This commentary and review focuses on my teaching and research experiences with Mexican-heritage youths in the lower Rio Grande Valley, Texas, alongside Mexico and the Gulf of Mexico. Most of these youths were emergent bilinguals of poverty. I argue that high-stakes testing environments limited their experiences in diverse sign systems, including technology, in and out of school. These youths engaged in entertainment and friendship uses of technology outside of school, even though most had access to up-to-date digital tools at home for more higher-order technology use. They did not appear to have mentors or teachers who taught them to use digital tools beyond consumption and drill and practice, or who taught them how to explore multimodal texts for academic reasons. Also, I highlight promising multimodal and digital practices in and out of school to demonstrate the transformative potential of these semiotic tools.



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