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The Impact of Exposure and Explicit Instruction on Second Graders' Reading Comprehension and Recall of Informational Texts

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043669/00001

Material Information

Title: The Impact of Exposure and Explicit Instruction on Second Graders' Reading Comprehension and Recall of Informational Texts
Physical Description: 1 online resource (126 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Ohlson, Tiffany M
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: comprehension -- expository -- genre -- recall
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The importance and inclusion of informational texts in primary-grade classrooms has been discussed at length in recent years. Few opportunities for primary-aged children to engage in activities or instruction concerning informational texts are provided. This lack of early exposure to informational texts may explain why many young children have difficulty reading and understanding this text type in subsequent years. The goal of this study was to implement informational read alouds with and without explicit instruction in informational genre features and evaluate their impact on children's comprehension and recall. The study used a quasi-experimental, split-plot design with one between-groups factor, condition (exposure plus instruction, exposure, and comparison) and one within-groups factor, time of measurement (pretest and posttest) to examine the children's comprehension. Linguistic analyses were also employed to examine the children's recall of the informational texts. Participants were teachers and second grade children drawn from one area public school. Quantitative data analysis revealed no statistically significant differences in mean comprehension scores between the groups. However, the linguistic analyses showed evidence of learning gains for specific genre features associated with informational texts. The findings offer valuable insight into young children's genre development as it relates to explicit instruction and exposure to informational texts. The children's increasing knowledge of specific informational genre features indicates that the inclusion of such texts at the primary level may be recommended.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Tiffany M Ohlson.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Fang, Zhihui.
Local: Co-adviser: Cavanaugh, Christie.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043669:00001

Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UFE0043669/00001

Material Information

Title: The Impact of Exposure and Explicit Instruction on Second Graders' Reading Comprehension and Recall of Informational Texts
Physical Description: 1 online resource (126 p.)
Language: english
Creator: Ohlson, Tiffany M
Publisher: University of Florida
Place of Publication: Gainesville, Fla.
Publication Date: 2011

Subjects

Subjects / Keywords: comprehension -- expository -- genre -- recall
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
Genre: Curriculum and Instruction (ISC) thesis, Ph.D.
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
government publication (state, provincial, terriorial, dependent)   ( marcgt )
born-digital   ( sobekcm )
Electronic Thesis or Dissertation

Notes

Abstract: The importance and inclusion of informational texts in primary-grade classrooms has been discussed at length in recent years. Few opportunities for primary-aged children to engage in activities or instruction concerning informational texts are provided. This lack of early exposure to informational texts may explain why many young children have difficulty reading and understanding this text type in subsequent years. The goal of this study was to implement informational read alouds with and without explicit instruction in informational genre features and evaluate their impact on children's comprehension and recall. The study used a quasi-experimental, split-plot design with one between-groups factor, condition (exposure plus instruction, exposure, and comparison) and one within-groups factor, time of measurement (pretest and posttest) to examine the children's comprehension. Linguistic analyses were also employed to examine the children's recall of the informational texts. Participants were teachers and second grade children drawn from one area public school. Quantitative data analysis revealed no statistically significant differences in mean comprehension scores between the groups. However, the linguistic analyses showed evidence of learning gains for specific genre features associated with informational texts. The findings offer valuable insight into young children's genre development as it relates to explicit instruction and exposure to informational texts. The children's increasing knowledge of specific informational genre features indicates that the inclusion of such texts at the primary level may be recommended.
General Note: In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
General Note: Includes vita.
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references.
Source of Description: Description based on online resource; title from PDF title page.
Source of Description: This bibliographic record is available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication. The University of Florida Libraries, as creator of this bibliographic record, has waived all rights to it worldwide under copyright law, including all related and neighboring rights, to the extent allowed by law.
Statement of Responsibility: by Tiffany M Ohlson.
Thesis: Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2011.
Local: Adviser: Fang, Zhihui.
Local: Co-adviser: Cavanaugh, Christie.

Record Information

Source Institution: UFRGP
Rights Management: Applicable rights reserved.
Classification: lcc - LD1780 2011
System ID: UFE0043669:00001


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1 THE IMPACT OF EXPOSURE AND EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION ON SECOND GRADERS READING COMPREHENSION AND RECALL OF INFORMATIONAL TEXTS By TIFFANY OHLSON A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2011

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2 2011 Tiffany Ohlson

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3 To my family

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to begin by express ing my deepest appreciation to all the members of my committee : Dr. Zhihui Fang, Dr. Christie Cavanaugh, Dr. David Miller, and Dr. Elizabeth Bondy Each of you played a significant role in my growth and development as an educator I thank you for your leadership, support and knowledge. I would especially like to acknowledge my chair Dr. Zhihui Fang who has provided guidance and motivation for me throughout my doctoral studies at the University of Florida. To the teachers that have touched my heart and ignited my passion for teaching and learning, I am eternally grateful. I would like to especially thank the educators at the Patrick Lyndon School in West Roxbury for providing me with educational experiences and insights that have shaped my understanding about the education of children. I would like to thank my parents for their unwavering support and faith throughout this journey. They, along with my siblings and friends, have provided me with much needed companionship, support, and motivation. Finally, I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to my husband and children, who are my daily inspiration. Thank you Gabe, Brady, and Nate for helping me to keep things in perspective and providing me with unconditional love and support. And to my husband and best friend, Matt, I am eternally grateful for your faith, love, and guidance. I am blessed to have you as my partner and I cant wait to see where this journey takes us.

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5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS .................................................................................................. 4 LIST OF TABLES ............................................................................................................ 8 LIST OF FIGURES .......................................................................................................... 9 ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION .................................................................................................... 12 Background ............................................................................................................. 12 Research Problem .................................................................................................. 14 The Informational Genre ......................................................................................... 15 Significance ............................................................................................................ 16 Research Questions ............................................................................................... 20 Study Delimitations ................................................................................................. 22 2 LITERATURE REVIEW .......................................................................................... 23 Stages of Reading Development ............................................................................ 24 Importance of Reading Aloud ................................................................................. 26 Scarcity of Informational Texts ................................................................................ 27 Genre ...................................................................................................................... 30 Recount ............................................................................................................ 31 Narrative ........................................................................................................... 32 Procedure ......................................................................................................... 33 Report ............................................................................................................... 34 Description ....................................................................................................... 35 What is Needed to Comprehend Informational Texts? ........................................... 35 Domain Knowledge .......................................................................................... 37 Vocabulary Knowledge ..................................................................................... 38 Text Structure ................................................................................................... 40 Motivation and Engagement ............................................................................. 42 Young Children and Genre Development ............................................................... 43 The Role of Exposure in Genre Development .................................................. 44 The Role of Explicit Instruction in Genre Development .................................... 46 Summary ................................................................................................................ 48 3 RESEARCH METHODS ......................................................................................... 50 Design ..................................................................................................................... 50 Participants ............................................................................................................. 50

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6 Measures ................................................................................................................ 52 Materials and Instruction ......................................................................................... 53 Materials ........................................................................................................... 53 Instructional Framework ................................................................................... 53 Instructional Sequence and Implementation Time ............................................ 54 Instruction in Exposure Group .......................................................................... 55 Instruction in Control Group .............................................................................. 55 Procedures ............................................................................................................. 55 Data Analysis .......................................................................................................... 58 Reading Comprehension Analysis ................................................................... 58 Analysis of Retellings ....................................................................................... 58 Descriptive Linguistic Analysis ................................................................... 58 Holistic Analysis ......................................................................................... 59 4 RESULTS ............................................................................................................... 63 Introduction ............................................................................................................. 63 Impact of Instructional Interventions on Reading Comprehension .......................... 63 Impact of Instructional Interventions on Recall ....................................................... 64 Descriptive Linguistic Analysis ................................................................................ 64 Organizational Structure ................................................................................... 65 Generic Participants ......................................................................................... 67 Present Tense Verbs ........................................................................................ 68 Technical Vocabulary ....................................................................................... 68 Holistic Analysis ............................................................................................... 69 5 DISCUSSION ......................................................................................................... 78 Implications for Practice .......................................................................................... 81 Limitations of the Study ........................................................................................... 83 Implications for Future Research ............................................................................ 84 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT LETTER ........................................................................... 87 B PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT ........................................................................ 90 C IMPLEMENTATION OBSERVATION FORM .......................................................... 93 D RICHNESS OF RETELLING SCALE ...................................................................... 94 E TEACHER SURVEY ............................................................................................... 95 F COMPREHENSION MEASURES ......................................................................... 105

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7 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................ 118 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .......................................................................................... 126

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8 LIST OF TABLES Table page 2 1 School based genre features .............................................................................. 36 3 1 Research design ................................................................................................. 61 3 2 Example of the instructional framework .............................................................. 61 3 3 Instructional sequence ........................................................................................ 62 4 1 Reading comprehension pretest and posttest scores by group .......................... 76 4 2 Percentage changes for comprehension preto posttest ................................... 76 4 3 Means and standard deviations for the linguistic analyses ................................. 76 4 4 Percentage changes for linguistic featur es from preto posttest ........................ 76 4 5 Holistic retelling scores by group ........................................................................ 77 4 6 Means and standard deviations for holistic retelling scores ................................ 77 A 1 Features of narrative and informational texts ..................................................... 90 A 2 Four attrib utes of explicit text .............................................................................. 91 A 3 Explicit instruction ............................................................................................... 93

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 Mean scores for reading comprehension preand posttest by group. ................ 71 4 2 Percentage change in usage of present tense verbs from preto posttest. ........ 72 4 3 Percentage change in usage of generic nouns from preto posttest. ................. 73 4 4 Perce ntage change in usage of technical vocabulary from preto posttest. ....... 74 4 5 Percentage change in organizational structure from preto posttest. ................. 75

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10 Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy THE IMPACT OF EXPOSURE AND EXPLICIT INSTRUCTION ON SECOND GRADERS READING COMPREHENSION AND RECALL OF INFORMATIONAL TEXTS By Tiffany Ohlson December 2011 Chair: Zhihui Fang Major: Curriculum and Instruction The importance and inclusion of informational texts in primary grade classrooms has been discussed at length in recent years. Few opportunities for primary aged children to engage in activities or instruction concerning informational texts are provided. This lack of early exposure to informational texts may explain why many young children have difficulty reading and understanding this text type in subsequent years. The goal of this study was to implement informational read alouds with and without explicit instruction in informational genre features and evaluate their impact on childr ens comprehension and recall. T he study used a quasi experimental, split plot design with one betweengroups factor, condition (exposure plus instruction, exposure, and comparison ) and one withingroups factor, time of measurement (pretest and posttest) to examine the childrens comprehension. Linguistic analyses were also employed to examine the childrens recall of the informational texts. Participants were teachers and se cond grade children drawn from one area public school. Quantitative data analysis revealed no statistically significant differences in mean comprehension scores between the groups. However, the linguistic analyses showed

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11 evidence of learning gains for specific genre features associated with informational texts. The findings offer valuable insight into young childrens genre development as it relates to explicit instruction and exposure to informational texts. The childrens increasing knowledge of specific informational genre features indicates that the inclusion of such texts at the primary level may be recommended.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Background The ability to read and write informational texts i s of undeniable importance as informational literacy leads to success in school and beyond. A principal goal of the U.S. educational system is to provide effective literacy instruction in order to cultivate an informational literate society. Although the importance of informational literacy is clear, stud ents in the U.S. are still not developing critical early reading and writing skills A ccording to a recent National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) about onethird of American fourth graders are reading proficiently at their grade level, another third only has partial mastery of the knowledge and skills appropriate for reading at the fourth grade level, and the bottom third fails to even reach that low level of performance (National Center for Education Statistics, 2004). Additionally, f ourth gr ade students average informational reading comprehension continues to be lower than both their overall comprehension and their narrative text comprehension (Schugar, 2008). These deficiencies in literacy achievement occur as students are transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn and have been referred to as the fourthgrade slump (Chall, Jacobs, & Baldwin, 1990). One possible contributor to this difficult y is childrens lack of exposure to and instruction in informational texts in the early grades. The importance and inclusion of informational texts in primary grade classrooms have been discussed at length in recent years (Donovan & Smolkin, 2001; Moss, 2005; Palincsar & Duke, 2004). Unfortunately current research has shown that teachers provide few opportunities for primary aged children to engage in activities or instruction

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13 concerning informational texts (Duke, 2000; Fang, 2002; Moss & Newton, 2002). This lack of early exposure and instruction using informational texts may explain why many young children have difficulty with informational reading and writing in subsequent years Duke (2000) conducted a study highlighting this lack of exposure and ins truction with informational text in the primary grades. She found that informational text accounted for a mean of only 2.6% of displayed print and 9.8% of classroom library materials in the 20 first grade classrooms she observed. Additionally, Duke witnessed an average of a mere 3.6 minutes per day spent on activities involving informational text, with the average being even lower (1.4 minutes per day) in classrooms from low SES districts. Surveys of teacher practices have also demonstrated the lack of exposure to informational texts in the elementary grades. Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi (1996) conducted a national survey of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade teachers identified by reading supervisors as effective in promoting literacy in their classrooms. This survey found that only 6% of the literacy materials used by these teachers was expository in nature. Another national survey of kindergarten through sixthgrade teachers revealed that informational texts ranked extremely low in regards to t heir use during read alouds across all grade levels (Jacob, Morrison, & Swinyard, 2000). Yet another study of primary grade teachers found that few teachers use informational texts as read alouds, with only 14% of reported read aloud texts categorized as nonfiction (Yopp & Yopp, 1999).

