time, but I should get half because then you pick and it‘s only out of one other person. As far as Jobe was concerned, a sense of fairness, and the law of averages, dictated that he should be called upon to provide an answer to every second question—an interesting perspective and a telling pointer to his classroom engagement. Jobe’s SSR Struggles Despite Jobe‘s seeming engagement in learning and engagement in reading and literacy events evident in the observations and the semi-structured interview content presented above, Jobe‘s SSR experiences often seemed a struggle. He appeared often to do little or no reading 172 during the four times per week that the teacher devoted time to SSR. This is not, however, to say that Jobe appeared always non-engaged. As with Nadia, Jobe engaged in reading in some settings, with some materials and at some times—sometimes including during SSR—but most often during SSR time, Jobe and Nadia did not engage as readers. Field notes of my observations of Jobe during SSR time reveal a number of instances when he was obviously not engaged in reading. These field notes include occasions when he was seen: swinging his sweater around his head; arm wrestling with classmates; playing with his cap; picking at grass and throwing it in the air; throwing stones; playing ―Truth or Dare‖ in a large and noisy group; balancing his book on his head; and playing tic-tac-toe with a friend. Each of these examples suggest he was not only not reading, but potentially was a distracting influence who may have inhibited others‘ efforts to engage in reading during SSR. Each of these episodes is also obviously an example of socio-behavioural non-engagement matched by a lack of socio-cognitive or socio-emotional engagement in SSR reading. The reader might note that each of the above-mentioned actions might take only a few seconds—a small percentage of the 30 minutes or so of SSR. However, many of the above activities did continue for minutes at a time and were sometimes repeated, sometimes several times. Although I did not attempt to measure time engaged in reading, I confidently estimate that, over the course of my 173 first 10 SSR observation sessions, Jobe was not engaged in reading more than half the time. Indeed, I tentatively estimate that there were occasions when he would not have read more than a few words during a particular session. It was not practicable for me to ask Jobe about everything I observed. On each occasion that I did ask Jobe about what seemed to be non-engagement, however, his response was consistent with my observation. On one occasion, he said that he stopped reading to watch an ant. Another time, he conceded he and his friends were continuing a game of Truth or Dare from lunchtime. He also said he was playing a game on another occasion. Another time, he confirmed that he, indeed, had forsaken his reading to accept a classmates‘ challenge to an arm wrestle. On another occasion, when I asked what he had been talking about during SSR, he said he and his friends had been discussing their lunchtime role-playing game. All of these five instances were indicative that what appeared to be non-engagement in SSR reading actually was nonengagement in SSR reading. Despite the potential for contradictions between appearance and reality, in Jobe‘s case, each time I asked him, what I surmised from my observations was then supported by what Jobe said about what I observed. This suggests in the case of Jobe, a link between socio-behavioural non-engagement and socio-cognitive and socio-emotional nonengagement in reading. Otherwise put, on those occasions when I checked with Jobe, if he appeared non-engaged, he was. The above narrative about Jobe‘s SSR struggles is supported by numerical data from my observations of Jobe during SSR (see Table 9). 174 Table 9 Observations of Jobe During SSR Activities a Materials Seconds Out of Physical Other SSR Session Present to start Noise Place Contact 1 Y 203 2 0 1 7 10 2 Y 178 6 4 1 7 18 3 N 190 9 0 2 0 11 4 Y 198 2 0 1 7 10 5a Y 167 5 4 1 7 17 6 N 192 10 0 2 0 12 7 N 333 5 1 0 6 12 8 N 301 5 1 1 6 13 9 Y 782 11 1 1 6 19 10b Y 305 5 1 2 2 10 Total - 2849 60 12 12 48 132 Average - 284.9 6 1.2 1.2 4.8 13.2 Departures Total The second observer research assistant recorded observations during the 5th and 10th sessions. Her tallies for this session were: Noise 4; Out of Place 4; Physical Contact 2; and Other SSR Departures 8; for a total of 18. b The second observer‘s tallies for this session were: Noise 5; Out of Place 1; Physical Contact 4; and Other SSR Departures 3; for a total of 13. During 10 days of observations of Jobe before I began meeting him for recorded semistructured interviews, he was observed between 10 and 19 times, inclusive, participating in 175 activities outside of the expected SSR routines each day. (Despite saying ―each day,‖ please remember that my tallies are only from the first 15 minutes of each SSR period). Table 9 shows that, as well as being the most frequently occurring score during these observations, 10 was also his lowest tally of class SSR rule violations per day. During the ninth day of observations, Jobe committed 19 SSR rule violations. It is interesting to note that, with Jobe, the most frequently occurring departure from the routines of SSR fell within the ―noise‖ category. Such potentially distracting noises were almost always instances of Jobe talking with friends. As mentioned in chapter 3, I conducted SSR observations on 28 days but decided to present only the SSR observation data gathered before I began to meet with Jobe and Nadia. I felt that the semi-structured interviews between the study participants and me probably influenced the students‘ behaviour during SSR. Whether they did so consciously or not, I suspected the students altered their behaviour and appeared to be more ―on task‖ as they became increasingly aware of my study after I began conducting semi-structured interviews with them. Having said this, it is interesting that, during 10 days of SSR observations of Jobe before I began semi-structured interviews with him, he averaged 13 activities reflective of non-adherence to the SSR routines. The reader is reminded that such activities included failure to remain silent or not staying in the appropriate place to read (Table 1). After I began meeting with Jobe for our discussions, the average number of times I observed Jobe involved in activities outside the expected routines fell to just four. Regarding the speed with which Jobe commenced his reading during SSR, the third column of Table 9 reveals, with one notable exception, he generally would take his seat and commence reading within about five minutes (300 seconds) of me starting the stop-watch one minute after he returned from his lunch break. Having said that, Jobe took more than five 176 minutes to commence on four occasions. During session number nine, Jobe took over 13 minutes (specifically, 782 seconds) before he opened a book and started to read. This was also the day of his highest SSR rule violation tally. At least insofar as expectations for reading during SSR were concerned, on this day Jobe did not meet Ms. Robins‘ expectations. Jobe‘s lack of SSR engagement is also suggested by the struggle it was for him to finish his SSR books. In a one-month period, Jobe said he was reading all of the following books during SSR, but he never finished any of them: Hell’s Faire (Ringo, 2003); Loamhedge (Jacques, 2003); The Crown Disarmed (unknown author); Artemis Fowl and the Eternity Code (Colfer, 2003); Artemis Fowl and the Opal Deception (Colfer, 2005); Triss (Jacques, 2002); and Weapon: A Visual History of Arms and Armor (D.K. Publishing, 2006). In all of these cases, Jobe put the book aside (returning it to the library or the bookshelf) before he had completed reading the text. After discarding all of these books, Jobe commented that he had not lately had many good books to read. This comment came despite the enthusiasm with which he had earlier discussed many of the books. Interestingly, Jobe stated that he did a different type of reading during SSR than what he did at home. Despite the above-mentioned selections (all but Weapon are fiction novels), Jobe‘s comments suggested he understood SSR time should be more about reading informational texts. One wonders where this perception came from. Why did Jobe think that SSR reading should involve informational texts? Jobe said that he only sometimes read informational books at home, but that he usually read novels. He also stated that at home he often enjoyed reading Gary Larson‘s Far Side Galleries and Bill Watterson‘s Calvin and Hobbes comic books. Not until nearing the end of the collection of data was Jobe observed reading comic books during SSR time. This despite the fact that the teacher did allow children considerable freedom in their self- 177 selection of SSR material and that, apart from what was an unspoken restriction upon obviously inappropriate-for-school texts like pornographic material, the teacher did not overtly impose limitations upon the students‘ SSR text choices. Yet, there was still this stated perception on Jobe‘s part regarding reading informational texts during SSR. Did this notion of a ―correct‖ type of SSR reading material contribute to his non-engagement? It is worth pondering. As mentioned, this and other potential non-engagement factors are further discussed in chapter 5. In addition, I return to this ―correct type‖ notion later in this chapter where Jobe discussed ideas around engagement and history texts. On a day when Jobe was observed reading a Jughead Jones comic book, he was asked if there were any differences about the way he went about comic book reading as compared to other types of reading. Jobe replied, ―Sometimes I read a comic [strip] and then I stop and talk to someone and then I read them [the next comic strips] again.