Exploring multiliteracies, student voice, and scientific practices in two elementary classrooms
This study explored the voices of children in a changing world with evolving needs and new opportunities. The workplaces of rapidly moving capitalist societies value creativity, collaboration, and critical thinking skills which are of growing importance and manifesting themselves in modern K-12 science classroom cultures (Gee, 2000; New London Group, 2000). This study explored issues of multiliteracies and student voice set within the context of teaching and learning in 4th and 5th grade science classrooms. The purpose of the study was to ascertain what and how multiliteracies and scientific practices (NGSS Lead States, 2013c) are implemented, explore how multiliteracies influence students’ voices, and investigate teacher and student perceptions of multiliteracies, student voice, and scientific practices. Grounded in a constructivist framework, a multiple case study was employed in two elementary classrooms. Through observations, student focus groups and interviews, and teacher interviews, a detailed narrative was created to describe a range of multiliteracies, student voice, and scientific practices that occurred with the science classroom context. Using grounded theory analysis, data were coded and analyzed to reveal emergent themes. Data analysis revealed that these two classrooms were enriched with multiliteracies that serve metaphorically as breeding grounds for student voice. In the modern classroom, defined as a space where information is instantly accessible through the Internet, multiliteracies can be developed through inquiry-based, collaborative, and technology-rich experiences. Scientific literacy, cultivated through student communication and collaboration, is arguably a multiliteracy that has not been considered in the literature, and should be, as an integral component of overall individual literacy in the 21st century. Findings revealed four themes. Three themes suggest that teachers address several modes of multiliteracies in science, but identify barriers to integrating multiliteracies and scientific practices into science teaching. The issues include time, increased standards accountability, and lack of comfort with effective integration of technology. The fourth theme revealed that students have the ability to shape and define their learning while supporting other voices through collaborative science experiences.