Building literacy strategies in a freshman English classroom

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Description
An unrelenting need exists to improve literacy instruction in secondary schools in the United States. Reading scores, especially among minority and language minority students, as well as the economically disadvantaged, have not produced significant gains in recent years. The problem

An unrelenting need exists to improve literacy instruction in secondary schools in the United States. Reading scores, especially among minority and language minority students, as well as the economically disadvantaged, have not produced significant gains in recent years. The problem of low level reading skills in secondary grades is complicated to address, however, as many secondary teachers find themselves ill-equipped to deal with the challenges they face. Improving student achievement by integrating reading comprehension strategies into the freshman English curriculum was the ultimate goal of this innovation. A total of 15 freshman English language arts teachers and 30 freshman students participated in this 14 week action research study, which involved teaching explicit pre-, during-, and post-reading strategies during daily lessons at a large, urban high school in the Southwestern United States. Data were collected using a reading diagnostic test, focus group interviews with teachers, individual interviews with teachers and students, and teacher observations. Findings from the data suggest that professional development designed to infuse comprehension strategies through collaborative inquiry among English language arts teachers contributed to assisting students to perform better on reading diagnostic measures. Furthermore, the findings suggest that this method of professional development served to raise teachers' self-efficacy regarding literacy instruction, which, in turn, improved students' efficacy and performance as readers.