‖ One can see that this ―method‖ would create problems in the SSR setting. Despite the fact that Jobe did say that he discussed books and reading with his friends, it was worthy of note that he specifically stated that he rarely talked with friends about the material he read during SSR. ―I don‘t usually talk about them,‖ Jobe said, ―Sometimes I do, but not usually.‖ Yet, this was the boy who read Harry Potter books so as not to miss out on the conversations with friends. Perhaps the absence of class time to discuss SSR reading was a factor that contributed to Jobe‘s lack of engagement in SSR. Participating in conversations seemed to be a reading motivator, yet, as is typical in many classrooms where SSR is implimented, opportunities did not exist for Jobe to talk about SSR reading. I asked Jobe about the fact that he and his classmates were sometimes allowed to read on the lawn area outside the classroom. Jobe said that he liked that freedom, even though it resulted 178 in him and his friends sometimes spending the time talking, rather than reading in silence. Jobe indicated that he enjoyed the fact that SSR time sometimes allowed him to be outside; however, at such times he conceded that he and his friends would ―do some reading, but not much.‖ Jobe felt that it was more likely that he and his peers would complete more reading if they were retained inside the classroom, rather than being permitted to ―read‖ outside. ―I prefer that you can sit next to a friend and stuff,‖ he said, but then interestingly suggested that ―actually to get reading done,‖ at least within the parameters of SSR reading, it might be better if he did not go outside with his friends. Was the opportunity to ―read‖ outside a factor contributing to Jobe‘s lack of engagement in reading during SSR? Perhaps so. Jobe‘s understanding of the purpose of SSR time was also enlightening. ―It‘s like it‘s more quiet time,‖ Jobe suggested, rather than silent reading time. As the following transcript extract reveals, the understanding of SSR that Jobe expressed at another time seemed problematic. Greg: Do you sometimes have a bit of trouble getting back into school after the lunch break? Jobe: Well, they have this. Sometimes it is kind of hard, but they have this and it‘s easier, and then right after the reading… Greg: ―This‖ being…? Jobe: Silent, yeah, reading. It‘s just like the break. It‘s right in between. It‘s still relaxation time and free time; yet, it‘s not quite as wild and open as lunchtime. Greg: Right. So, for you, actually, having SQUIRT time straight after lunch is a really convenient, a good time to have it. 179 Jobe: There‘s a big wild bunch and it sort of calms you down, yet it‘s like the in-between and then you have the rest of school… Such comments noticeably lack any reference to an opportunity to read and to engage in a pleasurable and/or educational experience with a text. Jobe seemed to view SSR as a transition from his ―wild and open‖ lunchtime activities with the ―big wild bunch‖ who were his friends to the expectation of more sedate, orderly classroom conduct. Interestingly, Jobe referred to SSR as ―relaxation time and free time,‖ rather than reading time—a time to freely choose what he would do, including one presumes, options like playing tic-tac-toe or arm wrestling with friends, despite the teacher‘s expectations that the students should be reading. Jobe‘s perception of the purpose of SSR might have been a factor contributing to his lack of engagement. He tended not to recognise any need to invest time and energy into engaging in SSR reading. Rather, he was happy to use the time for other purposes. On another occasion, however, Jobe did reveal some awareness of expectations for SSR, despite his struggle to meet those expectations. When it was pointed out to Jobe that, during SSR that day, he had been part of a noisy group, he was asked what the group was talking about. Jobe replied that they were playing a game of ―Truth or Dare‖ that was a continuation of a game that had been played during the lunch time break. After I said to Jobe, ―Obviously the teacher wasn‘t happy with that, because silent reading [time] is meant for other things,‖ Jobe was asked what he felt about the group being chastised and called into line by the teacher. Jobe‘s forthright reply was simply, ―It‘s fine. I think we deserve it.‖ During two different semi-structured interviews, Jobe made some interesting, albeit contradictory, statements about the music that Ms. Robins played during SSR time. During our 180 second recorded semi-structured interview, Jobe told me that he found the music ―distracting.‖ He described Ms. Robins‘ musical selections as ―really bad music.‖ Jobe unwittingly then made me feel my age, complaining that the music ―came from 1995. I don‘t think that old stuff should be allowed.‖ When I revisited the topic of Ms. Robins‘ SSR music during our fifth semistructured interview, however, Jobe said, ―I don‘t mind it.‖ I reminded Jobe of our earlier conversation and Jobe replied, ―I don‘t think I said that. I don‘t mind it. I don‘t mind the music. I even prefer the music.‖ Although the second reference to the SSR music suggested no problem, if we take the first comment about ―distracting‖ and ―really bad‖ music at face value, Jobe‘s lack of SSR engagement at times might have been impacted by Ms. Robins‘ musical selections. Despite these various struggles with SSR, it was interesting to hear Jobe say that he considered SSR time to be ―a little short.‖ Jobe stated he would prefer it if SSR time ran ―from one to two [o‘clock]. An hour long.‖ Jobe said that he found it troublesome when he sometimes was ―just in the middle of something and I can‘t really finish.‖ Other Things Jobe Said About Reading Jobe‘s comments reveal many interesting ideas about reading. Many such ideas have already been presented in this chapter, but in this following section I include some more of his notions of reading that seem to me to not best fit elsewhere. One interesting notion that Jobe gave voice to was the idea of healthy and unhealthy amounts of reading. At one point in the semi-structured interviews, Jobe made a distinction, referring to people who read a healthy amount and those who read, as he put it, a ―not healthy amount.‖ Interestingly, Jobe‘s explanation did not, as one might think, explain that a ―not healthy amount‖ of reading was too little. Rather, it was too much. Jobe talked about people for whom he thought it was true that ―all they ever do is read.‖ I agree that, if taken literally, in such cases, the reader would, indeed, be 181 leading an unhealthy life. On another day, Jobe‘s comments seemed to further explain his thinking on this matter. Jobe said that, although reading is important, reading is ―not the main thing.‖ He described reading as ―more of a detail,‖ albeit, as he said, ―an important detail.‖ I asked Jobe, if that was the case, what were more important things. Jobe replied, ―Going out and doing something‖ (with an emphasis on the word, ―doing‖). Yet, another time, he spoke of being particularly engrossed in a book called Freeglader (Stewart & Riddell, 2006). Jobe said, ―I went home to read. I read in the morning. I woke up and read. That‘s all I really did, was just read.