Co constructing home and school connections based on efl rural urban students’ literacy practices and their community assets

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(1)Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /1. CO-CONSTRUCTING HOME AND SCHOOL CONNECTIONS BASED ON EFL RURALURBAN STUDENTS‟ LITERACY PRACTICES AND THEIR COMMUNITY ASSETS. Ingrid Paola López Navas 20151062012. Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas School of Sciences and Education Masters in Applied Linguistics to TEFL Bogotá, Colombia. 2017.

(2) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /2. CO-CONSTRUCTING HOME AND SCHOOL CONNECTIONS BASED ON EFL RURALURBAN STUDENTS‟ LITERACY PRACTICES AND THEIR COMMUNITY ASSETS. Ingrid Paola López Navas 20151062012. Thesis Director: Yolanda Samaca Bohórquez. “A thesis submitted as a requirement to obtaining the degree of M. A. in Applied Linguistics to the Teaching of English”. Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas School of Sciences and Education Masters in Applied Linguistics to TEFL Bogotá, Colombia. 2017.

(3) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /3. Note of Acceptance. Thesis Director ___________________________________ Name: Yolanda Samacá Bohórquez. Jury ____________________________________________ Name: Bertha Ramos Holguín. Jury ____________________________________________ Name: Julia Elvira Martínez.

(4) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /4. Acuerdo 19 de 1988 del Consejo Superior Universitario Artículo 177: “La Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas no será responsable por las ideas expuestas en esta tesis”..

(5) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /5. Acknowledgments. First of all, I want to thank my beloved mother, because she is the light of my life and she has always been there, giving me all her love and the strength to obtain my goals. Thanks to my lovely husband, for all his comprehension, patient and blind faith on my capacities and intelligence to cope with the challenges in this new learning experience. Thanks to other relatives as my aunts, cousin and father for encouraging me in some moments when I felt a bit overwhelmed with the multiple things I had to do. Thanks to all the teachers who guided me in this process, but specially, on one hand to Dr. Harold Castañeda and Dr. Clelia Pineda for being an excellent example of commitment and experience in regards to their labor in this Master Program and for demonstrating high human qualities, and on the other hand, to my thesis advisor, the professor Yolanda Samacá Bohórquez because she was very receptive, purposeful and willing to support me, showing the best paths to do the things, but also valuing my effort and ideas. But among all, thanks to God for all his blessings and being with me and my family along this new stage of my life..

(6) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /6. Abstract. This qualitative exploratory and descriptive study aims to describe the home-school connection that is co-constructed as part of the process of valuing rural-urban students‟ L1 and L2 literacy practices, and consequently to characterize the particular literacy practices of these students. This research was developed with five participant families who belong to fifth grade in a rural public school in Bogotá, in which the potentialities of the contexts and the funds of knowledge that students have in their home and community were not totally acknowledged and incorporated in the school dynamics. Due to, certain aspects that blurred that possibility such as the incidence of limited tangible resources, the rural location, the parents knowledge in regards to L2 and the participation in real terms in the school syllabi construction of all institutional members. The pedagogical implementation was done through the development of tasks based on their community assets and as part of a qualitative research design, four instruments were used to gather the data (field notes, reflective journals, semi-structured interviews and artifacts) which were analysis using the grounded theory approach as a framework. The results showed that selfexpression constitutes a liaison between home and school in which families funds‟ of knowledge and the contact with the community, let them to portray their reality and resignify it. Likewise, rural-urban students‟ literacy practices were based on the dialogic literacy learning as a dynamic interaction in which literacy lays on the premise of being a bonding process, and among which there were emerging connotation about what it means and the use of both languages in the process. Key Words: literacy practices, home-school connection, community based tasks..

(7) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /7. Table of Contents ………………………………………………………….............................. 6. ……………………………………………... 11. Introduction……...………………………………………………………………………... 11. Research Questions……………………………………………………………………….. 23. Research Objectives………………………………………………………………………. 23. Justification….……………………………………………………………………………. 23. Abstract. Chapter I. Statement of the problem. ……………………………………………………. 26. Theoretical Framework……..……………………………………………………………. 26. Home Literacy Practices…..………………………………………………………....... 28. School Literacy Practices ……………………………………………………….….... 35. Community Based Pedagogy ….……………………………………………………... 40. State of the Art …………………………………………………………………………... 45. ….………………………………………………... 53. Type of study …………...…………………………………………….…………………. 53. Context ……………………………………………………………………………..……. 55. Population and Participants ……....……………………………………………………... 58. Students‟ Profile ………………………………………………………………………. 60. Instruments ……....………………………………………………………………………. 63. Reflective Journals ….………………………………………………………………... 64. Artifacts……………………………………………………………………………...... 64. Interviews……...………………………………………………………………………. 65. Field Notes …...………………………………………………..…………………….... 67. Role of researcher ……………………………………………………………………….. 68. Ethical Issues ………..………………………………………………………………….. 68. Chapter IV Instructional Design …………………………………………………….. 70. Curricular Platform………………………………....…………………………………... 71. Chapter II. Literature review. Chapter III. Research Design.

