Promising Practices: Teacher Perspectives on Successful Reading Strategies Evidenced in First Grade Bilingual Classrooms



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Background: “Some teachers have learned to be satisfied with their students simply reading accurately” (Fountas & Pinnell, 2012, p. 272). However, reading capacity extends beyond a student’s ability to read with accuracy and fluidity. Reading capacity should also emphasize comprehension and other useful literacy concepts. Literature suggests that teachers are vital indicators of a literacy program’s success (Reizian, Vazzano, & Wiencek, 1999). Studies further indicate that to promote learning and reading achievement for all students, teachers should plan their instruction to meet the needs of all learners (Ford & Opitz, 2011; Iaquinta, 2006). Such teachers provide various instructional strategies that include guided reading, modeling, and read-alouds. Also, students’ interest in text content has been found to promote the development of connections between the text, their prior knowledge, and real-world experiences (Au, 2002). Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore teachers’ perspectives about the use of guided reading in their first-grade bilingual classrooms. This study addressed the following question: What do bilingual teachers consider as effective practices for implementing guided reading instruction? Methods: A basic qualitative study design was used to uncover the instructional strategies participants deemed effective with instruction in their bilingual classrooms (Merriam, 2009). The qualitative data included researcher field and observation notes, researcher journal entries, and interview responses from a convenience sample of three bilingual teachers. Interview data sets were analyzed using constant comparative analysis which utilized iterations of manual coding to determine common themes related to literacy instructional strategies in bilingual classrooms. Participants interviewed were three Latinx first-grade teachers in inner-city bilingual (Spanish/English) classrooms located in a major city of the southwestern United States. Findings were member checked with participants and peer-debriefing to check for accuracy and researcher bias. Results: Teacher interviews revealed several promising practices commonly employed among participants in promoting student reading achievement in their bilingual first-grade classrooms. Participants shared that consistent modeling, instruction using the components of guided reading, and parental involvement assisted in improving students’ reading achievement and engagement. Participants agreed that students need multiple opportunities to read books on their reading level, as well as self-selected books of interest. Also, participants concurred that guided reading instruction should be leveled and continuously changed to align with each student’s developing reading abilities. Furthermore, participants suggested that students at each reading level have varied needs, which requires teachers to focus on individual student needs and strengths. Finally, through read-aloud activities, the participants utilized think-alouds and asked open-ended questions at varying levels of difficulty in which students verbally responded to their teacher, frequently talked with a partner about the content of narrative stories, or written information to respond to comprehension items. Conclusion: Research findings emphasized the importance of engaging students in all components of balanced literacy during the reading block in order to optimize literacy capacity and comprehension development. Additionally, providing various opportunities for students to practice, listen, and share their thinking about reading are essential to improve literacy capacity. Other identified factors in bilingual first-graders’ reading achievement include continuous modeling by the teachers, daily structured guided reading instruction, and parental engagement.



First grade, Bilingual students, Spanish speaking students, Literacy strategies, Literacy, Balanced literacy, Guided reading