‖ Jobe indicated that most of the reading that he completed at home was done in his bed. Unlike in the above situation, when he ―woke up and read,‖ Jobe said that he most often read before he went to sleep at night-time. Given his expressed interest in horror movies, I asked Jobe if he ever read horror books. Jobe responded by saying, ―I don‘t read horror books any more.‖ Jobe said that, when he ―was about nine,‖ he used to read R. L. Stine‘s Goosebumps books. Jobe said that, at that time, three years earlier, many of the boys in his class had been reading Goosebumps books, but Jobe suggested that he and his peers had grown out of that tendency, saying, ―I don‘t know anyone that does now.‖ When I questioned Jobe as to whether he felt he might one day return to reading scary stories, Jobe said, ―I doubt that.‖ He said that it was no longer the type of thing that he was interested in reading. Jobe informed me that he often read more than one self-selected book at a time. Between his home and school reading, Jobe indicated that it was not uncommon for him to have three or four books that he was reading at once. I asked him if he ever found himself confused, having trouble keeping the different books straight. ―Well, they‘re so different,‖ Jobe replied, indicating that such a problem was not one that he encountered. 182 On another day, Jobe provided what I found to be a fascinating analogy in saying reading is a thing ―just like having shoes.‖ ―That‘s an interesting idea,‖ I started to say, but before I had finished my own utterance, Jobe cut in to say that reading is ―more like having socks, actually.‖ Jobe then proceeded to provide an interesting explanation of his thinking by saying that, without socks, one will get blisters. Similarly, one will be hurt if he or she does not know how to read, but ―the shoes is [sic] the important things and socks is just sort of the detail.‖ Another time, Jobe said that, although important, reading was ―not something that completely takes up a lot of [his] life.‖ In addition to the shoe/sock analogy, another time Jobe used a different comparison to illuminate some of his thinking related to reading. Jobe was discussing the idea of giving and receiving books for presents. Jobe said, ―It‘s not like getting some sort of new t.v. for your room.‖ I clarified that Jobe considered receiving a book was not as good as the television. A book gift was, however, better than another alternative: ―It‘s not like getting underwear, you know.‖ Jobe said a book was ―a good present, [but] it‘s not like an incredibly wow present.‖ Yet, in terms of giving gifts, Jobe seemed to suggest he considered reading material to be a safe gift idea when he was ―not entirely sure what I should get them.‖ Jobe‘s various utterances indicative of reading strategy use (remembering this was one of the categories in which Jobe expressed an idea in each semi-structured interview—see Table 8) suggested that he was, indeed, a capable reader with an array of strategies that he could call upon to facilitate successful reading experiences. In addition to expressing ideas specifically related to such things as comprehension strategies like predicting, summarizing and making connections, Jobe revealed some other interesting reading strategies. Jobe used his knowledge of an author‘s style to make predictions about what might happen in a Brian Jacques Redwall book that he was 183 reading. ―They‘ll have some sort of huge battle,‖ Jobe said, ―because I know Brian Jacques.‖ Jobe also made it clear that, in reading an informational book about the evolution of weapons through history, he did not feel the need to proceed in a linear fashion from first page to last. Rather, Jobe dipped into the book, reading various sections in an order other than the way the information was organised in the text. At one time, Jobe facetiously said he ―got tired of reading about rocks‖ and so he skipped ahead to sections discussing more technologically advanced weaponry. Referring back to the same book on another day, Jobe specified a particular section that he wanted to go back and reread. One author who Jobe enjoyed reading was Brian Jacques. Jobe spoke of what he perceived to be Jacques‘ use of metaphor in the Redwall book series, in that Jacques used animal characters to reflect human traits and human struggles. ―It‘s more interesting,‖ Jobe concluded, than to merely depict human characters. Talking of Jacques‘ Redwall books, one time Jobe listed all of the books he had read from the series. Reading from a list inside the front cover of one of the books, Jobe spontaneously began reading the various titles and adding comments such as ―read it,‖ ―haven‘t read it,‖ ―read it,‖ ―read it,‖ ―read half of it,‖ etcetera. By list‘s end, it was apparent that Jobe had read almost a dozen titles from the series. Jobe had an array of authors that he enjoyed reading, most often in the fantasy genre. One such author was Eion Colfer. In talking of Colfer‘s Artemis Fowl series of books, Jobe said that he liked how ―really smart Artemis Fowl‘s plans are.‖ Jobe then expressed praise for Colfer by saying, ―I haven‘t seen any other author that creates their world so perfectly.‖ After providing details from the books, Jobe said, ―I would never have thought of that.‖ Talking of one particular book from the series, Jobe concluded, ―It‘s a really, really well made book.‖ 184 Just as Jobe would praise authors, it is interesting that he sometimes blamed them when he struggled with particular texts. One time he spoke of a break down in comprehension and said that the author didn‘t ―give you any lead up.‖ Elsewhere, he said, ―There are a couple of books that just have too much detail so that I get lost in the detail and I get screwed up with the story.‖ Jobe continued, saying, ―they‖—presumably the author—―got all mixed up with what is happening and they moved on too quickly.‖ Having said these things, in fairness to Jobe, when I asked him about how he felt he might be able to improve as a reader, Jobe did identify an occasional need to slow down his reading pace. ―I have to stop reading so quickly,‖ Jobe said, commenting that he felt such a strategy might increase the likelihood that he would not encounter further comprehension problems. I previously included an excerpt from Jobe‘s discussion of the usefulness of reading skills in that they might save one from boiling to death in a hot tub, but Jobe also said some other interesting things about the instrumental uses of reading. In the hot tub discussion referred to above, Jobe said that ―everything is put in words.‖ Another time, he said ―basically, everything‘s put in writing.‖ He continued to explain the usefulness of reading skills by saying, ―I mean, maybe if they‘re talking really fast on the t.v. or in a different language, you can read subtitles.‖ Considered in conjunction with the above television/book/underwear gift quality continuum, I thought this comment provided an interesting hint at what might have been some of Jobe‘s home life and/or free time choices. Further considering television, I found Jobe‘s comments on another day to be particularly interesting. He was talking about one of those rare books (―two books out of hundreds‖) where he admitted he had experienced difficulty comprehending what he was reading. Again, laying the blame for the comprehension difficulties at the feet of the author, Jobe said the author ―went like one paragraph writing about one thing and then one paragraph about 185 another or, like, they changed about really quickly and then you missed a tiny bit ‗cause, like, you‘d look away.‖ Jobe continued, ―You‘d go like grab a drink of milk and you‘d look back and you‘d miss that much and like, it‘s a key point….I look away for a second and then I look back and in the end is a tiny bit [that he had missed].‖ Jobe‘s description of his reading experience here seems very much like a television viewing experience—missing things as one looks away— as the author, as Jobe put it, ―just, like, zoom[ed] through it.‖ Jobe’s Description of Engagement Given that Abbott (2000) has demonstrated that grade five students are capable of identifying and talking about the engagement associated with what Csikszentmihalyi (1990) termed flow experiences, I was curious to know how Jobe might talk about engagement. The reader will recall from chapter 2 that, in Abbott‘s study, 11-year-old Anthony mentioned ―blinking out,‖ and that 10-year-old Tamarik referred to his experiences as ―having the touch.