Photo credit: from Steal Like an Artist by Austin Kleon (p 138)
This is a poster presentation I gave at the recent Earli (European Association of Research in Learning and Instruction) Conference in Limassol.
It concerns a paper I am writing from an EEF-funded project in 54 schools across England investigating the challenges of teaching grammar to improve children’s writing.
Since the rediscovery of the work of Vygotsky (1978) there has been a widespread acceptance that learning is a situated and culturally mediated process, chiefly through the ‘tool’ of language. Recent studies (Myhill et al, 2012) have underlined the importance of teachers’ linguistic subject knowledge in mediating metalinguistic knowledge in the writing classroom, and that of pedagogical content knowledge over content knowledge (Myhill et al, 2013), for example in handling discussion and questions about grammar. Teachers’ low levels of grammar knowledge therefore create problems for teachers and learners alike (ibid). This paper draws on data from a national study of teachers in 54 schools across England, and which set out to investigate whether drawing attention to specific grammar features during the teaching of writing might help raise student attainment in writing for primary children aged 10-11. The research data collected included observations and audio data from 54 lessons, focussing on the nature of the metalinguistic discussion. The data analysis process was inductive. An initial stage of open coding following the constant comparison method, generated a first set of codes. These were then axially coded into thematic groups. This study demonstrates how successful teaching of embedded grammar knowledge occurs when teachers facilitate classroom interaction which is characterised by learners being given the opportunity to articulate and examine their own knowledge of grammar.