A Microethnographic Approach
to the Discourse Analysis of Cultural
Practices in Classroom Language
and Literacy Events
The purpose of this chapter is to highlight methodological issues involved in the microethnographic analysis of cultural practices within classroom language and literacy events. A cultural practice can be defined as a shared abstraction (a cultural model) that is enacted in a particular set of events. We define a literacy practice as a cultural practice involving the use of written language (cf. Street, 1984, 1995b) and a classroom literacy practice as a cultural practice involving the use of written language associated with “doing classroom life. ”
For example, teachers and students may share a cultural model for how to do reading group or how to enact reading aloud during a recitation lesson. In any specific event the particular way in which the reading practice is enacted may vary from the abstract, cultural model (although nonetheless being recognizable to all as an enactment of that abstract cultural model of reading). Cultural practices (and, correspondingly, literacy practices) are not just held in the minds of a group of people but are also “held” in the material structure and organization of a setting. For example, in the United States, elementary school classrooms are often designed with an alcove that fits a table and a set of six to eight chairs. Reading programs and textbooks that the school purchases often present lessons for use in a reading group, and teacher evaluations are often set up to examine how teachers use reading groups. In brief, the classroom literacy practice of “reading group” is held by the classroom architecture, the bureaucracy, and others both inside
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Publication information: Book title: Discourse Analysis & the Study of Classroom Language & Literacy Events: A Microethnographic Perspective. Contributors: David Bloome - Author, Stephanie Power Carter - Author, Beth Morton Christian - Author, Sheila Otto - Author, Nora Shuart-Faris - Author. Publisher: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Place of publication: Mahwah, NJ. Publication year: 2005. Page number: 50.
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