‖ While Abbott‘s report focuses upon grade five writers, it suggested that, as a grade six student, Jobe might well be able to identify and discuss reading engagement experiences. When asked about such things, Jobe replied that it involves deep concentration and transportation elsewhere: Jobe: Just completely concentrating on your book. You‘re not, you don‘t really care about your surroundings. You‘re just reading a book….It‘s like you‘re talking to someone. You‘re not looking at the other people and what they‘re doing. You‘re just talking… 186 Greg: When you have those sorts of experiences—where you can really concentrate and you‘re really enjoying the book and it‘s a good book—can you describe for me what it feels like? Jobe: Just, you‘re reading a book. You‘re in the book‘s world. You‘re not in your own world. You‘re just in the book‘s world….You‘re not in your normal world. You‘re in the book‘s world that they create for you and you‘re half reading and half imagining what‘s going on. And you may read it, but it paints a picture in your mind and you know what‘s going on. You imagine people‘s faces and you imagine what‘s going on. Imagine what they look like. Imagine how everything‘s happening. It‘s not like you‘re just sort of reading it and reading a story but you‘re literally there. Jobe‘s description of the phenomenon of engagement is so well described that it seems clear that he could and did engage as a reader at different times in certain settings. I found it particularly interesting to hear Jobe suggest that engagement such as he was so well able to describe above rarely, if ever, occurred while he participated in class SSR. Given he referred to engagement as feeling like he was ―literally there‖ in the world of the book, and given his interest in, and knowledge of, Medieval history, I asked Jobe if, when reading, he could sometimes feel that he was not only in a different place, but also a different time. After clarifying that I was suggesting the topic of reading about history, Jobe said, ―Not really.‖ He explained by saying, ―It‘s description. It‘s a lot of descriptive writing….They tell you what happened, but they don‘t actually tell you what‘s going on and what the people look like.‖ This comment seemed clearly to indicate that Jobe was thinking along the lines of an informational text, rather than, say, historical fiction, like I was thinking. But the comment is illuminating in that Jobe had 187 previously indicated he felt some need to read informational texts during SSR, and that he did not enjoy engagement sensations during SSR, and that he could ―not really‖ consider it possible to enter the ―book‘s world‖ with a descriptive, informational, historical text. There seems to be something of a chain of reasoning appearing. Jobe felt some compulsion to read informational texts, like Weapon (D. K. Publishing, 2006), during SSR. He said that he could not engage while reading informational texts. Therefore, he did not engage during SSR. Whilst this chain of reasoning is, obviously, too simplistic, perhaps one factor that might have contributed to Jobe‘s lack of engagement in SSR concerned a problematic belief about the types of books he should select from for SSR reading. Jobe: In Summary Given that it seemed that much of the motivation, self-belief, and skills that Jobe had as a reader were socially-shaped, -inspired, and -impacted, one certainly begins to have some doubts about SSR. One wonders if Jobe‘s failure to experience engagement fairly consistently during SSR was at least partly borne of the routines of the practice, at least as Jobe experienced it, including reading in silence, isolated from the literacy influences of his friends. The lack of a built-in classroom opportunity for Jobe to discuss his SSR reading with his friends appeared as if it might have been a factor impacting his non-engagement. The expectation of silence during SSR seemed also problematic for a gregarious boy like Jobe, particularly when he was permitted the freedom to go outside for SSR time. Perhaps viewing 30 minutes of reading in silence as an unachievable goal, Jobe‘s non-engagement in SSR reading might occasionally have been partly borne of a lack of willingness even to try. Were some chatter permitted, perhaps Jobe might have fared better. Jobe‘s problematic perception of the purpose of SSR may also have impacted his non-engagement. Given that he did not even view the time as primarily being for the purpose of 188 reading, Jobe‘s desire to invest the effort into engaging in reading was likely compromised. Why should Jobe bother with reading if, as he saw it, the purpose was really about calming down and gradually returning to the routines of school? Such a purpose could be satisfied in the absence of reading. Jobe‘s MRP scores suggested he did not see a lot of value in reading, so why would he read during SSR if he could get away with not doing so? Another problematic perception was that informational texts were somehow more valued for SSR than some other reading materials that he actually might have preferred. Jobe‘s engagement, or lack of it, might have been impacted by choosing informational texts that he otherwise would not choose to read. Additionally, even when he chose other texts, perhaps his engagement with those other texts was compromised by some sense that he should not have been reading the material that he was reading during SSR. Finally, what does one make of Ms. Robins‘ music and the contradictory statements Jobe made about the music? Did Jobe find the music distracting to him? If so, the music seemed to be a factor impacting his non-engagement in SSR. Nadia In the following section, I report on Nadia, with a primary focus upon her general reading, and specific SSR, experiences. I begin with a description of Nadia. Just as with Jobe, social influences played a role in shaping Nadia as a reader. 189 Description of Nadia Nadia was 12 years old when I met her. She was born in China, but her family migrated to Canada when she was seven years old. Although she could read, write and speak Chinese, she said that her English was superior to her Chinese language skills. In terms of the Chinese language, Nadia said, ―I can read better than my writing.‖ Because Chinese had been her first language, she had received five years of English language support at Seacoast Elementary. Her grade six year in Ms. Robins‘ classroom, however, was her first year of full integration into the ―regular‖ classroom, without individual English support. Nadia was an only child who lived with both of her parents. Nadia had a public library card and she said that she visited the public library ―every two weeks.‖ Nadia informed me that, at home, she spoke Chinese to her father and English to her mother. She said that her father did not have strong English skills. ―My dad can‘t understand English that well,‖ Nadia told me. Nadia‘s father worked in the field of communications, presumably working in Chinese. Her mother was employed by the federal government. When talking about a Chinese family in the class novel, The Westing Game (Raskin, 1978), Nadia noted that the son, Doug, ―usually just goes off without telling his parents.‖ Nadia commented that she felt Doug‘s parents were ―going quite easy on him.‖ I asked Nadia if she felt that her own parents would be ―easy‖ on her if she was to go to different places without informing her parents. Nadia laughed and then responded with an emphatic, ―No!‖ Ms. Robins described Nadia as having above-average intelligence. Nadia‘s teacher, however, felt that Nadia did not invest the necessary time and care into her schoolwork to fully realise her potential. Ms. Robins said that Nadia was always ―in a rush.‖ Ms. Robins claimed that Nadia did not ―take enough time to be careful.‖ Nadia told me that, when Ms. Robins asked 190 questions about what Nadia had been reading, Nadia could ―always‖ think of an answer. She then laughed and added, ―it might be wrong though.‖ Nadia identified herself as a ―good reader‖ who, when reading by herself, could understand ―almost everything‖ that she read. Ms. Robins expressed concerns about Nadia‘s attitude toward others. Ms. Robins said that Nadia could be ―abrupt‖ with her classmates and that she often displayed ―disinterest in what others have to say.‖ Ms. Robins was also concerned that Nadia was ―developing an attitude,‖—presumably meaning a negative attitude—elaborating by saying that Nadia seemed often to act in a superior and aloof manner. Nadia described herself as ―a good reader,‖ although she said that reading was a ―boring way to spend time‖ and that people who read a lot are ―not very interesting‖ people. Nadia laughed when I responded by telling her that I read a lot! Throughout our time together, Nadia often expressed a negative attitude toward reading. This was consistent with her Motivation to Read Profile task value score of 67.5%, indicating that she placed a low value on reading. (See appendix G for Nadia‘s completed MRP survey). Like Jobe, Nadia was asked 20 multiple response questions that all provided four possible responses. Her raw score for the MRP was 57/ 80, for a full survey score of 71.25%. Nadia‘s self-concept score was considerably lower in comparison to Jobe‘s self-concept score. Ms. Robins, however, said that she believed Nadia to be a better reader than Jobe. As mentioned, when I discussed Jobe‘s MRP scores, Gambrell and colleagues do not provide norms or comparison data for MRP scores. The comparison with Jobe‘s scores is interesting though. A summary of the Motivation to Read Profile results is displayed in Table 10. 