(8) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /8. Vision of Curriculum (Dynamic Curriculum and Process Syllabus) …………………. 73. Vision of Learning (Learning as a Socio-cultural Practice) …………………………... 74. Vision of Language (Language as Self- Expression) …………………………………. 76. Vision of Classroom (Classroom as a supportive environment) ………………………. 77. Pedagogical Implementation ……………………………………………………………. 79. Role of the Teacher…………………………………………………………………….... 91. Role of the Students……………………………………………………………………... 91. Role of Materials………………………………………………………………………... 92. Assessment Criteria……………………………………………………………………... 93. Chapter V. Data Analysis .……………………………………………………………. 95. Data Management ………………………………………………………………………. 95. Framework of Analysis …………………………………………………………………. 96. Findings ………………………………………………………………………………. 100. Self- Expression: The Portrayal and Resignification of Family and Community ……. 101. Socializing Household Knowledge, Values, and New Learning Experiences …. 103. Acknowledging and Reflecting upon their Local Context …………………….. 112. Dialogic Literacy Learning: A dynamic Interaction …………………………………. 124. Literacy Bonding Practices ……………………………………………………... 126. Emerging Connotations about L1 and L2 Literacy Processes in the Knowledge Construction ...……………………………………………………... 144. Chapter VI. Conclusions ………………………………………………………………. 152. Chapter VIII. Implications and Further research ……………..……………………. 158. Implications………………………………………………………………………………. 158. Further Research …………………………………………………………………………. 162. Limitations ……………………………………………………………………………….. 163. References ………………………………………………………………………………... 165. Appendix …………………………………………………………………………………. 177.

(9) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /9. List of Tables Table 1. Matrix No. 1 (Initial coding stage)…………………………………………. 98. Table 2. Matrix No.2 (Axial Coding) ………………………………………………. 99. Table of Figures Figure 1. Progression of L2 usage objectives …………………………………………. 18. Figure 2. Pedagogical intervention Units …………………………………………….. 81. Figure 3. Visual Display. Emergent Categories………………………………………. 101. Figure 4. First Category and Dimensions……………………………………………. 103. Figure 5 Community Mapping Experience …………………………...................... 116. Figure 6. Second Category and Dimensions………………………………………….. 126. Table of Appendix Appendix A. Students Survey # 1……………………………………………………………..177 Appendix B. Students Survey # 2…………………………………………………………..…178 Appendix C. Students Survey # 3…………………………………………………………..…180 Appendix D. Parents Survey # 1………………………………………………………………181 Appendix E. Parents Survey # 2………………………………………………………………183 Appendix F. Administrative Survey………………………………………………………..…184 Appendix G. Reorganization by Cycles by MEN……………...…………………………….…186 Appendix H. Reflective Journal Sample. ………………………….……………….………...187 Appendix I. Students‟ Artifact Sample ……………………………………………………...…188 Appendix J. Interviews Design Chart ……………………………………………………….…189 Appendix K. Interview Protocol.………………………………………………………...…191 Appendix L Field Notes Format ……………………………………………………………192 Appendix M. Parents Consent Form …………..…………………………………………...…196 Appendix N. School Consent Form …………………………………………………………..197 Appendix O. Task Design Framework ………………………………………………………..198 Appendix P. Negotiation Cycle and Curricular Pyramid ……………………………………..199.

(10) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /10. Appendix Q. Schedule Pedagogical Unit 1………………………………………………...…200 Appendix R. Pedagogical Unit 1………………………………………………………………203 Appendix S. Pedagogical Unit 2………………………………………………………………205 Appendix T. Pedagogical Unit 3………………………………………………………………206 Appendix U. Pedagogical Unit 4………………………………………………………………207 Appendix V. Pedagogical Unit 5………………………………………………………………208 Appendix W. Pedagogical Unit 6………………………………………………………………209 Appendix X Pedagogical Unit 7……………………………………………………………….210.

(11) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /11. Chapter I Introduction This exploratory and descriptive qualitative study was developed in one of the branches of a public school located in the south east of Bogotá. The participants were fifth graders (14 girls and 21 boys) whose average ages were between 8 and12 years old. This research aims to describe the home-school connection, co-constructed, when the significance of both spaces is valued through the incorporation of the mother tongue (L1 henceforth) and the foreign language (L2 henceforth) literacy practices as complementary processes. Consequently, this research approaches rural-urban students‟ L1 and L2 literacy practices based on the development of task based activities that value their community assets. As it is indicated by Quintero (2006) “one of the ways in which parents‟ voices are brought into school is through integrating family literacy practices to the literacy activities students carry out at school” (p. 217). This statement highlights the significance of literacy household knowledge in the development of the school´s dynamics through the connection of both milieus. Based on my experience, working in a public school in Bogotá, I realized that there are many social and academic problematic situations that are part of the community where the institution is located. Besides that, there is another issue that has not been seriously considered as part of the integral development of children, although it was fundamental in the institutional documents. It is the fact of valuing the connections between home and school. For that reason, I decided to conduct a research study based on the necessity to connect home and school. I am certain that there are a lot of potentialities this liaison could bring for all the agents involved. One of them is related to the positive impact that welcoming students homes and communities could bring to the classrooms. In the same line, taking the school to other sceneries that offer real materials and sources of experiences and knowledge is quite valuable..

(12) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /12. Literacy as an essential component of this study is assumed as a social practice that can take different forms so that it can be understood and developed. It serves for individual purposes. However, it is co-constructed by the interaction of diverse people in particular places and as part of varied social situations. Given the fact that considering literacy practices that are present at home and at school, as complementary elements, constitute a commitment to an education that breaks completely the ideas about fragmented learning, this study posits its theoretical bases on the socio-constructivist theory of learning in which all the participants are proactive agents in the process. Consequently, this research study envisages the curriculum as process oriented, learning as a socio-cultural practice, language as a tool of self-expression, and classroom as a supportive environment. The content of this research study is presented as follows. In the first chapter there is a complete description of the needs analysis that was conducted in order to state the problem. In addition, the research questions and objectives are established, as well as the justification. In the second chapter, the literature review is focused on home and school literacy practices and community based pedagogy, as core constructs of the study. This chapter also includes the state of the art which is based in different studies developed around L2 rural education and experiences about home and school connections through the implementation of diverse strategies. The third chapter presents the research paradigm and the type of research that was used to address the problem. A detailed explanation of the context, participants, instruments of data collection and some ethical considerations are also described. The fourth chapter displays the pedagogical intervention. Thus, the curricular platform is clearly clarified. Besides that, there is an account of the implementation and the roles the teacher, the students and the materials played, as well as the assessment criteria. In the fifth chapter, the data analysis is explained in terms of.

