Reclaiming the Multilingual Narrative of Children in the Borderlands Using a Critical Integration Approach: A Case Study Highlighting Multilingual Capital in the Curriculum and Classroom

Reclaiming the Multilingual Narrative of Children in the Borderlands Using a Critical Integration Approach: A Case Study Highlighting Multilingual Capital in the Curriculum and Classroom

Kevan A. Kiser-Chuc (Tucson Unified School District, USA & University of Arizona, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3448-9.ch002


By joining together different methods and curriculum delivery in an elementary school setting, the author defined a unique critical integration approach to address questions of inclusive multilingual literacy practices. The author encouraged students to build upon their prior knowledge, ways in which to show that knowledge, and specifically, their linguistic cultural wealth, which generated a respect for the linguistic diversity of all students. The author created a collaborative pedagogical space in which the students constructed an innovative curriculum by co-mingling student experiences, their cultural and linguistic resources, and their interpretive frameworks. The teacher-research project involved a Funds of Knowledge orientation, the use of a variety of pedagogical tools influenced by the theory of Multiple Intelligences, gifted strategies, community cultural wealth, emancipatory education, critical and culturally responsive pedagogy, and visual arts aesthetics.
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When I first started teaching I felt pretty alone, like a strange bird. Some of my early teaching decisions were based on little more than a general sense of social justice and my tendency to reject conformity and standardization of the curriculum and teaching practices. Sometimes I would go with my gut and my rationale would evolve as I observed the results of my decisions. My ability to articulate this rationale also developed over time. Over the course of a decade of teaching and documenting my classroom, I noticed that by combining a variety of pedagogical approaches and methods, opportunities emerged, expanding spaces for classroom dialogue and reflection (Paris & Winn, 2014; Souto-Manning, 2012). These spaces empowered student voice, increased self-efficacy, and led to deeper learning. This chapter will present an approach that I developed out of this classroom experience of combining a diversity of pedagogical and theoretical approaches and methods, which I have called a Critical Integration Approach (Kiser-Chuc, 2018). I will explain my rationale for developing it, along with my thinking and the rich experience that led to its development.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Multiple Intelligences: The theory of multiple intelligences as proposed by Howard Gardner (1983) differentiates human intelligence into specific modalities, rather than seeing intelligence as a single general ability. In the classroom setting, it offers ways in which the learning processes and subsequent product assessments have the potential of capturing the full range of abilities and talents that students have.

Translanguaging: Translanguaging ( Garcia & Li, 2014 ) is a language practice of bilinguals where bilingualism acts not as two autonomous language systems, but as one linguistic repertoire with features that have been socially constructed as belonging to two separate languages. The epistemological changes that are taking place as global interaction, real and virtual, define our language exchanges, create a transformational nature of language in new configurations of language practices and education.

Third Space: Third space, as defined by researchers like Kris Gutierrez (1999) AU33: The in-text citation "Kris Gutierrez (1999)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , is a zone of transformation that is generated when teachers and students socialize together in and through language, integrating everyday and academic knowledge. It offers more inclusive and participatory forms of education by merging learning and knowledge, connecting the home, community and school. Third Space is the intersection of students’ everyday experiences and identities within a learning environment that values students’ home and community knowledge and experience.

Emancipatory Education: Emancipatory education ( Freire, 1970 ) is an approach that goes beyond the simple transfer of knowledge, questioning the dominant structure of socio-economic and political relations, and supporting people not only to demand a different world, but also to discuss and prepare for alternatives.

Culturally Relevant Pedagogy: Culturally relevant pedagogy is a pedagogy ( Ladson-Billings, 1995 ) grounded in teachers’ display of cultural competence. This competence is displayed by student-centered approaches to teaching in which students’ unique cultural strengths are identified and nurtured to promote student academic identity and well-being.

Critical Pedagogy: Critical pedagogy ( Duncan-Andrade & Morrell, 2008 ; Wink, 2005 ) considers the relationship between teaching and learning and the structures of power held within them. It is a philosophy of education and social movement that combines education and critical theory as described by Paulo Freire (1970) and others. It is a praxis-oriented educational movement guided by passion, principle and analysis to better understand the social context, ideologies and dominant myths of a given time in history.

Critical Integration Approach: A critical integration approach ( Kiser-Chuc, 2018 ) is a praxis-oriented approach that empowers student voice and efficacy, which in turn sustains more equitable and engaged student-teacher interactions and exchanges in educational settings.

Gifted Pedagogy: Gifted pedagogy ( Maker & Schiever, 2010 ; Sternberg, Jarvin & Grigorenko, 2010 ; Tomlinson, 1999 ) is a framework that enhances teaching-learning strategies and processes with a focus on creative and critical thinking, autonomous thinking and learning, problem-solving, and students’ personal interests. Content is implemented in research-based curriculum units.

Culturally Responsive Instruction: Culturally responsive instruction ( Gay, 2010 ; Villegas & Lucas, 2002 ; Wlodkowski & Ginsberg,1995 ) is a philosophy and accompanying implementation of instruction that purposefully acknowledges, embraces and uses what each student brings culturally to the classroom in order for all students to have equitable access to the learning content. It is built on a foundation of relationships and respect.

Funds of Knowledge: Funds of knowledge, as defined by researchers Luis Moll, Norma Gonzalez, and Cathy Amanti (2005) AU32: The in-text citation "Luis Moll, Norma Gonzalez, and Cathy Amanti (2005)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , refer to the historically accumulated and culturally developed bodies of knowledge, skills and assets essential for household or individual functioning, well-being and cultural ways of interacting. It is argued that by integrating funds of knowledge into classroom activities, a richer and more highly scaffolded learning experience for students is created.

Multimodal Arts Education: Multimodal arts educational ( Bagnoli, 2009 ; Wielgosz & Molyneux, 2015 ) environments allow instructional elements to be presented in more than one sensory mode (visual, audio, images, video, interactive elements, text). In turn, materials that are presented in a variety of presentation modes may lead learners to perceive that it is easier to learn and improve attention, thus leading to opportunities to present multiple representations of content and to respond more effectively to the different learning styles of increasingly diverse classrooms.

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