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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Learning language and science at play : threads of meaning-making and identities Ferreira, Jonathan Feitosa


In recent years, there has been a staggering increase of forcibly displaced people worldwide. Upon arrival in the host country, migrant and refugee-background children (MRBC) may be particularly at risk due to the challenge of adjusting to a new language, school culture, and sociocultural changes. In this context, this research aimed to shed light on the language and content-area learning of MRBC in a community elementary school in Greater Vancouver, BC. By using an inductive thematic analysis, this multiple-case study sought to understand how three Grade 2/3 learners could enhance academic language proficiency and science learning while foregrounding aspects of their identities through various playful practices. Theoretical frameworks included sociocultural perspectives on literacy, a pedagogy of multiliteracies, conceptions of play, and identity. Data encompassed field notes, photos and videos of in-class activities, artifacts, and interviews with students and their teachers. Findings suggest that the three MRBC learned about the importance of water and its cycle through multimodal meaning-making, which entailed engaging in a meaning-making flow, creating hybrid narratives of new knowledge, and learning collaboratively. The three MRBC also foregrounded aspects of their identities in multimodal productions, such as their sense of belonging, lifeworld experiences and agentic imagined identities. This research responded to a gap in the literature about MRBC’s literacy education in content-area subjects in Canadian mainstream classrooms; it also demonstrated how playful practices can give rise to synesthetic learning and open doorways to MRBC’s wealth of lifeworld knowledge and agentic identities in a science classroom.

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