(13) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /13. the data management, the framework of analysis and the emergent categories that respond to the research questions and objectives of the study. The last chapter draws conclusions obtained from the research process and I highlight some implications, limitations and further research questions. Statement of the Problem I have been working at I. E. D Juan Rey for quite a few years. The population of this school belongs to rural- urban areas. Since I started working there, and because of the particularities of this context, I was concerned about my students English as a foreign language (EFL henceforth) learning process. I wondered about the influence of parents and community in children‟s literacy processes. To further deepen into this concern, I decided to apply a needs analysis in order to know and understand the students, parents and administrative staff´s opinions regarding children´s EFL learning process. The needs analysis gathered information about the learning process that took place in settings such as school, home and neighborhood, L2 use and its importance, and parents‟ involvement in those practices. To begin with, students answered three surveys. The first one encompassed the following aspects: you and the English class, your institution, and your community in relation to the foreign language. The second one was done in order to compare if in this rural-urban context, students face constrains similar to the ones addressed in research studies conducted in rural areas. The third one explored students‟ views about language, learning and classroom (Appendix A, B, C). Taking into account the nature of this research, parents also answered two surveys. One of them explored four main aspects: the L2 importance and its use, parents‟ L2 linguistic knowledge and their support at home, resources at home, school and community and the rural location; the other one was implemented to see parents´ involvement in their children´s learning.

(14) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /14. process. These surveys helped me contrast parents‟ and children´s views in relation to students EFL learning process as well as parents‟ impact on it. When contrasting both opinions, some aspects were revealed. They were: the importance of learning English, the advantages knowing a language provides, the constrains that students and parents face at home when developing certain English tasks and students and parents´ willingness to participate actively in the learning process, developing different activities in L1 and L2 (Appendix D and E). Additionally, to gather more information, I decided to review some institutional documents, to interview the principal and the coordinator of the school (Appendix F), and to analyze the curriculum and the syllabi as well. I assess all these elements to find out if the school took into consideration parents and community to construct the curriculum and to develop students´ learning process. Four main aspects were evidenced as a result of this needs analysis: resources (homeschool) and rural location, parents‟ and their relation with L2, language use in and out the school, and educational community participation in the PEI and syllabus construction. Those aspects are going to be described as follows Firstly, parents and students highlighted the lack of resources and time to learn and to practice the foreign language. A mother affirmed that: “son muy pocas horas de clase ya que el inglés es un idioma de mucho aprendizaje y que debería haber otra hora de clase y muchos más elementos como libros y videos” [sic] (Written parents‟ survey, April 20th, 2015). I think there are few class hours. However, because English is a language that needs a lot of learning hours, there should be another hour and more elements such as books and videos. [Translation].

(15) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /15. Moreover, in the first survey applied to students when being asked about the materials they have to learn and practice the foreign language, 75.67% of them mentioned the dictionary as the most relevant one. In the same line, 73.33% of parents said that at home there was not any resource in L2.Similarly, 92% of students mentioned that the English classroom was not an appropriate space for learning languages. They also stated that it was important for them to have suitable pedagogical materials. What this finding evidences is what research studies about L2 learning in rural schools have indicated. These studies argue that low incomes, lack of exposure to the world, government policies, absence of suitable atmospheres for learning and teachers lack of interest have a strong impact in students´ learning process (Pretorius & Currin, 2010; Lisanza, 2011; Wreikat, Kabilan & Abdullah, 2014; Tabish- Iqbal, 2015). Closely related to the dearth in terms of resources, there is also a concern about location and the limitations it provokes. The school is situated in the rural area of the neighborhood. Some students live and study in this area while others live in the urban zone and come to the rural area just to study. Those mixing conditions were also part of my research concerns as there are not many school and students who experience the situation of living in a transitional zone. Thus, it is my belief that it could probable have certain impact on the learning process. Based on this, I wanted to explore students and parents‟ positions as community members in regards to the L2. In the case of the school location, 44.66% of parents considered that living in a rural area influenced students‟ learning process. It is so because children did not have the possibility to practice the foreign language with anybody else. The English language was just part of their classrooms. In addition, 69% of students expressed that they had few possibilities to go to different parts of the city where they could practice or find multiple sources in English. However, 49% of them stated that on TV and in Internet, they had access to various things in this language..

(16) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /16. In regards to the community 73,33% of parents did not know any place where their children could practice English. In the same way 64.86% of children, in their walks around the neighborhood, did not remember places or people using the foreign language. In this sense, Bonilla and Cruz-Arcila (2014) state that in the Colombian context little attention has been paid to the foreign language teaching in rural schools and their contextual differences have not been considered in order to launch programs that integrate those external factors as part of the school dynamics. Another important aspect that was unveiled in the needs analysis and that is tied to the sense of sources of knowledge available in the community was parents‟ and their relation with L2. Regarding this issue, at home 56.41 % of the parents had several difficulties to understand the English homework as it was written in the foreign language. Consequently, they had to use Internet or look for someone who understands the homework better. Mothers were the ones who helped children with the English tasks (64.86%) and just 27.02% of them, according to students, knew some vocabulary in English. This issue was also supported in the parents‟ survey in which 86, 66% of them said that they did not know the language or they only managed basic structures. This can be seen in the interviews excerpts below.. (Parents´ Survey #1, April 2015). What is presented in the above evidence is not far from what Bullard (2008) presents in his study. He argues that parents with limited English proficiency have problems in the involvement with their children‟s schooling. He further argues that schools have assumed parents.

