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Promoting Literacy Development for English Learners Learning in English: A Case for Explicit Instruction


Reading First and other state and federal reading initiatives call for

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Promoting Literacy Development for English Learners Learning in English: A Case for Explicit Instruction

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Promoting Literacy Development for English Learners Learning in English: A Case for Explicit Instruction

Diane Haager, Ph.D.

Michelle Windmueller, Ph.D.

California State University, Los Angeles


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Reading First and other state and federal reading initiatives call for “scientifically based reading research” to guide reading instruction. It is difficult to argue with the notion of putting research-validated practices into place.

However, what of these practices are validated for EL students? What evidence do we have to guide beginning reading instruction for ELs?


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To walk into a classroom exhibiting scientifically based reading research, one would expect to see:

 Activities to develop students’ phonological awareness

 Systematic explicit instruction in phonetic decoding strategies and spelling

 Activities that build fluency in both word reading and reading of connected text

 Explicit introduction of strategies for text comprehension

 A variety of vocabulary building activities

Are these practices validated for ELs?


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School personnel are challenged to find effective methods for schooling EL students, particularly if bilingual instruction is not an option, due to the lack of bilingual teachers or policy mandates limiting native language instruction. The knowledge base regarding effective reading instruction for ELs is incomplete, fragmented and fraught with philosophical and policy-oriented discourse.


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A recent report by the National Academy of Sciences concluded that the best venue for reducing disproportionate representation in both special education and gifted education programs is improvement in the core elements of classroom instruction in the early grades (Donovan & Cross, 2002).

This report makes a strong recommendation for research and development to “carry promising practices and validated practices through to classroom applicability (p. 382)” including research “on educational improvement, particularly in schools with large numbers of children from low-income families (p. 383).”


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Purpose

  • What are early predictors of reading achievement for EL students?

  • What are critical classroom reading practices for EL students?

  • How do we implement systematic reading intervention to prevent reading failure and disproportionate representation?


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Predictive Studies


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Predictors for Native English Speakers

  • Phonological Awareness

  • Rapid Automatized Naming

    • Letter Naming

    • Colors, digits, pictures

  • Letter-sound recognition

    How do these predict later reading for ELs?


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Kindergarten Predictors (Oh, Haager & Windmueller, submitted)

  • Predictors of nonsense word reading at end of K

    • Letter Naming Fluency (Fall r = .32; Wtr r = .49)

    • Phoneme Segmentation Fluency (Wtr r = .36)

    • Word Use Fluency (Fall r = .19; Wtr r = .21)

      What happens to these predictors in a regression model?

    • See path model, next slide.


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First Grade Predictors (Dingle, 2001)

  • What language and reading variables predict end of 1st grade Oral Reading Fluency?

    • LNF, NWF signficant direct and indirect effects; PSF significant, but less powerful than LNF and NWF

    • Home Oral Language, Primary Language Ability small, significant effect

    • English Language level direct and indirect effects


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First to Third Grade Predictors (Windmueller, 2004)

  • Complex web of relationships among language, reading, writing and demographic variables

    • NWF Fall of 1st grade, ORF mid-1st grade were best predictors of end of 3rd grade

    • Gender and attendance had direct effects on reading and language variables at different points in time

    • LNF predicted 2nd grade reading and 3rd grade oral language

    • PSF predicted 3rd grade writing directly and indirectly (through 2nd grade NWF)


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Defining Teacher Quality: Observation Studies of EL Reading Instruction


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Defining Effective Beginning Reading Instruction from Observation Studies

  • Series of observational studies in first grade classrooms where >50% of students were ELs (Gersten, Baker, Haager, Graves, Goldenberg, Dingle)

  • Instructional quality measured by English Language Learner Classroom Observation Instrument, developed by research team.

