Facilitating Emergent Bilinguals’ Participation in Mathematics An Examination of a Teacher’s Positioning Acts

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Erin Smith


This study examined the mathematical learning opportunities provided to emergent bilinguals (EBs) through their participation in whole class discussions in an elementary classroom. Positioning theory (Harré & van Langenhove, 1999) was used to examine a third-grade monolingual teacher’s positioning acts and related storylines across two years. An examination of the data revealed the teacher utilized three prevalent positioning acts with EBs (i.e., inviting EBs to share mathematical thinking, valuing EBs’ mathematical contributions, and inviting peers to consider EBs’ mathematical contributions) that provided multiple and varied opportunities to participate in whole class mathematical discussions while circulating two storylines: EBs are mathematically competent and EBs can explain their mathematical reasoning to others. Findings suggest that positioning acts can be used in similar ways by other teachers across contexts to strive for equitable mathematics education.

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Research / Empirical