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This dissertation aims to illuminate the literacy practices that a group of “struggling” students undertake during unstructured times of the school day. The study aims to extend prior theoretical work on literacy (Street, 1984; Weil, 1993; Luttrell & Parker, 2001; Kinloch, 2010; among others) to identify the ways these students engage in literacy practices for deeply personal reasons. Further, this dissertation intends to dispel some of the many myths that surround students in special education settings and, in the case of the focal students in this study, alternative schools. Students reveal: (1) the literacy practices in which they participate, (2) explain their choices, and (3) contemplate the benefits. I ask about how they view, read, and interpret their larger worlds by way of their literacy practice(s). The study generally defines literacy practices as “what people do with literacy” (Barton & Hamilton, 2000). I expand the literature with an investigation into the personal literacy practices of high school students in special education as a means to inform their personhoods and enhance classroom instruction. The study followed five students who participated in an English elective, My Literate Self: How I View, How I Read, and How I Represent My Larger World. Students responded to a literacy prompt, discussed the daily prompt together, and created personal responses on digital slide programs. This ethnographic teacher-research inquiry utilized many ethnographic techniques, such as semi-structured interviews (Berg, 2007), unstructured interviews (Hammersley & Atkinson, 1995), field notes (Delamont, 2002; Berg, 2007), audio recordings, and research artifacts (Glesne, 2006), for data collection. Data was analyzed for emergent themes and compared through triangulation (Delamont, 2002). This study found that students employed personal literacy practices to construct identity, cope with emotions and experiences, and to critique the world around them. Further, the study found that while students used their literacy practices in part to isolate themselves from others, the products of their literacy practices symbolized personal thoughts and emotions. This study found that students were more concerned with the process than the product of their literacy practice



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