Peer Ecologies For Learning How To Read: Exhibiting Reading, Orchestrating Participation, And Learning Over Time In Bilingual Mexican-American Preschoolers

 

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            • 2 quotes that speak to you with an analysis of why they are significant to development 

            • 1 Question (with an answer to your own question): You may question the findings, analyses, method, and conclusions. You may offer ideas for future research or how to build on the study. Superficial questions such as  definition clarifications will not qualify for credit. 

article is attached below 

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Linguistics and Education 41 (2017) 7–19

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Linguistics and Education

j o u r n a l h o m e p a g e : w w w . e l s e v i e r . c o m / l o c a t e / l i n g e d

eer ecologies for learning how to read: Exhibiting reading,
rchestrating participation, and learning over time in bilingual
exican-American preschoolers’ play enactments of reading to a peer

my Kyratzis ∗

niversity of California, Santa Barbara, United States

r t i c l e i n f o

rticle history:
eceived 18 April 2017
ccepted 13 July 2017
vailable online 18 October 2017

eywords:
hildren’s peer interactions
mergent reading
onversation analysis
articipation
ultilingualism

a b s t r a c t

This study investigates how a friendship dyad of preschool children enrolled in a bilingual Spanish-English
Head Start preschool in California, predominantly serving Mexican-American families, enact and orches-
trate in play the activity of reading aloud to a peer. It examines how the child leading the reading uses
embodied and multimodal resources to exhibit themselves as reading, including using environmental
couplings of talk and gesture (C. Goodwin, 2013) and how the peer being read to uses embodied resources
to exhibit that they are attending to the reading (Erickson, 2004; Hindmarsh et al., 2011). It also tracks
transformations of the children’s publicly visible and embodied knowledge states (C. Goodwin, 1981)
across time, specifically, across two episodes of reading spaced several months apart, to illustrate how a
“trajectory of knowing-in-interaction,” or learning, (Melander, 2012), can be made visible. The examples
contribute to a deeper understanding of the diverse ways in which children use verbal resources, their

earning in interaction
ultimodal interaction

bodies and the material environment to accomplish the doing of reading as a public, shared, and mutually
accountable activity. The examples also contribute to a deeper understanding of how children learn to
act in culturally appropriate ways over time in shared reading activities, including how they “recalibrate”
(M.H. Goodwin & Cekaite, 2013) reading action when expected embodied participation frameworks for
doing reading are not exhibited from other participants.

© 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.

. Introduction

According to research on emergent literacy, “children in literate
ocieties have been found to have knowledge about written lan-
uage long before reading conventionally from print. It is suggested
hat they are sorting out oral and written language relationships”
Sulzby, 1985:458). According to Sulzby, many children who are
ead to frequently by their parents also play at “reading” favorite
torybooks themselves; they have been described as “‘teaching
hemselves to read’ from favorite storybooks” that is, asking for

favored book “to be read over and over; correcting parents when
hey deviated from the text; or attempting to ‘read’ the book to
hemselves, to siblings, to dolls, or pets” (Sulzby, 1985:459). From

hese early literacy activities, children come away with a wealth of
iteracy skills long before they are actually reading. They develop

sense of story and story language, and come to understand that

∗ Correspondence to: Department of Education, University of California, Santa
arbara, CA 93106, United States.

E-mail address: kyratzis@education.ucsb.edu

ttp://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.linged.2017.07.005
898-5898/© 2017 Published by Elsevier Inc.

pictures carry meaning and support the story (Sulzby, 1985). Many
middle-class parents read to their children frequently and encour-
age these emergent literacy practices long before the children
attend school (Sulzby, 1985).

