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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Creating meaning within the process of integrating language and content: the action of using graphic representations of knowledge structures to adapt content to meet the needs of English second language learners Hawkes, Andrea C.


This exploratory action research describes the process of using the Knowledge Framework, and specifically graphics, within the context of a grade 6 science class in an attempt to meet the academic learning needs of English Second Language (ESL) students. It focuses on the understandings created among the classroom teacher, the English Language Support Teacher (ELST), and the students as they interacted within a naturalistic classroom setting during a science unit on Flight. An action research approach, including planning, observing, reflecting and understanding, rethinking and replanning, and evaluating was used to effect understanding and change for the participants. Eight themes regarding the Knowledge Framework emerged from the data collected. Students' usage and understanding of graphics and the Knowledge Framework fell upon a continuum. Some students relied more heavily on the graphics they created to communicate their understanding of content. Likewise, the teachers relied more heavily on student produced graphics to assess understanding when students were at lower levels of English language proficiency. It was necessary for teachers to create tasks that encouraged students to interact with graphics to ensure that students utilised graphics in their learning. Students engaged in a cyclical process of interaction between text and graphic to clarify understanding. Students' and teachers' awareness of graphics developed as the Flight unit progressed. Graphics were used within the cluster of tasks that naturally occurred within the content class. As a result of the action research process, change in teaching practice occurred for the classroom teacher and the ELST. Conclusions and implications for teachers are discussed based on the data collected.

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