Literacy connection practices utilized between parents and teachers

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By using the qualitative research design, this study explores some literacy connection practices utilized between parents and teachers, rooted in the intergenerational literacy connection (ILC) model. I selected three teachers to explore a range of literacy practices in the classroom, based on their teaching beliefs and values. And I selected the teachers' four Korean students and their families to discover a range of bilingual and biliteracy development at home, regarding to the three critical aspects of literacy development-a sociocultural approach, intergenerational trajectories of literacy, and bidirectionality of literacy. Then, the study provided a space for the parents and the teachers to share their literacy practices and resources regarding culturally responsive and sensitive contexts. This chapter presents the design of the study, a brief discussion of the setting and population of this study, followed by the methods used in data collection. Data analysis is also discussed, as well as the issues of trustworthiness and triangulation of this study.

Research Questions

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The research questions guiding this study were:

How have teachers and parents perceived their literacy supports to an ELL child?

What literacy resources do teachers recognize and utilize from the literacy supports available to an ELL child at home?

What literacy resources do parents recognize and utilize from the literacy support available to an ELL child from school?

How do literacy connection practices based on an ILC model assist families and teachers in recognizing each other's literacy resources, negotiating different expectations, and mediating communication to facilitate an ELL child's literacy development?

Why Qualitative Research?

While I acknowledge the contribution of quantitative research in the literacy field in relation to the effectiveness of the discreet instruction and skills in the home and classroom, I emphasize the contribution of qualitative research in relation to the multifaceted nature of literacy, "given our understanding of literacy as socially situated practice that develops with the context of family life" (Dail & Payne, 2010, p. 332).

I believe that qualitative research can shed light on more the holistic and integrated understanding of an organic structure between a teacher, her student and her student's family. It allows me to describe the shared beliefs, practices, and behaviors of Korean families and their teacher. In addition, it helped me to focus the dynamic literacy connection "process" among teachers, parents, and students, rather than "simply outcomes" of the practices (Bogdan & Biklen, 2003, p. 6). They cannot be represented by numbers.

Overview of the Research Design

Constructivist Grounded Theory

In this qualitative research, I utilized constructivist grounded theory in order to better understand the process of home and school literacy adaptation. Grounded theory was established based on an inductive reasoning by generating theory from data (Strauss & Corbin, 1990). Grounded theorists viewed that theory is more legitimate and valuable when it generates from the real world than when it generates from hypothesis and assumption about the world, "especially in the actions, interactions, and social processes of people (Creswell, 2007, p. 63)."In addition, beyond inductive reasoning, using the constant comparison method, the researcher identifies incidents, events, and activities and constantly compares them to an emerging category to develop and saturate the category, which make hypotheses and review them, which can be incorporated deductive reasoning (Charmaz, ;Conrad, 1978).

I believe that a theoretical framework may be needed to explain how Korean parents and their child's teacher are experiencing a phenomenon across cross-cultural context. In doing this, I can detect pattern in my data and then create working hypotheses which can provide a general framework which contains a clearer picture of this process (Cranswell, 2007).

Furthermore, I adopted a constructivist approach to grounded theory, which Charmaz (2006) advocated. One of the characteristic of the traditional grounded theory is for a researcher to take a reflexive stance toward the actions, situations, and processes among participants during data collection; simultaneously it leads to construct them in the analyses (Charmaz, ppt slides). However, beyond this step, influenced by "ontologically relativist and epistemologically subjectivist" (Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006, p. 9), the researcher who adopted a constructivist approach was positioned themselves as the participants' partner, rather than as an objective analyst of subjects' experiences in the research process. The researcher and participants take a reflexive and retrospective journey together to discover meaning, value, beliefs, and ideologies within the multiple realities (Charmaz, 2006). I take my position as the researcher who coconstruct meaning with participants into consideration when I collected and generate data in the process. I will explain my researcher's role in detail which can explain the course of my research.

My Role as a Researcher

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Academic backgrounds.(selve) I am an international student who came to the USA to study how to help Korean ELL children have self-esteem, cross-cultural awareness, bilingual proficiency and high academic achievement at a doctoral level. During conducting my master thesis in Korea, I was very interested in bilingual education for Korean diaspora. My thesis was published and as one of the first books in bilingual education in Korea alongwith my professors' articles. In the USA, during the coursework, I found that family literacy can be a critical key to support bilingual education for Korean ELL children. Since then, one of my big dreams was to be a Barbara Bush Fellow, supported by the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy. I believed that this would provide many valuable opportunities to learn about new research and practices in the field, and to connect with others who support and share my dreams for the ELL families. Finally, my enthusiasm for family literacy grew as I was implemented for my academic work as a Barbara Bush Fellow during 2009-2010. Through the fellowship, I have developed an intergenerational literacy connection model to provide new insights into the design and implementation of culturally and linguistically relevant family literacy practices through the integration of school-and home-based literacy practices in a particular socio-cultural context. The research was an underpinning of this dissertation work.

