Productive Taboos: Cultivating Spatialized Literacy Practices
critical inquiry, elementary, literacy, urban, video
The fifth grade students in this project were part of a yearlong ethnographic study in an urban elementary school. They engaged in a student initiated inquiry project combining bakeries and mysteries, which culminated in the production of an original film. Situated in a socio-spatialized stance on literacy involving networks of participation and interaction in conjunction with Discourses and encoded texts, this study examines the co-construction of lived and ideologically charged spaces. The inquiry project privileged discussion, script writing, and a range of texts as literacy curricular tools, such as everyday texts (cookbooks and TV shows, e.g. Cake Boss) and cultural content (pop music icons Justin Bieber and Michael Jackson). The students, from three ability-grouped classrooms, reimagined their roles within the inquiry group through bargaining for tasks, wearing costumes, and taking on new roles to determine how to interact with one another effectively. Analysis, with an emphasis on the social co-construction of school spaces for literacy practices in current educational settings, highlights the potential for productivity when student engage in literacy work outside of dominant trends of ability grouping, individual work, and compliance. Productive taboos in this study such as collaborative writing, embodying characters, and taking leadership roles fostered flexibility in thinking and engagement in student-initiated projects.
Department of Curriculum and Instruction
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
Vander Zanden, Sarah, "Productive Taboos: Cultivating Spatialized Literacy Practices" (2015). Faculty Publications. 1327.