The intersection of reading and identity in high school literacy intervention classes
Frankel, Katherine K.
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Citation (published version)Katherine K Frankel. 2016. "The Intersection of Reading and Identity in High School Literacy Intervention Classes." Research In The Teaching Of English, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp. 37 - 59 (23).
It is common practice to enroll adolescents in classes designed to improve their reading. Previous studies of literacy intervention classes focus on students’ acquisition of reading skills and strategies, but few studies consider how reading identities may contribute to literacy learning. To address this gap, I used theories of positioning and identity to answer the question: How do students’ understandings of literacy and their own reading identities interact with the figured worlds of their literacy intervention classrooms? I analyzed interviews, field notes, and artifacts for two students and teachers in different classrooms, focusing on students’ acts of agency. Analyses revealed that the students’ identities as good readers conflicted with the figured worlds of their classrooms, but they responded differently. One challenged the norms of his classroom in a manner contrary to his teacher’s expectations and was unable to disrupt his positioning as struggling reader. The other acquiesced to the norms of her classroom in ways her teacher recognized as characteristic of a capable reader, ultimately upsetting her struggling reader subject position. The findings reveal that students’ acts of agency and teachers’ interpretations of those acts are informed by students’ perceptions of themselves as readers and teachers’ understandings of literacy and learning in intervention classrooms. The findings also problematize the practice of placing students in classes that position them as deficient. Additional research that attends to sociocultural factors in classrooms is necessary to understand the academic, social, and personal implications of particular approaches to literacy instruction and intervention for individual students.
Please note that there is an open-access version of this article available through the National Council of Teachers of English website: http://www.ncte.org/library/NCTEFiles/Resources/Journals/RTE/0511-aug2016/RTE0511Intersectionpword.pdf