Field experiences. I have served as an assistant principal for a Korean heritage language school since September 2009. I have designed and implemented a family interactive curriculum format. The field experiences have allowed me to built insights on (a) two-way communication between school and parents, and (b) the key component of a heritage education as parents as an educator.

Family experiences. My enthusiasm for family literacy continued to grow as I became the mother of two daughters during my doctoral studies and became more immersed in American culture as a resident. Furthermore, when I started my data collection, my first daughter started to go to a Head Start program. Family literacy has become not only my academic interest but also a major issue in my own family. I found that family literacy can build on families' strengths in the social and cultural context in which they live and learn. In addition, I need to develop a culturally familiar and competent tool which teachers and parents can measure and support a child's bilingual and biliteracy development.

Applications during the Research Process

Based on the notion of the researcher as the partner, I will present how I coconstructed meaning with my participation in the field. I reflected my experiences from the constructs discussed by Mills, Bonner, and Francis (2006): (a) "Establishing relationships: A constructivist approach to interviewing," (b) "Counteracting imbalances of power: Establishing reciprocity," (c) "The role of reflection in constructivist grounded theory," and (d) "Rendering through writing."

Establishing relationships: a Constructivist approach to interviewing. From the constructivist's view, meaning is co-construction between the researcher and participants. Hence, data was not collected but generated while the researcher and participants interact together by "reveal(ing) depth, feeling and reflexive thought (p.9)". (Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006). I also found that my data such as the interview, handouts, video clips of home and school literacy practices "are the results from the mutual negotiation and understanding of bilingual education and family literacy between the participants and me.

Counteracting imbalances of power: Establishing reciprocity. The longstanding tradition of the hierarchical subordination of the participants to the researcher was challenged by the constructivist viewpoint, moving to the equal relationship. The equal relationship between the researcher and participants helps to establish more reciprocity. First of all, Seibold's a series of consciouseness-raising questions were what I kept asking to myself during my research.

How is the [person] like me? How [are they] not like me? How are these similarities and differences being played out in our interaction? How is that interaction affecting the course of the research? How is it illuminating or obscuring the research problem?

Furthermore, I employed several strategies to make a constant effort for participant-driven research. For example, as O'Connor (2001) suggested, I also shared my understanding of the key concerns arising a child as bilingual and bicultural and book reading issues, based on open stance toward the parent participants, as a mom of a child who goes to an early childhood education like their child. I also asked to share their strengths and give me some good strategies and advice from their experiences on raising a child as bilingual and bicultural. In addition, as Mishler (1991) noted, I also tried to focus on the benefits to parent and teacher participants, in order to gain greater insight into their own worlds through the interview and observations, and to create spaces for participants' standpoints in the handouts. Furthermore, I acted as an advocate for teacher and parent participants by creating a final collective handout entitled The Warm Literacy Stories We Shared: Sharing the literacy stories between three early childhood educators and four Korean ESL families. Here, I shared their literacy beliefs, practices and experiences of my teacher and parent participants based on the data. To use an academic term, I said that I can translate them into a hidden curriculum- although it is not explicitly required as part of curriculum, it is very important to share this information. Then, I submitted it as a report to the ISD and a school principal supported my research.

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The role of reflection in constructivist grounded theory: Lofland and Lofland (1995) noted that in the beginning, researchers should scrutinize themselves regarding the area of interest to connect between their personal and emotional interest and intellectual operation. As I mentioned about me above, I have several 'selves'. While the selves provide a valuable foundation to conduct and precede my research with passion and sustainability, from the negative side, at the same time, I felt that the selves with strong experiences and passions can make me blind to see other dimension of the data and bring me a filtering effect on viewing the data (Mallory, 2001). To uncover hidden assumptions and make them evident both to the researcher and the readers, one of the influential reflective tools is memoing (Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006). Hence, I used memo writing during the course of my research and data analysis, I wrote memo. Memo writing helped me to bring my ideas, my own situations and experiences to the surface, impacting on the reconstruction of meaning into theory clearer (Mills, Bonner, & Francis, 2006).

Rendering through writing. In the writing based the constructivist grounded theory, the researcher openly acknowledge to make a story of the shared experience of meaning of participants so that the reader can make a connection between analytical findings and the data from which they were derived (Jones, 2002; Fossey, Harvey, Mcermott, Davidson, 2002). Hence, I wrote as cocontructivisit, not in the removed third-person voice and tried to make participatnt's data into a vivid stories (Reinharz, 1992)