(17) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /17. need to help their kids in their English assignments although they do not have any resources. I do think that sometimes schools and teachers do not recognize how difficult it is for those parents to develop any English task at home Another concern that arose from the needs analysis was the use of the language in and out the school. 83.78% of students said that they did not practice English out the school and 77% of them strongly disagreed with the statement “You can talk with your classmates and teacher using the foreign language with any difficulty”. They considered that if they had some other places to practice the language, they would feel more confident using it. Some research studies suggest that students in rural settings face several difficulties when using the foreign language outside the school (Johnston, Partridge & Hughes, 2014), they have some communication constrains (Lau & Habibah, 2011), and they find it difficult to interact (Chop - Ler, 2010). All these facts take place because the foreign language is limited to the school setting. Although, there are various difficulties in the way students and families approach the foreign language, parents and students recognize the aspects in which they are good at, how they can improve their weakness, and how they can overcome the constrains they might encounter. For instance, 32.43% of students knew their difficulties with listening but they mentioned that practicing this skill, they could reinforce this weak aspect. Additionally, they felt highly motivated to participate in the English classes (95%. Survey 2) as they considered it to be a place where they could use their creativity and imagination (85%). In regards to parents, they have shown their willingness to support their children learning process. They want to be active agents in educative transformative practices. This is shown in the excerpts below. Despite the difficulties that they have using the foreign language, their goal goes beyond the limitations, because what matters for them is supporting their children process..

(18) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /18. (Parents’ Survey # 2, August 2015). Once I analyzed parents and students views related to resources, location and their integration with the L2 in and out the school, I decided to review some institutional documents and to interview the schools‟ administrative staff. This was done to analyze the existing connections between parents and school. It also helped me visualize some alternatives to propose an initiative that could bridge the gap between both milieus. When analyzing the educational community participation in the Institutional Educative Project (Proyecto Educativo InstitucionalPEI henceforth) (2010 version) and syllabus construction, the first aspect that came to light was the structure given to the L2 learning. According to the documents, the school follows a functional- notional syllabus. In the written documents and in the current practices it is seen as “a vehicle for the expression of functional meaning” (Richards & Rodgers 2001, p.21). However, progressively, certain changes have been introduced as it is seen in Figure 1, particularly in the classroom practices. Figure 1 Progression of L2 usage objectives. “Reconocimiento de aspectos Linguisticos (lengua como sistema) y de las functiones que estas tienen. Producción oral y escrita de acuerdo al contexto y/o necesidades comunicativas” (Institución Educativa Distrital JR, 2010, Malla Curricular). "Comprende y utiliza la lengua extranjera de forma oral y escrita para comunicarse con el profesor y compañeros en actividades de la vida escolar y situaciones significativas" ( Institucion Educativa Distrital JR, 2015, plan de estudios). "Explorar y emplear la lengua extranjera como una herramienta en el reconocimiento del entorno y de si mismos, incentivando su uso cotidiano en los procesos de descripcion, juego y asociacion con otras areas del saber" (López, 2015, proyecto deaAula. Institucion Educativa JR).

(19) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /19. In relation to the administrative staff‟ views about the L2 importance; the principal of the school asserts that: “El mundo actual requiere de sujetos universales con capacidad de comunicarse entre si” [sic] (V, Galindo, written administratives survey, September 2015), The world needs global people with the capacity to communicate among them. [translation]. In this sense, the school has looked for aids such as L2 professionals in order to involve children with the foreign languages in early ages. This is something that many public institutions do not have, though. “Los docentes que apoyan el proceso de enseñanza en primaria son licenciados en inglés, el colegio los ha solicitado como docentes de apoyo para que se pueda hacer un buen proceso cuando entren a la secundaria”[sic] (R, Sanchez, written administratives survey, September 2015). The teachers who support the teaching processes in elementary school have a foreign language degree. The school has requested them to support processes in secondary school. [Translation]. Nevertheless, we could not deny that language itself goes and comes into structural and functional views. This might be a conclusive result from the unclear views the institution holds regarding language. Also, when talking about the conception of learning it is moving between a product- based and a process-based approach. This creates a kind of blur image of this concept. In one way or another, students have also constructed certain views of language, learning and classroom, based on their daily experiences at home. For instance, in the third students‟ survey, when being asked about what learning English is, 91, 17% of them said that it is an opportunity to have better possibilities in the future. This is closely connected to their parents‟ answers. 85, 29% of them mentioned that it is having the possibility to communicate with others.

(20) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /20. and 76.46% saw it as a challenging activity. When answering how the foreign language is presented at school, the representative percentages were: a tool that is useful for specific purposes (94.11%) and a set of rules to be memorized (14.70%). Critically reflecting about L2 literacy practices in my particular context, it was evident the functional role in which language was conceived. Although there were some attempts to connect it with real-situations, it did not necessarily mean that they were part of the community‟s reality. As a matter of fact, the English tasks used at school seemed to be more focused on simulations of unreal contexts. Finally, their views of the classroom are a little bit confusing. 100% of them saw their classroom as a controlled learning environment. Thus, the teacher says what has to be done, when and how. Meanwhile 79.41% argued it is a space of socialization, where they experience and learn how to be part of a wider society. Unfortunately, although the PEI asserts that the educative community must be involved in the construction of all the academic documents at the school, the participation of students and parents has not been totally considered. The same document states the following: “Los padres participan en la planeación, programación, aprobación y ejecución del Proyecto Educativo Institucional” (Institución Educativa Distrital JR, PEI, Articulo 40°. Derechos Padres de Familia) Parents participate in the planning, programming, approval and development of the Institutional Educative Project. [Translation]. To know students‟ opinion about the participation of their parents in the school, the following statement was posed: “In the school, your parents belong to any program or plan to be involved with your learning process (L2 learning)”. 84% of them disagreed and they mentioned that the only rooms for parents were the meetings to receive academic results at the end of each period, or.

