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Author ORCID Identifier


Open Access Dissertation

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Program


Year Degree Awarded


Month Degree Awarded


First Advisor

K. C. Nat Turner

Second Advisor

Theresa Austin

Third Advisor

Jaime Andrés Ramírez

Subject Categories

Bilingual, Multilingual, and Multicultural Education | Language and Literacy Education


The socio-political context of education reform of the last two decades in the United States (e.g., No Child Left Behind Act, Race to the Top, anti-bilingual education laws in several states, The Common Core State Standards, and the Every Student Succeeds Act) has limited the capacity of urban public schools to address the academic literacy needs of the increasingly growing population of emerging bilinguals in this country; which as of fall of 2019 represented 10.4 % (5.1 million students) (NCES, 2022). This problem has been exacerbated when large numbers of emerging bilinguals have been placed in mainstream classrooms with inadequately prepared teachers (Robinson, 2012, Gebhard, 2010; Schleppegrell, 2004, de Oliveira 2023), in which they are expected to develop their L2 literacy, as well as disciplinary literacies in English, while receiving increasingly less support in the students’ first language.

The purpose of this study is to make a contribution to the field of L2 literacy by providing a systematic and longitudinal description of a fourth-grade multilingual teacher’s literacy instruction and the academic writing development of a focal multilingual student in an urban elementary school in western Massachusetts. In trying to understand how Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) pedagogies may be utilized in classrooms with predominantly diverse learners, this study addresses two research questions: 1) How did a multilingual teacher participating in the ACCELA Alliance professional development implement SFL genre-based pedagogies in designing literacy instruction for culturally and linguistically diverse students?, 2) How did the academic writing in English of a multilingual student change over time as she participated in the teacher’s exploration and negotiation with genre-based pedagogies and state mandated curriculum?

This ethnographic case study combines qualitative research methods and uses concepts associated with sociocultural theory and SFL genre methods. The analysis of the data involves two phases: The first analyzes the instructional process data using an ethnographic case study approach (Stake, 2000), and discourse analytical techniques, to trace changes in the teacher’s L2 literacy practices over time, as she implemented genre-based pedagogies while participating in the ACCELA professional development. The second phase analyzes the product data (e.g., the texts produced by the focal student) using SFL genre-based criteria regarding the specific generic moves and the lexico-grammatical register features associated with the genre of personal narratives. Specifically, on tracing the focal student’s academic literacy development through the internalization of the concept of the personal narrative genre over time, in relation to her teacher’s implementation of genre-based pedagogies.

The findings show that, throughout the academic year, the teacher increasingly incorporated the different steps of the ACCELLA expanded Teaching and Learning Cycle (TLC) in her instruction. Namely, her literacy instructional practices shifted from the typical show, tell and do writing strategies to a more task-focused scaffolded instruction through a teacher-student interaction, as well as explicit mediation about the lexico-grammatical resources of language, drawing on the SFL framework. The documented growth in the teacher’s L2 literacy instruction also reflected a significant improvement in the overall quality of the focal multilingual student writing over the academic year. These findings indicate that the integration of sociocultural theory and the SFL frameworks has a positive impact on both, the development of teachers’ knowledge about language, their ability to instruct students by focusing on language and literacy development, and the writing development of multilingual learners.


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.