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Literacy Instruction in Nine First-Grade Classrooms: Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement

Ruth Wharton-McDonald, Michael Pressley and Jennifer Mistretta Hampston
The Elementary School Journal
Vol. 99, No. 2 (Nov., 1998), pp. 101-128
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1002105
Page Count: 28
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Literacy Instruction in Nine First-Grade Classrooms: Teacher Characteristics and Student Achievement
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Abstract

Classroom observations and in-depth interviews were used to study 9 first-grade teachers from 4 districts who had been nominated by languagearts coordinators as outstanding (N = 5) or typical (N = 4) in their ability to help students develop literacy skills. Based on observational measures of student reading and writing achievement and student engagement, 3 groups of teachers emerged from the original 9. The following practices and beliefs distinguished the instruction of the 3 teachers (2 nominated as outstanding, 1 as typical) whose students demonstrated the highest levels on these measures: (a) coherent and thorough integration of skills with high-quality reading and writing experiences, (b) a high density of instruction (integration of multiple goals in a single lesson), (c) extensive use of scaffolding, (d) encouragement of student self-regulation, (e) a thorough integration of reading and writing activities, (f) high expectations for all students, (g) masterful classroom management, and (h) an awareness of their practices and the goals underlying them. Teaching practices observed in 7 of the 9 classrooms are also discussed. The data reported here high-light the complexity of primary literacy instruction and support the conclusion that effective primary-level literacy instruction is a balanced integration of high-quality reading and writing experiences and explicit instruction of basic literacy skills.

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