Multilingual, Multimodal Compositions in Technology-Mediated Hybrid Spaces

Multilingual, Multimodal Compositions in Technology-Mediated Hybrid Spaces

Patricia Martínez-Álvarez (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA) and María Paula Ghiso (Teachers College, Columbia University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5982-7.ch010
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This chapter describes a series of integrated curricular invitations that sought to unsettle hierarchies of power by creating hybrid spaces that leverage students' cultural and linguistic resources in the form of multilingual community-based knowledge. The project involved participation from a total of 138 bilingual first graders in two dual language public elementary schools and was implemented, investigated, and revised over a two-year period. The curricular invitations were informed by a conceptual framework that brought together Nieto's (2009) elements of culture with theories of Expansive Learning. This dual framework assists us in articulating the theoretical underpinnings of each step of the proposed sequence. Teaching implications and future research directions are presented.
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Theoretical Framings

In our work, Expansive Learning, one of the concepts within Third Generation of Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 1987), helps us to identify the dual binds, or contradictions, that exist in prevailing deficit discourses in the education of bilingual children, who research indicates actually posses rich linguistic and cultural understandings. Like Engeström (1999), we envision hybrid spaces that promote expansive activities as zones of proximal development (Vygotsky, 1978). In the context of education, these “hybrid” or “third” spaces” are openings for creating teaching and learning relationships more attuned to bilinguals’ ways of knowing (Gutiérrez, Baquedano-López, & Tejeda, 1999). Thus, our proposed curriculum involves expanding notions of language and literacy learning while allowing space for ambiguity and contradiction (Gutiérrez, 2008).

The multimodal activities we present in this chapter guide the exploration of students’ funds of knowledge and the recognition of these existing understandings as valuable academic resources for literacy learning. In doing so, the invitations allow for a post-structural characterization of students’ agentive practices in the literacy classroom by involving Butler’s (1998) notion of embodiment, for whom agency is a process of enactment through the materiality of the body. Our bodies inform our orientation toward the world; as Katherine Hayles explains “embodiment is akin to articulation in that it is inherently performative, subject to individual enactments, and therefore always to some extent improvisational. Whereas the body can disappear into information with scarcely a murmur of protest, embodiment cannot, for it is tied to the circumstances of the occasion and the person” (Hayles 1993, p. 156). In this way, children perform race, ethnicity and class within historically accumulated scripts.

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