A Multi-Site Case Study of Concept of Word Instruction in Kindergarten Classrooms

Bowling, Emily, Curriculum and Instruction - Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Invernizzi, Marcia, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Research suggests a firm concept-of-word-in-text (COW-T) is important to the development of word recognition (Flanigan, 2007; Henderson, 1981; Morris et al., 2003; Morris, 1993) and ultimately to the transition from emerging to beginning reading. While the empirical research provides support for the importance of COW-T in early literacy instruction, little is known about COW-T instruction in kindergarten classrooms. The purpose of this study was to examine small group literacy instruction in nine kindergarten classrooms specifically focused on COW-T instruction and COW-T instructional methods. Three literacy perspectives, the component skills perspective, the developmental perspective, and situated literacy perspective guided the study. The study was structured as a multi-site case study of nine kindergarten teachers in two rural schools in two school districts. The study employed secondary analysis of archival data from a larger research project focused on kindergarten teachers’ use of literacy data that included observations, think aloud interviews, and lesson plans. From the larger project, participants were purposefully selected as those directly observed by the researcher. An additional interview with a consultant that had worked with the districts provided historical and contextual information. Data analysis consisted of a three-step iterative process of data condensation, data display, and drawing conclusions. The analysis led to one main finding that encapsulated the three literacy perspectives guiding the study: Teachers at both schools planned for and implemented small group instruction that addressed the necessary component skills indicated in Morris’ (1993) model for achieving a COW-T. They utilized current COW-T instructional methods, but provided limited opportunities for social application of learning. Evidence for differentiated instruction according to students’ developmental literacy stage was weak and inconsistent.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
Concept of Word , Early Literacy , Kindergarten, Small Group Instruction
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