Designing and Using Hypermedia Materials to Investigate Language Use in a Culturally Diverse Classroom

Article excerpt

Hypermedia teacher education materials are a potentially rich teaching resource for teacher educators who are preparing preservice teachers to practice in culturally diverse classrooms. They provide highly contextualized views of classroom practice that preserve the multidimensional nature of teaching and learning. This study examines four teacher candidates' group work in an integrated teacher education methods course to understand the extent to which an open hypermedia environment enabled them to explore language use in a culturally diverse classroom. Teacher candidates were asked to develop and pursue their own inquiry question related to classroom discourse. The author traces the nature of the learning opportunities available to the teacher candidates as they pursued the following inquiry questions: What challenges does the teacher face in creating a learning community that fosters learning for all students, taking into account their gender, race, ethnicity, and language use? How does the teacher address these challenges? The article provides examples of the potential and limitations of an open hypermedia environment for engaging novices in indepth examination of key issues about language use. It concludes with a set of guiding questions for developers of hypermedia materials to consider as they design hypermedia environments intended to help novices investigate language use in culturally diverse classrooms.

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As demands are made of K-12 teachers to reform their practices to promote teaching for understanding for all learners, teacher educators must also develop curriculum and pedagogy that will adequately prepare novices for those challenges. This article describes the use of a technology-based introductory inquiry project in an integrated methods course in literacy and mathematics. (1) Using an array of materials in a hypermedia environment (videotapes, teacher journal, student work), teacher candidates were asked to develop and pursue their own inquiry question related to how discourse is used to foster conceptual understanding in mathematics. The study examines the learning opportunities available to four teacher candidates as they pursued their inquiry questions: What challenges does the teacher face in creating a learning community that fosters learning for all students, taking into account their gender, race, ethnicity, and language use? How does the teacher address these challenges? Examples are given of b oth the potential and limitations of an open hypermedia environment for engaging novices in an indepth examination of key issues about teaching mathematics for understanding with a diverse student population. The article concludes with questions for developers of hypermedia materials to consider as they design and use hypermedia environments intended to help novices investigate language use in culturally diverse classrooms.

PEDAGOGICAL ISSUES IN TEACHER EDUCATION

In response to the rapid changes in the racial and ethnic composition of the public school population in the United States, national standards call for increased attention to student diversity. For instance, both the Professional Standards for Teaching Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics [NCTM], 1991) and the Standards for the English Language Arts (National Council of Teachers of English and International Reading Association [NCTE & IRA], 1996) called for the selection of curriculum materials and tasks that reflect, acknowledge, and support the learning of today's culturally and linguistically diverse student populations. They advocated the creation of learning communities and approaches to pedagogy that display sensitivity to, and treat as a resource, students' diverse background experiences, capacities, and dispositions. All learners are to become engaged in meaningful and authentic tasks that enable them to use language to make sense of mathematics and develop "mathematical power" (C ampbell & Rowan, 1997; Parker, 1993). …