ERIC Number: EJ1043826
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Nov
Abstractor: As Provided
Challenging the Tyranny of the Five-paragraph Essay: Teachers and Students as Semiotic Boundary Workers in Classroom and Digital Space
Schwartz, Lisa H.
Literacy, v48 n3 p124-135 Nov 2014
This article addresses several challenges faced by educators and students in English classrooms in the US-Mexico borderlands region that will resonate with educators more broadly. I present how Ms Smith, the predominately Latino students in her high school writing class and I moved beyond what Ms Smith called the "tyranny of the five-paragraph essay" used for standardised tests so that students were able to make personally and academically meaningful arguments in their writing. I examine how we collaboratively mobilised interests, motivations and diverse semiotic resources across out-of-school and in-school contexts in the process of developing multimodal and hybrid genres and texts. First, I describe how Ms Smith and I crafted hybrid, digitally mediated classroom spaces and essay assignments informed by students' identity and literacy practices within digital networks. Next, I examine how three Latina students used semiotic resources and issues circulating in the different spaces of their lives to confidently argue their perspectives within the hybrid genres we created. From this collaborative work, I suggest that thinking of students and teachers as "semiotic boundary workers" provides a useful framework for practitioners who want to enable young people to draw on their practices and digital tools and engage their expansive, networked and creative affordances in academic contexts.
Descriptors: Hispanic American Students, High School Students, Writing Instruction, Standardized Tests, Essays, Persuasive Discourse, Writing Skills, Program Development, Holistic Approach, Blended Learning, Technology Uses in Education, Females, Semiotics, Cooperation, Culturally Relevant Education
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
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