This book focuses on shared inquiry. The research projects detailed in these chapters show how classroom dynamics change and more active learning takes place for both teacher and student when collaboration is involved. The projects here range from elementary through graduate school in both rural and urban, public and private settings.
Section One, "Students Teaching," raises questions about what happens when students and teachers share authority in and out of the classroom, empowering each other with the kind of authentic learning that can't be measured on standardized tests. As students become more responsible for how as well as what they learn, a bond of negotiation and trust is formed with the teacher. Expertise is no longer the sole domain of the teacher, but is shared by all as student voices are not only encouraged but respected. The projects include an account of the emergent curriculum in an elementary school in Vermont, students as teachers in a foreign language class in Greece, students as co-researchers on a telecommunications project in Pittsburgh, community research in Kentucky, student-sustained discussion, cross-age tutoring, and a follow-up study ten years later of a former student co-researcher.
Section Two, "Teachers Learning," focuses on teachers who have been changed by listening to their students. As in the first section, the roles of student and teacher are not easily defined. When teachers learn in these chapters, contradictions and problems are examined, not ignored. This is teacher research extended beyond the lonely office of the solitary instructor. The projects include a university school collaboration in urban Michigan, portfolio assessment, learning through talk in teacher preparation, and cross- visitation among teachers in the Philadelphia public schools.
Following each chapter are responses-from such influential figures as Mary K. Healy, Nancie Atwell, James Moffett and Shirley Brice Heath-that tell stories, raise questions, push the argument further, and carry on a conversation with the author that extends the dialogue to the reader as well.