• Examining and Fostering Effective Reading Comprehension Instructional Practices in Smalltowne

      Zills, Jennifer Amy; Department of Advanced Studies and Innovation (Augusta University, 5/22/2018)
      Abstract This mixed-methods study examined reading instructional practices at Smalltowne Elementary, as almost 30% of their third grade students were not scoring proficient in the area of English Language Arts (ELA) on the state assessment. Smalltowne is a rural elementary school located in a southeast Georgia town with a population of just under 10,000. A total of 18 female participants included both second grade (n = 9) and third grade (n = 9) teachers. Participants completed an online survey of the Literacy Orientation Survey (LOS) containing 30 Likert type items to determine their teaching orientations as either traditional, constructivist, or eclectic. Researchers interviewed 14 participants and spent a total of 50.25 hours observing instructional practices in the areas of reading comprehension, vocabulary instruction, phonics, fluency, and literacy through technology. The teachers’ survey results were compared to the observed practice to determine alignment. Nine teachers identified as eclectic, eight identified as traditional and only one teacher identified as constructivist. Observed literacy practices matched self-selected LOS scores for 11 out of the 14 teachers. Observations were conducted to determine if research-based instructional strategies were being used in the classroom, including comprehension strategies, vocabulary strategies, fluency practices, and literacy through technology. Instructional concerns were noted with higher usage of teacher-directed practice and lack of authentic use of technology for literacy to incorporate more student-centered practice. After the analysis of data, a responsive product in the form of professional development was created by researchers with input from district school leaders to expand teachers’ use of higher level questioning and technology within the classroom. Keywords: teacher orientations, reading comprehension, instructional practices