Small groups and figured worlds: an analysis of identities and literacy practices in small-group literacy sessions

Document
Description

Small-group literacy instruction is frequently used in schools in order to engage students in discussions around texts. Instructional settings vary and produce a range of results. They are complex social

Small-group literacy instruction is frequently used in schools in order to engage students in discussions around texts. Instructional settings vary and produce a range of results. They are complex social spaces in which students position one another and themselves as they enact different identities. These identities are associated with sets of literacy practices. This paper describes the results of a study examining the ways in which 3rd and 4th grade students and their teachers positioned themselves and one another in three different small-group literacy settings and the literacy practices that they used as they performed their identities. Using a multimodal discourse analysis (Kress, 2012) and D/discourse analysis (Gee, 2005, 2011), the form and function of language and gestures were used to look at the kinds of identities that the participants enacted and the literacy practices that the students engaged in the different settings. The results of the analysis suggested that the identities that the participants performed were related to the context in which interactions around texts took place. The identities themselves were connected to the use certain literacy practices. The literacy practices used by the participants were also related to the classroom context. The findings suggest that it is important for teachers to consider the figured worlds active in small-group settings, the identities performed within those worlds, and the literacy practices in which students engage.