191 Table 10 Summary of Attitude Survey Results Survey Component Survey Score (%) Jobe Self-Concept 92.50 Task Value 77.50 Full Survey 85.00 Self-Concept 75.00 Task Value 67.50 Full Survey 71.25 Nadia It is interesting that, on question six of the survey, Nadia reported that she ―almost never‖ told friends about good books that she had read. As is discussed later, after I shared with Nadia a Manga book she suggested she might be interested in reading, she in turn shared that graphic novel with her friend, Bonnie, and the two of them did discuss what they had read. In question 17 of the survey, where Nadia was asked about her tendencies regarding being in a group with an opportunity to talk about her reading, Nadia stated that she only ―sometimes‖ talked about her reading ideas. Nadia liked to draw and to paint. When asked about her artistic interests, Nadia said she ―like[d] to draw fruits or flowers or any clothing or girls‘ stuff.‖ She told me that she most often used oil paints for her artwork. Nadia was interested in a career in fashion design and specified 192 an interest in designing clothes for teenage girls. She saw how literacy skills would be of importance to her future career aspirations; however, she felt that one could ―maybe‖ be a successful designer without having good literacy skills. Although she said that she believed she would do a lot of reading in the future, she saw her future reading as being more of necessity in terms of her career success, rather than of a future in which she did a lot of reading for pleasure. When I talked with Nadia about the idea of receiving books for presents, she indicated that such a gift would be unlikely to make her happy. She said that she would prefer to receive for gifts clothes and ―things that I can make out of hand, like crafts…Things that I can make.‖ What Nadia had to Say About Reading I now turn, temporarily, to the numerical data that details the ideas expressed by Nadia during our time together for the seven recorded semi-structured interviews that I participated in with her (see Table 11). As was the case with Jobe, the total number of idea units expressed in the final semi-structured interview is noticeably greater than in the previous five semi-structured interviews. Once again, having reached the final interview, I was desirous to collect as much data as I was able to before I lost the opportunity. Having said that, the relatively small total numbers of idea units expressed in the semi-structured interviews are noteworthy when compared to the totals for Jobe. This discrepancy is at least partly a product of the more dynamic semi-structured interviews I participated in with Jobe. With Nadia, she was often reserved and, occasionally, unresponsive. I sometimes found it difficult to generate conversations with her that were not just question and answer—many times just a one word answer—in nature. 193 Table 11 Number of Ideas Expressed by Nadia in Each of Seven Recorded Semi-Structured Interviews Semi-Structured Interview Number 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Social 26 21 7 1 21 21 25 Affinity groups 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Social awareness 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 Specific positive judgement 8 3 5 11 4 2 1 Specific negative judgement 2 0 1 9 0 1 2 General positive judgement 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 General negative judgement 5 0 0 6 0 0 3 Instrumental 5 4 0 0 8 2 3 Content 30 0 17 19 7 6 24 Strategy use 23 0 19 6 8 6 12 Squirt (SSR) 0 8 1 0 2 3 3 Personal identity 21 14 3 7 0 8 6 Identity as a reader 24 2 1 4 0 4 21 Engagement 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Consideration 10 2 4 7 4 15 10 Social chatter 1 1 1 1 1 0 1 Not able to categorize 0 0 0 0 4 0 2 Totals 157 55 59 71 61 68 115 Idea Category 194 Another interesting reflection of the different semi-structured interviews between Jobe and me and those between Nadia and me is suggested by the Table 8 and Table 11 ―social chatter‖ rows. As previously noted, in Table 8, one can see that there was always some social chatter with Jobe, twice reaching double figure idea unit totals. With Nadia, Table 11 shows social chatter never exceeded one expressed idea per semi-structured interview, social student chatter being almost completely absent from my meetings and semi-structured interviews with Nadia. A further indication of the nature of some of my semi-structured interview time with Nadia is reflected by the transcript extracts included as appendix H, I and J. In appendix H, note the repeated ―yeah‖ responses that Nadia provides, electing not to expound upon her answers. Note also the brevity of Nadia‘s responses in appendices I and J, and the length of my own utterances. In looking back at these extracts, as Nadia chose to say very little, I feel that I subconsciously tried to fill the void by saying a lot. In hindsight, this manner of proceeding probably further exacerbated the issue. I stress that, in pointing out differences in the semistructured interviews conducted with Jobe and with Nadia, this must not be interpreted as a criticism of Nadia. Rather, there could be a variety of reasons why Nadia was less responsive than was Jobe. Such things as cultural and/or gender differences may have impacted the meetings between Nadia and myself. For a variety of reasons, she or I might not have been as comfortable as we otherwise might have been. Perhaps greater time and efforts to establish a stronger rapport would have resulted in semi-structured interviews in which Nadia was more expansive in her comments and responses. At the same time, one must be careful about concluding that the rapport was not sufficiently strong. Even with a very strong rapport, Nadia might still have had relatively little that she wanted to say in the context of the semi-structured 195 interviews. Furthermore, even in the existence of more expansive semi-structured interviews, these would not necessarily have been more accurate or more revealing. As with Jobe, Table 11 shows that with Nadia, the first semi-structured interview, involving administration of the MRP survey, was the one that generated the most idea units. Some further sense of the differences in the semi-structured interviews with Nadia, however, can be gauged by the fact that Jobe expressed 224 idea units in completing the MRP, while Nadia expressed 157. Nadia‘s total idea units expressed during the administration of the MRP is 70% of the number expressed by Jobe. Having said these things about what were sometimes stilted conversations with Nadia, Table 11 reveals some interesting data. Note that, other than consideration of my question, the social category and the specific positive judgement category are the only two categories in which Nadia expressed an idea in each of the seven semi-structured interviews. This, despite Nadia sometimes being reserved in our time together and despite her often negative attitudes toward reading. Concerning the repeated occurrences of consideration of my question, this data seems compatible with the opinion of Nadia that I formed through my observations and the semistructured interviews. I found Nadia to be thoughtful and also incisive. She would consider things carefully and provide straightforward, direct responses. So even though Nadia talked less than Jobe in our coversations, like him, she was insightful and provided valuable information, The most frequently occurring idea in any one semi-structured interview with Nadia had to do with the content of her reading. In the first semi-structured interview, she expressed 30 such ideas. Although she expressed no content ideas in the second semi-structured interview, in all of the other semi-structured interviews, she made mention of content. Indeed, in four of the 196 seven semi-structured interviews, the number of expressed content ideas exceeded 16. As with Jobe, this data supports the idea that Nadia was a capable reader, fully able to understand what she read. Also as with Jobe, these high content numbers, and the frequently occurring specific positive judgement statements suggest that, with the right material in the right setting, Nadia could, and would, read. On the other hand, I find it interesting that, in seven semi-structured interviews, Nadia expressed no ideas that best fit within the category of affinity groups or the category of discussion of reading engagement. Because of my study focus, as with Jobe, I specifically asked Nadia about notions of reading engagement. Her limited response, however, was best classified under alternate headings, including negative judgements. She dismissed my line of questioning about engagement as being ―weird.