The Teaching of Words and Information Juxtaposition. An Analysis of Kindergarten and First Grade Classes

Submitted by: Alejandra Menti
Abstract: The aim of the work is to carry out a comparative analysis of the different types of information that teachers provide when teaching “unfamiliar” and “highly unfamiliar” words to students. The corpus is made up of 8 teaching situations in which teachers developed in full the thematic unit “Types of Work”. The classes were videotaped in 8 groups: 4 five-year old kindergarten classes and 4 first-grade classes. For each level of schooling we selected 2 grades from schools in urban areas and 2 grades from schools in rural areas. All the situations amount to 19 teaching hours and were transcribed following the CHILDES project norms. We employed quantitative and qualitative methods of analysis. By means of the CLAN software, we selected the 15 most frequent words uttered by teachers, which made up the academic text of the class (Green, Weade & Graham, 1988). Then, a subjective assessment was carried out in order to categorize the selected words into “very familiar”, “unfamiliar” and “highly unfamiliar”. After that, we identified and quantified interactional sequences, considering whether or not the teacher taught the “unfamiliar” and “highly unfamiliar” words. Next, we carried out a qualitative analysis of the interactional sequences based on the different types of information given by teachers when they teach the selected words. The qualitative analysis combined the use of the constant comparative method (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), with the heuristic use of concepts developed by interactional sociolinguistics, conversation analysis and gesture studies. In the sample analyzed, results show that the teachers of both levels focused on the teaching of “unfamiliar” words and that they tended to juxtapose different kinds of information when teaching them. However, kindergarten teachers resorted more to the retrieval of previous knowledge than first grade teachers. Moreover, in this sample, teachers from urban schools used more gestural information than those from schools of rural areas.