The goal of this group project was to invite graduate students in the Masters Program in Applied Linguistics at Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas to recognize students´ immediate communities as resources for teaching and learning during quarantine. Fourteen pedagogical innovations using community-based pedagogies and critical literacies, whose abstracts I share, were carried out during the spring of 2020 in different educational contexts where graduate students are teachers of English in the city of Bogotá, Colombia


Some Relevant Results

Digital Literacies and Students' Voices in Community Practices in Times of COVID-19

Maria Deisy Gómez


This participatory action research (PAR) involves young ESL students and teachers as co-researchers in the exploration of community issues in particular-situated practices in the outstanding situation of Covid-19. The PAR responds to the need to connect students and families´ realities in quarantine with school curriculum delivered through a remote teaching and learning in Ciudad Bolivar a large neighborhood in the southeast of Bogotá.  In this study, I foster students' inquiry, reflections and digital writing about key issues that affected them and their families´ lives. The issues studied are remote learning adaptation, resilience, nutrition, biosecurity protocols, and health problems. Data were collected during ten months through field notes, teacher´s reflective journals, students' focus interviews and digital texts. The results showed students´ engagement, participation, collaboration and involvement of families and community members in critically discussing social, economy and health issues during quarantine. Students´ digital literacy development and their agency permitted to generate initiatives about caring and health that merged content areas as Math, Spanish and English. Additionally, students' outcomes far exceeded remote teaching and learning challenges allowing access, opportunities and democratize education for everyone involved.



Navigating EFL Students' Local Communities Through TED Talks by Jose David Largo and Amparo Clavijo Olarte




As a response to the urgent need for remote teaching in times of pandemic making connections between students' realities and curriculum plays a significant role in language learning. Adopting a critical perspective to literacy to consider urban spaces as routes to learning led us to propose this critical action research to characterize how an online, cross-cultural group of ten EFL students traverses their communities towards social inquiry informed by TED Talks. Analysis of students' artifacts through grounded theory principles evidence participants' interaction with their local and international communities as spaces where reflection and inquiry can take place using EFL. Findings suggest that initiatives rooted in critical literacy and community based pedagogy challenged students' existing imposed role on traditional models of education and fostered agentic roles as inquirers of their communities, at the same time that the teacher acknowledges students' local knowledge as central in the instruction of the language classroom.


Problematizing the Community: Voices from Secondary School Students by Diana Marcela Guitiérrez Vargas


This participatory action research study explores community literacies in a group of thirty-nine students in a public school in Bogota, Colombia. Although the school is located in a low socioeconomic sector of the capital and students' families have suffered forced displacement due to military conflict, this group of sensitive, committed young learners come from families that have constructed Los Alpes as a stable neighborhood. Unfortunately, the traditional curriculum of schools in Colombia does not connect the realities of students and their knowledge (Moll et al., 1992; Sharkey, 2012; Sharkey et al., 2016) to their learning experiences. Thus, this research study aims at determining how secondary school students, investigate community problems and express their voice through language. Through teaching that is context-embedded, this study promotes the development of students' literacy competences in Spanish and English using a Freirean approach to local pedagogies (1970). Some of the pedagogical activities proposed include students exploring their community as real experience (Dewey, 1938), during which they learn through and interact with different sources like online news, surveys, and interviewing local government officials. Students wrote texts that reflected their positions and invited their community to act to solve a problem. Three cycles were developed in this participatory action research: exploratory, investigation and production stages. The data collection included videoclips and texts produced by students, field notes and a focus group interview. Through grounded theory data were analyzed and the category named Media and writing literacy to announce our needs responded the research question. The principal aspects found in the data were students' production argumentative and narratives texts and media Literacy including awareness of their community issues and the importance of their experience in the learning process. Results show that students´ awareness about their community can begin through inquiry-based instruction to start identifying aspects that need to be transformed in their community.

KeywordsLocal literacies, community inquiry, experience and social justice




Understanding Coexistence in a University Communisty from the Perspective of Undergraduate Students by Natalia Segura

Natalia Segura

Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas

Bogotá, Colombia


This document narrates the pedagogical experience with a group of undergraduate students in an English course at a public university during the time of COVID-19. The study aimed at transforming the language class into an academic space to explore with students the social dynamics that characterize their community based on their experiences, in this case, to discuss the rules of coexistence of the university common areas. I followed the theoretical principles of Community-based Pedagogy (Medina et al., 2015), Place-Based Pedagogy (Comber et al., 2007), Authoring Cycle (Short & Burke, 1991), and Critical Digital Literacies (Freire & Macedo, 1987; Avila & Zacher Pandya, 2013) to guide the curricular implementation. The findings portraited that the students recognized the value of the physical and human assets that characterize the common spaces in the different faculties. The learners were also able to question the university culture and the practices of coexistence that affect the community's well-being. This project allowed concluding that leading students to become critical thinkers requires time and practice, as well as the teacher's willingness to modify his/ her vision of teaching. Furthermore, the proposal represented a challenge since it demanded to adapt interaction and classwork to remote teaching due to the pandemic.

Keywords: community, pedagogy, critical literacies, digital literacies, EFL.




Acknowledging and Problematizing the Community Dynamics through Social Entrepreneurship in Times of Pandemic by Jhooni Quintero González

Jhooni Quintero González

Universidad Distrital Francisco José de Caldas


This paper presents a pedagogical innovation carried out at a private university with undergraduate students from the business administration program in Bogotá, Colombia. It aimed at positioning undergraduate students as project producers, and connecting their background, previous knowledge, and realities as sources of knowledge for the EFL learning. The didactic choices aimed to unveil how the learners problematize and make sense of their immediate realities through the proposal of a business idea in the EFL classroom. Hence, community-based pedagogy, critical literacy and multimodality were deemed as main constructs. The latter, considering the sudden virtualization as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. The implementation was undertaken under an inquiry-based and scaffolded methodology. Data was collected from the students' artifacts and surveys. Analysis showed the participants problematized and explored cultural practices in shopping, economic issues and pet-related cultural practices. The results suggest the necessity to utilize more context-responsive and community-based pedagogy approaches in the EFL classroom, keeping in mind students' needs, backgrounds, and critical skills to best exploit their EFL learning.





English Student Teachers' Perceptions of Learning to Teach Culturally Diverse Students in the Practicum Experience by Kewin Arley Prieto




This qualitative research study describes the reflections that three student teachers had upon Community-based Pedagogies (CBP) and Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) during their practicum. Thus, through professional development sessions the participants were invited to reflect upon the value of using community and cultural resources for teaching and to include such sources in their lesson planning by linking them with the Colombian Basic Learning Rights. By using a grounded theory approach, I analyzed the data that resulted from the observation I did to their classes, the professional development sessions, their lesson plans, their practicum final paper and presentation and a semi-structured interview.

The findings evidence that student teachers had their practicum in a privileged place surrounded by valuable socio-cultural and natural resources and their population was culturally diverse. Such factors characterized a third space that enhanced their learning to teach process by reflecting on the value of using CBP and CRT for teaching. Finally, student teachers´ decisions were supported by the cooperating teachers, the researcher and the practicum advisor. This practicum experience, framed within an institutional research project, may have implications for student teachers' further teaching experiences