‖ Nadia’s Social Activity and Possible Relationships with Literacy Nadia had a very close friend, Bonnie, who was also in Ms. Robins‘ class. In contrast to Jobe‘s semi-structured interview transcriptions, Bonnie was the only individual that Nadia identified by name as a friend of hers. Indeed, other than Bonnie, Ms. Robins, and Nadia‘s parents, Nadia only ever mentioned one other acquaintance by name during two hours of semistructured interviews with me. As the grade six school year drew to a close, Nadia was very hopeful that she and Bonnie would again be classmates in grade seven. Nadia told me that, the following year, the school would contain three grade seven classrooms, so the matter of Bonnie and Nadia being in the same classroom was not assured. The following transcription extract reveals that Nadia‘s and Bonnie‘s parents had decided to be proactive in trying to ensure that the girls were again placed in the same class. 197 Greg: You and Bonnie are gonna [sic] be in the same class next year, do you think? Nadia: Yeah. Greg: Do you know that? Nadia: Yeaaah. [giggles] I really wish. Greg: You hope so. Yeah. I‘m sure you do. Yeah. Nadia: Our mothers emailed the teacher to make us in the same class. The following extract from one semi-structured interview with Nadia is interesting in terms of what it reveals about Nadia‘s feelings toward her other classmates. Nadia: I don‘t care about anyone else in the class, about how they do. Greg: Oh yeah? You don‘t… Nadia: Except my friend, Bonnie. Greg: Is that the friend that you sit next to? Nadia: Mmm [Nodding ―yes‖]. My best friend. Greg: And that‘s the only person in the class… Nadia: Yeah. That I care about [laughs]. Greg: Well, that‘s an interesting way to look at the class. Well, thank you very much. I appreciate your honesty, Nadia. Nadia told me that she wanted to read the book, Just Ella (Haddix, 1999). Significantly, she informed me that the book had been recommended to her by Bonnie. ―My best friend told me 198 [about it] and she says it‘s a good book.‖ It was, however, interesting to me that Nadia said that there was nobody in her life who got her excited about reading. Along with others from the grade six and grade seven classrooms, Nadia and Bonnie had earned the reward of spending a school day at a local amusement park featuring several waterslides. The day at the water park was a reward for those students who had served as a library monitor in the school library. When I asked Nadia about her time at the water park, she again referred to her friendship with Bonnie. Nadia explained that, when they arrived at the park, the students were required to ―pair up with a partner.‖ Not surprisingly, Nadia paired up with Bonnie. The two of them, as Nadia put it, ―just went off‖ in a different direction to the rest of the group, so Nadia and Bonnie ―didn‘t see them [the others] much.‖ Asked if she could identify with any characters from the class novel, The Westing Game (Raskin, 1978), Nadia responded that she felt connections with the character named Turtle. Turtle was approximately the same age as Nadia, but this similarity in age seemed not to be the source of Nadia‘s connection. Asked what she liked about Turtle, Nadia replied, ―She gets really mad when other people touches [sic] her possessions.‖ Although I only ever personally witnessed such behaviour on one occasion, Nadia‘s comment might have suggested a reluctance to share her ―possessions‖ with others in the class. One of Turtle‘s bizarre character traits was her propensity toward kicking people that she found disagreeable. When I asked Nadia about the things that she found herself doing during SSR time, Nadia replied that she would generally be either reading or else she would be talking. Nadia said she would usually be doing nothing else. Seemingly as an afterthought, however, Nadia added, ―except kicking my partner.‖ Unfortunately for the boy seated across from her, Nadia‘s opinion was, ―he‘s very annoying.‖ I found this discussion about Turtle and the connections Nadia made with Turtle to be particularly 199 interesting when I considered what Jobe had said to me about the character of Turtle. ―Turtle was an interesting character,‖ I said. ―I don‘t identify with Turtle,‖ Jobe replied, ―She kicks people in the shins and has a very long braid.‖ ―Do you like her as a character?‖ I asked. Jobe‘s straightforward reply was, ―No. Actually, if I knew her, I would hate her.‖ Despite the fact that a new instalment in the hugely popular Harry Potter series of books, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (Rowling, 2005), was about to be released, Nadia stated that she was not interested in reading the Harry Potter books. All around her, Nadia‘s classmates were gearing up for the reading frenzy that is the Harry Potter phenomenon, but Nadia remained resolute in her resistance to the books. Nadia‘s explanation was, ―They‘re too long.‖ In preparing to return to China for the end-of-school summer holidays, Nadia started to read books about her country of birth. ―It‘s very boring,‖ Nadia commented. When I was talking with Nadia about her family, I asked what her parents did for a living. When it became obvious that Nadia did not have a firm understanding of what her mother or father did at work, Nadia said to me, ―I don‘t care what they do.‖ In the face of such comments, I was reminded of Ms. Robins‘ concerns about Nadia‘s attitude toward others. I stress that I never found Nadia to be anything other than pleasant toward me. At all times in our semi-structured interview meetings, Nadia behaved and spoke to me in a goodhumoured, respectful manner. On occasions, the semi-structured interviews did not necessarily proceed in a dynamic, free-flowing manner, but Nadia came across as amiable, agreeable and happy. Nadia revealed some awareness of other people‘s reading and had some ideas as to how her own reading compared with others. Nadia informed me that she considered that she read ―a little bit better‖ than her friends. Nadia also said that her best friends considered reading to be 200 ―really fun.‖ Nadia said that ―once in a while‖ she worried about what other people might think of her own reading. Even within the confines of the time set aside for SSR, Nadia seemed able to engage in some reading, socio-cognitively and socio-emotionally, particularly when she was situated at a computer beside Bonnie. Disregarding the expectation of silence allowed Nadia to have a number of enjoyable experiences on the computer during SSR. When I asked her about it, Ms. Robins stated that those students at a computer were supposed to be working individually, one child to a computer. My observation, however, was that Nadia and Bonnie would invariably sit beside one another, each at their own computer, but that they would almost always work together on the one screen, while the other computer sat dormant. It appeared to me, and Nadia herself stated the fact, that she thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working on the computer with her friend. Nadia appeared to be intently focussed on what she was doing, thoroughly absorbed in the shared task. I mentioned to Nadia that, despite the rule of silence, when she was on the computer, she and Bonnie talked to one another, pointing to the screen and discussing how to proceed. It appeared to me that it was not uncommon for Nadia to talk more during SSR when she was on the computer than when she was at her desk, working with a book. I asked Nadia why she thought that might be? Nadia‘s simple, yet incisive response was, ―It‘s exciting.