A large amount of research has been directed at culturally responsive teaching. This thread of educational research to date has largely focused on teachers who serve populations of students marginalized in schools for reasons such as language, socioeconomic status, and/or ethnic and racial diversity. Scholars offer various definitions and labels of culturally responsive teaching, sharing two prominent goals: 1) to support the achievement of all students, and 2) to utilize effective pedagogical practices in a culturally supported learning environment (Gay, 2002; Hollie, 2012; Ladson-Billings, 1994; Nieto, 1996; Villegas & Lucas, 2007). According to Murrell (2009), identity may be influenced by individuals' personal beliefs, reactions to, and impressions of others. The purpose of this study was to better understand how students’ social identities were supported through multimodal teaching practices while being engaged in culturally responsive strategies used in classrooms. I examined specific instructional strategies research identified as supportive instructional practices for diverse classrooms. In this study I also sought to understand the relationship between student expressions of social identities around culturally responsive teaching and multimodality practices. This phenomenological research study used theorists that highlight key ideas of student voice to listen attentively to students’ perceptions (Cook-Sather, 2006), culturally responsive teaching to connect students’ cultural knowledge and prior experiences to develop a caring learning community (Gay, 2010), multimodal instruction using social and cultural resources (Kress, 2009), and phenomenology and intentionality as an invisible thread of connection (Merleau-Ponty, 1964). These theorists guided and supported a post-intentional phenomenological approach (Vagle, 2014) through my exploration of the lived classroom experiences of five third graders and their expressions of social identities through language, stories, and other artistic creations. Through the use of students’ own voices, I accessed the five-component process from Vagle’s (2014) post-intentional phenomenological research design to explore the following three questions: 1) How might expressions of social identities take shape through language, stories, and other artistic creations in a third grade classroom? 2) How do third graders’ narratives express equity within culturally responsive teaching and multimodal learning in classrooms? And 3) What is the relationship between student expressions of social identities around culturally responsive teaching and multimodality practices? Data were collected with a narrative inquiry perspective through classroom visits, observations, co-teaching, and conversations with participants. The data were analyzed using the whole-part-whole phenomenological approach (Vagle, 2014) and following Jackson and Mazzei’s (2011) methodological requirements for using thinking with theory to focus on a specific concept from the work of theorists. With my data, I chose to focus on the theorists Clandinin and Connelly (2000), Cook-Sather (2009), Kress (2009), and Gay (2010). The findings represent five tentative manifestations: interests and abilities, belonging (fitting in), interaction, readers, and challenge. The tentative manifestation abilities and interest refers to how participant’s perceived personal traits that made them unique and different. Students usually responded by sharing something they were good at or liked. The second tentative manifestation belonging (fitting in) refers to how participants talked about a sense of being a part of their family and school contexts. The third tentative manifestation interaction refers to engaging in various contexts including peer-to-peer, students and teachers, with books, and also with elements of technology such as iPads and video games. The fourth tentative manifestation was readers and refers to how participants engaged in conversations about books, their feelings about reading, and their experiences with small book groups. The fifth tentative manifestation, identified as challenge, refers to expectations, guidance, and guidelines. Commonalities among participants were revealed through all five tentative manifestations. When culturally responsive teaching and multimodal practices are exhibited, classrooms develop a caring learning community that engages a variety of learners while honoring students’ learning styles, lived experiences, and backgrounds (Jones-Walker, 2015). The findings highlight that third graders’ social identities give weight to teachers’ practice of culturally responsive teaching, especially through multimodal strategies. Culturally responsive teaching needs to help empower the voices of marginalized students in settings that on the surface seem to not involve apparent diversity. Instead, what makes an instructional practice culturally responsive is mirroring students’ social identities regularly as part of a routine, with intentionality and consistency.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation.August 2016. Major: Teaching and Learning. Advisor: Lori Helman. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 180 pages.
“Can I tell you something?” Intentionally Listening to Expressions of Third Grade Children’s Social Identities As a Means to Make Classrooms More Culturally Responsive.
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