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14 The benefits of reading aloud have been well documented through research in the field of reading instruction. Some benefits of reading aloud include building background knowledge, developing vocabulary, increasing students motivation to read, teaching text structure, and exposing students to texts that may be too difficult for them to decode on their own but which they can comprehend when listening (Dickinson & Tabors, 2001; Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998). Conducting read al ouds using informational texts compensates for childrens reading abilities and still exposes them to the genre. In addition to the exposure to informational texts, instruction in genrespecific text features can be incorporated into informational read al ouds in the primary grades (Purcell Gates, Duke & Martineau, 2007; Smolkin & Donovan, 2001) It has been argued that such instruction can accelerate childrens learning of school based genres (Derewianka, 1990; Fang, 2003; Martin, 1989). Research Problem T he research on the scarcity of informational texts in primary grade classrooms is alarming because of the important role these texts have in the education of young children. Informational texts build background knowledge, which is vital to comprehending text (Hirsch, 2003). They expose children to technical vocabulary necessary to understand and discuss the content they are learning ( Fang, 2008; Reese & Harris, 1997). Early exposure to and instruction in informational texts prepare children for future eng agement with content area texts, which will account for the majority of their reading and writing as adults (Ogle & Blachowicz, 2002). Furthermore, many children find informational texts more engaging and motivating than narratives (Caswell & Duke, 1998; M ohr, 2006; Pappas, 1993).

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15 Whereas some genres will be familiar to children regardless of their background, informational texts may be so unfamiliar and so rarely encountered outside of the classroom that unless explicitly introduced, they will never be mastered (WollmanBonilla, 2000). Many teachers are using literaturebased literacy programs in primary classrooms, and too frequently the range of literature provided is narrow, made up mainly of narrative texts (Duke, 2000; Fang, 2002; Moss, 2005; Pappas, 1993). If it is true that young children learn about the nature of written language by being read to, by hearing written language read aloud (Holdaway, 1979; Teale, 1984; Wells, 1985, 1986), and the nature of the majority of texts being read aloud in pri mary classrooms is narrative, then teachers are not adequately preparing students to successfully engage with informational texts. Unfortunately, the Great Divide (Newkirk, 1989) or the expository gap (Daniels, 1990) which refer s to the lack of childrens capabilities to use informational written language, is actually being fostered due to the text selections of many primary teachers. Effective use of informational texts in primary classrooms may aid in preparing students to successfully comprehend and com pose this genre in later schooling. The Informational Genre Genre is a term used to refer to particular text or discourse types. Each genre serves a particular purpose and has distinctive structural and linguistic features ( Derewianka, 1990; Martin, 1989). This study focuses on the factual genre of report. At the elementary level, reports are generally incorporated into science instruction due to the nature of their content. A report makes general statements about a class of things with the purpose of informing the reader; therefore, for the purpose of this research, the terms report and

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16 informational text will be used interchangeably. The text structure of reports, or informational texts, usually begin with a general classification or phenomenon followed by successive elements that contribute to a description or listing of its properties, such as types, parts and their functions, qualities, uses or habits and so on. Some defining text features of science reports include generic participants, timeless verb constructions, technical or specialized vocabulary, realistic illustrations or photographs, and captions or labels ( Derewianka, 1990; Schleppegrell, 2004). These science reports use language that is technical, dense, and abstract (Fang, 2008; Hallida y & Martin, 1993). The text structure and defining text features of science reports differ greatly from the language and composition of narrative texts ( Fang, 2008, 2010). Narrative text structure generally refers to the story grammar, which includes a s equence of events involving specific participants and their actions and feelings. The setting, characters, problem, solution, and conclusion form a predictable structure that most narrative texts follow. Narratives include more common everyday language as well. With a predictable text structure, language that is easier to comprehend, and more exposure, it is clear to see why young children have more success comprehending narratives in comparison with informational texts. Significance There is a limited research base supporting the use of informational texts to enhance young childrens genre development (Duke & Kays, 1998; Pappas, 1993) Much of the research examining the role of informational texts on young children s genre development has focused on increased exposure to the genre. Pappas (1993) found that kindergarten students developed an awareness of genre specific text features associated w ith informational texts after increased exposure to the genre. The

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17 child ren incorporated informational text features when performing pretend readings of informational texts after exposure to the genre through read alouds Similarly, Duke and Kays (1998) examined Kindergarten students knowledge of informational texts before and after extensive exposure to the genre. Childrens pretend readings of informational text s demonstrated a greater understanding of the linguistic features generally found in informational texts after three months of increased exposure to the genre throug h read alouds. Although calls from researchers have been issued to increase exposure to informational texts, few studies address the role of explicit instruction of genrespecific text features in the early grades. This may be due to the fact that the role of explicit instruction in childrens genre development has been a topic of theoretical debate among researchers. Research stemming from the Australian genre movement has focused on empowering children through instruction in academic genres. They sug gest that knowledge about how and when to use specific genres enhances childrens abilities to communicate effectively and participate in academic disciplines (Christie, 1989; Martin, 1989; Rothery 1996). Australian researchers argue that elementary school children are not familiar with many academic genres and criticize the nondirective manner of teaching made popular by the whole language movement (Christie, 1989). On the other hand, some researchers argue that explicit instruction of genre features is u nnecessary and ineffective (Freedman, 1993; Freedman & Medway, 1994). These researchers contend that genre is learned intuitively through context, similar to the way in which a secondlanguage is likely acquired.

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18 Although some researchers contend that ins truction in academic genres is too complex for young children, others have demonstrated that children as young as Kindergarten can learn linguistic features associated with various academic genres (Duke & Kays, 1998; Pappas, 1993). Questions still exist a bout how young children develop knowledge of a particular genre and how this development is best facilitated Little empirical evidence is available and theoretical debates continue regarding th e role of instruction in genre development. This study seeks to augment the empirical evidence examining the role explicit instruction plays on young childrens genre development. Despite the primary focus on increased exposure to informational texts, one recent study did examine the impact of explicit instructio n using the informational genre at the primary level. Purcell Gates, Du ke, and Martineau (2007) conducted a two year study examining the role of authentic literacy experience and explicit instruction in genrespecific features of informational texts on se cond and third graders growth in their ability to read and write these texts. The authentic activities and explicit teaching of genre features were embedded into the classes science instruction twice a week with no specific changes to their science curr iculum. They designed assessments to measure the students ability to comprehend informational texts which would be suitable for growth modeling across the two years. Surprisingly, their findings showed little effect of explicit teaching of informational t ext features on students growth in their abilities to read and write this specific genre. More research is needed to understand how informational texts are best learned. Is exposure to the g enre enough for young children to successfully comprehend

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19 info rmational text or would explicit instruction in genrespecific text features be beneficial for these children when reading and comprehending informational text? The present study is significant in that it seeks to expand this research base by examining t he impact of informational read alouds and instruction in genrespecific text features on the reading comprehension of young children. Much of the research on this topic has addressed the effects of increased exposure to the genre resulting in positive ef fects on comprehens ion. More research on the inclusion of explicit instruction in genrespecific text features with young children is necessary to understand the role it plays in genre development This study seeks to address how exposure and instruction using informational texts impacts young childrens comprehension of this genre. The present study examines the impact of explicit instruction of informational texts at the primary level; however, instead of comparing the explicit instruction to authentic literacy experiences as in the study conducted by Purcell Gates, Duke, and Martineau (2007), this study investigates the role of exposure to informational text versus the role of explicit instruction with this specific genre. The increased exposure and ex plicit instruction in genrespecific text features was conducted through read alouds performed four times a week over the course of nine weeks, instead of twice a week over the course of two years. These sessions were more consistent and concentrated. Ad ditionally, PurcellGates, Duke & Martineau (2007) examined the impact of explicit instruction on students reading comprehension alone, while this research seeks to explore the impact on students reading comprehension and recall of informational text. T his research examines the influence of explicit instruction of genrespecific text features by exploring questions that previous research has not addressed.

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20 This study is grounded in the theory that children learn about print through their experiences with it (Clay, 1991; Purcell Gates, 1995). Children construct understandings about written language such as its purpose, structure, and meaning through culturally composed and socially motivated experiences (Halliday, 1975) Many of these experiences occur in school where children are provided opportunities to interact with various genres. According to this theory, in order to understand childrens genre development and how it might best be facilitated, one must understand the genre experiences children have and the understandings that they construct from them. In this study, childrens genre experiences are defined as listening to read alouds of informational texts and reading informational texts independently. The understandings that the children construct f rom these experiences with informational texts are quantified by reading comprehension scores and linguistic analyses of their retellings. This research is also significan t because it will enhance early elementary teachers knowledge of best practices i n reading instruction. This research addresses whether taking that extra time for explicit instruction in genrespecific text features makes a significant difference compared to simply exposing students to informational texts through read alouds in the pri mary grades. This research aims to enhance teachers knowledge and planning for how to best aid their student s comprehension of informational texts. Research Questions Current reading research documents the scarcity of informational texts present in primary classrooms (Duke, 2000; Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi, 1996) and the limited amount of instruction using informational texts (Fang, 2002; Jacob, Morrison, & Swinyard, 200 0; Yopp & Yopp, 1999). This study examines the impact of exposure and

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21 explicit instruction of genrespecific text features on young childrens reading comprehension and recall of informational texts. It was designed to address the following research questi ons: 1. What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders comprehension of informational texts? 2. What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders recall of informational texts? The goal of this study is to implement informational read alouds with and without explicit instruction in informational genre features and evaluate their impact on childrens comprehension. There is a three group comparison with one group receiving no informational text intervention, a second group receiving only exposure to informational texts and a third group receiving both exposure and instruction in informational texts. Participants are second grade children drawn from one public school in Flor ida The teacher in the exposure plus instruction group agreed to: attend training sessions prior to the start of the implementation of the instructional intervention, perform informational read alouds with the texts provided four times a week for the nine week duration of the intervention, and allow the researcher into his classroom during the read alouds on a weekly basis for fidelity checks. The training session was designed to aid the teacher in understanding the genrespecific text features and explic it teaching addressed in the study. The training include d practice in examining texts in terms of their genrespecific text features, observing a model lesson performed by the researcher including explicit teaching of the text feature, and developing his own lesson including explicit teaching of genrespecific text features. Ongoing c oaching was available to the teacher in the instructional intervention group for the duration of the study. Meanwhile, the teacher in the exposure group read sixteen informa tional science

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22 texts to their students for the nineweek duration of the study. The teachers were asked to conduct their typical literacy instruction with no changes other than reading the informational texts; therefore, no explicit teaching of g enrespecific text features occur red in conjunction with the read alouds. The third group was a control group and was asked to conduct their typical literacy instruction with no changes. Study Delimitations There are certain delimitations relating to the generalizability of this research to settings and participants beyond those that will be studied. One such delimitation is that this research includes a r elatively small sample size of three second grade classrooms one classroom for each condition. It wi ll be up to readers of this research to determine whether the findings can be generalized to other participants. Additionally, the setting is particular to this research study so readers will have to decide if appropriate comparisons can be drawn between additional settings. Another delimitation of this study is that this research is primarily directed towards practicing teachers. Although the findings refer to practicing teachers, prospective teachers in teacher preparation programs may also find this i nformation useful. The results of this study could inform teacher educators in how to train beginning teachers to effectively integrate informational texts into their reading instruction.

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23 CHAPTER 2 LITERATURE REVIEW The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of informational read alouds and instruction in genrespecific text features on childrens reading comprehension and recall of informational texts Recent scholarship has called for providing students with more opportunities to engage with informational texts in primary classrooms (Christie, 1987; Duke, 2000; Lemke, 1994; Pappas, 1991) in response to concerns about students poor informational literacy skills. Chapter 2 presents relevant research related to young childrens experience with informational texts and their informational genre development. The first topic addressed is the difficulty many students have with transitioning from learning to read in the primary grades to reading to learn in the intermediate grades, which has been referred to as the fourthgrade slump (Chall, Jacobs, & Baldwin, 1990). The stages of reading development documented by the prominent reading researcher, Jeanne Chall, are summarized along with her groundbreaking findings leading to the concern ab out students poor informational literacy skills. The well documented advantages of reading aloud to young children are delineated in the next section. Reading aloud to young children facilitates literacy development in a number of ways including increasing students vocabulary and comprehension, while also introducing students to advanced language patterns and complex concepts. The research demonstrating the paucity of informational texts used in primary grades is addressed in the following section. It is critical to understand the extent to which young children are not exposed to informational texts in the early grades. This

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24 scarcity of informational texts in primary classrooms provides a foundation for the purpose of this research. Since this st udy is concerned with informational genre knowledge and development, brief definitions and descriptions of commonly found genres in elementary grades are discussed along with a review of the research on young childrens informational genre development. T his is followed by a review of the research on the benefits of childrens experience with informational texts, which has mainly come from teacher read alouds. Finally, the review will conclude with a discussion of the role of explicit instruction of genrespecific text features in young childrens informational genre development. Stages of Reading Development Over the past four decades results from reading tests administered by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have demonstrated what Jeanne Chall referred to as the fourthgrade slump. This term refers to the drop in reading scores of students after transitioning from learning to read to reading to learn, which generally occurs between third and fourth grade. Challs (1983, 1996) developmental model of reading describes stages in the process of becoming a proficient, skilled reader and outlines the progression from learning to read to reading to learn There are six stages in Challs developmental model of reading, beginning at Stage 0 (prereading) and continuing through Stage 5 when skilled readers construct knowledge through synthesis and analysis of text. The first stage, Stage 0, primarily focuses on childrens oral language development up until age 5 or 6, when they begin formal schooling. Children in this stage retell texts through pictures, pretend read, and have some knowledge of alphabet letters. Throughout Stages 1 and 2 children develop

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25 a sense of the alphabetic principle, learn to decode simple texts, and becom e more fluent readers. Instruction during these stages focuses on direct instruction in decoding skills and opportunities for children to read familiar and interesting texts at their instructional and independent levels. Teachers should also read higher level texts aloud to children in order to aid in their development of more advanced language patterns, vocabulary acquisition, and knowledge of new ideas and concepts. Generally, Stages 1 and 2 are considered the time that students learn to read. Children usually progress through these stages while in first, second and third grade. Stage 3, typically occurring in grades 48, is characterized by increasingly more difficult texts and contexts, which put greater cog nitive demands on the reader. This mark s the shift from learning to read to reading to learn. Beginning in Stage 3 and continuing through Stage 5, students consistently use texts as tools for learning. Texts contain more varied and complex vocabulary, text structures, and ideas in order t o expand students knowledge of the world. Stages 4 and 5 continue through high school and college when students must read, analyze and synthesize information from numerous texts and viewpoints. Students are asked to critically read and analyze texts, wh ile expanding and constructing their own understanding. Students must increase their vocabularies and knowledge in order to be able to comprehend these more challenging texts. Many children find the transition from learning to read to reading to learn difficult, which limits their academic success. Chall, Jacobs, and Baldwin (1990) performed a study examining the reading skills and abilities of 30 second, fourth and sixth graders over a twoyear period, paying close attention to students from low income

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26 families. Their results showed that students scores decreased between third and fourth grad e. This phenomenon was referred to as the fourthgrade slump. The sharpest decrease was found in word meanings, with low income children having more difficulty with abstract, academic vocabulary than the other children. Although their vocabulary knowledge seemed to be sufficient in the primary grades, they were ill equipped to handle the more challenging texts containing increased amounts of abstract, special ized vocabulary typically found in texts beyond third grade. One possible reason for the fourth grade slump may stem from a lack of exposure at the primary level to informational texts, which contain a high percentage of academic, technical vocabulary. If students are exposed to more informational tex ts in early grades, they may be better equipped to read and comprehend these texts when they encounter them beyond third grade. Importance of R ead ing A lo ud One way in which young children can be exposed to more sophisticated language patterns, vocabulary and content of informational texts is through read alouds. The act of reading aloud has been described as the single most important activity for building t he knowledge required for eventual success in reading (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985, p.23). Ample research provides support for reading aloud as a critical aspect associated with students literacy development. Chall (1996) recommends read alouds as part of reading instruction in all stages of reading development in order to facilitate the development of advanced language patterns, vocabulary acquisition and knowledge of complex concepts. Vocabulary acquisition through read alouds has been a topic addressed by many researchers. Studies have demonstrated a clear increase in vocabulary after being exposed to new vocabulary

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27 during classroom read alouds (Beck& McKeown, 2001; Brabham & LynchBrown, 2002; Dickinson & Smith, 1994: Senechal & Cornell, 1993). Reading aloud to children has also shown to increase their comprehension (Hickman, Pollard Durodola, & Vaughn, 2004; Teale, 1986). Reading aloud also gives students a model for fluent reading, introduces students to concepts of print and shows children the value and enjoyment that can come from reading. For many of these reasons, reading aloud was noted as a characteristic of exemplary literacy instruction by researchers examining outstanding primary teachers in the field of literacy (Morrow, Tracey, Woo, & Pressley, 2005). To summarize, r eading aloud to children gives students access to concepts, vocabulary, and content that they may not be able to derive from reading on their own. Reading aloud also mitigates the cognitive load on students since decoding the text is no longer a factor when trying to construct the texts meaning. For these reasons, read alouds would seem to be an optimal way in which to infuse informational texts into early reading instruction. Scarcity of Informational Tex ts Unfortunately, substantial research h as suggested a lack of exposure to informational texts in primary classrooms (Duke, 2000; Fang, 2002; Fisher & Hiebert, 1990; Jacob, Morrison, & Swinyard, 2000; Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi, 1996; Yopp & Yopp, 1999, 2006). This lack of exposure to informational texts has permeated primary classrooms. Research has found few informational texts available in classroom libraries, used during read alouds, and present in basal reader series. Duke (2000) conducted a study hi ghlighting this lack of exposure to informational text in the primary grades. The study provided descriptive information about experiences with informational texts offered to students in 20 first grade classrooms

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28 from both highand low SES school distric ts. Each classroom was visited for four days over the course of a school year, and data were collected about the types of text on classroom walls, in the classroom library, and in classroom written language activities. Results showed that informational t ext accounted for a mean of only 2.6% of displayed print and 9.8% of classroom library materials in the 20 first grade classrooms she observed. Additionally, Duke witnessed an average of a mere 3.6 minutes per day spent on activities involving informational text, with the average being even lower (1.9 minutes per day) in classrooms from low SES districts. Surveys of teacher practices have also demonstrated the lack of exposure to informational texts in the elementary grades. Pressley, Rankin, & Yokoi (1996) conducted a national survey of kindergarten, first grade, and second grade teachers identified by reading supervisors as effective in promoting literacy in their classrooms. This survey found that only 6% of the literacy materials used by these teacher s was expository in nature. Another national survey of kindergarten through sixthgrade teachers revealed that informational texts ranked extremely low in regards to their use during read alouds across all grade levels (Jacob, Morrison, & Swinyard, 2000). Yet another study of primary grade teachers found that few teachers use informational texts as read alouds, with only 14% of reported read aloud texts categorized as nonfiction (Yopp & Yopp, 1999). Yopp and Yopp (2006) analyzed texts used during read alo uds both at home and at school. They examined 1 ,487 texts reportedly read aloud by pr imary teac hers (preschool third grade) and found that only 8% were categorized as informational, while 7% of the 1,473 titles read aloud by parents of Kindergarteners w ere categorized

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29 as informational. These findings show that children have limited exposure to informational texts both at home and at school. In addition to the well documented scarcity of informational texts at the elementary level, researchers have beg un to examine the lack of exposure to informational texts during preschool years as well. Pentimonti, Zucker, & Justice (in press) studied the readalouds of 13 teachers, resulting in 433 texts and found that only 5% were informational. Pentimonti, Zucker, Justice, & Kaderavek (2010) examined 733 texts used as read alouds in preschool classrooms and found that 82% were narrative, 13% were mixed genres, and a mere 4% were categorized as informational. These studies demonstrate the pervasive lack of informat ional texts in the early grades. In addition to the lack of informational texts used as read alouds in primary classrooms, research has been conducted on the inclusion of this genre in basal reader series commonly used in elementary classrooms across th e U.S. In 1986, Flood and Lapp found that narrative selections accounted for more than 66% of the total pages in eight basal reader series spanning grades one through six. In 1994, Hoffman et al. found that only 12% of both the 1986/87 and 1993 editions of five publishers first grade basal readers consisted of nonnarrative text. More recently, Moss & Newton (2002) examined the inclusion of informational text included in basal reading series in grades two, four, and six. Their findings confirmed those of earlier studies, with informational text selections accounting for 18% of the selections and 20% of the pages overall. Since basal reading series are used in 95% of American classrooms (Moss & Newton, 2002), this lack of informational text is widespread in elementary classrooms across the country.

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30 Another possible factor affecting the number of informational texts used in primary classrooms is associated with the teachers own comfort level with the genre. Researchers have suggested that many elementary teachers have negative associations with reading informational texts (Donovan & Smolkin, 2002). Because many adults struggle with reading and comprehending informational texts, possibly from limited exposure and instruction using these texts during their own schooling, teachers may not feel comfortable reading these types of texts with their students (Donovan & Smolkin, 2002). Elementary teachers may choose to read narrative texts that contain information or mixed genres more often than reading informational texts due to their own personal preference and comfort level (Donovan & Smolkin, 2001). Despite the scarcity of informational texts found in primary classrooms, approximately 75% of the texts that children read in school by the time they reach sixth grade are classified as informational (Venezky, 2000). Additionally, researchers report that a large percentage of passages used to measure reading comprehension on standardized tests are informational (Calkins Montgomery, Santman, & Falk, 1998; Ruetschlin, Dreher, & Finger, 2005). Given the predominance of informational texts (e.g., textbooks, trade books) in later schoolin g familiarity with this genre is imperative Genre Reading is a complex task in which t he reader must coordinate many cognitive processes in order to recognize words, construct meaning from text, and retain the information read in memory. This task becomes even more complicated when different genres are included. Up to this point, much of the research has divided texts into one of two categories: narrative or expository. In reality, there are many different text types, or

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31 genres, that fall under the category expository, including reports, procedures, and expositions. Genre is a term us ed to refer to particular text or discourse types. Genres vary in organizational structure and each serves a specific social purpose, e.g., to explain, to inform, to describe, or to argue. Each genre has its own particular set of linguistic features, which are functional in realizing the purpose and meanings of that genre. Martin (1998) proposes the use of three categories to summarize the purposes of typical school based genres: Personal, Factual, and Analytical. Personal Genres retell or create personal experiences and include recounts and narratives. Factual Genres present factual information and include procedures, reports, and descriptions. Analytical Genres explain phenomenon or present an argument and include accounts, explanations, and expositions. The Personal and Factual Genres are the most commonly found genres in primary grades (K 3) so for the purpose of this research, the following section will provide an overview of the Personal and Factual Genres: recount, narrative, procedure, descript ion, and report. Recount Recounts recreate personal experiences usually through retelling a sequence of events. They are characterized by their use of specific language features including specific participants (i.e. Mrs. Harner, my dog, I) consisting of m any personal pronouns. Another text feature of recounts is the extensive use of action verbs in the simple past tense such as smiled, barked, and ran The use of temporal markers to organize the sequence of events is also characteristic of recounts (i.e. next, later, before, on Monday ). The following is an example of a recount written by a first grade student:

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32 Today I played basketball. We dribbled across the court and we passed it to each other. I learned how to steal the ball. Miguel was on my team and Nate, Ben and Antonio were on the other team. We won eight to six. Christie (1998) proposes a developmental continuum of students writing in which students typically begin with writing recounts in the early elementary grades. As the recounts become more sophisticated, students become better prepared to create narratives. Narrative Narratives serve to entertain and typically have a familiar structure often referred to as story grammar, which is organized around the goals and needs of specific partic ipants. Narratives typically follow a temporal sequence beginning with an orientation, which introduces the reader to the main characters and setting of the story. A series of events follow the orientation during which a problem or complication usually a rises. Finally, a resolution of the complication is realized at the conclusion of the story. Narratives are the principal text type read and discussed in primary classrooms; therefore, children are able to rely heavily on their familiarity with this text structure when asked to comprehend stories. Additionally the content of narrative texts is familiar to readers since they usually focus on topics in which readers have a wealth of knowledge such as social relationships and everyday situations. This fami liar causal structure and text content aid in the comprehension and memory of stories. Narratives are usually written in the past tense and include many transitional words to mark the sequence of events. They contain a large number of action verbs, but also include verbs which refer to the feelings and thoughts of the specific participants. Dialogue and descriptive language is often included to develop the story

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33 as well. An excerpt from The Grouchy Ladybug by Eric Carle is an example of a narrative: It was night and some fireflies danced around the moon. At five oclock in the morning the sun came up. A friendly ladybug flew in from the left. It saw a leaf with many aphids on it and decided to have them for breakfast. But just then a grouchy ladybug flew in from the right. It too saw the aphids and wanted them for breakfast. Procedure Schleppegrell (2004) defines procedure as a genre which directs the actions of others through a sequence of steps. The organizational structure of procedural texts consists of this set of steps, which tell the reader how to do something such as perform an experiment. Procedures generally use a declarative mood employing imperative verbs in the present tense in order to give directions or instructions. Transitional words such as first, next, and then referring to the sequence of steps are also commonly found in procedural texts. The following example of procedural text is extracted from directions on how to grow a plant on the Kids Science Experiments web site, an onli ne site consisting of numerous science experiments designed for children. 1. Take the two flower pots and fill them with the potting soil leaving about an inch from the top of the pots unfilled. 2. Make a hole in the center of the potting soil with your thumb (this is where you will place the seeds) in both pots. 3. Drop a few seeds in the hole in each pot and cover the hole with the soil. (excer pt from http://www.kids science experiments.com/growaplant.html) Martin (1989) suggests that procedures are the most similar type of factual writing to narratives and recounts in the fact that they are all organized around a sequence of events. The difference is manifested in the generality of the participants and events in procedural texts contrasted with the specificity of the participants and events in the Personal Genres of recounts and narratives.

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34 Report The purpose of the report genre is to relate a set of facts about a topic. Halliday and Martin (1993) identify reports as the most common genre found in science textbooks. The information in reports is organized by classifying, dividing phenomena into parts, or by describing its properties. Reports usually begin with a general statement introducing the topic (e.g. Mammals are one of the six main classes of animals ) and then continue with more specific information describing characteristics of that topic (i.e. warm blooded, nurse their young, have hair ). Participants are usually generic in order to refer to classes of things like animals or plants. Another text feature of reports is the inclusion of technical vocabulary, which serves to name content speci fic phenomena (i.e. mammal, reptile, amphibian). Reports also use timeless verbs in the present tense such as produces, controls and functions to relay information. In addition, relational process clauses are included to describe the relationships and classifications present in reports. These usually consist of having or being clauses (i.e. mammals have hair ; mammals are warm blooded). The following is an example of a report on mammals: Mammals have several unique characteristics that differentiate them f rom other animals. Most mammals have hair, or fur, covering their body. They are also capable of regulating their body temperature. The mammals metabolism controls heat production, and the sweat glands help cool the body. These allow the mammal to maintai n a constant body temperature, regardless of the environmental temperature. One other difference is that mammals give birth to fully formed babies, and the female mammals produce milk to feed their young. Most mammals walk on 4 legs, with only the humans walking upright on 2 legs. Aquatic mammals have flippers, or fins, for swimming rather than legs. Common mammals include: primates, such humans and monkeys; marsupials; rodents; whales; dolphins; and, seals. (from http://www.kidport.com/reflib/science/animals/mammals.htm )

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35 This study refers to informational texts as reports and uses the terms interchangeably; therefore, the informational texts used in this research will be reports as defined earlier. Reports are used in elementary classrooms primarily during science instruction, with science textbooks containing a large percentage of this genre. Description Descriptions describe a person, place or thing. Reports are closely related to the description genre because, like reports, descriptions give readers information. However, instead of focusing on classes of things, descriptions focus on specific individuals or entities (i.e. my dog, the picture on the wall ). Students often confuse these two genres wh en teachers do not point out this fundamental difference between them. Descriptions refer to texts which focus on specific participants and describe their characteristics. The following is an example of a description written by a first grade student: My dog is big and brown. His name is Barkley. He lives in my house. He plays ball with me. My dog likes to chase squirrels. This description relays information about a specific dog, whereas a report on dogs would make general statement s, having no particular dog in mind. Table 21 summarizes the features of each of the school based genres. What is Needed to Comprehend Informational Texts? Reading instruction continues to focus on components considered critical to a childs reading development by the National Reading Panel (NRP): alphabetics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension strategies (National Institute of Child Health and Human Development [NICHD], 2000). Although these components are necessary, they are not sufficient for the successful comprehension of informational text.

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36 Table 2 1 School based genre f eatures Genres Social Purpose Text Structure Language Features Procedure To tell someone how to do or make something 1. Goal 2. Materials 3. Method Imperative or declarative sentences Action verbs Temporal conjunctions Simple present tense Recount To tell what happened 1. Orientation 2. Series of events Specific participants Action verbs Past tense Temporal conjunctions Narrative To entertain 1. Orientation 2. Complication 3. Resolution Specific participants Action verbs Past tense Temporal conjunctions Dialogue Descriptive language Report To describe attributes, properties, behaviors, etc. of a class of things 1. General statement 2. Description of various aspects of the thing Many linking verbs (e.g., be, have) Present tense Some action verbs Technical vocabulary General participants *Language for defining, classifying, comparing and contrasting Description To describe a specific person, place, or thing 1. Description of various aspects of the specified person, place, or thing *Specific participants *Some action verbs *Many linking verbs *Present tense In order to comprehend any text, students must be able to decode at least 9095% of the words and read fluently with the appropriate rate and intonation. Students are also taught various comprehension strategies in order to aid their comprehension of text However, other aspects play a key role in students ability to comprehend informational text including domain knowledge, knowledge of specialized vocabulary,

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37 and text structure. Additionally, many students have shown to be motivated to read informational texts, which can play a part in aiding comprehension. Domain Knowledge Comprehension of a text relies on both knowledgedriven and text driven processing. The knowledgedriven part includes not only knowledge of text structure, but also domain knowl edge sometimes referred to as content knowledge. Generally, narrative texts contain more familiar content than expository texts making them easier to comprehend. Since the purpose of expository texts is to communicate information about a topic, usually t he readers are reading to gain knowledge they do not already have, forcing them to rely more heavily on what is presented in the text to make connections and comprehend the text (Horiba, 2000; Cote, Goldman, & Saul, 1998). If readers do possess domain knowledge about a text they are reading, they use that prior knowledge along with what they process from the text to create a situation model (Kintsch, 1988). This integration of knowledge gained from the text with prior knowledge creates a situation model that changes as the reader continually adds more information. Without this domain knowledge, readers rely more heavily on text driven processing using linguistic cues and word recognition to try and comprehend the text, which is generally the case when processing expository texts. Yet some research indicates that prior knowledge is utilized differently when processing narrative and expository texts. Wolfe (2005) examined the influence of semantic knowledge associations and text organization on memory f or narrative and expository text. Prior associations in semantic memory between text concepts and the topic of texts were highly predictive of memory for text content of expository texts; however, the organization of text concepts in the text was a much better predictor of

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38 memory than the semantic associations in narrative texts. Wolfe & Mienko (2007) found that readers processing of narrative and expository texts differ with respect to integration of prior knowledge with text content. Regarding narrati ve texts, readers focused their processing on creating a mental representation of events described in the text and were less concerned with integrating the content with their prior knowledge. In contrast, memory was positively correlated with prior knowledge in the expository condition when readers processing focused on attempts at integrating the content of the texts with their prior knowledge. This line of research indicates that the amount of prior knowledge readers have about a topic could be differe ntially important considering the genre being read. If readers attempt to integrate prior knowledge with text content more often while processing expository texts, then the amount of prior knowledge may be more important when reading expository texts than when reading narrative texts (Wolfe & Mienko, 2007). This finding would suggest that students should have a great deal of experience with informational texts in order to gain the knowledge needed to aid text comprehension. Hirsch (2006) asserts that a content rich literacy curriculum is necessary for building both vocabulary and domain knowledge essential for successful comprehension of text; reading achievement will not advance significantly until schools recognize and act on the fact that it depends on the possession of a broad but definable range of diverse knowledge. The effective teaching of reading will require schools to teach the diverse, enabling knowledge that reading requires (p.74). Vocabulary Knowledge Research has demonstrated that i nformational texts contain many specialized vocabulary terms, which can create comprehension difficulties for many students.

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39 Discussions about the specialized terms in informational texts can facilitate further vocabulary acquisition (Reese & Harris, 1997) and provide opportunities for parents, teachers and students to make connections and discuss concepts using more technical, abstract language (Price, van Kleeck, & Huberty, 2009; Smolkin et al., 2008). Recent research conducted by Price, van Kleeck & Huberty (2009) examined the read aloud experiences of parents and their preschool aged children when sharing expository and narrative texts. The results revealed that discussions about the expository books were significantly longer and contained significantly more feedback and diverse vocabulary than discussions about the narrative texts. Interactions during the expository read alouds also led to an increase in language usage at higher levels of cognitive demand for both the parents and the children in compari son to the interactions during the narrative read alouds. Additionally, Varelas and Pappas (2006) investigated the effects of readalouds using informational science texts during an integrated science literacy unit in first and second grade classrooms. They found that over the course of the study classroom discourse reflected an increased use of scientific language as teachers and students began to use features such as present tense verbs more often in their discussions. Research conducted by Smolkin and D onovan (2001) examined the interactions between a first grade teacher and her students while performing informational read alouds. They examined the classroom discourse, specifically looking at the comprehensionrelated comments (i.e. predictions, elabora tions, wonderings) during informational read alouds contrasted with those occurring during narrative read alouds. Results demonstrated that students produced considerably more comprehension-

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40 related comments during the informational read aloud, accounting for 70% of the total discussion, as opposed to the narrative read alouds, which only had 30% of the total discussion coded as comprehensionrelated. The same trend emerged when the researchers examined the teachers comments in regards to fostering compre hension during the read alouds, which included categories such as informing, summarizing, fostering predictions, and thinking about text. The teacher produced far more comprehensionrelated comments during the informational read aloud than during the narr ative read aloud (79% vs. 21%). Smolkin and Donovan concluded that the informational texts were creating a situation in which both children and teacher were more overtly engaged in meaning seeking, meaning making efforts (p. 104). Text Structure One area in which there exists a strong research base showing the benefits of explicit instruction using informational texts is in the teaching of text structure. Results show improvement in comprehension and composition of text structures after explicit instr uction in those particular structures (Hall, Sabey & McClellan, 2005; Gersten, Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001; Taylor & Samuels, 1983; Williams, 2005). In contrast to the predictable causal structure of narratives, the structure of informational texts var ies considerably. Informational texts consist of multiple structures including description, causation, problem/solution and compare/contrast (Meyer & Freedle, 1984). They serve to communicate information about a topic and are typically organized through the use of headings and subheadings to help cue the reader into part/whole relationships or characteristics of a class of things being reported. Informational texts are more abstract and include more unfamiliar concepts with less information directly relat ed to personal experiences. They contain more nouns in the

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41 form of nominalizations, more technical vocabulary, and a higher lexical density index than narrative texts, which contain dialogue and use more common everyday language (Derewianka, 1990; Fang, 2008; Schleppegrell, 2004). Research has shown that knowledge of text structure increases comprehension and memory of text (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000; Taylor & Samuels, 1983). Narratives are recalled well because readers access their knowledge of the pre dictable schematic structure in which to organize the text during comprehension (Kintsch & Young, 1984). Research also demonstrates that students are more successful with narrative texts as opposed to expository texts, especially in the elementary grades. Since students in the primary grades spend very little time with expository texts, this seems to be a logical conclusion. Exposure and instruction with various genres, specifically expository genres, have lead to increased comprehension, memory and production of those genres (Duke & Kays, 1998; Pappas, 1993; Smolkin & Donovan, 2001). Also, many interventions have been successfully implemented in classrooms in order to improve comprehension and memory of expository text using graphic organizers and aids t hat specifically highlight text structure (Goldman & Rakestraw, 2000). A strong research base exists when looking at the effects of teaching text structure. Research has demonstrated that text structure awareness facilitates text comprehension and recall (Meyer & Freedle, 1984; Oakhill & Yuill, 1996; Taylor & Samuels, 1983). Readers who can identify and are knowledgeable about the organizational structures of texts can better recognize important information and relationships between ideas. Intervention studies with older students have shown these benefits of teaching text structure (Englert & Hiebert, 1984; Meyer & Poon, 2001;

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42 Weaver & Kintsch, 1991), while the benefit of teaching text structure to younger children is just now gaining attention (Hall, Sabey, McClellan, 2005; Williams, 2005). Hall, Sabey & McClellan (2005) investigated the effectiveness of teaching expository text comprehension through text structure awareness to second graders. Second grade students were placed in one of three groups: text structure, content, and no instruction. The text structure group focused on text structure awareness, the content group focused on vocabulary and background knowledge, and the no instruction group carried out their regular instruction. The groups m et two or three times per week for 2025 minutes over a six week period. Results showed that students who received instruction in text structure were able to use expository text comprehension strategies, gained a conceptual understanding of the text struc ture, and produced well structured summaries better than the students in the other two groups. These findings demonstrate considerable benefits of teaching text structure to young students, especially considering the short duration of this intervention. Motivation and Engagement Another benefit of exposing young children to informational texts is the argument that these texts play an important role in motivating children to read. Many children find the topics addressed in informational texts interesting and engaging (Caswell & Duke, 1998; Duke, 2000). Informational texts, especially trade books, may be particularly motivating for children because they are visually stimulating and discuss topics that students are curious about (Szymusiak & Sibberson, 2001). A recent study by Mohr ( 2006) investigated first graders choices for recreational reading, specifically looking at their preferences, selection rationales, and processes when choosing a book to own. The first graders demonstrated an overwhelming

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43 preference for nonfiction texts, with, 159 out of the 190 students polled (84%) selecting nonfiction books. The majority of students (57%) cited the topic as the reason for choosing the nonfiction books with another 30% selecting books based on text features such as photographs. These findings show a preference for nonfiction books when young children are given choices for their book selection. Pappas (1993) also examined childrens preferences regarding informational books and narratives. She found that children preferred informational books to narratives on two occasions, with 65% and 79% of Kindergarten students choosing informational texts over narratives. Research demonstrates the ways in which motivation and the knowledge of specific domains, specialized vocabulary, and text str ucture can improve students comprehension of informational text. Experiences with informational texts impact students learning in regard to their content, specialized vocabulary, and structure with many students actually preferring informational texts t o other genres. Young Children and Genre Development While there is a general consensus about the benefits of reading informational texts, there is a great deal of uncertainty around the subject of childrens genre development. Questions exist about how children develop knowledge of a particular discourse type and how this development is best facilitated Little empirical evidence is available and theoretical debates continue on the topic of genre development. This study seeks to begin to address the d earth of knowledge about childrens genre development and how this development is best facilitated. Despite the lack of research on this topic directly, there is research that addresses childrens understanding and experience with informational texts

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44 The Role of Exposure in Genre Development Young childrens ability to interact with various genres has been a topic of debate, with some scholars asserting that young children may not be able to handle nonnarrative texts. Some believe that young children ar e unable to learn from or about texts unless they are narratives, or that young childrens literacy development is better facilitated through the use of narratives (Egan, 1993; Moffet, 1968). They contend that a childs literacy development begins with a preference for and comprehension of narrative texts, which slowly progresses to other genres. This idea that narrative is primary in childrens literacy development has been called into question. Research has suggested that young children can successfully interact with nonnarrative texts after they are given opportunities to experience various genres. For example, Duke and Kays (1998) examined young childrens knowledge of informational texts before and after extensive exposure to the genre in their Kin dergarten classes. Children performed pretend readings of an unfamiliar, wordless informational text in September and then again in December. The pretend readings were coded for linguistic features of informational texts including: timeless verbs, generi c nouns, relational verbs, technical vocabulary and classificatory structures. Over the course of three months, information books were read aloud to the students 34 times per week. There was no instruction in genrespecific text features of information b ooks included during the course of the read alouds. Duke and Kays found that the pretend readings of the Kindergarten children after the threemonth intervention demonstrated a greater understanding of the linguistic features typically found in informational texts. The childrens pretend readings showed an increase in the use of timeless verbs, generic nouns, classificatory structures, and more characteristic

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45 information book openings. This research demonstrates that young children internalized some of t he linguistic features associated with information books during exposure through read alouds and then reproduced them during pretend readings without explicit instruction in those features. Another study examining Kindergarten students knowledge of informational texts was conducted by Pappas (1993). Kindergarten children were asked to conduct pretend readings of informational texts and storybooks directly after listening to them read aloud three times over the course of the study. Findings demonstrated that children were just as successful in reenacting the informational books as they were the narratives by including linguistic features respective to the two genres. The children employed increasing amounts of linguistic features of informational texts in their repeated readings from the beginning to the end of the study. Although results from Duke and Kays (1998) and Pappas (1993) demonstrate young childrens genre development in their increased use of linguistic features of informational texts during their pretend readings, there is little evidence that this development would benefit young childrens comprehension of the text. However, a qualitative study conducted by Moss (1997) examined first grade students comprehension of informational text using retellings. Twenty first grade students were read an informational trade book entitled How Kittens Grow. After listening to the book, each child retold the information contained in the text by using a drawing, the text itself, or his/her memory. Each retelling was audiotaped, transcribed, and scored on a scale from 1 5 as indicated by an adapted version of the Irwin & Mitchell (1983) Richness of Retelling Scale. Each retelling was scored three times by three different raters, with 18

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46 of the 20 ch ildren scoring a three or better. A level 3 score on the scale refers to a retelling, which accurately and completely recounted the main ideas and details of the text, retold in sequence, and summarized the text. Results from this study suggest that young children are capable of successfully comprehending informational text. Although retellings have been employed as an assessment tool for comprehension of narrative texts, few studies have used retellings to examine childrens comprehension of informational text. The findings from this study indicate that retelling could be an appropriate and effective tool for eliciting young childrens recall of informational text. These studies illustrate the ability of young children to successfully interact with info rmational texts after exposure to this text type during read alouds. Students become aware of the linguistic features associated with informational texts through exposure to the genre, but will this knowledge lead to increased comprehension of the informational genre? This study seeks to expand the limited empirical evidence relating to this question. The Role of Explicit Instruction in Genre Development The question of how language is best learned, particularly reading and writing, which are not acquired as ones primary discourse (Gee, 1992) has been debated. Some scholars believe that language is best facilitated through explicit instruction in its various structures, while others believe that language cannot be taught, but must be acquired through experience and immersion in particular language forms. In addition to the two extremes of language learning, there are those scholars who contend that language is best learned through a combination of exposure and instruction. Researchers from the Aus tralian genre movement argue that explicit instruction in academic genres can empower students to better communicate and participate in

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47 academic disciplines (Christie, 1989; Martin, 1989; Rothery 1996). They criticize the nondirective manner of instruction popularized by the whole language and process movements implying that this is one reason why young children are unfamiliar with many academic genres (Christie, 1989). In an analysis performed by Martin and Rothery of 1500 texts written by elementary students, only 228 (15%) were factual writing (Martin, 1989). Martin (1989) refers to factual writing as the writing of power and challenges educators to teach children this writing, so they can understand and challenge the world in which they live. If ch ildren received explicit instruction in writing, for example, including models and direct teaching making use of knowledge about language, many more children would learn to write effectively than at present. And success in education depends on writing. But at present, writing is not taught. Bright middleclass children learn by osmosis what has to be learned. Working class, migrant, or Aboriginal children, whose homes do not provide them with models of writing, and who dont have the coding orientation to read between the lines and see what is implicitly demanded, do not learn to write effectively This kind of refusal to teach helps reinforce the success of ruling class children in education; through an insidious benevolence other children are supportivel y encouraged to fail. (p.61) Conversely, some researchers contend that explicit instruction in academic genres is pointless and unproductive (Freedman, 1993; Freedman & Medway, 1994). These researchers suggest that academic genres are learned naturally t hrough continued exposure much like learning a second language. Questions regarding the role of explicit instruction in genre development fuel this ongoing theoretical debate. The present study seeks to address some of these questions by examining the r ole exposure plays versus the role explicit instruction plays in young childrens understanding of informational text.

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48 Although a strong research base exists demonstrating the impact of exposure to informational texts, one recent study conducted by PurcellGates, Duke, & Martineau (2007) addresses the lack of genrespecific instruction at the primary level. They conducted a longitudinal study exploring the roles of authentic reading and writing experiences and explicit explanation in genre features on second and third grade students growth in genrespecific reading and writing abilities. Over two years students received instruction in science consisting of authentic literacy experiences or authentic literacy experiences plus explicit explanation of the t ypical genre features found in informational and procedural science texts twice per week. Results showed that the effects of authentic literacy activities on performance were strongly correlated with student growth; however, no effect of explicit teaching of genre features on reading and writing growth were evident on the majority of the performance outcomes. These results call into question the idea that genres are best learned through explicit instruction. The researchers discuss the possibility that s tudents in second and third grades may not be developmentally ready for explicit instruction in genre features: For children as young as seven or eight years, it may be that explicit teaching of linguistic features of specific genres is not congruent with their cognitive and linguistic abilities and thus does not facilitate acquisition of genre knowledge over and above authentic immersion in its use (p. 42). They conclude that more research is needed to understand the role of explicit instruction in genr e specific learning at the primary level. This study augment s the empirical data on this topic. Summary Information presented in this review supports the need for teachers to address the scarcity of informational texts present in primary classrooms. The goal of increasing

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49 the amount of experience young children have with informational texts permeates the literature (Duke, 2000; Fang, 2002; Jacob, Morrison, & Swinyard, 2000; Pressley, R ankin, & Yokoi, 1996; Yopp & Yopp, 1999, 2006). Although there is evi dence suggesting that young children can learn from and about informational texts with increased exposure to them (Duke & Kays, 1998; Pappas, 1993; Smolkin & Donovan, 2001), how such development is best facilitated is still unclear (Purcell Gates, Duke, & Martineau, 2007). My study fills this gap by examining the roles of exposure and explicit instruction on childrens comprehension of informational texts with the following research questions: 1. What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders comprehension of informational texts? 2. What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders recall of informational texts?

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50 CHAPTER 3 RESEARCH METHODS The goal of this study was to implement informational read alouds and evaluate their effectiveness when implemented alone and in conjunction with explicit instruction in genrespecific text features. I was interested in exploring how childrens ability to comprehend informational texts could best be facilitated. Design This study use d a quasi experimental, split plot design with one betweensubjects factor, condition ( control vs. exposure vs. exposure plus instruction) and one within subject factor, time of measurement (pretest vs. posttest ). One local public school containing three secondgrade classrooms participated in the study. Every condition was present at the school with classrooms being randomly assigned to one of the three conditions, and n representing the total numbe r of students in that condition. Threats to the internal validity of this quasi experimental design are important to consider due to the lack of random selection and the use of intact groups for the participant sample. The threat s of history and maturatio n were accounted for by using a comparis on group whose participants had a comparable maturation rate and similar characteristics to the participants in the experimental group. Implementing standardized testing procedures and administering alter nate forms of the measures alleviate d testing and instrumentation thr eats. Finally, the researcher monitor ed the mortality r ate of participants as it occurred throughout the data collection period. Participants Participants were 49 second grade children drawn from one public school in North Central Florida. The sample included 26 boys and 23 girls ranging in age from 7

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51 years to 9 years old. Ninety four percent of the children were African American, 4 percent were Caucasian and 2 percent were of American Indian desc ent. Eighty nine percent of the children were eligible for freeor reducedlunch. Three secondgrad e teachers from the public school were included in the study to deliver the instr uction to the participants. The teachers were asked to complete a survey ( Appendix E) describing the demographics of their students, their typical daily reading instruction, and their educational background. One teacher was male and the other two teachers were female. Two teachers were Caucasian and one was of African American descent. All of the teachers had their standard certificate in Elementary Education, with one teacher possessing a m aster s degree in Elementary Education as well. One teacher was a beginning teacher as this was her first year teaching, and the other two teachers had three or more years of experience teaching at the elementary level. All three teachers used the same reading curriculum, which was the HoughtonMifflin basal series adopted by the district and spent the same time, 90 minutes, on daily reading instruction. All teachers reported reading aloud daily to their students as part of their reading block. Yet, only one teacher reported reading informational texts during the read alouds, with the other two teachers selecting narratives and poetry as the main genres chosen to read aloud. Each of the three teachers was assigned to a condition at the beginning of the study. The three conditions were exposure, exposure plus instruction, and the compariso n group. The exposure plus instruction (E+I) teacher participating in the study agreed to: attend training sessions prior to the start of the implementation of the

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52 instructional intervention, perform informational read alou ds with the texts provided four times a week for the nineweek duration of the intervention, allow the researcher into his classroom during the read alouds on a weekly basis for fidelity checks, and assist the researcher in the collection of student/parent consent forms and other researc h data. The training sessions were designed to aid the teacher in understanding the genrespecific text features and explicit teaching addressed i n the study. The training include d practice in examining texts in terms of their text features, observing a model lesson performed by the researcher including explicit teaching of the text feature, and devel oping his own lesson including explicit teaching of genrespecific text features. Measures The study used informational second grade passages published by Teacher Created Resources and the Qualitative Reading Inventory V (QRI V) as a measure of reading comprehension. The reading comprehension measure was administered at the pretest data collection point approximately one week before implementation of the in structional intervention and at the posttest data collection point one week after the end of the intervention period. The measure was administered to each class by the researcher or classroom teacher. The students were asked to read three short passages and answer the comprehension questions for each passage. Additionally, students were called into a testing room one by one to read an informational passage from the QRI V either silently or out loud, whichever they preferred. They were then asked to ret ell the passage to the best of their ability. The researcher audiotaped these retellings and transcribed them in order to perform lin guistic analyses. Students were also asked to answer comprehension questions corresponding to their QRI V passage, which w ere recorded by the researcher. These

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53 reading comprehension responses were compiled with the other three comprehension passages for a total of four informational passages used at the pretest and posttest data collection points. Materials and Instruction Materials This study include d high quality informational science texts written for young child ren. Collaboratively, t he researcher and teachers chose informational science texts, which contain ed the genrespecific text fe atures addressed in the study. The texts were chosen from classroom libraries, county libraries, and science trade books provided by the district. The genrespecific text features targeted for instruction in this study included : organizational structure consisting of a classification or description of attributes, generic noun constructi ons, present tense verbs (timeless verb constructions) and specialized vocabulary. These features are commonly found in informational science texts appropriate for second grade (Purcell Gates & Duke, 2001). Instructional Framework The experimental instructional framework combined informational read alouds with explicit instruction in genrespecific text features. The framework is derived from research by Purcell Gates, Duke, &Martineau (2007) in whic h they developed ways of explicitly teaching genrespecific text features. The framework includes the following strategies: identifying/defining, modeling, giving examples and nonexamples, a nd explaining the purpose of each text featur e. Each read aloud s ession end ed with a discussion of the text feature addressed.

