Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Kathryn L. Laframboise, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Nancy L. Williams, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Linda S. Evans, Ph.D.

Committee Member

James R. King, Ed.D.


English language learners, discourse, after-school program, Latino/a adolescents, middle school


The erasure of Latino/a adolescents' multiliteracies in school settings affects both their views of education and their entry into the community outside of school. Framed by literacy-as-social-practices perspectives and communities of practice theory, this case study explored what happened when a group of 13 Latino/a adolescents and their Latina teacher engaged in a six-week play production in an after-school program and performed the play for parents. It examined the relationship between the participants' discourse practices and their performance, and determined how they validated their performances. Data collected included observations, interviews, students' written reflective responses, a fieldwork journal, and a DVD of the performance.

Data were analyzed using Discourse Analysis (Gee, 2005), three characteristics of multimodal literacy adapted from three features Cowan (2003) used to analyze Latino visual discourse, and Grounded Theory (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Strauss & Corbin, 1990). The findings revealed a complex performance community mediated by a set of discourse practices and tools, including a script and a video. The video's history, traced to a former 7th grade after-school group, and the participants' social practices framed their interactions. The findings revealed the discourse practice of playing around was constructed in relationship with the teacher's expectations and became an intractable binary. After one actor assessed the situation as hopeless because of the teacher's involvement in the construction of the discourses, she "left" the play and constructed herself through a new critical discourse, and imagined an easier and more equitable discourse. Another discourse juxtaposed Discourses of immigration, recognizing them as speaking to one another across history.

Although the methodology was adequate for answering the research questions, it was inadequate for reaching findings on how the performances created effects for both the actors and audience. Both pedagogical and methodological errors were the result of how the visual world of print shaped our thought, extending the visual into the social world, separating it from the other senses.

The actors drew from elements of the six modes of meaning to create a system of multimodal design in their performance text, and although they validated their final performance in reflective responses, they invalidated their rehearsal performances. Elements of their Discourse model serve as a blueprint for a Design for Performance Learning. The Design proposes that Latino/a adolescents take responsibility for their learning by producing sharable digital artifacts in after-school performance communities, which might prove to be contexts in which Latino/a adolescents' multiliteracies are validated rather than erased.