The challenge today for teachers in English speaking nations worldwide is to teach English to speakers of other languages. Research findings support the use of storybook reading with linguistically-diverse students to improve their language and literacy development, including phonological awareness, concept of print, vocabulary, oral language and comprehension (Ghosn, 2010; Hancock, 2002; Kalia, 2007; Robert & Neal, 2004, Yang, 2009). Most of the research has used experimental designs and statistical analysis of students' academic achievement. There is less research focusing on how teachers select reading materials and how teachers present the texts to linguistically-diverse students. Therefore, I conducted a qualitative case study to see how one teacher uses picturebooks and other read-aloud materials to help linguistically-diverse students' learning. In this study, I used purposive selection to choose an accomplished teacher in an elementary school. The setting for this research is one 1st grade class with linguistically-diverse students in an elementary school in the Midwestern United States. The participants in this study were a classroom teacher and her first graders in the elementary school. In the class I studied, there were 10 female and 13 male students. Among them five were native speakers and the other students spoke a language other than English at home. The research findings showed that the books and read-aloud materials the teacher chose included a variety of types. The major factor the teacher took into consideration when selecting books was her current learning target. All these books and reading materials provided an opportunity for discussion. The teacher typically used them as a vehicle for introducing story elements and new information. Most of the read alouds were completed in a single session except for the chapter book and some longer books. The teacher usually chose books a little bit above the grade level, such as the 2nd grade level, or at the grade level. While presenting the books, in addition to vocabulary instruction the teacher did a great amount of modeling, which is especially crucial for linguistically-diverse students. She demonstrated strategies to figure out unfamiliar words, comprehension strategies and how to be a "fabulous reader." The teacher guided students to talk and discuss the content by using graphic organizers, a KWL chart, and others. Most importantly, the teacher constantly provided language examples and supported students' language development. She was able to pinpoint what students needed and what confused them and provide appropriate scaffolding. Her linguistically-diverse students were well equipped with a variety of valuable strategies that prepared them for their independent reading. After reading, students spent time in independent reading. The follow-up activities primarily focused on students' responses to reading. Through the reader responses, the teacher was able to evaluate students' learning and in turn inform her own teaching. Moreover, the teacher also guided students to create their own dictionaries and animal reports. Read alouds are an important instructional activity for linguistically-diverse students. This teacher shows that there is much more teaching before, during and after read alouds in addition to reading to students. The choice of what and how to read are significant for linguistically-diverse students' learning. Future research could examine how other read-aloud materials influence reading aloud and linguistically-diverse students' literacy learning.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. July 2014. Major: Education, Curriculum and Instruction. Advisor: Dr. Lori Helman. 1 computer file (PDF); xii, 186 pages.
How Does an Accomplished Teacher Use Read-Aloud Materials in a Linguistically-Diverse First Grade Classroom?.
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