(21) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /21. when the teachers called them to the school to solve academic or behavior (relationship) difficulties. In relation to the curriculum construction the academic coordinator mentioned that: “se ha elaborado con participación de los docentes y está acorde con las necesidades de nuestra comunidad y teniendo como base los lineamientos curriculares” (Written administratives‟ survey, September 2015) It has been developed with the teachers´ participation and it has been based on our community needs, as well as the curricular guidelines. [Translation]. A key aspect in this answer is the importance of “community needs”. As teachers we have tried to consider students voices and needs. However, it would be more valuable if we could have a group of students and parents actively participating in the co-construction of learning environments. Taking into consideration the needs analysis, I concluded that there is a need to connect home and school through the literacy practices of students belonging to this rural-urban community because of the potentialities this link might have. Besides that, the connection of these two places has not been put into practice in the construction of the syllabi. The role of parents at the school has been limited to certain demands, without considering that their home and community knowledge might nurture the development of the PEI. Consequently, in search of transformations, we need to keep working on our curricular bases. As Pineda (2001) states “special consideration to needs analysis, the integration of content and language learning and detailed evaluation procedures should be critical features for those who intend to launch new programs or who plan to revise ongoing framework” (p. 19), otherwise, we will be perpetuating the idea of knowledge transmission and unclear institutional objectives that involves the whole institutional community..

(22) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /22. In addition, schools are usually demanding parents‟ support. This support takes the form of a unidirectional process in which the school´s knowledge is taken to students‟ homes, but there is little space to bring back their funds of knowledge to the classroom. The school has taken for granted parents and students‟ responsibilities. There is not enough recognition in regards to the processes that take place at home. Thus, this knowledge tends to be invisible and underestimated. Closely related to this insight, Castillo and Camelo (2013) conclude that “parents do not necessarily need a high L2 proficiency to support their children‟s L2 learning, but they do need to understand what learning, in general, entails and what L2 learning demands” (p.69). As teachers, we can provide parents with guidance to support their kids at home. In the revision of the literature, several authors have pointed out the importance of making connections between funds of knowledge that students bring and practices that they have at school. Although, the absence of tangible resources may be a problem, as it happens in my school context, the richness inside the cultural and social practices could potentially provide many valuable sources for the L1 and L2 learning processes. In this sense, this can introduce a new conception of texts or authentic materials. They can be understood as anything that can provide students with meaningful experiences. Thus, these sources go beyond the idea of the printed aid. Even the community might be considered as a vivid text. At this point it is important to point out that the role played by parents, students and the teacher-researcher is not a passive one in this challenging situation. There is a visible willingness to work together to join EFL learning process at home and school and in this sense to value their knowledge and bridge the gap between home and school. While being involved in this research, it is possible to reconsider the “multiple worlds of children‟s learning” (Gregory, 1997) and understand better how they experience the foreign language in other spaces out of the.

(23) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /23. classrooms‟ walls. In such a way, one can take advantage of their knowledge to enrich their learning processes. Considering the previous contextual orientations and a general overview about the people who intervene in students learning process, I have traced the following research questions and objectives, as the guiding compass in this research study. Research Questions How is rural-urban students home-school connection co-constructed through L1 and L2 literacy practices based on their community assets? What does the home-school connection reveal about the particular literacy practices of EFL rural-urban students? Objectives To describe the home-school connection that is co-constructed as part of the process of valuing rural-urban students‟ L1 and L2 literacy practices in the development of tasks based on their community assets. To characterize rural-urban students particular literacy practices through home-school connection. Justification The significance of this study relies on understanding, valuing and welcoming rural-urban students‟ L1 and L2 literacy practices as the initial steps in the co-construction of links between home and school. In this way students and their families know that their household and local knowledge are important, and not exclusively used or restricted to home. Moreover, this study is significant as the school setting is perceived as a supportive environment. Doors are opened to learn through the interaction and acknowledgment of the multiple milieus in which students.

(24) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /24. learning happens every day. In this process it is important to value what is done in terms of EFL processes in both directions and to consider the importance of building supportive learning environments. This research will contribute in the educational field providing some important elements related to the EFL learning practices and processes of a rural-urban community: the contextual incidence in the EFL learning, the role of different institutional and community members in the learning process, students´ practices in terms of literacy in both languages, and the connections of those aspects. Alliances can be constructed in order to guide students in their holistic development. Bearing in mind the importance of parental involvement, this study proposes an alternative path through the pedagogical implementation for the inclusion and acknowledgment of parents‟ funds of knowledge in the development of the EFL classes. It shows that it is of paramount importance to move ahead and give the first step in the consolidation of a curriculum that follows a process-oriented vision. Furthermore, the development of tasks, based on community assets, represents the idea of believing in an education that is no longer focused on teaching but on learning. This kind of education changes the entire positions in relation to language “language development is a nonlinear process, and therefore, does not require preselected, pre-sequenced systematic language input but requires the creation of conditions in which learners engage in meaningful activities in class" (Kumaravadivelu, 2006, p.92). In the case of this group of students and their parents, it becomes also an opportunity to make them aware of the potentialities of their community, its characteristics (rural-urban), and its richness in terms of knowledge that, for the purpose of this study, were no longer disconnected from the school life..

(25) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /25. Finally, as a teacher-researcher, it is a moment to make my personal stances visible and valuable towards an education that is co-constructed based on the socio-constructivist theory of learning. In this sense, I understand that even though we are unique individuals, there is always going to be the need to interact with others in order to build new meanings and knowledge. It means that the contributions of others are fundamental in our learning process. It is also an invitation to other teacher-researchers to go in deep into this research issue and reaffirm that home and schools can be integrated to contribute to education in mix communities or rural spaces. Then, communities and the research field can see the relevance of local contexts in the students and families‟ learning process..

