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ERIC Number: ED431198
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 1999
Pages: 32
Abstractor: N/A
Reference Count: N/A
Appropriating Conceptual and Pedagogical Tools for Teaching English: A Conceptual Framework for Studying Professional Development.
Grossman, Pamela L.; Smagorinsky, Peter; Valencia, Sheila
This paper proposes that activity theory provides a useful framework for studying the conceptual development of teachers, particularly English/language arts teachers. Activity theory shifts attention to the social and cultural factors that mediate development in particular contexts, thus allowing an understanding of how particular preservice and inservice environments guide early-career teachers toward particular beliefs and practices about teaching and learning. The paper begins by outlining the central tenets of activity theory and applying them to issues of professional development. It then discusses what an activity setting is and how it suggests both motive and means for developing in particular ways; the role of conceptual and pedagogical tools in teaching and what leads teachers to gravitate toward some tools rather than others; and the manner in which teachers appropriate particular tools for their teaching in relation to mediating factors in the activity settings of their work. The paper illustrates each of these concepts with examples from current research being conducted by the National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement on the transition that English/language arts teachers make from preservice programs to their first jobs, a project involving diverse schools and participants from several states. It concludes by asserting the rich potential of activity theory as a lens for studying professional development because it allows for an understanding of how settings affect conceptualizations of teaching. Reform efforts that focus on changing individual teachers have little chance of having widespread effect. Restructuring settings, however, can change both preservice and work force practices on a larger scale, if the assumptions behind activity theory are valid. Contains 64 references. (RS)
National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, University at Albany, State University of New York, 1400 Washington Avenue, Albany, NY 12222. Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Office of Educational Research and Improvement (ED), Washington, DC.
Authoring Institution: National Research Center on English Learning and Achievement, Albany, NY.