Engaging in youth participatory action research to change our world: Middle school emergent bilingual students


December 2023

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As the population of the United States continues to change, so do the students in the classrooms and their needs. As a result, dual language bilingual education programs have become very popular and widely implemented in elementary schools. The goals of dual language bilingual education programs are to serve Latinx students. Yet, their growth in popularity has created some inequities in program implementation for Latinx students. Additionally, implementing the standards and literacy curriculum often focuses on a single story that fails to include minoritized students' diverse voices and stories (Adichie, 2009). Literacy goes beyond reading and writing and can serve as a tool that acknowledges and embraces all voices while eliminating inequities. Additionally, critical literacy and Culturally Sustaining Pedagogies aim to validate students' lived experiences while providing a space to interrogate and reimagine the world they live in and to enact change through action. This study explored how sixth-grade emergent bilingual students enrolled in a dual-language program engaged in a youth participatory action research project in an afterschool setting. Students engaged in the youth participatory action research project through critical literacy practices and culturally sustaining pedagogies. Three themes were identified representing the space created by the youth: space to explore identity, space to interrogate and reimagine, and space cultivated agency.



Education, Reading