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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Mobilizing knowledge processes and lifeworld practices across learning spaces : exploring grade 6 English language learners’ inquiry-based learning experiences in a technology-enhanced classroom Wong, Melanie Mun Wai


Kindergarten to Grade 12 (K-12) diverse students, including English Language Learners (ELLs), use digital technologies both in school-sanctioned learning spaces (e.g., Cummins & Early, 2011; Cummins et al., 2015; Lotherington, 2008, 2011; Lotherington & Jensen, 2011; Marshall & Toohey, 2010; Rothoni, 2017; Toohey et al., 2015) and out-of-school learning spaces (e.g., Abrams, 2016; Lange, 2014; Lam, 2009; Black, 2008). Boundaries between these learning spaces are increasingly blurred, supported by the affordances of digital technologies (New London Group, 1996), as students bring their learning experiences and corresponding language, discourses, and registers from one realm of their lives to another. To address these changes in global and linguistic landscapes, provinces across Canada, have shifted curricular focus to developing 21st century competencies (see Alberta Education, 2011a; Ontario Ministry of Education, 2016) and placing a greater emphasis on utilizing inquiry-based learning approaches (see Ontario Ministry of Education, 2013a; Province of British Columbia, 2020b). Hence, many educators are reconsidering how they design pedagogical tasks that support their students in bridging their multiple lifeworld practices. The following ethnographic case study explored the learning processes of Grade 6 ELL students in a technology-enhanced classroom and through this lens considered what the teacher did to foster these processes. It draws from multiliteracies (New London Group, 1996), multimodality (Kress, 2000) and learning by design (Cope & Kalantzis, 2015) theoretical frameworks to better understand the learning processes in the tasks in which students engaged. The data generated included artifacts/student work, monthly participant literacy activities journals, field observations and student interviews. Additional interviews with teachers and the administrator provided further contextual clarity. A thematic analysis (Saldaña, 2016) and deductive analysis of the data occurred. Results revealed that inquiry-based learning experiences, influenced by the current school context, were prevalent. Knowledge processes ELL students activated suggested that teachers targeted a range of knowledge processes in their task design. Additionally, these tasks afforded ELLs opportunities to mobilize their lifeworld practices from one learning space to another. Findings from this study will be of great significance to K-12 educators, teacher-educators and researchers.

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