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Teaching Grammar While Valuing Language Diversity: Urban Teachers Navigating Linguistic Ideological Dilemmas

Addressing Diversity in Literacy Instruction

ISBN: 978-1-78714-049-3, eISBN: 978-1-78714-048-6

Publication date: 3 November 2017


This study examines how writing teachers manage linguistic ideological dilemmas (LIDs) around grammar instruction and highlights productive strategies employed by one teacher in an instructional unit on poetry. We conducted semi-structured interviews with nine elementary and middle-school teachers to better understand how they conceptualized and enacted writing pedagogies in urban classrooms. Then, we documented the teaching practices of one teacher during a 9-week case study. We describe three LIDs expressed by the teachers we interviewed: (1) a perception of greater linguistic flexibility in speech than in writing; (2) a sense that attention to grammar in feedback can enhance and/or inhibit written communication; and (3) apprehension about whether grammar instruction empowers or marginalizes linguistically minoritized students. We also highlight three productive strategies for teaching grammar while valuing linguistic diversity employed by one teacher: (1) selecting mentor texts that showcase a range of grammars; (2) modeling code-meshing practices; and (3) privileging alternative grammars while grading written work. We describe how teachers might take up pedagogical practices that support linguistic diversity, such as evaluating written assignments in more flexible ways, engaging in contrastive analysis, and teaching students to resist and rewrite existing language rules.



Machado, E., Woodard, R., Vaughan, A. and Coppola, R. (2017), "Teaching Grammar While Valuing Language Diversity: Urban Teachers Navigating Linguistic Ideological Dilemmas", Ortlieb, E. and Cheek, E.H. (Ed.) Addressing Diversity in Literacy Instruction (Literacy Research, Practice and Evaluation, Vol. 8), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 37-53.



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