Exposure to these practices is believed to serve as a founda-
tion for engaging in the literacy practices required in U.S. schools.
We know from the work of linguistic anthropologists that liter-
acy practices such as these described by Sulzby for middle-class
parents are ideological, “always embedded in social practices” of a
community (Street, 2003:78; see also Heath, 1983, 2015; Avineri
& Johnson, 2015; Bhimji, 2005; Zentella, 2005, 2015). Parents from
other communities may “spend their time on other, more cultur-
ally significant activities” (Gaskins, 1999:50) or for other reasons
(e.g., lack of resources) not engage in practices directly reflected in
“Maintown” or mainstream U.S. schools (Heath, 1983). But could
children learn U.S. school-related practices such as doing reading of
favorite picture books from other sources? It has been argued that

peers and siblings are sources of valuable language socialization
experiences (Bhimji, 2005; Kyratzis, Tang, & Köymen, 2009). Can
young child peers support one another in doing reading of favorite
storybooks? With the exception of a small number of studies (e.g.,

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regory, 2001, who looked at mediation practices in interactions
mong child siblings at home), very little is known about peer sup-
ort and about what children might learn about reading practices

n real peer and sibling interactions.
This study examines how bilingual Spanish-English speaking

hildren of Mexican heritage enrolled in a bilingual Spanish-English
ead Start preschool in California practice reading books together,
articularly, how they enact and orchestrate in play the activity of
eading a book aloud to a peer. This reading activity is modeled for
he children by their teacher. After breakfast each day, individual
hildren are asked to read books aloud to their peers at their small
roupwork table. Although Sulzby refers to such practices as “read-
ng,” placing the verb “reading” inside quotation marks to denote
he fact that children are not actually decoding written text from the
age, for purposes of this paper, as children are engaging in emer-
ent literacy practices of linking pictures and symbols on the page
o orally dictated story content, I consider these practices as reading
nd will henceforth refer to them as such. Like all literacy practices,
he practice of reading to peers at the small group table is cultur-
lly framed, consistent with the literacy practices of a particular
ommunity (Heath, 1983; Ochs & Schieffelin, 2012; Street, 2003),
hich in this case, is the community of English-medium public

chool education in California, for which the preschool is preparing
he children. The children show agency in that they appropriate
his reading activity and enact it among themselves during free
lay time (see also de León, this issue). Within these enactments
f reading to a peer, the children frame the interaction and sig-
al for one another “what it is they are doing now, displaying for
thers what constitutes the common scene in front of them” (M.H.
oodwin, 1993:160; Goffman, 1974). Children must project their
wn understandings of the actions that constitute reading and have
hose understandings ratified (or not) (C. Goodwin, 1984, 2000,
010, 2013; M.H. Goodwin, 1990) by other peers. Through these
nactments then, children can learn a great deal about what consti-
utes reading in their classroom (and in the American school system

ore generally).
To understand how the children frame these enactments of

eading to a peer, how the peers ratify reading actions in the
equence of interaction, and what the children learn about writ-
en language and literacy through participating in these activities, I
ake an approach to understanding such cognitive activities which
s rooted in conversational analysis, ethnography, and interactional
ociolinguistics, and which I review below.

. Exhibiting reading: cognition situated in human
nteraction

.1. Participation

The approach which I take to analyzing these child peer-
ased reading activities is rooted in recent accounts of situated
ognitive activities which have been framed within conversa-
ional analysis (C. Goodwin, 1984, 1994, 2000, 2010), ethnography,
nd interactional sociolinguistics (Erickson, 1982, 2004; Gumperz

Cook-Gumperz, 2005). Charles Goodwin recommends that an
ctivity such as a story-telling (or in the case under study here, the
ctivity of one peer reading to another) be viewed as a “multi-party
nteractive field” (C. Goodwin, 2006:12) within which “multiple
articipants are building in concert with each other the actions that
efine and shape their lifeworld” (2000:75). What structures con-
titute the reading, story, sentence, etc. are specified, not through

nterviewing, but “through study in detail of the actions [partici-
ants] perform as the talk itself emerges” (C. Goodwin, 1984:243).
he participants who shape the reading, narrative, etc. include
earers as well as speakers (C. Goodwin, 1984, 2015; C. Goodwin &

