Language, literacy practices, and identity constructions inside and outside of a fifth grade classroom community
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This case study investigated the ways in which its participants drew from available language and literacy practices as they constructed identities in various contexts. Data was gathered using ethnographic methods, including field notes, interviews, artifact collection, and video data. Observations took place within a fifth grade classroom and select focal participants were interviewed and collected video data on their own outside of school. The study was framed through theories of context-dependent identities, built from the semiotic resources available to people based on context and positionality. Findings suggest the participants engaged in multimodal, heteroglossic composing practices outside of school, while inside of school their composing practices were defined by accountability measures imposed on them from outside the classroom. Findings also showed how the classroom community was discursively built and maintained, at times functioning as a homogenizing force even though the discourses defining the community were those of acceptance and diversity. Participants cultivated what they viewed were acceptable identities within the classroom through the language and literacy norms and practices therein. The study suggests implications for educators in how language and literacy practices shape acceptable identities and the spaces for them, and for how the construct of community is understood and intended in classrooms versus how it functions in practice.