(26) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /26. Chapter II Literature Review This chapter defines the main pillars that constitute the theoretical bases of this research study. Thus, the core constructs I relate to are home and school literacy practices and Community Based Pedagogy. It is important to state that the theoretical constructs of this study are based on a socio-cultural perspective and in that sense, home and school literacy practices will be discussed upon the principles of a co-construction process. In such a process, all participants and their particular knowledge are seen as potential sources in the meaning-making development. Besides that, schools and teachers are no longer considered as the ones that transmit knowledge. Instead, they assume a more challenging work, which is being part of a supportive environment for both students and parents. In this line of thought, Community Based Pedagogy principles are integrated as essential components in the connections between educational demands and the contextual potentialities in the creation and development of new learning opportunities. The first section of this chapter comprises the theoretical foundations that support the main constructs. The second section is related to the revision of different research studies focused on the relevance of home-school connections and the strategies used to mediate in that process. Some studies with rural students will also be described. Firstly, it is fundamental to highlight that from a socio-cultural perspective literacy is part of multiple contexts, where children have the chance to interact with others. In that process of socialization they construct and negotiate knowledge and meaning. Having in mind this conception, it is possible to argue that home and school L1 and L2 literacy practices can be connected as several studies have shown (Tracy, 2000; Haneda, 2006; Zygouris-Coe, 2007; Fall, 2011). This means that, as teachers, we can generate diverse alternatives to bind together both.

(27) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /27. spaces while considering and valuing the ways people do literacy and the understanding they have around those practices. Consequently, this research study has an integrative vision of learning. It is not based on the idea of fragmented knowledge in which home and community‟s expertise and experiences are left apart from the school. On the contrary, they are welcomed to nurture the practices and the co-construction of knowledge generated in the classrooms or at home. To begin, it is necessary to state what literacy is in this project. Literacy goes beyond the idea of developing reading and writing skills, because as Street (2003) argues Literacy is a social practice, not simply a technical and neutral skill; that it is always embedded in socially constructed epistemological principles. It is about knowledge: the ways in which people address reading and writing are themselves rooted in conceptions of knowledge, identity, and being. It is also always embedded in social practices, such as those of a particular job market or a particular educational context and the effects of learning that particular literacy will be dependent on those particular contexts. (p. 77) Here, it is evident the possible transformations that can be produced in and out of the school L1 and L2 literacy learning, if literacy itself is conceived not as a mechanic tool, but as socio-cultural construction. As a teacher-researcher, I consider that literacy from a socio-cultural perspective transcends the boundaries of static and unchangeable dynamics in which reading and writing are only seen in mechanical ways, because literacy is a tool to co-construct knowledge, to value what others experience in multiple life situations and context, to build identities, to integrate communities and to transform realities. Moreover, literacy empowers people to be in contact.

(28) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /28. with the world while having an incidence in diverse situations that are developed in their local contexts. This conception is essential in my research study because the critical reflections that can be done upon home and school literacy practices might elucidate how and why they are developed in particular ways in both milieus. The impact both literacies have in children´s socialization process can be perceived as well. Besides that, the understanding of L1 and L2 literacy practices might open a gate to work hand by hand with parents and students in the exploration of the potentialities of their local context and knowledge, validating students‟ experiences to strengthen their learning processes. That is why the resulting aims of this study are, precisely, to characterize those literacy practices and to use them to link parents, children, teachers, and community to the learning process. The understanding of literacy from a sociocultural perspective permeates the constructs that are explained as follows. Home Literacy Practices In regards to home literacy practices there are three fundamental aspects that belong to this first construct: household knowledge, transformational perspective and parental involvement in L1 and L2 literacy. Literacy is presented in multiple milieus, and as a socio-cultural practice it is built, nurtured and negotiated constantly among the different agents that become part of those particular contexts. One of the settings that has usually been ignored is the households where children are brought up. Literacy is an essential tool in the socialization and maintenance of specific knowledge among community members. “Households are not socially or intellectually barren; they contain knowledge: people use reading and writing, they mobilize social relationships and they teach and they learn” (Moll, 1994, p. 191)..

(29) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /29. Correspondingly with this conception, Moll, Amanti, Neff and Gonzalez (1992) introduced the notion of “funds of knowledge” which represents the extensive information that children have, due to their particular experiences at homes and in their communities. In other words, according to Moll et al. (1992) this concept emphasis on “strategic knowledge and related activities essential in households' functioning, development, and well-being. It is specific funds of knowledge pertaining to the social, economic, and productive activities of people in a local region” (p.139). In the conception of household knowledge, it is important to mention that the meaning is constructed. Although there are some practices that seem to be pre-established, they were built by the interaction and negotiation among the community members, and they are not totally closed to discussion and rearrangement. Thus, it could be stated that “meaning is always the product of its negotiation. Meaning exists neither in us, not in the world, but in the dynamic relation of living in the world” (Wenger, 2000, p. 54). In such a way, it points out another important concept which is participation. This concept entails the contact with different practices such as literacy and the transformation of the individuals and the communities as well. In this line of thought, home literacy practices emerge as part of the daily habits that each family and its members have constructed, in which are integrated their conceptions about them and their particular uses. Those literacy practices are essential in the integral understanding of the learning process of our students and how they could be involved with the practices that are developed at the school. Considering home literacy practices lead us as teachers in a process of constant reflection as well as the creation of teaching and learning environments where the knowledge is a fluid construction that can incorporate aspects which pertain to the contexts that surround the school and that can enrich its dynamics..