ucation 41 (2017) 7–19

M.H. Goodwin, 2004; Erickson, 2004), all of whom have “visible
cognitive lives” (C. Goodwin, 2015:1). Participants’ understand-
ings’ of the activity in progress, and of the stance and alignment
they take to that activity, are displayed through their actions. They
also hold one another accountable for these actions, which in turn
are embedded in the participants’ larger social projects (C. Good-
win & M.H. Goodwin, 2004) and help construct the “social and
political organization” (M.H. Goodwin, 1990; C. Goodwin, 2015:1)
among them. The notion of “participation” (Goodwin & Good-
win, 2004), actions exhibiting “forms of involvement performed
by parties within evolving structures of talk” (2004:222), captures
how these “multi-party interactive fields” (C. Goodwin, 2006) are
co-constructed and reflexively emerge in the interaction through
the embodied practices of multiple particants. Ethnography can
enrich the analysis of participation by providing knowledge of the
range of concerns and forms of social organization which are pos-
sible for the friendship or peer group in question (Evaldsson, 2007;
Goodwin & Kyratzis, 2012; M.H. Goodwin, 1990, 2006).

The interplay of these situated and deeply interactional pro-
cesses have been documented in several studies. For example,
M.H. Goodwin (1990) has documented how, for a peer group of
African-American girls’ in Philadelphia, the content and partic-
ipation structures of their extended he-said-she-said narratives
were deeply embedded in local social and political processes of
the peer group. Similar interactional processes have been docu-
mented in other studies of children’s narratives of different sorts,
including pretend play and future planning narratives and gos-
sip stories (Evaldsson, 2002, 2007; M.H. Goodwin, 2006; Kyratzis,
1999, 2007). Relying on Goffman’s notions of framing and foot-
ing (Goffman, 1981) and Goodwin and Goodwin’s constructs of
“participation” (2004), I will examine how the activity of one peer
reading to another, as a multi-party interactive field, is exhibited,
co-constructed, and reflexively emerges in the interaction through
the embodied practices of multiple participants, and how these
practices are rooted in (and reflexively help constitute) certain
forms of alignment (Goffman, 1981) and social political organiza-
tion among participants.

2.2. Epistemic ecologies: embodied participation frameworks,
objects, and local epistemic identities as knowing and unknowing
in interaction

To understand how the activity of one peer reading to another
is exhibited and interactionally accomplished, one must con-
sider the material environment in which the participants’ reading
action emerges, including the embodied participation framework
(C. Goodwin, 2013) within which the reading activity occurs.
As noted by Charles Goodwin, in collaborative activities such as
archaelogists doing excavation and categorization work together,
participants “build action by laminating different kinds of meaning-
making resources together” (Goodwin, 2013:16). These include:
“the mutual orientation of the participants’ bodies toward each
other,” language, “hands making environmentally coupled ges-
tures,” and other phenomena (e.g., objects, such as dirt) “being
intensely scrutinized by the participants as part of the work they
are doing together” (2013:16). He termed these environments and
embodied participation frameworks “public substrates” (2013) and
“ecologies of sign systems” (C. Goodwin, 2006, p. 38). Moreover, as
these embodied participation frameworks determine the ways in
which participants are positioned with respect to one another in
terms of what they can see and know (C. Goodwin, 2010; M.H.
Goodwin & C. Goodwin, 2012), he termed these embodied par-

ticipation frameworks “epistemic ecologies” (C. Goodwin, 2013:8,
15–16, 20, 21; 2010). These ecologies or environments are cru-
cial, as “cognition emerges through the ongoing and systematic
transformation of environments that contain a range of structurally

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ifferent kinds of resources that mutually interact with each other”
C. Goodwin, 2010:5).

In understanding the “ecology” (Erickson, 2004) surrounding
he activity of reading to a peer, one must focus not only on a child
r more expert peer who is leading a reading, but also on partici-
ants who are recipients of or audience to a reading (Erickson, 2010,
004; C. Goodwin, 1984, 2015). The understandings of novices,
rainees and other participants are displayed and monitored not
nly through talk, but through their gaze, bodily alignment, and
ther multimodal means (Hindmarsh, Reynolds, & Dunne, 2011).
n my analysis, I will examine the resources and means by which
hildren who are novices to reading and in the role of listeners
emonstrate understandings as they are being read to by a (more
xpert) peer and how the peer leading the reading modifies their
ourse of action to take into account the listener’s displayed under-
tanding.

