Teachers' self-reports and documentation of their secondary literacy instruction

Salika Ann Lawrence, Fordham University


Few studies have documented how teachers implement research-based practices in secondary English/Language Arts (ELA) classrooms. Self-reports of 9 urban and suburban middle-school and high-school teachers from New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts were examined in this qualitative investigation. Data from semistructured interviews, classroom artifacts, and student work were explored through recursive, constant comparative analysis to present a narrative of authentic practices reported by the participants. Findings indicate that most teachers integrate research-based instructional strategies such as independent reading, instruction in reading comprehension strategies, scaffold learning over time, making connections to students' lives, and using supplemental materials to teach concepts. The study also documented that secondary teachers' perceptions of literacy fall along a "literacy continuum" and they believe students should arrive in secondary school with proficient literacy skills; that most teachers reported that students met academic expectations when they integrate multiple research-based approaches, such as flexible grouping, and teacher modeling to teach reading and writing; that most teachers teach reading, writing, vocabulary, and test preparation; and that structural factors such as testing shape teachers' instructional choices and often contradict their beliefs about literacy. Hypotheses generated from the findings led to recommendations for the ways literacy instruction can be integrated with ELA content. First, secondary teachers should teach more reading comprehension strategies, beyond making connections, to foster students' independence and interaction with text. Second, classroom conversation should facilitate discussion of social issues and promote critical literacy. Third, teachers should use unit planning to immerse students in study throughout the school year. Unit planning provides the opportunities for teachers to reflect on their practice, integrate a variety of research-based practices, provide students with choice through multiple learning experiences, and modify the curriculum to meet the needs of the students. Fourth, teachers need to provide students with explicit instruction by using models, rubrics, and establishing clear expectations for academic tasks.

Subject Area

Secondary education|Literacy|Reading instruction|Curricula|Teaching

Recommended Citation

Lawrence, Salika Ann, "Teachers' self-reports and documentation of their secondary literacy instruction" (2007). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3255011.