"Placing children in the middle of literacy": instructional practices in a print-rich second grade classroom where all readers succeed

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Date

2003

Authors

Sailors, Misty Wilhelm

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Abstract

The purpose of this research was to identify and describe the instructional literacy practices of a second-grade teacher would help to explain why her lowest achieving readers were successful with reading. This teacher was selected because she provided her students with a print-rich environment and her students had good, conceptual understandings of literacy. Qualitative research methods were employed to document and describe (a) the kinds of texts and opportunities to engage with those texts this teacher made available to her struggling readers; (b) the teacher’s intentions and purposes in providing these opportunities for her struggling readers; (c) the ways in which the struggling readers talk about reading and writing in this classroom. One teacher and four of her low-income, minority students were observed for three months as they engaged in literacy events across subject areas. Data for this study included field notes from observations, student and teacher interviews, and digital images of texts created and used in this classroom. The findings from this study indicated this teacher was a knowledgeable decision maker. She skillfully incorporated her goals for reading instruction with students’ developmental needs. This teacher surrounded her students with a plethora of print and engaged them in a wide variety of reading and writing materials of varying formats and genres. She purposefully engaged her students in meaningful acts of literacy that were centered on the creation and use of student and teacher authored texts. Student and teacher created texts claimed every available space in the classroom and were a significant part of the daily lives of the students in this study. These texts were the avenue through which this teacher created an identity of “author” and “expert” in her struggling readers and the struggling readers talked about themselves as such. The findings of this study indicate that the creation and use of these texts within a print-rich environment under the guidance of a skillful teacher may have contributed to the conceptual understandings of literacy that were developing in these young readers.

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