Document Type



Doctor of Education


Educational Practice

Date of Defense


Graduate Advisor

Nancy Robb Singer


Saul, E. Wendy

Slapac, Alina

Cordova, Ralph


Are classrooms preparing students with the literacy skills they need for school, work, and life? When students don't meet expectations, educators tend to seek answers in innovative programs or research-based practices that promise success. The practices teachers use, however, are neither selected nor enacted in a vacuum. To fully understand what is happening in a classroom, one needs to consider not only the instructional practices teachers use but also the context in which teachers select and enact these practices and the effect these practices have on our students. The impetus for this study came from a broader desire to dig deeper into practices that create successful writing communities in secondary classrooms. A teacher’s discourses about writing and about her students plays a crucial role in the development of student practices in a classroom community of practice. This study used discourse analysis and interactional ethnography to focus on teachers’ talk and classroom interactions about writing in a large, suburban middle school. The researcher found clear connections between a teachers’ discourses and the practices that are integral to the classroom writing communities. This study has implications not only for teachers but also for administrators, professional development leaders, or teacher educators. Change in a classroom is not simply a matter of mandating certain programs or practices. A teacher's experiences, beliefs, and values must be addressed in reflective practice, professional development, and teacher preparation because teacher discourses shape student practices.

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