‖ It is also noteworthy that, on the three occasions where I observed Nadia sitting at a computer during SSR time, all but one of her SSR rule violations, where she departed from the expected class SSR routines, was an instance of Nadia whispering with Bonnie, talking about what they were doing on the computer. The one exception was where Nadia and Bonnie were leaning against one another (physical contact), seated in separate chairs, supposedly working from different computers. In Table 12, this information is partly shown in the row reflecting my observations of 201 Nadia during the 11th observation session. Above, I mentioned Nadia sat at the computer on three occasions. The other two occasions were after I had begun to conduct my semi-structured interviews with Nadia. For reasons explained in chapter 3, those other two computer sessions, therefore, do not appear in Table 12. 202 Table 12 Observations of Nadia During SSR Activities Materials Seconds Out of Physical Other SSR Session Present to start Noise Place Contact Departures Total 1 Y 151 3 2 1 1 7 2 Y 49 0 1 2 7 10 3 Y 197 2 0 3 4 9 4 Y 148 3 1 0 2 6 5a Y 40 0 0 1 5 6 6 Y 797 5 1 10 4 20 7 Y 157 3 4 1 2 10 8 Y 181 2 1 4 3 10 9 N 335 5 3 1 9 18 10 b N 150 5 2 4 2 13 c Y 189 4 0 1 0 5 N 609 5 2 8 2 17 14 N 350 1 1 1 2 5 15 N 229 3 2 6 2 13 Total - 3582 41 20 43 45 149 Average - 255.9 2.9 1.4 3.1 3.2 10.6 11 12 13 d a As was the case for Jobe, the second observer research assistant recorded observations of Nadia during the 5 th and 10th sessions. The second observer‘s tallies for this session were: Noise 0; Out of Place 0; Physical Contact 1; and Other SSR Departures 6; for a total of 7. b The second observer‘s tallies for this session were: Noise 6; Out of Place 2; Physical Contact 3; and Other SSR Departures 2; for a total of 13. c d Day when Nadia was seated at a computer during SSR. Day when Nadia participated in the Buddy Reading programme during SSR. 203 Nadia‘s very close friendship with Bonnie seemed the type of childhood friendship that we often look back upon with nostalgic yearnings when we are in adulthood. Please forgive this author a brief pause while I think fondly back upon the friendships of my youth. Are there perhaps not times when most of us would gladly trade the many acquaintanceships of our adult lives for even just one more day of the intense, often all encompassing, friendships we enjoyed as a child? Yet, returning from my reverie, it would be a disservice to Nadia (and this thesis) to suggest that the fondness for her friend, Bonnie, was the only evidence of Nadia‘s social side. Let us not forget that the social category was one of only three out of 17 categories in which Nadia expressed an idea in each of the seven recorded semi-structured interviews with me (see Table 11). As mentioned, my semi-structured interviews with Nadia were sometimes stilted. Nadia rarely took the lead in the conversations and rarely posed questions of her own. With this general summary of our discussions in mind, a notable exception was on the instance when I came to a discussion with Anime and Manga graphic novels to lend to Nadia. Nadia‘s demeanour changed considerably and she became an animated participant. On that occasion, it was evident to me that our social interaction was pleasing to her and, given that she then speedily completed reading the three books she borrowed from me, it seemed also evident that our interaction contributed to her reading engagement, albeit at home where she most often read the books she borrowed. There were three occasions, however, where I also observed her reading the borrowed books in the class during SSR. In speaking specifically about the last of the books that she returned to me, Sneak Peak: Viz Graphic Novel Sampler (Viz, 2004), Nadia said that she enjoyed reading the book. What‘s more, she had shared the book with Bonnie and then the two of them had discussed the things that they read, including each girl identifying which of the nine Manga story samples 204 she most enjoyed. Interestingly, Nadia had previously reported that she ―almost never‖ told friends about good books she had read. In an illuminating semi-structured interview, one day Nadia shared a recent episode in which, despite her stated aversion to reading, she had found it difficult to put her book down. I had asked Nadia about the amount of time set aside for SQUIRT. Greg: What about for reading though? Is it [an appropriate amount of time]? Nadia: Way too long [laughs]. Greg: Way too long? When you read at home, Nadia, do you read for that long or not that long? Usually? Nadia: It depends. Like, for The Egg on Three Sticks, I read straight for four hours without [a] stop. Greg: Oh, wow! Nadia: Without stopping, and I finished, like, 368 pages in, like, three days… Greg: You must have really liked that book. Nadia: Hhh-hm. Jackie Moyer Fischer‘s (2004) book, An Egg on Three Sticks, had obviously caught, and held, Nadia‘s attention. Nadia‘s explanation for her interest in the book was worthy of note. Nadia said that her interest lay in the fact that the book was about ―mother and daughter relationships.‖ It is apparent that Nadia‘s relationship with her mother was of significance to Nadia and that one of her seemingly rare episodes of engagement with a traditional, noncomputer text, had much of its origin in the social influence of the mother-daughter relationship. 205 One begins to wonder about the impact of others upon Nadia‘s engagement in reading. There were episodes where others were positively impacting her reading engagement. She talked about reading with Bonnie. She was excited when I shared with her some graphic novels. The ―mother and daughter‖ content of An Egg on Three Sticks appealed to her. Yet, at the same time, there seemed little doubt that, in some ways, Nadia was not fully involved with her classroom community, let alone the classroom literacy community. The ―peer group imperative‖ that Booth (2001) feels can be so critical to the development of middle school readers seemed not to be having its full positive impact on Nadia. Was this a factor impacting her non-engagement during SSR? If so, what could have been done to encourage and facilitate Nadia‘s fuller participation in the classroom community? Nadia’s Lack of Engagement with Traditional Paper and Ink Texts Despite the fact that she was a capable reader and that her teacher rated Nadia as having ―above-average‖ intelligence, Nadia‘s attitude toward reading was generally not positive. As discussed, her Motivation to Read Profile scores were substantially lower than Jobe‘s. Nadia‘s MRP scores were also consistent with the types of things she said in our discussions. Given her negative attitude, on one occasion, I put a scenario to Nadia, where she could do whatever she liked to make reading more enjoyable. ―Let‘s say that you were the King of the World, Nadia, or the Queen of the World,‖ I said, ―What are some ideas that you would come up with to make reading more fun and more enjoyable for a grade six student? What are some things you would do?‖ Despite the unlimited room for movement, Nadia merely replied, ―I can‘t think of anything that‘s fun about reading.‖ One begins to think that factors possibly impacting Nadia‘s nonengagement were her negative attitude toward reading, as well as her low motivation to read. As Gambrell‘s diagram of the engaged reader (see chapter 2) illustrates, motivation is a key 206 component of engagement. With low motivation, Nadia might have struggled to engage, at least in some contexts and with some texts. In comparing her experience of obvious enjoyment when working on the computer with her experiences reading from books, Nadia talked about being ―hyper,‖ as she called it, referring to being intensely excited and interested with what she was doing on the computer. She talked of working on a mystery, trying to uncover answers in a Nancy Drew Mystery game. Nadia, however, stated that she could not derive the same sort of enjoyment from reading a Nancy Drew Mystery book (written by Carolyn Keene). ―The computer has drawings, has colours, has pictures,‖ Nadia said, ―and it‘s 3-D[imensional], so you can move around and actually find it yourself.‖ This ―mov[ing] around and actually find[ing] it [her]self,‖ was, for Nadia, distinctly different from following the instructions within a book. I mentioned to Nadia the Choose Your Own Adventure series of books (first published by Bantam and currently published by Chooseco), where the reader is able to follow different story paths, choosing from options at the end of each page and, by so doing, determining how the reading experience will proceed, depending upon the choices that the reader makes. Although Nadia was not familiar with that style of book, she claimed that she would still not be interested in any such book. ―It‘s still words,‖ Nadia stressed. Nadia said that she would still ―have to read it.