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ERIC Number: ED568552
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2014
Pages: 237
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
ISBN: 978-1-3038-6111-6
Reading, Reforms, and Resources: How Elementary Teachers Teach Literacy in Contexts of Complex Educational Policies and Required Curriculum
Waldron, Chad H.
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, Michigan State University
This descriptive, mixed method study investigated the literacy-related contextual factors and local curricular decision-making of experienced elementary literacy teachers in one large U.S. public school district. The study's guiding research question was: How do elementary in-service teachers teach literacy within the contexts of required literacy curriculum and educational policies? The study's questions are premised on the ideas that norms (or educational requirements) and tools (or instructional resources) are key aspects of the activities in which teachers and students engage as literacy is taught and learned. However, teachers and children make local decisions to create meaningful learning opportunities using these resources and within those norms in various ways. Influenced by theories of local agency and decision-making within highly organized institutions, the study explored teachers' thought and action in context through a survey of a broad sample of experienced elementary school teachers from the district and in a series of in-depth case-level studies of six teachers as they thought about their literacy curriculum and enacted classroom instruction. A descriptive, mixed method design was used to capture quantitative and qualitative information about the classroom contexts, instructional resources, and teaching practices of a large sample of experienced teachers who have been in practice during the changes in requirements and resources brought about by the last 15 years of reforms to literacy education. Using data from both a broad sampling of teachers and in-depth examinations of teachers' thought and action reflect the study's focus on both teachers' experiences within one district as well as the interplay of widely shared and individually negotiated aspects of literacy curriculum and instruction. The study's analyses were descriptive in nature and blended the cycle of inductive and deductive reasoning from data characteristic of qualitative research, especially grounded theory development. Data analyzed included survey responses, interviews, observations, and textual artifacts related to the teaching of literacy in this district. From the seminal work of Schwab, the study found the teachers working to coordinate four commonplaces to interpret, use, and in some ways change the curriculum as it was provided through instructional resources. In this sense, they echoed Schwab's commonplaces for curriculum design. However, the ways the teachers' responded in the surveys, answered interview questions, and conducted their practice, and used or adapted materials are reflected in what this dissertation calls, the four "contemporary commonplaces." These show the curriculum not as the teacher's domain but as a site of negotiation, even a struggle, to meet external academic demands, yet teach in coordinated and locally meaningful ways. This study contributes to teacher education and teacher learning in outlining the realities and the challenges of teaching literacy in today's elementary school grades. The field of literacy research gains new knowledge and understanding of elementary literacy teaching and teacher learning in these times of educational reform that has been mostly absent from the research literature to date. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A