Also central to these situated interactions is the way in which
articipants build upon the situated action of one another. Charles
oodwin argued for the importance of “the embodied participation

ramework” (Goodwin, 2010:17, 20), which can provide a “public
ubstrate,” that is, “a place where diverse semiotic resources can
e brought together and accumulated through time into a pub-

ic configuration” (C. Goodwin, 2010:19–20; C. Goodwin, 2013:11),
eading to further learning. Within such an “intercorporeal frame-

ork for mutual engagement,” children can build on prior action,
hereby “recalibrating” and fine-tuning their attention and action
M.H. Goodwin & Cekaite, 2013:136, 130). In my analysis, I will
xplore how the embodied participation framework allows chil-
ren to create a pubic substrate of shared attention within which
hey can build on one another’s embodied action, recalibrate action,
nd learn from one another.

Not only are readings, narratives, sentences, etc. themselves
onstructed via the multi-party, multimodal, and locally situated
ractices described above, but the objects utilized in these activ-

ties are also transformed and constructed in “specific ways that
re relevant to the distinctive interests of their particular commu-
ity” (C. Goodwin, 2015:33). Archaelogists transform color patterns
hat they see in the dirt into “work-relevant discursive objects”
Goodwin, 2015:33). Experts “environmentally couple” (C. Good-
in, 2013:15, 16; Goodwin, 2010) talk with objects, (e.g., color
atterns they see in the dirt), leading novice archaeologists to see
he dirt in work-relevant ways, building the “professional vision
hat must be mastered” by young members of a profession (C.
oodwin, 1994; Goodwin, 2013:20). With regard to literacy devel-
pment, Heath (1983) emphasized the importance of the practice
f relating two-dimensional representations (e.g., pictures, print)
een on the page to three-dimensional objects in the real world and
alking about these “displaced objects.” Achieving such a profes-
ional vision of what can be seen on the page is therefore essential
o becoming a member of the community of classroom readers. My
nalysis will illustrate how children use environmental couplings
f talk and gesture (Goodwin, 2013) as one type of exhibition of
eading, and how these environmental couplings are fine-tuned
nd “accumulated” (2013:11) over the sequence of interaction as
hildren recalibrate reading action to get the peer to attend to their
eading.

Within “epistemic ecologies” (C. Goodwin, 2013) of the type
nder discussion here, not only are readings, narratives, sentences,
bjects, etc. themselves co-constructed and oriented to in the
nteraction via the multi-party, multimodal, spatially and materi-
lly configured, publically exhibited, and locally situated practices
escribed above, but the local epistemic identities of the partic-

pants as “knowing recipients” and “unknowing recipients” (C.
oodwin, 1981; see also C. Goodwin, 2013:12) are also publi-
ally exhibited and oriented to in the interaction and become
onsequential for that interaction in terms of how co-participants

ucation 41 (2017) 7–19 9

design and reconstruct their utterances. The ways in which speak-
ers exhibit themselves as knowing and unknowing participants can
be a tool for tracking learning, as the next section will discuss.

3. Learning to read-in-interaction

Recently, Melander (2012), working within a framework that
views learning as situated participation within ongoing commu-
nity activities (Lave, 1993; see also Melander & Sahlström, 2009),
has taken Charles Goodwin’s work on how participants’ identities
as “knowing recipients” and “unknowing recipients” are publi-
cally exhibited and become consequential for how co-participants
design their utterances (C. Goodwin, 1981; see also C. Goodwin,
2013:12), and applied it to understanding children’s learning over
time in classroom peer group activities. Specifically, Melander
argues that changes over time in these epistemic identities as
knowing and unknowing, which are exhibited through the mate-
rial arrangement of participants’ bodies around artifacts (see also
M.H. Goodwin & C. Goodwin, 2012), can serve as a way of tracking
children’s learning over time in classroom peer group activities.

