Research Articles

Archive: 2013


RE-positioning English Learners in Teacher Development: A Language Ideologies Approach to Urban Education

Rumenapp, J.C. (August, 2013). RE-positioning English Learners in Teacher Development: A Language Ideologies Approach to Urban Education. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from UIC indigo <http://hdl.handle.net/10027/10157>

Abstract: As urban schools grow more and more linguistically diverse, there is an increasing need for teachers with expertise in teaching English Learners. Teachers are seeking education and development opportunities to continue to learn about how to address the needs of their students despite increasingly strict regulations on curricula and assessments. This study follows a group of teachers engaged in action research through a year-long professional development model. The teachers in this study work in a Midwestern Chinatown and grapple with issues of language, ethnicity, and other sociological factors they encounter in their classroom. Through a qualitative case study, this inquiry examined how students are positioned in a school in a Chinatown with a specific focus on how national and local features of “Chinatown” are implicated in the way teachers position students throughout an action research project. National and local features of “Chinatown” are emphasized to show how teachers, in a professional development program, learn to re-position the students. In this spirit and drawing on sociocultural models of professional development, positioning theory (van Langenhove & Harré, 1999), Cultural Historical Activity Theory (Engeström, 1999), and Language Ideologies in learning contexts (Razfar & Rumenapp, 2011), I looked specifically at how teachers reposition students into more equitable social and learning roles by engaging in action research. Findings include that there is a dominant ideological construct of “Chinatown” that is reimagined in the school and is implicated in social interaction within the school. As teachers engage in a collaborative research project, looking at students’ funds of knowledge and discourse, they reposition students socially and in the classroom context. Dominant, homogeneous constructs are complicated and challenged. Finally, I present a case study of one teacher to illustrate how she used action research as a form of on-going professional development for working with ELs. This study has implications for professional development and teacher education for teachers of ELs. Specifically, teachers can complicate dominant ideological constructs through visiting homes or doing a close analysis of the students’ cultural practices, thereby repositioning students. Additionally, teachers can reposition students in classrooms by studying the discourse and patterns of talk of classroom activities. Action research, as conceptualized in this study, can be a useful professional development tool. In the current study, this professional development model is seen as useful in the way teachers reposition their EL students.


Teachers Theorizing English Learners’ Math-Science Funds of Knowledge Through Community Activism

Nasir, A. (August, 2013). Teachers Theorizing English Learners' Math-Science Funds of Knowledge Through Community Activism. (Doctoral Dissertation). Retrieved from UIC indigo <http://hdl.handle.net/10027/10133>

Abstract: Many teachers are inadequately prepared to teach math and science while addressing the cultural and linguistic needs of their increasing English Learner (EL) populations in mainstream classrooms (Duff, 2005). Additionally, many high poverty schools with a large population of ELs mandate scripted curricula which restrict teachers to adapt the curriculum so that they may teach to ELs’ funds of knowledge (FoK): bodies of knowledge and skills that are essential for individual survival (González et al, 2005). This study presents an additive approach on how a cohort of teachers learn to make-meaning and capitalize on ELs’ cultural and linguistic strengths, particularly math-science funds, as resources for learning. This participatory action research project adopts a case study method and collected data from weekly study group meetings, interviews, and classroom videos. Despite the teachers fear and resistance to conducting home visits, they explored ELs’ life-worlds through nontraditional activities, such as an ethnographic community walk, surveys, and extending in-class FoK discussions. Recognizing the importance of their ELs’ playground practices, prompted the teachers to work as agents of change to mobilize math-science funds for pedagogical action and advocate for a playground at their school while maintaining community support. Additionally, to mediate funds for math and science required the teachers to not be passive agents to scripted curricula, but adapters of it by becoming curriculum designers. The teachers expanded the curriculum from lesson planning a universal shared knowledge on playgrounds to leveraging ELs variations within and between their multiple funds. Importantly, a FoK discourse became the “language of power” since the teachers shifted to make communicating mathematically and scientifically accessible for their ELs to and through their funds. Furthermore, the teachers transformed ELs participation and content development by mediating FoK in conjunction with role shifts, higher order questions, tension, and third spaces. Finally, the teachers (re)conceptualized how they viewed math and science through ELs’ FoK. The significance of this study demonstrates the need to build bidirectional seamless boundaries between the in-school and ELs out-of-school practices so these students, like many of their mainstream peers, may learn from their familiar ways of knowing.


Leveraging the Core: Developing Teacher Researchers to Build Dynamic Learning Activities for All (English) Learners

Razfar, A. (December, 2013). Leveraging the Core: Developing Teacher Researchers to Build Dynamic Learning Activities for All (English) Learners. Literacy Research Association, Dallas, TX.


RE-Inventing English Language Instruction through Teacher Research

Troiano, B., Patmon, D., Rumenapp, J.C. Bechtold, G., Smith-Arnous, D., Degand, L., & Militante, K. (November, 2013). RE-Inventing English Language Instruction through Teacher Research. National Council for Teachers of English, Boston, Massachusetts. 

This panel discussion was a collaboration between researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago, the University of Masschusetts, Boston, and teachers in the Boston Public Schools and Chicago Public Schools.


Teacher Development through Learning Communities: Monolingual Teacher Research and Curriculum Development in a Multilingual Urban School

Rumenapp, J.C. (November, 2013). Teacher Development through Learning Communities: Monolingual Teacher Research and Curriculum Development in a Multilingual Urban School. 4th International Conference on Language and Education, Bangkok, Thailand.

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