(30) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /30. When talking about the connection between home and school practices, it does not necessarily mean that teachers must forget about the school demands in order to concentrate his/her efforts just on local knowledge. There is a key aspect to be considered which is cultural congruence. In Genzuk (1999) words Cultural congruence does not mean an attempt to replicate a home or community environment in the classroom. Research on cultural congruence recognizes that the home and the school are different settings with different function in students‟ lives. Culturally congruent educational classroom and practices include features of students‟ home culture but do not result in activities and environments identical of those to the home. (p. 10) This perspective of cultural congruence is what this research study takes into consideration when welcoming the knowledge that students bring from their homes and their community into the school dynamics. It means that there is recognition of the influence of different spaces in their L1 and L2 learning process. In this way, environments are not replaced or created. On the contrary, students´ authentic experiences out of school and their characteristics make their learning more meaningful and closely related to their reality. In these terms, when proposing strategies for L2 literacy development, it is necessary to build upon the knowledge students have built at home by including some aspects of their home dynamics and background in the curriculum. Involving families in the school, as potential sources of knowledge, moves learning from the deficit perspective towards a transformative one. In this line of though, the school is not the unique place where students can have access to information and knowledge. Places where children live are visible and part of their integral development. Volk and Long (2005) in their searching to demystify the idea created around a deficit perspective which is attributed to families and communities for their apparent unsatisfactory.

(31) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /31. support in the children learning process, propose that “from a transformational perspective, school practices are important but not exclusively so children learn and become literate in many ways” (p. 14). This is closely associated with the inclusive perspective proposed by EggersPiérola (2005) when remarking that “the culturally and linguistically responsive teacher understands that language and culture are intertwined, and that the family‟s language can present obstacles as well as opportunities for connections” (p.6). There is a valuable connection not only with the culture, but also with the literacy practices of the families, and how they could be used and validated in the school practices. When a transformative perspective is taken into consideration as part of the big or small scale chances promoted in the schools, the validation of home literacy practices‟ importance could constitute a significant step in the connections between both places. When parents, students and communities are seen as valid interlocutors, through a jointly work along with schools, the difficulties are not longer the reasons to blame any of the agents involve in the children‟s education, on the contrary, they are seen as challenges that can be faced by means of collaborative efforts. Confronting those blaming positions towards parents, communities and their knowledge is not as simple as it seems as some of these positions are deeply rooted in certain institutions and teachers‟ imaginaries. However, assuming a different perspective in the classroom dynamics could break barriers among the school with other important places for children progress. It helps teachers to create solid and long-lasting bonds with different milieus and the knowledge they embrace which is equally important as the one that is generated at the school. These theoretical contributions reinforce the idea of not just valuing what families know, but connecting them with the school. Most important of all, is the understanding that the family and the community are.

(32) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /32. boundless resources of knowledge which become priceless, if all members are really connected and take advantage of them. Another aspect that pertains to home literacy practices is parents‟ involvement. This participation is naturally evidenced in the familiar contexts when there are spaces to read and write together in both languages L1 and L2. These practices can be enhanced by schools when providing certain tasks. This aspect will be illustrated in the state of the art (Camelo 2013; Fox &Wrigth 1997; Onatra, 2010; Walker-Dalhouse & Derick Dalhouse, 2009). Most of the research that deals with parent involvement is concerned with the benefits it has for children learning development. Parental involvement is essential when taking stances for an education that is open to different perspectives and practices. In terms of literacy, at the moment to integrate parents in the children´s learning process, as teachers is important to have in mind that the knowledge is socially constructed and shared, and the idea of integrating parents is not giving them more reading and writing duties at home without listening their voices, on the contrary, it is proposing alternative paths where their experiences and knowledge can be incorporated in the school as well as proving them some tools to guide their children for life. Quintero (2006) indicates that “parents‟ involvement not only helps children and teachers to develop literacy for purposes closer to students‟ real lives and to see the social use and the power of being literate, but also brings families together” (p. 225). This means that it is a unique opportunity to help both children and parents in the recognition of their household knowledge as a rich tool in their daily interactions and process of socialization. Similarly, Avila and Garavito (2009) argue that involving parents in the development of different tasks provide parents and children opportunities to interact as well as to know each.

(33) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /33. other better. In addition, “social and cultural practices can serve as powerful resources for children´s schooling, especially for the development of literacy” (Moll, 1994, p. 180). That is to say that when parent´s experiences are brought to school, they and their children strengthen ties that have a direct incidence in students‟ learning processes. Engaging parents in the school activities is also an alternative to “promote positive feelings and attitudes towards education as well as increased self-efficacy, which in turn may then promote literacy performance” (Dearing, Kreider, Simpkins and Weiss, 2006, p.653). Children to a great extend are influenced by their families attitudes towards the school and the things they might experience there. Hannon (1995) suggests that “the family´s literacy values and practices will shape the course of child‟s literacy development in terms of the opportunities, recognition, interaction and models available to them” (p. 104). Literacy does not exist as an independent factor of the human beings because it entails the use of language. From a socio-cultural perspective it is constructed and negotiated as well as used for multiple purposes in different contexts and with different people. In this sense, talking about literacy is also integrating it with power relationships and access to multiple social spheres. Thus, the way children interact depends on what they have learnt in school, at home and in their communities. In relation to my research study, it is known that perhaps parents do not handle L2 literacy as the teacher might do in the classroom. Nevertheless, they have their own literacy practices which become tools for them to interact in daily situation. One of those moments is when parent help their children with certain school demands. For that reason, literacy practices in L1 and L2 are vital in this study. Attributing equal importance to both languages could broaden the possibilities for parents and children to become more interested in the world inside.