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54 On the first day of the inst ructional intervention, the teacher identified and defined the genre of informational text, show ed examples and nonexamples (narratives), and explained the purpose of informational text. After the introduction of informational text on the first day, the teacher follow ed the instructional framework combining explicit instruction in text features and informational science read alouds. The teacher identifi ed the genrespecific text feature he would be addressing by pointing it out in the informational text and defining it. The teacher then gave multiple examples and nonexamples of the text feature throughout the read aloud. For example, the teacher highlight ed the use of general noun constructions such as with the word fish directly taken from the informational text and contrast ed that with a nonexample such as Nemo. The teacher also explained the purpose of using the genre feature in informational texts. After each read aloud session, the teacher guided a discussion about the genre feature beginning with a think aloud strategy to narrate his thinking and model how the genre feature could be identified and how it aided in comprehension of the text. Dur ing the discussion, the teacher asked questions and gave students multiple opportunities to find examples of the feature in the text. The teacher encouraged all students to contribute to the discussion. He follow ed this instructional framework for al l informational read alouds focusing on each text feature for a twoweek period. A oneweek review session was included at the end of the intervention. Instructional Sequence and Implementation Time The experimental instructional framework was implemen ted four days a week for a total of nine weeks. Each readaloud session and accompanying instruct ion was implemente d during a fifteenminute period. The instructional sequence is outlined in

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55 Table 33 Each day students were also given fifteen minutes t o read informational texts on their own. This gave students the opportunity to select informational texts that interest ed them and read them individually or with partners. Instruction in Exposure Group The teacher in the exposure group conduct ed four read aloud sessions per week for the nine week duration of the study using the informational texts The teacher conduct ed her typical literacy instruction with no changes other than reading the selected texts; therefore, no explicit teaching of g enrespe cific text features occur red in conjunction with the read alouds. Discussion about the content in the informational read alouds did occur following each session. Students in the exposure group also had the opportunity to read informational texts for fifte en minutes either individually or with a partner four days per week In addition, the exposure group teacher document ed her literacy instruction via lesson plans collected by the researcher in order to compare the typical daily reading instruction with th e instructional intervention in this study. Instruction in Control Group The teacher in the control group conduct ed he r typical literacy instruction with no changes. T he control group teacher document ed her instruction via lesson plans collected by the r esearcher in order to compare the typical daily reading instruction with the exposure plus instruction and exposure groups in this study Procedures Upon obtaining consent from teachers, students, and their parents, the students were pretes ted by the researcher over a oneweek period at their school. The QRI V measure for recall was administered to the children in oneon one se ssions in their school that last ed approximately fifteen minutes each. Additionally, three informational

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56 passages with correspondi ng comprehension questions were administered to all students in their classrooms Al ternate forms of each measure for students reading comprehension and retellings were administered at the pretest data collection period. Half of the participating students receive d Form A and the other half received Form B of the informational passages. T he re search er train ed the teacher of the exposure plus instruction group in using the instructional framework. The researcher explained the ge nre specific features, explicit teaching strategies, and sequence of the instructional framework. The researcher also model ed an informational read aloud embedding explicit instruction of text features. The training session last ed approximately two hours and the teacher was able to practice the skills and receive feedback from the researcher. At the end of the session, the researcher explained the guidelines for implementing the instructional framework in his classroom and identified the informational sci ence texts to be read. Ongoing coaching was available throughout the duration of the intervention for the teacher in the exposure plus instruction group. The teacher of the exposure only group met in a different ses sion with the researcher and explained t he guidelines for reading the informational texts to her students, but she did not receive any training in text features nor explicit teaching strategies. During the instructional implementation period, the researcher conduct ed fidelity checks in the exposure plus instruction condition classroom to ensure compliance with the instructional intervention. The researche r visit ed the classroom weekly to observe the informational readaloud sessions. The researcher monitored the teachers instruction to ensure t hat the instructional sequence was followed and that the explicit

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57 instruc tion included the features taught in the training sessions. The impl ementation observation form ( Appendix C ) uses a rating scale from one to four, with one being poor practice and four being excellent practice, to rate the teachers implementation of the intervention across four characteristics of explicit instruction. The resulting score can range from four to sixteen. The teacher in the exposure plus instruction condition maintained fidelity to the explicitness of instruction. His average score on the implementation observation form across the nine weeks was 13.7. In addition, ongoing coaching was given to maintain and/or increase the instruction in text features and explicitness to ensure fidelity to the treatment. The teacher in the exposure only group read informational texts to her class as well, but did not deliver any accompanying explicit instruction in genrespecific text features. The exposure only group teacher read the texts to her classes over the course of nine weeks at a rate of four read aloud sessions per week. The exposure only group teacher document ed he r daily reading instruc tion during the data collection period and the researcher visit ed the classroom periodically throughout the duration of the study. The teacher in the control group w as not asked to perform any informational read alouds. She perform ed and document ed her regular daily reading instruction during the data collection period and the researcher visit ed the classroom periodically throughout the study. Upon completion of the nine week instruct ional period, the researcher conducted reading comprehension posttes ts w ith the participants. The QRI V measure for recall

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58 was administered to the children in oneon one ses sions in their school that last ed approximately fifteen minutes each Additionally, three informational passages with corresponding comprehension questions were administered to all students. Students who received Form A of the reading comprehension measure at the pretest data collection point received Form B at posttest and students who rec eived Form B at pretest were given Form A at posttest. Data Analysis Reading Comprehension Analysis A 3 (condition: exposure plus instruction, exposure, and comparison) X 2 (time of measurement: pretest, posttest) analysis of co variance of the scores for reading comprehension was performed to determine if there were significant di fferences between each groups posttest performances resulting from the interventions. Additionally, d escriptive statistics including all participants by group on all pretest and posttest measures were completed including the group size ( n ), mean, and standard deviations of the measures administered. Analysis of Retellings Students were asked to read an informational passage from the QRI V and provide an oral retelling at the pretest and posttest data points. The researcher transcribed these retellings and analyzed them in two ways. Retellings were analyzed linguistically and holistically at the pretest and posttest data points. Descriptive Linguistic Analysis A descriptive linguistic analys is of students retellings examined which text fe atures were included in students retellings and how often they were found from pretest to posttest. As discussed earlier, genre is a term used to refer to particular text

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59 or discourse types, and each genre serves a particular purpose and has distinctive structural and linguistic features (Halliday & Hasan, 1976; Lemke, 1990; Swales, 1990). This study focuses on the genre of reports, which usually begin with a general classification followed by successive elements that contribute to a description, such as types, parts and their functions, qualities, uses or habits and so on. The defining text features of reports included in this study are text structure (topic introduction description of attributes), generic participants, present tense verbs and technic al or specialized vocabulary. Each retelling was coded for inclusion of the following four features: text structure (topic introduction description of attributes), generic participants, verb tense (simple present), and specialized vocabulary. After codi ng for inclusion of these four features, percentage scores for three of the features were calculated. This was done by dividing the number of structural elements, the number of generic participants, and the number of verbs in present tense over, respectively, the total number of structural elements (two) typically associated with reports, the total number of participants (specific + general), a nd the total number of verbs (in all tenses) in the text. Furthermore, the number of technical or spec ialized terms per retelling was computed. The percentage scores and number of technical terms per retelling were calculated at the pretest and posttest assessment periods. Holistic Analysis Each retelling was also assessed and assigned a holistic score based upon an adapted version of Irwin and Mitchells (1983) 5point Scale for Judging the Richness of Retellings ( Appendix D). This scale evaluates retell ings in regards to the students ability to identify main ideas, relevant details, and text structure, in addition to his/her

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60 ability to summarize, make connections, and infer beyond the text. Each transcribed retelling was assigned a score from 1 being the lowest to 5 being the highest.

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61 Table 31 Research design (a) exposure plus instruction ( n =X) O1 X1 O2 (b) exposure ( n =X) O1 X2 O2 (c ) co ntrol ( n =X) O1 O2 O1 = pretest, O2 = posttest, X 1 = ex posure plus instruction X2 = exposure Table 32 Example of the instructional framework Informational Text Feature Defining Modeling Giving Examples and Non examples Explaining Generic noun constructions General nouns are nouns that refer to a whole group of things. This book uses general nouns like fish, because the author is talking about all fish. It says fish live in water. I know that fish is a general noun talking about all fish, so I know that all fish live in water. General nouns are nouns that refer to a group of things. Some examples include fish, sharks, and whales. Nemo would not be a general noun because it refers to a specific fish. Shamu would not be a generic noun either because it names a specific whale. The purpose of Information books is to give readers informati on about a group of things so they use general nouns like fish, insects, dinosaurs, and so on.

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62 Table 33 Instructional sequence Weeks Text Feature Total read aloud sessions 1 2 Introduction of informational text and Classification/Description of attributes (structure/organization) 8 3 4 Generic noun constructions 8 5 6 Present tense verbs 8 7 8 Specialized vocabulary 8 9 Review of all text features weeks 1 8 4 Totals 3 6 Table 34 Data analysis Condition Reading Comprehension Exposure Plus Instruction n = 17 Group A (pre post) Exposure n = 19 Group B (pre post) Comparison n = 13 Group C (pre post)

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63 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Introduction The goal of this study was to implement informational read alouds with and without explicit instruction in informational genre features and evaluate their impact on childrens comprehension and recall. Chapter 4 explains the findings from the analyses used to answer the following two research questions: ( 1) What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders comprehension of informational texts? ( 2) What is the impact of exposure versus exposure plus explicit instruction on second graders r ecall of informational texts? To investigate the data, the researcher used analysis of covariance techniques to compare comprehension outcomes between each group. The researcher also used descriptive statistics to examine the linguistic analyses performe d on each groups retellings. Chapter 4 presents the statistical analysis procedures and results used to draw conclusions about the impact of the instructional interventions. Impact of Instructional Interventions on Reading Comprehension A one way analy sis of co variance was used to compare differences in the three groups reading comprehension scores. Group condition (exposure plus instruction, exposure, and comparison) was the betweengroups factor and the comprehension measure posttest was the dependent variable. The reading comprehension measure pretest was used as the covariate. The results showed no significant differences between groups, F (2, 45) = 2.655, p = .081. The effect size measured by partial eta squared = .106. Pairwise comparisons for this analysis were unnecessary. Examination of posttest means for each group

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64 demonstrated that the exposure plus instruction and exposure only groups had higher posttest scores than did the comparison group, and their mean comprehension scores had increased from pre to posttest. The exposure plus explicit instruction group mean comprehension score increased from 11.35 at pretest to 12.35 at posttest, resulting in an 8% increase, and the exposure group mean comprehension score increased from 14.36 to 14.68, resulting in a 2% increase from preto posttest. Examination of the pretest and posttest mean comprehension scores of the comparison group reveal a 5% decrease over the course of the nine weeks, from 11.00 at pretest to 10.46 at posttest (Table 41). Impact of Instructional Interventions on Recall One goal of this study was to determine the impact of exposure to informational texts versus exposure plus explicit instruction in informational genre features on second graders recall of informational t ext. Students recall was determined by their retellings of informational texts. The impact of the instructional interventions was determined through a descriptive linguistic analysis of each retelling and a holistic score assigned to each retelling. Des criptive statistics including all participants by group on all pretest and posttest measures was completed including the group size ( n ), mean, and st andard deviations of the analyses administered. Descriptive Linguistic Analysis The descriptive linguistic analys is of students retellings examine d which text features were included in students retellings and how often they were found from pretest to posttest. As described in Chapter 3, each retelling was coded for inclusion of the following four features : text structure (topic introduction description of attributes), generic participants, timeless verb constructions, and technical or specialized

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65 vocabulary. After coding for inclusion of these four features, percentage scores for organizational structure, present tense verbs, and generic nouns were calculated, and the number of technical or spec ialized terms per retelling was computed at the pretest and posttest assessment periods Descriptive statistics were used to examine the means and standard deviations of the presence of each of the genre features in every condition at the pretest and pos ttest data points (Table 43). Analysis of covariance was also used to examine the data for each linguistic feature using the pretest scores for each feature as the covariate. Organizational Structure Organizational structure was calculated by d ividing the number of structural elements present in each retelling over the total number of structural elements (two) typically associated with reports Therefore, the possible percentage scores for the presence of organizational structure were 0% if neither the topic introduction nor any descriptive attributes were present, 50% if one or the other was present, or 100% if both elements of organizati onal structure were present. Students had to include at least two descriptive attributes to receive credit for the presence of that feature in their retelling. The following excerpts from retellings are examples of the scores for organizational structure. An example of a retelling that received a score of 0% for organizational structure is Green grass and a deerfly. This retelling clearly shows a lack of topic introduction and descriptive attributes. Many retellings received a score of 50%, because t hey included only one of the two elements of organizational structure of informational texts. In this example, like the majority of the retellings which received a score of 50%, the student reported many descriptive attributes or details but did not inclu de a clear topic introduction, Whales come up to the water to breathe all the air.

