Examining Oral Language Activities and Teachers' Moves to Engage Elementary English Learners in Tier One Reading Classrooms

Isley, Deanna, Curriculum and Instruction - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Brighton, Catherine, University of Virginia

Teachers must be equipped and prepared to support all students in their classes, yet teachers can feel unprepared to meet English Learners’ (ELs)1 unique needs (Pettit, 2011). While a growing demographic, ELs also often lag behind non-EL peers in reading achievement both at the national and state level (NCES, 2021a; VDOE, 2021). While numerous literacy skills and components may impact students’ reading, English oral language skills are one aspect associated with stronger reading skills in ELs (August et al., 2009; Babayiğit, 2014, 2015; Huang et al., 2021). In this case study, I examined and described the ways teachers (n=4) integrated oral language activities and engaged ELs in those experiences during the tier one instructional reading block. This site, Downing Elementary School2, is a diverse, mid-Atlantic school with 27% ELs that was experiencing an achievement gap in reading between ELs and non-ELs, illustrating a need to ensure teachers were prepared and supported in meeting these learners’ needs. I explored the extent to which teachers implemented opportunities for ELs to apply oral language while addressing other literacy skills such as vocabulary, reading comprehension, and writing in the tier one literacy classroom. Findings illustrate that teachers implemented oral language activities to the greatest extent during vocabulary instruction. Second, the findings highlight the impact of the curriculum, teachers’ perceptions, professional learning, and teachers’ moves on instructional implementation.

1 I will utilize English Learner (EL) in this paper to refer to students who qualify as a student with limited English proficiency, as classified by the state for data reporting purposes, as that is the term used in the district described in this paper.
2 pseudonym

EDD (Doctor of Education)
English Language Learners, reading, elementary, oral language
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
Issued Date: