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Journeys to School: Sustaining Conversations in Social Studies and Computer Science Education Through Translanguaging Pedagogy

Tue, April 21, 8:15 to 9:45am, Virtual Room


Translanguaging pedagogy was developed to recognize, sustain, and extend the diverse language practices of emergent bilinguals (García, Ibarra Johnson & Seltzer, 2017). We discuss data and findings generated by researchers and practitioners who applied principles of translanguaging pedagogy to the design and implementation of a computer science (CS)-integrated social studies unit. We demonstrate how teachers’ curricular design choices and in-the-moment moves afforded students’ ample opportunities to translanguage -- to flexibly use a range of linguistic, social, and semiotic resources to make meaning (García & Li Wei, 2014) -- opening up space for students with diverse communicative repertoires to participate in CS activities.

To broaden participation, many CS pedagogies have centered students, including culturally relevant (Goode and Margolis, 2011) and responsive (Eglash, Gilbert and Foster, 2013; Scott, Sheridan, & Clark, 2015) approaches. We build on this by considering the role that emergent bilinguals’ diverse linguistic and semiotic repertoires play in CSEd. Building on our translanguaging stance and embracing the notion of “literate programming” (Knuth, 1984) we view CSEd as participation in “computational literacies”: the use of code for particular purposes and in different social contexts, across disciplines and communities (Vogel, Hoadley, Ascenzi-Moreno & Menken, 2019).

This poster draws on a qualitative analysis of student work data, teacher lesson plans, recorded interviews, observations and focus groups with students and teachers in a Spanish-English bilingual sixth grade social studies classroom. The analysis describes examples of CS-infused curriculum that leveraged students’ translanguaging through the lens of the three components of translanguaging pedagogy (García, Ibarra Johnson & Seltzer, 2017): (1) Stance: the teacher’s belief that students’ diverse linguistic practices are valuable. (2) Design: A strategic plan that integrates students’ in-school and out-of-school language practices. (3) Shifts: Moment-by-moment changes to instructional plans based on student feedback.

Our translanguaging stance prompted us to begin the curricular design process by surfacing knowledge about students’ strengths, cultural references, languaging, and literacy backgrounds. This exploration led us to design a social studies unit culminating in students creating games with the Scratch programming language to compare and contrast how they get to school versus how students in different locations in Asia journey to school. Our poster highlights examples of how this design choice enabled students to bring their experiences, language, and knowledge of place into CS practice.

Teachers’ translanguaging designs also strategically leveraged students’ repertoires to support their computational literacy. For example, emergent bilinguals who had experienced interrupted formal education and were early readers used gestures, manipulatives, drawing, and oral language in English and Spanish with peers and teachers, and the colors and shapes of Scratch blocks to support them with debugging and providing feedback on classmates’ prototypes. Teachers’ translanguaging shifts included ways they took up new modalities (manipulatives, drawings, code, oral language, gesture) and varieties of language (English, Spanish, slang) in their questioning, and ways they encouraged students to use new resources.

The learning environments emerging from this pedagogy both supported emergent bilinguals’ participation in CS, and provided a new framing for what concepts and practices “count” as CS.