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66 Fish have babies and they have to find their own food... Fish have babies out of eggs. Fish have fins to push the water to move There were, however, some retellings whic h included a clear topic introduction, yet did not have any descriptive attributes or characteristics like this example, It was telling about seasons. An example of a retelling which received a score of 100% demonstrated a clear topic introduction and t he inclusion of descriptive attributes such as this retelling excerpt, I remember about how the whales, theyre just like fish in so many ways They both have fins and push the water back away from them. They both have babies and live in the water This excerpt introduces the topic and then continues with descriptive attributes or characteristics about whales and fish, therefore receiving a score of 100% for organizational structure. The ANCOVA results showed no significant differences between groups for the use of organizational structure, F (2, 45) = .559, p = .576. The mean percentage of organizational elements present in the retellings increased between the pretest and posttest assessment periods for each condition with the exposure plus instruction g roup having the highest percentage of organizational structures present at the posttest assessment period. The exposure plus instruction group had a mean of 58.8% of the organizational structures present at the pretest assessment point and a mean of 70.6% at the posttest assessment point resulting in a mean increase of 11.8%. The exposure group percentage increased from 52.6% to 65.8% (+ 13.2%) and the comparison group percentage increased from 46.2% to 57.7% (+ 11.5%). Even though all groups demonstrated increases in the percentage of organizational structures present in their retellings, the exposure plus instruction group finished with a mean 12.9% higher than

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67 the comparison group and 4.8 % higher than the exposure group at the posttest data point. G eneric Participants The percentage of generic participants was calculated by dividing the number of generic participants present in each retelling by the total number of participants (generic and specific) present in the retelling. For example, the followi ng retelling excerpt received a score of 75% for generic nouns, You know how fish swim very fast if somebody like kind of bumps into the tank ? I wonder what the tail fin does. It wiggles side to side to help fish swim. Out of the eight nouns included in this retelling, seven were categorized as generic participants (you, fish, somebody, tank, tail fin, it, fish) and one (I) were categorized as specific participants. The number of generic participants (7) was then divided by the total number of participants (8) resulting in a score of 88% for generic participant usage. The ANCOVA results showed no significant differences between groups for generic noun usage, F (2, 45) = 1.194, p = .313. The mean percentage of generic n ouns present in the retellings increased for both the exposure plus instruction group and the exposure group between the pretest and posttest assessment periods. The exposure plus instruction groups mean increased from 86.5% to 90.3%, while the exposure groups mean increased from 80.1% to 89.5%. On the other hand, the comparison group mean of generic participants present in the retellings decreased from 89.3% at pretest to 84.9% at posttest. At the posttest assessment point, the exposure plus instructi on group had the highest mean percentage of generic participants present in their retellings compared to both the exposure and comparison groups.

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68 Present Tense Verbs The percentage of present tense verbs in each retelling was calculated by dividing the number of present tense verbs by the total number of verbs (in all tenses) present in each retelling. For example, the following retelling excerpt received a score of 20% for present tense verb usage, The seasons was about the winter is Christmas and in t wenty days there was going to be summer and there was spring break. We already got Christmas. Out of a total of five verbs included in this retelling, only one was in the present tense (is), yielding a 20% score for the usage of present tense verbs. The results showed no significant differences between groups for usage of verbs in present tense, F (2, 45) = .509, p = .605. Similar to the mean percentages of generic participants present in the retellings, the mean percentages of present tense verbs increased for the exposure plus instruction group and the exposure group. The mean percentages of present tense verbs increased from 83.4% to 86.1% for the exposure plus instruction group and increased from 86.2% to 88.5% for the exposure group. Although the mean percentage of present tense verbs decreased for the comparison group from pretest to posttest (95.2% to 91.5%), they had the highest percentage of present tense verbs in their retellings out of all the groups at the posttest assessment point. Technical Vocabulary The number of technical or specialized vocabulary terms per retelling was calculated at the pretest and posttest assessment points. The number of technical vocabulary terms present in each retelling ranged from 0 to 4, with only one retelling containing 4 technical vocabulary terms and no retellings containing 3 vocabulary terms. Examples of terms used by students in their retellings that were categorized as

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69 technical or specialized vocabulary include: hibernate, mammals, defend, predator, flip pers, blowhole, seasons, and fins. The results showed no significant differences between groups, F (2, 45) = .443, p = .645. The mean number of technical vocabulary terms for the exposure plus instruction group increased from .58 at the pretest data point to .64 at the posttest data point. The mean number of technical vocabulary terms for the comparison group also increased from .61 to .76. The mean number of technical vocabulary terms stayed constant for the exposure group at .84 at the pretest and posttest assessment points, which accounted for the highest mean number of technical vocabulary terms for any group at the posttest assessment point. Holistic Analysis Each retelling was assessed and assigned a score ranging from a low of 1 to a high of 5. The ANCOVA results showed no significant differences between groups for the holistic scores, F (2, 45) = 1.104, p = .340. Overall, the retelling scores were very low fo r all groups at both the pretest and posttest data points (Table 45). Of the 49 retellings at pretest, 20 received a score of 1, 17 received a score of 2, 10 received a score of 3, 2 received a score of 4, and there were no retellings with a score of 5. At posttest, 14 received a score of 1, 28 received a score of 2, 5 received a score of 3, 2 received a score of 4, and again no retelling earned a score of 5. The mean holistic scores for both the exposure and comparison groups decreased from 1.92 pretes t to 1.76 posttest, while the exposure plus instruction group stayed constant with a 1.76 mean holistic score at pretest and posttest. It is interesting to note that although the mean holistic scores do not reflect an increase in overall scores from pretest to posttest, the number of retellings that received a score of 1 decreased from 20 at pretest to 14 at

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70 posttest. This demonstrates an improvement for the students scoring the lowest on the retelling scale. Examples of retellings from the QRI V passage entitled Seasons for each of the scores 14 are provided. Score 1: I remember that the four seasons is like winter, summer, and fall. It begins in a new month. Score 2: Seasons fall, winter, summer and spring and weather. Bugs. Storing food for the winter. Animals can die in the snow. Score 3: I remember that fall will not give you as much light as spring or summer and summer is real hot during the day. And in fall the leaves fall down and die. And in winter it gets colder and theres less light. Sc ore 4: I remember that this one bug that bites is called a deerfly and I remember that theres different seasons. I remember that winter has the less light and I remember in the fall, the leaves fall off the trees. Squirrels come and save nuts. In the w inter some animals have to live off their food that they gathered in the fall. And I remember summer is the longest season and spring is very warm, when plants start to grow. And in the winter, in the north, the leaves turn brown and fall off.

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71 Figure 4 1. Mean scores for reading comprehension preand posttest by group.

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72 Figure 42. Percentage change in usage of present tense verbs from preto posttest.

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73 Figure 43. Percentage change in usage of generic nouns from preto posttest.

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74 Figu re 4 4. Percentage change in usage of technical vocabulary from preto posttest.

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75 Figure 45. Percentage change in organizational structure from preto posttest.

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76 Table 41 Reading comprehension pretest and posttest scores by group T1 T2 M (sd) M (sd) Exposure plus instruction 11.35 (3.33) 12.35 (3.51) Exposure 14.36 (4.91) 14.68 (3.93) Comparison 11.00 (2.38) 10.46 (3.04) Table 42. Percentage changes for comprehension preto posttest Exposure + instruction + 8% Exposure + 2% Comparison 5% Table 43 Means and standard d eviations for the linguistic analyses Features Time Exposure + Instruction Exposure Comparison M (sd) M (sd) M (sd) Verb tense T1 83.35 ( 27.64 ) 86.21 ( 19.12 ) 95.23 ( 10.10 ) T2 86.05 ( 26.30 ) 88.47 ( 24.71 ) 91.46 ( 14.66 ) Generic nouns T1 86.47 ( 10.02 ) 80.10 ( 14.85 ) 89.30 ( 16.81 ) T2 90.29 ( 15.82 ) 89.47 ( 12.34 ) 84.92 ( 13.36 ) Technical vocabulary T1 0.58 ( 0.61 ) 0.84 ( 0.95 ) 0.61 ( 0.65 ) T2 0.64 ( 0.70 ) 0.84 ( 0.60 ) 0.76 ( 0.72 ) Organizational structure T1 58.82 ( 19.64 ) 52.63 ( 31.06 ) 46.15 ( 32.02 ) T2 70.58 ( 25.36 ) 65.78 ( 23.87 ) 57.69 ( 27.73 ) Table 44. Percentage changes for linguistic features from preto posttest Feature Exposure + instruction Exposure Comparison Verb tense + 3% + 3% 4% Generic nouns + 4% + 10% 5% Technical vocabulary + 9% + 20% Organizational structure + 17% + 20% + 20% designates no change

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77 Table 45 Holist ic retelling score s by group Score 1 2 3 4 5 Time T1 T2 T1 T2 T1 T2 T1 T2 T1 T2 Exposure + Instruction 6 5 9 11 2 1 0 0 0 0 Exposure 10 5 1 9 7 3 1 2 0 0 Comparison 4 4 7 8 1 1 1 0 0 0 Total 20 14 17 28 10 5 2 2 0 0 Table 46 Means and standard deviations for holistic retelling scores Variable Time Exposure + Instruction Exposure Comparison M (sd) M (sd) M (sd) Retell Score T1 1.76 (0.66) 1.92 (0.86) 1.92 (0.86) T2 1.76 (0.56) 1.76 (0.59) 1.76 (0.59)

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78 CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of exposure to informational texts alone, and in conjunction with explicit instruction in specific informational genre features, on the comprehension and recall of second grade students. The informational genre features taught explicitly were organizational structure, generic nouns, present tense verbs, and technical vocabulary. The design of this study called for three group conditions: exposure plus explicit instruction, exposure only, and comparison. The research questions sought information about the impact of each group on comprehension and recall during the same implementation period. The results indicated that there were no statistically significant effects for comprehension by group and differential effects for genre feature usage, demonstrating students emergent understanding of navigating informational texts. One conclusion that can be drawn from these results is that the addition of explicit teaching of informational genre features as impl emented in this study for second graders does not significantly enhance comprehension of informational texts. The data demonstrated slight increases in mean comprehension scores for the exposure plus instruction and exposure group in contrast to a slight decrease in mean comprehension scores for the comparison group, but these differences were not statistically significant. This finding contributes to the research on the efficacy of using explicit instruction of language features to aid the genre developme nt of young children. Specifically, this finding supports those of Purcell Gates, Duke, and Martineau (2007), who found no growth in second and third grade students ability to comprehend informational texts after receiving explicit instruction in linguis tic features associated with that genre. One

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79 possible explanation for the limited effects of explicit instruction of genre features for second grade students may be that this instruction is occurring too early in their language development. According to Purcell Gates, Duke, and Martineau (2007): For children as young as seven or eight years, it may be that explicit teaching of linguistic features of specific genres is not congruent with their cognitive and linguistic abilities and thus does not facilitate acquisition of genre knowledge over and above authentic immersion in its use, but that for older children such instruction may be congruent. Another possible factor to consider is the genre chosen for implementation in this study, which was the informat ional genre. It is conceivable that explicit instruction in linguistic features associated with genres more familiar to young children than informational, such as the narrative genre, may show greater effects on comprehension. The students knowledge and exposure to a specific genre may be a predictive indicator of how successful explicit instruction in the linguistic features of that genre could prove to be on students comprehension. The second research question investigated the impact of explicit instruction and exposure on the recall of informational texts through examining retellings and scoring them holistically. Using an adapted version of the Richness of Retelling Scale originally created by Irwin and Mitchell (1983), retellings were scored on a scale from 1 to 5. The retelling scores for all of the groups were very low, with all three groups having the same mean of 1.76 at posttest. These findings show a consistent lack of understanding about retelling informational texts. Many students gave very short retellings consisting of one or two short sentences, others retold details but did not mention the main ideas of the text, still others retold the text incorrectly offering extraneous information not connected to the text.

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80 One possible reason for the students inability to adequately retell the informational texts may be a lack of instruction in retelling strategies and practice specific to the informational genre. The explicit instruction implemented in this study did not include explicit te aching in retelling informational texts. It is possible that the students had not received instruction on retelling informational texts nor received ample opportunities to practice retelling informational texts prior to this study. Although the addition of explicit teaching of informational genre features as implemented in this study for second graders does not enhance overall recall of informational text, differential effects for the usage of specific genre features was demonstrated. Students recall w as scored holistically and showed no improvement in any of the groups from pretest to posttest; however, the linguistic analysis of genre feature usage showed differences in between group means in the usage of specific genre features from preto posttest. The exposure plus explicit instruction group is the only group that showed positive gains in the usage of all four genre features. The exposure group showed positive gains in the usage of three of the four genre features, with technical vocabulary usage remaining constant from preto posttest. The comparison group demonstrated positive gains in the usage of two of the four genre features; however, the usage of generic nouns and present tense verbs decreased from pre to posttest. Interestingly, the only decreases in mean differences of genre feature usage occurred in the comparison group. Similar to the findings investigating the impact of explicit instruction of genre features on comprehension, the differential learning gains in regards to the usage of specific genre features showed little difference between the exposure plus instruction

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81 g roup and the exposure group. This finding again calls into question the need and effectiveness of explicit instruction in genre features at this stage of early genre development. However, there are differences between the exposure plus instruction and ex posure group when contrasted with the comparison group, which highlights the importance of including informational texts in literacy activities with young children. The exposure plus instruction and exposure groups demonstrated increased occurrences of i nformational genre features from preto posttest in their retellings, which is evidence of a developing awareness of the linguistic features associated with informational texts. The results of the present study add to the work of Pappas (1993) and Duke a nd Kays (1998) who also found increased awareness of the linguistic features associated with informational texts when working with young children after exposure to informational texts through read alouds. This increased knowledge of linguistic features ass ociated with informational texts, regardless of explicit instruction, indicates that the inclusion of informational texts in primary grades may be beneficial to young childrens genre development. Implications for Practice The primary purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of exposure coupled with explicit instruction and exposure alone on the comprehension and recall of informational texts. Evidence of positive comprehension gains, albeit not significant, for the exposure plus instruction and exposure groups in contrast to the decline in mean comprehension scores for the comparison group provide support for the inclusion of informational literacy activities in primary classrooms. The differential gains in comprehension were not so compelling as to make a strong argument for the addition of