Analyzing a peer learning activity in which a Swedish child
was teaching other peers to write numbers in Japanese, Melander
identified several means by which participants could establish “a
participation framework in which one participant is positioned
as knowing whereas the others are positioned as unknowing”
(2012:237). A participant could demonstrate herself as knowing
by making verbal claims to “know,” and using embodied means
to make displays of “doing thinking,” (Melander, 2012:238; see
also Johnson, this issue). Concomitantly, participants can demon-
strate themselves as unknowing through asking questions that
defer to the knowledge of other speakers (see also Kyratzis, Marx, &
Wade, 2001) as well as through other means. Melander concluded
“that a way of analytically approaching learning in interaction” is
through analyzing “processes of transformation” in participants’
knowledge states whereby less knowing participants become more
knowing ones, thereby “constructing trajectories of knowing-in-
transformation” (Melander, 2012:235, 246).

Following from this prior research, I examine how a friendship
dyad of peers enrolled in a bilingual Spanish-English preschool
in California predominantly serving Mexican-American families
enact in play the activity of reading aloud to a peer. I will focus on
how, through using language, embodiment, and material struc-
tures in the environment, the children exhibit and recognize one
another’s knowledge states and interactionally accomplish reading
aloud to a peer. I examine how the child leading the reading uses
embodied and multimodal resources to exhibit themselves as read-
ing, including using environmental couplings of talk and gesture
(C. Goodwin, 2013). Concomitantly, I examine how the peer being
read to uses embodied resources to exhibit that they are attending
to the reading (Hindmarsh et al., 2011; Erickson, 2004). I also track
transformations of the children’s publically visible and embodied
knowledge states across time, specifically, across two episodes of
reading spaced several months apart, to illustrate how a “trajectory
of knowing-in-interaction,” or learning, (Melander, 2012), can be
made visible, particularly for the reader who was originally less
knowing. Adding to Melander’s approach, I also examine how
the children recalibrate (M.H. Goodwin & Cekaite, 2013) their
exhibitions of reading to achieve peer attention in a situation of
conflict, that is, in a situation where an embodied participation
framework displaying the peer’s attention to the page being held
up or out by the reader is not constituted (C. Goodwin, 2010), and

the peers’ relative knowledge states are contested. I argue that such
transformations and recalibrations of a child’s specific publically
visible exhibition of reading can make visible their microgenetic
“learning” (Vygotsky, 1978; Inhelder, Bovet, & Sinclair, 1974), (i.e.,

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ransformation of knowing how to read) occurring over turns in a
ingle play or reading episode followed continuously.

. The data

The examples for this study are drawn from a larger study
Kyratzis, 2010) of children’s free play interactions conducted at a
ilingual Spanish-English Head Start preschool center which serves
conomically disadvantaged families in a community in central
alifornia. The families served by this preschool are predomi-
antly of Mexican heritage. The study combined ethnography with
ethods of talk-in-interaction (e.g., Erickson, 2006; M.H. Good-
in, 2006). Children in one classroom of the bilingual preschool
ere observed and videotaped weekly in their friendship groups in
aturally occurring interactions during free play time; this specific
ohort was followed longitudinally across two school years using
thnographic methods. Small group literacy activities between
tudents and teachers were also recorded. Episodes of literacy-
elated activity within friendship groups and between students
nd teachers were identified and transcribed using the conven-
ions developed by Jefferson and described by Sacks, Schegloff, &
efferson (1974, p. 731–733), (see Appendix).

For 80–90% of the families served by the preschool, Spanish is
he language spoken in the home. The data were collected sev-
ral years after Proposition 227, which ended bilingual education in
ost public California elementary schools, was passed in California.
lthough the preschool is bilingual, in order to support children
ho will be going on to English-only kindergarten classrooms the

ollowing year, it is recommended to teachers that they use mainly
nglish towards the end of the school year in small group work
ith those children.