‖ Yet, let us not forget, Nadia‘s reading ability was age and grade-level appropriate. Reading ability, per se, was not an issue for her. The issue for Nadia seemed more about reading attitudes and preferences. During a SSR session in which she had been seated at one of the class computers, Nadia indicated that she had enjoyed that particular SSR time. I asked why SSR reading was more fun that day compared to, say, ―a week ago if you were reading a novel or a book.‖ Nadia asked me if I was asking her to make a comparison between ―a novel and a computer.‖ When I indicated I 207 would be happy for her to do that, Nadia said that computers were more fun ―‗cause computers are new technology.‖ Further exploring this theme, Nadia mentioned that she was not interested in reading the Harry Potter books, but that she enjoyed the Harry Potter movies. It was instructive to me that, in speaking of her forthcoming summer journey to China, Nadia said that, while she was there, she wanted to ―buy a video game.‖ Nadia said she would spend her money ―mostly on that video game. It‘s really expensive.‖ Nadia then proceeded to tell me about the video game. When she told me that the game was not available in Canada, I asked her how she found out about it. Nadia informed me that she had learned about the game from the Internet. Nadia told me that the game contained Chinese and English options. When talking about reading computer text, Nadia mentioned that she often skipped the words, seemingly being able to move through computer games with little need to read the written instructions. Despite some traditional inclinations to perceive this technique negatively, it might otherwise have been viewed as a strength. Nadia here revealed her comfort with this specific literacy genre. When we consider notions of multiliteracies (Cope & Kalantzis, 2000), which recognize that new technologies necessitate and spawn new knowledge and, indeed, new literate practices (Merchant, 2001, 2004, 2005), Nadia was appropriately positioning herself differently than others might who preferred to deal primarily with paper and ink texts. The fact is that she did not need to read the instructions. Perhaps, and presumably, at one time she did need to read the instructions and did read them. Yet, that was no longer a necessity for Nadia, who had obviously developed strong levels of comfort and knowledge around the computer activities in question. Thinking beyond Nadia, it is true that we often do not read what we do not feel that we need to read. It is, after all, from such tendencies that so many men are made fun of as they blithely (and often unsuccessfully) proceed in assembling kits and toys without consulting the 208 assembly instructions. Likewise, some men are jokingly said to get lost almost beyond hope before they give any consideration to consulting a map or street directory. From such things do comedians make a living, yet there are enough elements of truth in such comedy routines that we can relate to, and understand, the joke. The difference with Nadia is that she was not getting lost as she skipped sections of text. In some ways, she was revealing not just a successful computer text strategy, but one with undeniable elements of sophistication. Similarly, I believe there are many readers who skip, or skip through, descriptive passages in even their most enjoyed novels. I confess to doing so on many occasions and I am sure that I am not alone. Nadia’s SSR Struggles It is interesting to note that Nadia‘s day at the water park was a reward for having served as a library monitor. This, despite the fact that in her MRP, Nadia rated libraries as only ―an OK place to spend time.‖ Despite that relatively poor notion of libraries, Nadia‘s willingness to volunteer to go and work there was, perhaps, at least partly motivated by the fact that such service took place during SSR time, removing Nadia from the need to do SSR on those days. Indeed, at one time Nadia explicitly stated her involvement in the library service was connected to a desire to avoid SSR, although she did make this statement between giggles, so I cannot be certain of her sincerity. One also suspects that Nadia and Bonnie may have seen the library role as an opportunity to do something else together, away from the confines of the classroom. Working as a library monitor was not the only instance in which Nadia took the opportunity to do something other than participate in SSR. Interestingly, during my seven-and-ahalf-weeks of visits to Ms. Robins‘ room, I was never aware of Jobe participating in the Buddy Reading programme. Although he was rostered to participate on at least one occasion while I was in the room, he neglected to go to the grade two class and chose, instead, to remain in his 209 own room for SSR. During that same seven-and-a-half-weeks period, I was aware of Nadia going to the Buddy Reading class on two occasions. I know also that, on one of those occasions, to avoid SSR, she snuck from her own room to go to Buddy Reading when it was, indeed, not her turn to go. Ms. Robins commented on this fact when Nadia returned to her own room. I am not aware of Ms. Robins saying anything to Jobe for not being involved in Buddy Reading when he was scheduled to do so. As such, I am not certain that participation was actually required of the grade six children. Instead, it might have been that, when they were on the roster for a given day, the grade six students had the opportunity, if they so chose, to attend to Buddy Reading rather than SSR reading. Whatever the specific rules that existed in relation to the Buddy Reading programme, Nadia‘s decision to participate in Buddy Reading should not be interpreted as evidence of non-engagement. Rather, because one needs to closely monitor the reading of the younger child—so as to support and encourage that reader—it may require a high level of engagement. My point, however, is that this was one thing, among others, that Nadia preferred to classroom SSR participation. Art work was another thing that Nadia suggested she would prefer to SSR. Nadia informed me that she would ―always‖ much rather spend SSR time drawing than reading. She felt that SSR time was ―way too long‖ yet, conversely, she said that if she were permitted to spend the 30 minutes of SSR time drawing, the time would be ―way too short.‖ As with the way that I reported on Jobe, I now briefly move to the numerical data pertaining to my observations of Nadia during SSR time. Although I actually completed 15 SSR observations during the period before I began my semi-structured interviews with Nadia, on one of those days, Nadia was involved in the Buddy Reading programme and so was not in the classroom during SSR. The second occasion of Nadia‘s involvement in Buddy Reading was after 210 I had begun holding semi-structured interviews with her and so does not appear in Table 12. As such, note that Nadia‘s involvement in Buddy Reading appears only once, during observation session number 13. During the 14 times that I observed Nadia during SSR prior to beginning the semistructured interviews, Nadia would vacillate between relatively low and relatively high SSR rule violation totals. Of the 14 observations, however, eight periods returned totals of 10, or above, activities outside the routines established for SSR. There were five instances of a tally of seven or less. Table 12 also indicates that during the observation periods, Nadia was observed participating in 20 SSR rule violation activities one day. Another day was 18, and another was 17, all particularly high totals remembering that these tallies were recorded in just 15-minute periods. During my SSR observations of Nadia before we began to meet together, her average number of departures from the expected routines of SSR was 10.6 per 15-minute observation period. The average for the SSR periods after we began meeting fell to four. It is important reiterate that these data reflect adherence to the SSR expectations, not necessarily engagement or nonengagement in reading. During my observations, there was one day when it took Nadia almost thirteen-and-a-half minutes (specifically, 797 seconds) before she opened her book and commenced reading. On that day, she was observed completing some work that I suspect was intended for homework. One other day, she took just over 10 minutes (specifically, 609 second) before she commenced reading. Other than these couple of exceptions, Nadia generally took her sea
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UBC Theses and Dissertations
Exploring the reading non-engagement of two grade six students during sustained silent reading Bryan, Gregory 2009
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