Constructing a figured world of bilingual education : authoring dreamers and changers with mentor texts, supplemental mentor texts and libritos




Lewis, Brenda Ayala

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This qualitative case study investigated how mentor texts can be utilized as a pedagogical approach in bilingual instruction to cultivate biliteracy development in bilingual classrooms. Bilingual scholars must heed the call to action for more qualitative studies that present bilingual teachers’ contributions in the development of biliteracy, bilingualism, and biculturalism via mentor texts as tools for recognizing and affirming biliterate identities, responding to texts by taking a stance, and the re-cognizing of social issues to create alternative figured worlds. Utilizing figured worlds and the continua of biliteracy framework, investigation findings expand upon how emergent bilinguals can draw from all points of the biliteracy continua and dispels the notion that one mentor text is sufficient in students’ making connections between protagonist’s lived experiences and their own. This study emphasizes the need to create libritos for each mentor text to support reflective written responses, and supported students authoring of self as dreamers and changers. Supplemental mentor texts were necessary for student development of voice via in-depth study to contextualize the time-period when the protagonists faced unfair situations. Mentor texts, supplemental mentor texts, and libritos were all necessary in authoring new possibilities. Implications suggest that children’s literature promote students seeing themselves represented in the text. Expanding upon the notion of Latinidad demands critical discussion, analysis, and evaluation of protagonists and lived experiences along with the examination of diverse perspectives. As mediating tools, mentor texts, can be used for planning integrated units of study to cultivate critical thinking and writing about social (in)justice. Libritos and mentor texts offer powerful tools for biliteracy development. Adding a sixth condition to Dorfman and Cappelli’s criteria for mentor texts is recommended, since writing responses add to students’ developing understandings about craft, genre, content, style, technique, modalities, etc. A study of curriculum that creates opportunities for social issues to be utilized as a springboard for bilingual student examination of socio-historical and sociocultural contexts contribute to learning more about responsible citizenry. This can begin an examination of student roles as consumers of text and challenge the dominant narratives of marginalized populations using counternarratives.


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