For those children in this classroom going on to kindergarten
he following year, in small groupwork, the lead teacher would read
o the children, and teach the letters and numbers increasingly in
nglish as the school year progressed. However, she and the other
eachers also used Spanish throughout the year, to reflect the fact
hat for the majority of the students, Spanish was the language
poken in the home. One literacy practice of the teachers in this
lassroom was to have individual children “read” to their peers at
he small group table, while the teachers asked guiding questions.
s will be seen, the children then appropriated this school genre
nd enacted it among themselves during free play time, apply-
ng it to build their local own social organization (M.H. Goodwin

Kyratzis, 2012; M.H. Goodwin, 1990, 2006).
In this ethnography, specific friendship groups of children were

ollowed over time and episodes of literacy-related activity car-
ied out among group members, such as pretending to read to
ne another, were identified and transcribed. I will present two
xamples from one friendship dyad of children, Frida1 and Nancy.
he two examples are from different time points of the same aca-
emic year. Both children have stronger language competencies

n Spanish than in English, although one peer, Frida, gains stronger
nglish language competencies as the school year progresses. Frida
s slightly older (by 3 ½ months) than Nancy and a more experi-
nced reader. Neither of the children are actually reading, in the
ense of decoding printed text on the page, but they engage in
epeated pretend readings where they display many of the prac-

ices of reading, particularly emergent reading (Sulzby, 1985). The
rst example is from January (in this example, the children are aged

years, 1.5 mos. and 3 years, 9.5 mos.). The second example is from
une of the same school year (in this example, the children are aged

years, 6.5 mos.; 4 years, 2 mos.).

1 All names of children and participants used in this report are pseudonyms.

ucation 41 (2017) 7–19

In the first example, Frida, the more experienced reader in
these play enactments, exhibits reading by performing “environ-
mentally coupled gestures” (C. Goodwin, 2010, 2013), holding the
book up and linking pictures to orally stated character descrip-
tions and event sequence descriptions that she is making. The peer,
Nancy, exhibits that she is following or understanding the reading
(Hindmarsh et al., 2011) through various embodied means. This
is in contrast to the second example, in which Frida will attempt
to again lead the reading, but Nancy will be engaged in her own,
competing, reading and performing her own environmentally cou-
pled gestures. As both girls attempt to solicit the attention of their
peer to their own reading, they adjust their exhibitions of reading
such that a trajectory of “knowing-in-transformation” (Melander,
2012:235) is made visible for both girls across turns in the example.

5. Children framing the activity of reading to a peer and
demonstrating following a peer’s reading

In the first example, Frida, a 4-year-old girl, is “reading” “La Peor
Señora del Mundo” (a book, authored by Francisco Hinojosa, which
is about a bad woman who terrorizes a town) by choice to a still
younger peer, Nancy, during free playtime in the classroom. As she
is younger and does not usually serve as the reader in reading-to-
a-peer enactments at this time point in the school year, Nancy can
be viewed as a novice to reading. As the example will show, Frida,
the child leading the reading, uses a range of embodied and mul-
timodal resources, including prosody (“reading voice,” Gumperz &
Cook-Gumperz, 2005) and holding the book up and facing it out-
ward toward the the peer, to frame the activity as reading (Goffman,
1974, 1981) and to invite the peer’s attention and indicate what the
peer should see or attend to in the book. Through the “environmen-
tally coupled gestures” (C. Goodwin, 2010, 2013) that she uses and
through guiding what Nancy should see on the page, Frida demon-
strates herself as a knowing reader. The example also illustrates
how the peer, Nancy, exhibits that she is following or understand-
ing the reading (Hindmarsh et al., 2011) through various embodied
means, thereby constituting herself as a reader, although of a less
knowing sort than Frida, that is, one who is able to follow a reading.

In Example 1A, Frida uses an “environmentally coupled gesture”
which articulates a relationship between a located sign (the picture
on the page) and her story-telling (M.H. Goodwin & C. Goodwin,
2012:264). Nancy ratifies Frida’s projection of the picture of the
bad woman as deserving of attention and also exhibits that she
aligns in the same way as Frida did to the picture through various
embodied means. Frida begins (line 1) with a statement to orient
her audience to the story, a statement of affect “Es,tá ma:,la,” (she
is bad). Although …

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