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Title:Voices within sitios y lenguas: a bilingual elementary context
Author(s):Romero, Gabriela
Director of Research:DeNicolo, Christina P.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):García, Georgia E.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Haas Dyson, Anne; Dorr, Kirstie P
Department / Program:Curriculum and Instruction
Discipline:Curriculum and Instruction
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Bilingual Education
Chicana Feminist Theories
Abstract:Latina/o students are the largest minority population in U.S. schools (Gándara, 2010), yet are provided limited opportunities to draw on their linguistic and cultural repertoires of knowledge for learning (Gutiérrez & Rogoff, 2003). States, such as Illinois, that require school districts to provide instruction in students' primary language under specific circumstances, can allow us to explore ways that teachers support emergent bilingual students’ cultivated student voice and incorporated their home language and culture in the classroom learning environment. Cultivating bilingual individuals in this day in age has been relegated to transitional bilingual programs that continue to identify learning English as the main objective. Many programs have been eliminated because the home language is considered to be a debilitating factor for the English-only schema. Dominant discourses regarding immigration and the education of Latina/o communities is often fueled by deficit cultural perspectives that label marginalized linguistically diverse students in reductionist forms (i.e., limited English proficient, high risk and economically disadvantaged). However, by employing Chicana feminist perspectives to examine learning in a first grade bilingual classroom, the mechanism for dialogue and knowledge production is done through the home language. This dissertation examines the instructional practices in a first-grade bilingual classroom and the ways Latina/o students engaged in Spanish and English. By theorizing classroom spaces and the interchange of languages, sitios y lenguas counters deficit discourses by providing a narrative that reclaims knowledge production (Perez, 1998), of bilingual and bicultural communities (Darder, 2011). This framework examines the process in which students' home languages and cultural backgrounds are cultivated and valued as resources amidst the national discourse that views standard English as the language for learning. The research questions guiding this study are as follows: How were the teacher's beliefs and instructional practices enacted in the classroom to support student voice? What were the ways that students’ home knowledge was incorporated into the classroom? Ethnographic methods were used to collect and analyze data (i.e., classroom observations, audio-recordings of small and whole group discussions, classroom artifacts, and semi-structured interviews), across the 2012-2013 academic year. By identifying the types of cultural and linguistic knowledge that students accessed to support their participation and engagement in literacy instruction, this research addresses a research gap in the field of literacy and bilingual education by examining the day-to-day practices that promote academic learning for emergent bilinguals. The findings show how the teacher countered the negative discourses about Latina/o immigrant families that existed in the school and larger society and illustrate how a multicultural social justice approach can be implemented effectively in the primary grades.
Issue Date:2016-04-21
Rights Information:Copyright 2016 Gabriela Romero
Date Available in IDEALS:2016-07-07
Date Deposited:2016-05

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