Does it Say That? Tensions in Teacher Questions When the Text Has the Final Say

Amy L. Boele, University of Colorado Denver

Abstract

Using sociocultural concepts of authoritative and dialogic discourse, the author sought to examine 5thgrade teachers’ questioning practices during small group reading instruction to understand the differences between groups reading text on grade level and groups reading texts below grade level. The purpose was to also examine how questions functioned for students with learning disabilities. Qualitative observations, video and audio transcripts, and teacher interviews were used for the ethnographic and discourse analytic methods. Findings reveal how some questions that are designed to transfer responsibility of thought to the students can also work to maintain the location of knowledge within the teacher. Groups reading below-grade-level texts were three times more likely than on-grade-level groups to be asked questions that held them accountable to the text while also asserting correct meaning. The text was over-privileged as a source of knowledge for all groups; however, implications for students with learning disabilities are discussed.