Ethnographic Study

Words: 1066
Pages: 5

This paper focused on a yearlong ethnographic study took place in a first-grade classroom in Green Grass Elementary School (a pseudonym), a public elementary school in rural East Tennessee that serves communities of high poverty. However, the teaching contexts, practices, and the findings are relevant to grades K-12 with their shared core state standards and the inherent dialogical nature of classroom teaching and learning. In Green Grass Elementary School, ninety-three percent of its students receive free or reduced-price meals. The study was part of a larger funded research project on the integration of literacy and content knowledge
…show more content…
An ethnographic study is designed to allow researchers/observers to understand the studied community (here, the first-grade classroom), focusing on the members’ activities, values, understandings, meaning construction process, and shared cultural models (cf. Gumperz, 1982; Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995; Street, 1995). In this classroom and many other classrooms (K-12) participated in our research projects, the teacher-student classroom interactions were guided by their conversational inferences dependent on their perceptions of verbal and nonverbal cues that contextualized their daily literacy practices (Gumperz, 1982) in both science and English language art classes. With an understanding of their shared contextualization cues and cultural models, teachers and students can recognize their interactive discourses as a wider sequence of talk in which the local meaning in a certain social event (such as their inquiry project, writing up a lab report, or reading a non-fiction text, etc.) that may be referenced and thematically coherent with other local meanings created in other events (Cook-Cumperz, 2006) across different subjects. Therefore, with a yearlong time commitment, the inferential chain of meanings and understandings constructed in the teacher-child classroom interactions are visible and can be observed, understood, and described by the participant researchers (Cook-Gumperz,