  • Reading gains measured by DIBELS, additional comprehension measure


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Six Clusters of Observed Teaching Practices

Correlations Between Subscales of Observation Instrument and Composite Reading Scores

Subscale Correlation

1. Explicit Teaching/ Art of Teaching .62

2. Instruction Geared Toward Low Performers .65

3. Sheltered English Techniques .49

4. Interactive Teaching .57

5. Vocabulary Development .51

  • Phonemic Awareness and Decoding .63

    *All correlations significant, moderate to strong


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Explicit Teaching/ Art of Teaching

 Models skills and strategies

 Makes relationships overt

 Emphasizes distinctive features of new concepts

 Provides prompts

  • Length of literacy activities is appropriate

  • Adjusts own use of English during lesson


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Instruction Geared Toward Low Performers

 Achieves high level of response accuracy

 Ensures quality of independent practice

 Engages in ongoing monitoring of student understanding and performance

 Elicits responses from all students

 Modifies instruction for students as needed

 Provides extra instruction, practice and review

 Asks questions to ensure comprehension


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Phonemic Awareness and Decoding

 Provides systematic instruction in phonemic awareness

 Provides systematic instruction in letter-sound correspondence

 Provides systematic instruction in decoding


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Interactive Teaching

 Secures and maintains student attention during lesson

 Extent to which students are “on task” during literacy activities

  • Selects and incorporates students’ responses, ideas, examples and experiences into lesson

  • Gives students wait time to respond to questions


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Vocabulary Development

 Teaches difficult vocabulary prior to and during lesson

 Structures opportunities to speak English

  • Provides systematic instruction to vocabulary development

  • Engages students in meaningful interactions about text


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Sheltered English Techniques

 Uses visuals or manipulatives to teach content

 Provides explicit instruction in English

  • Encourages students to give elaborate responses

  • Uses gestures and facial expressions in teaching vocabulary and clarifying


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High-Gain v. Low-Gain Classrooms

  • Significant difference on all subscales, except Sheltered English Techniques, with high-gain teachers receiving higher quality ratings

  • To make significant reading gains, EL students need for their teachers to be using effective instructional techniques in all six areas


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Qualitative Descriptors of High-Gain Classrooms

  • Teachers integrated vocabulary and language fluidly, spontaneously and explicitly throughout instruction

  • Teachers stopped to explain and demonstrate vocabulary critical to the lesson or story

  • Teachers also taught basic words that a typical first grader would not need explicit instruction for; e.g. “above” and “below”


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Qualitative Descriptors of High-Gain Classrooms

  • Teachers integrated writing instruction into reading lessons

  • Teachers used writing instruction to:

    • reinforce vocabulary

    • Reinforce language concepts

    • Practice spelling and decoding concepts

  • Teachers were adept at keeping students engaged and focused


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Implementing Reading Intervention for Struggling EL Readers


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PLUS: Promoting Literacy in Urban SchoolsHaager & Windmueller

  • “A response to intervention approach to eligibility determination [for special education] identifies students as having a LD [learning disability] if their academic performances in relevant areas [i.e., reading] do not change in response to a validated intervention implemented with integrity (Gresham, 2002, p. 480-81).”


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Three Tiers of Reading Intervention

Tier 3: Special Education

Project PLUS

Tier 2: Classroom Intervention

Tier 1: Primary Instruction


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Project Goal: Sustainability

  • Because schools and districts are constantly juggling budget constraints, we felt it would be more sustainable if we could design a model that could be implemented with low cost, using existing personnel to provide intervention.

  • Therefore, we provided extensive professional development to school administrators, general education teachers, and special education teachers. PLUS provides a second tier of reading intervention for these schools, where intervention is provided by classroom teachers within the context of general education reading instruction. At this time, Tier Three is provided by special education personnel.


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Lessons Learned

  • Implementation is the critical element to success. If this is not done well, the initiative will drop by the wayside.

    • Administrator support

    • Extensive PD

    • Competing mandates

    • Value of ongoing systematic assessment

    • Importance of ongoing, collaborative grade level meetings


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Recommendations

  • Focus on the “Big Ideas” of reading, providing systematic, explicit instruction in key areas.

  • Integrate English language development with basic reading instruction.

  • Develop tiered reading intervention models in schools serving EL students.