Title: Classroom genres and the teaching of science at the elementary level
Classroom genres are recurring and predictable episodes of talk which constitute conventional ways of doing things in a culture, and which facilitate the process of interaction by setting up patterns of expectation and providing a relatively stable framework within which joint meanings can be negotiated.
It is important to study classroom genres because (a) students are not necessarily familiar with patterns of discourse conventionally used in schools, (b) teachers need to model appropriate uses of language, and (c) students need to interpret what is going on, to analyse talk and identify relevant modes of interaction, to co-ordinate their activities with others, and to identify what is significant for themselves. All these aspects of learning are more readily accomplished if students acquire the ability to recognise and use the relevant classroom genres.
Within the context of a collaborative action research project, Allen and Smith analyzed a corpus of 581 minutes of transcribed oral interaction selected from videotaped data gathered during the course of participant observation in five grade 5-7 science classrooms in Metro Toronto. The analysis was based on Halliday's systemic model of language, with particular reference to field construction, discourse focus, and frame.
The paper will include examples of classroom data, a discussion of the scheme of analysis, and tables indicating the genres that were found to be most frequent across the five elementary classrooms included in the study. The relevance of the concept of genre to classroom-oriented action research and curriculum renewal will also be discussed.