(34) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /34. the classrooms and it might also motivate the use of both languages to approach their local contexts, and socialize with others their funds of knowledge and assets. Parents‟ involvement in language education can be seen as something limited, if what schools expect from them is not clear enough. Nevertheless, in this particular contexts, as Castillo and Camelo (2013) conclude “parents did not need to assume the role of L2 teachers, but of aids to help children find the path to study and the ways to tackle language study. Parents who could not ride an L2 bike can support their child to learn to ride it.” (p. 69). In relation to parents‟ contribution, it must be clear that, as teachers, we are not asking them to become experts in the use of a language, rather we are inviting them to interchange and participate in practices and strategies for promoting more significant literacy learning opportunities. This remark is closely related with Panferov‟s (2010) claim in which she argues that “creating opportunities for parents to engage in sharing their home cultures and their own expertise transfers a positive attitude to ELL children about their first language and learning experiences” (p.111). In that sharing process, both languages are experienced in positive terms. In the case of L1, it values the sharing of generational knowledge. In regards to L2 literacy practices, it is no longer disconnected from their real lives as they could use it as open spaces to talk about real life issues. In addition, “parental involvement with their children‟s literacy learning in the classroom may be particularly helpful for those families whose first language is not English or whose home literacy environment does not include much print” (Tracy, 2000, p. 54). This aspect is particularly close to my current reality and my students‟ context because as it was presented in the statement of the problem (Chapter I) most of the parents do not know English or they have a Basic English level. Additionally, the resources in the foreign language are scarce. That is why,.

(35) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /35. proposing different alternatives and an easier access to English materials that are connected with their daily lives, could help them to participate more and share their knowledge. As it was explored, home literacy practices encompass fundamental aspects that are born in the idea of understanding home knowledge and experiences, as something that could be used in transforming the conception of parents support as something relevant and meaningful. It does not only constitute a collaborative process in which learning is open to everybody but also it helps children to perceive that what they live in their communities is valid and valued in the school, and what they learnt at the school could be socialized in their familiar context. Correspondingly, with this integrative vision, it is important to know how school literacy practices also have an impact on the literacy process, as it will be explored in the following section. School L2 Literacy Practices In the case of school L2 literacy practices, there are some factors which have a clear incidence in the way literacy is developed. Considering it from a socio-cultural perspective, the role of the teacher will be highlighted as well as the resulting effects of a non-traditional pedagogy. School L2 literacy practices depend on diverse institutional factors and although in some circumstances there are particular constrains, when teachers see, assume and promote alternative positions towards their practices, those changes are reflected in the classroom dynamics while having an impact in the students and their families. On the bases of a socio-cultural perspective school L2 literacy practices comprise a new vision about what reading and writing is, and particularly how literacy is used to mobilize ideas and experiences, to empower people and to co-construct new meanings and knowledge. In addition, those school L2 literacy practices are.

(36) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /36. not decontextualized, conversely, they welcome the local as fundamental tool, and in that way the L1 as a key element that belongs to the students and families‟ funds of knowledge. When visualizing L2 literacy practices at the school, the roles of different agents are unveiled. One of those roles belongs to teachers‟ position and disposition towards literacy. It is fundamental to start by understanding that “the idea of literacy teaching should be to help learners shape their ideas through language rather than only providing them with formal instruction of the language system” (Quintero, 2006, p. 220). The ways in which language is perceived by educators, will indicate the path of actions taken in classroom activities. However, from a socio-cultural point of view, it is not possible to keep thinking in literacy as the mere act of reading and writing without any purpose or previous base. Thus teachers have a significant role to play. Even though, as teachers, we were educated in a traditional system of education, there are paradigms that can be reevaluated for offering to the born generations, refreshing ways to be in contact with the knowledge, including on it, the literacy. Our role is vital in the transformations that could be thought and adopted. Our duty is constantly challenging us, and in that process our practices can not remain unmodified, that is why, as we invite students, families and communities to be proactive in the educational process, we have to be able to rethink daily what we are doing in the classroom. In this view the teacher is a socio-cultural mediator and not the owner of the absolute truth as was conceived in the past or still in the traditional schools. Nowadays, in multiple spaces “teachers and managers are seen as designers of learning processes and environments, not as bosses dictating what those in their charge should think and do” (The New London Group, 2000, p.19). The conception of the teacher as a facilitator leads him/her into the big challenge to get.

(37) Home and School Connections in a Rural-Urban Community /37. closer and understand the local communities, as a way to create appropriate milieus where students can share what they live outside the school. Children can also connect it with the things that they are constructing in terms of knowledge at the school. In the current educational systems, many teachers have understood diversity in the classroom as a potential tool to explore literacy and making it meaningful for students‟ lives. It has happened as teachers show kids their worlds and invite them to critically reflect upon them. Hence, “classroom teaching and curriculum have to engage with students‟ own experiences and discourses, which are increasingly defined by cultural and subcultural diversity and the different language backgrounds and practices that come with this diversity” (The New London Group, 2000, p. 36). Thus, it is essential in the development of school L2 literacy practices, to make a real shift from the instructional view of language to a transformative one. This, bearing in mind the integration of both languages and the implications of a new vision in terms of reading and writing and the opportunities that can be created in the classroom dynamics. Related to this vision, Pérez (1998) remarks the relevance of understanding how “our particular language and literacy socialization contributes to how we create classroom literacy contexts…The more we learn about the diverse linguistic experiences of our students, the better prepared we will be to create appropriate literacy environments” (p.40). Teachers‟ personal ideas about learning and literacy influence the form in which they present them to students and parents. This highlights the possibility of making changes and contributions in order to generate activities and spaces based on the community insights and students´ real worlds. At the core of each L2 literacy practice in and out of the school, lays the language. Then, its understanding as more than a linguistic code is the starting point to reconsider the ways in which teachers are using it in the classroom. The old forms of reading and writing in the school.

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