A wish, a story, and telling experiences: a case study on student identity development
This study explored unanswered questions about student identity development and how storytelling experiences focused on a central novel can engage students in an elementary classroom. It may contribute to learning-based research in a time period following curricular reconstruction in which identity takes the center stage. This study examined a learning process over a thirteen-week period of time where stories of discourse, engagement, agency, and relationship were supported by continuous scaffolding. In this study, stories connected to life writing and contributed to a social learning experience valuing self, others, and community. The findings within this study value learning experiences based in storytelling and how student identity can be developed and supported over time. Knowing that great learning is often tied to social learning experiences, this case study will also explore how students in a Grade 4/5 classroom connected their knowledge of self to the shared narratives surrounding community. Driven by personal pedagogy and a passion for learning and storied celebrations, the author was motivated to create an inclusive learning community where features of Universal Learning Design and Response to Interventions models could accommodate the needs and interests of all participants. This qualitative study investigated the process in which 13 of 23 students consented to their journals, white-board summaries, and engagement tallies being collected and reviewed for research purposes. The acting researcher was also the classroom teacher. Research indicated that differentiated learning experiences inspired by a central novel, hope, and storytelling experiences can incorporate features of identity from core and curricular competencies. This study demonstrates how a scaffolded learning process can encourage a group of diverse students to address their vulnerabilities and concentrate on future outcomes that benefit self, others, and community beyond the classroom. A summary of participant discourse also provides exemplars of how diverse students can belong, connect, and articulate their knowledge of self in the presence of a supportive audience. In closing, the limitations of this study will be addressed as will suggestions for further investigations into preadolescent identity development as it unfolds in a classroom involving volunteer student participants, teachers, and researchers.