Language negotiations and mediations in middle-grades mathematics classrooms: a binational ethnographic study
Drawing from Sociocultural Theories of learning and development (Vygotsky, 1978), the Community of Practice approach (Lave & Wenger, 1991), and Discourse and Discourse Analysis (Gee, 2008, 2011), this study explores how the linguistic resources of middle school students support the development of mathematical skills within a unit on writing and solving algebraic equations. Having a transborder lens, the research sites for this study consisted of two seventh-grade mathematics classrooms located one in Texas, and the second in the state of Nuevo León, Mexico. Through class-observations as the main method for data-collection, this study examines classroom discourse as it naturally occurred in both classrooms. Findings show how students and teachers of both middle schools use a variety of everyday and secondary Discourses to convey mathematical understandings. In addition, this study demonstrates how students, when having the opportunities to interact in math lessons, express their own thoughts, hear the ideas of others, and engage in social practices where they work towards the appropriation of mathematical meanings. In doing so, students are able to share mathematical ideas, construct their own understandings, and appropriate mathematical concepts. This study contributes to the important research fields on (bilingual) Latina/o mathematics education and transnational studies of mathematics education.