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82 explicit instruction of genre features, but positive gains were yielded and should be noted. One way in which to increase the exposure young children have to informational texts would be through read alouds. As was implemented in this study, teachers performed four informational read alouds per week with their students. Teachers can link informational read alouds to concepts being taught in science or social studies in addition to simply reading aloud during literacy instruction. Besides being used as a vehicle to introduce new content, read alouds using informational texts can also aid in introducing new vocabulary and various ways data can be displayed (graphs, diagrams, tables, etc.). Another manner in which educators can increase childrens exposure to informational texts is through creating opportunities for children to read texts in the informational genre. Informational texts at varying levels need to be available in the classrooms for students to rea d. The students in this study were given opportunities to read informational texts almost daily. Book baskets were created by the teachers including informational texts of varying levels and topics. Students were then given the opportunity to choose text s from the basket to read independently or to read to a partner for fifteen minutes four times per week. This provided students with choices, both in the topic that they wanted to read about and with whom they wanted to read. There are numerous ways in which educators can include literacy activities using informational texts in primary classrooms. Read alouds and providing opportunities for students to read informational texts independently are just two of the methods used during this study. Shared wri ting, choral reading, and guided reading groups are just a

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83 few examples of other literacy activities that can be infused with informational texts. Educators should be aware of the exposure to informational texts they are providing to the students in thei r classrooms and choose to include the informational literacy activities that they feel are best suited to their instructional practice. Limitations of the Study There are several important considerations to take into account when interpreting the result s of this study. There are certain limitations relating to the generalizability of this research to settings and partici pants beyond those that were stu died. One such limitation is that this research includes a r elatively small sample size in number of intact groups, teachers, and in number of students within those groups. It will be up to readers of this research to determine whether the findings can be generalized to other participants. A replication of this study implemented with a larger sample size may provide a clearer picture of the possible effects on comprehension and recall of informational texts. An important aspect of reliability for this research was teacher fidelity to the degree of explicitness of t he instruction of the genre features The teacher in the exposure plus instruction group was observed weekly and his levels of explicitness during instruction were recorded. Although he scored consistently between the good and excellent range, deviations on a daily basis on his level of explicitness are unknown. In regards to teacher participants, the varying backgrounds, educational degrees conferred, and overall teacher quality pose a complicated issue. All of the teachers in the study were teaching in their certification area. However, one teacher had a masters degree which the others did not have. Also, one teacher was a beginning teacher, while

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84 the other two had various years of experience. There is no way to know how these variables might have influenced the students learning throughout the study. Implications for Future Research The conclusions drawn from the results of this study bring about questions that bear further research. The failure of explicit instruction in specific genre features, as operationally defined in this research, to show significant gains in comprehension or recall adds empirical evidence to the discussion about how and when genres are best learned. Explicit instruction has proven to be efficacious in several areas of reading instruction including phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary and comprehension strategies (NICHD, 2000). To make the leap that explicit instruction is effective in all facets of language learning would be misleading More knowledge about which aspects of literacy learning are best facilitated through explicit instruction and at which period of students literacy development is still necessary. A consideration to be addressed should be replication. Replication studies should be conducted with larger and varying samples of students to examine the impact of the explicit instruction framework on comprehension and recall of informational texts. A longitudinal study of comprehension gains resulting from consistent long term implementation of the explici t instruction framework would help to determine if time of implementation affects student outcomes. Additionally, the explicit instruction framework using informational texts should be tested with a larger sample size to see if the sample size of this study was too small to see significant gains in comprehension and recall. Future research could also include a larger sample size of teachers to see if there are differential effects for teachers from varying backgrounds. It is possible that

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85 teachers who have more experience or knowledge of informational texts and their features may have different outcomes than what was found in this study. Varying comprehension assessments could also be used to assess the students informational comprehension levels in future research. It is possible that other assessments could be used to measure the informational comprehension of students in future research when implementing the explicit instruction framework to see if the outcomes would vary. Future research could examine the effects of the explicit instruction framework using the informational genre to see if differential effects for students at varying ability levels exist. Data analysis could investigate to see if differential effects of the explicit instruction fr amework exist for struggling students, students on grade level, or students reading above grade level. The specific framework of explicit instruction implemented in this study did not produce significant gains in comprehension or recall, but other combinations of genre features or other manners of implementing explicit instruction may prove to be more effective. Other linguistic features associated with the informational genre may be more appropriate and better understood by young children. Additionally, explicit instruction could be implemented differently in future research. This may include explicit instruction delivered in small groups for extended amounts of time during reading instruction. Teachers could use explicit instruction of genre features during whole group read alouds as implemented in this research, but then extend the instruction to small groups for reinforcement, deeper understanding, and more practice opportunities for students

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86 to see if varying methods of implementing explicit instructi on demonstrates different outcomes for students. Future research could also be conducted to examine the impact of explicit instruction using varying genres more familiar to the children, or older students who would be more familiar with the informational genre. It is possible that these factors could play an important role on student outcomes for comprehension and recall. Modifications could be made to the group arrangements during implementation of the explicit instruction framework in future studies. In this study, the explicit instruction was delivered in whole group arrangements. The explicit instruction in linguistic features should be evaluated when delivered during small group instruction to determine if differences in comprehension and recall outcomes rely on the student arrangement during implementation. It is possible that the explicit instruction may be more effective when delivered to students in small groups. Ultimately, this study has served to provide much needed empirical evidence as to how genre development can best be facilitated for young children and what role explicit instruction plays in that development. Exposure to specific genres is one way to facilitate genre development for young children. This study suggests that exposur e to informational texts in the primary grades may be beneficial to young childrens informational genre development. More research is necessary to explore effective ways of aiding young childrens genre development in order to better inform practice.

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87 APPENDIX A INFORMED CONSENT LET TER College of Education University of Florida 140 Norman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 Dear Parent/Guardian, I am a graduate student in the College of Education at the University of Florida, conducting research on the comprehension and writing of informational texts under the su pervision of Dr. Zhihui Fang The purpose of this study is to compare student s comprehension and writing of informational text under three different c onditions: one condition is a control group, which will simply continue with their regular classroom instruction, the second condition is read aloud, in which the teacher will read informational texts aloud to the students three times a week without any explicit teaching of informational text features, and the third condition is read aloud plus instruction, in which the teacher will read informational texts aloud to the students three times a week and provide explicit instruction of informational text features. The res ults of the study may help teachers better understand the amount of knowledge gained and allow them to design instructional practices accordingly. These results may not directly help your child today, but may benefit future st udents. With your permission, I would like to ask your child to volunteer for this research. One third of the participating children will receive instruction in features of informational texts during read alouds while another third of the children will participate in read alouds without the instruction in text features, and the last third will simply continue with their regular daily instruction. The read alouds will be performed by your childs teacher during regular class time. The read alouds will be conducted three times

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88 per week over an elevenweek period beginning in January and ending in April. Children will be given an informal reading inventory, which will assess their comprehension of informational text at three intervals during the study: January, April, and then in May to see if students retained the information learned during the eleven weeks. I will be performing the informal reading inventories during regular class time. Informational writing samples will also be collected from the children in January, April, and May. Although the children will be asked to write t heir names on their writing samples for matching purposes, their identity will be kept confidential to the extent provided by law We will replace their names with code numbers Results will only be reported in the form of group data. Participation or nonparticipation in this study will not affect the children's grades or placement in any programs. You have the right to withdraw consent for your child's participation at any t ime without consequence. There are no known risks or immediate benefits to the participants. No compensation is offered for participation. Group results of this study will be available in August upon request. If you have any questions about this research p rotocol, please contact me at (352) 4749601 or my faculty supervisor, Dr. Fang, at (352) 2734231. Questions or concerns about your child's rights as research participant may be directed to the IRB02 office, University of Florida, Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611, (352) 3920433. Tiffany Ohlson I have read the procedure described above. I voluntarily give my consent for my child, ______________ ___, to participate in Tiffany Ohlson's study of second graders

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89 comprehension and writing of informational text s. I have received a copy of this description. ____________________________ ___________ Parent / Guardian Date ____________________________ ___________ 2nd Parent / Witness Date

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90 APPENDIX B PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT The teacher in the exposurepl us instruction (E + I) group received training in the features of informational texts and explicit teaching of informational text features during two workshops. Each workshop lasted approximately one hour and occurred prior to the start of the study. Duri ng the first workshop, the researcher provided a table summarizing the features of narrative and informational texts (Table A 1 ) and facilitated the training of the informational text features. The second workshop focused on facilitating the teachers understanding of the explicit instruction model. The researcher discussed the four ways of being explicit during instruction of the genre features: (1) defining, (2) modeling, (3) giving examples and nonexamples, and (4) explaining the function of the genre a nd how the genre features serve that function. An example using generic nouns was constructed and disseminated (Table A 2 ). Table A 1 Features of narrative and informational texts Genres Social Purpose Text Structure Grammatical Features Narrative To entertain 1. Orientation 2. Complication 3. Resolution Specific participants Action verbs Past tense Temporal conjunctions Dialogue Descriptive language Report To describe attributes, properties, behaviors, etc. of a class of things 1. General statement 2. Description of various aspects of the thing Many linking verbs (e.g., be, have) Present tense Some action verbs Technical vocabulary General participants *Language for defining, classifying, comparing and contrasting

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91 Workshop activities Various activities occurred during the workshop to help the teacher understand the text features and explicit instruction model including: examining texts in terms of their features, participating in a model lesson that includes expli cit teaching of genre features and developing their own lesson from the books chosen for the read alouds to include explicit teaching of genre features. Examples of explicit statements for one feature of informational text in reading and writing were given to the teacher following the workshop (Table A 2 ). Table A 2 Four attributes of explicit text Informational Text Feature Defining Modeling Giving Examples and Non examples Explaining Generic noun constructions General nouns are nouns that refer to a whole group of things. This book uses general nouns like fish, because the author is talking about all fish. It says fish live in water. I know that fish is a general noun talking about all fish, so I know that all fish live in water. General nou ns are nouns that refer to a group of things. Some examples include fish, sharks, and whales. Nemo would not be a general noun because it refers to a specific fish. Shamu would not be a generic noun either because it names a specific whale. The purpos e of Information books is to give readers information about a group of things so they use general nouns like fish, insects, dinosaurs, and so on.

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92 The goals of the workshop was to provide the teacher in the E+I group with a foundational understanding of (1) the informational text genre and its features and (2) the explicit instruction model. The workshop also provided opportunities for the teacher to practice planning and implementing read alouds that incorporate explicit instruction of genrespecific text features. Ongoing coaching/fidelity to treatment The teacher in the E+I group received weekly feedback and coaching from the researcher throughout the study. The purpose of this coaching was to maintain and/or increase the explicitness of the genre instruction. The following page is an example of the form used for fidelity checks and feedback.

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93 APPENDIX C IMPLEMENTATION OBSER VATION FORM Class: Date: Title: Author: Total time: Genre feature: Table A 3 Explicit instruction Define Introduced and clearly defined genre feature at start of lesson Poor 1 Fair 2 Good 3 Excellent 4 Model M odeled the genre feature using think alouds before and during the read aloud Poor 1 Fair 2 Good 3 Excellent 4 Examples Gave students examples and nonexamples of genre feature throughout read aloud Asked students to provide examples of genre feature to monitor comprehension Poor 1 Fair 2 Good 3 Excellent 4 Explain Clearly explained the purpose of the genre feature Poor 1 Fair 2 Good 3 Excellent 4

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94 APPENDIX D RICHNESS OF RETELLING SCALE Criteria for Establishing Level 5 Student includes all main ideas a nd supporting details; sequences properly; i nfers beyond the tex t; relates text to own life; understands text organization; sum marizes; may ask additional questions; very cohesive and complete retelling 4 Student includes most main ideas and supporting details; sequences properly; relates text to own life; understands text organization; summarizes; cohesive and complete retelling 3 Student includes some main ideas and details; sequences most material ; understands text organization ; fairly complete retelling 2 Student includes a few main ideas and details; some difficulty sequencing; may give irrelevant infor mation ; incomplete retelling 1 Student gives details only; poor sequencing, irrelevant information; very incomplete retelling Note. Adapted from Irwin, P. A., & Mitchell, J. N. (1983). A procedure for assessing the richness of retellings. Journal of Reading, 26, 394395.

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95 APPENDIX E TEACHER SURVEY Adapted from a survey used by the Early Childhood Longitudinal Program (ECLS) http://nces.ed.gov/ecls/index.asp CL ASSROOM AND STUDENT CHARACTERISTICS 1. As of todays date, how many children in your class belong to each of the following racial ethnic groups? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE. ENTER 0 ON THE LINE IF THERE ARE NO CHILDREN IN A CATEGORY. a. Asian or Pacific Islander.......................................................... ____ b. Hispanic, regardless of race.................................................... ____ c. Black, not of Hispanic origin.................................................... ____ d. Wh ite, not of Hispanic origin.................................................... ____ e. American Indian or Alaska Native ........................................... ____ f. Other (Please specify) _____________________________ ____ Total Class Enrollment ........................................................ ____ 2. As of todays date, how many boys and girls are there in your class? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE. a. Number of boys ....................................................................... ____ b. Nu mber of girls ........................................................................ ____ 3. How many children in your class are eligible for the following services? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE

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96 a. Free school breakfast........................................ ...................... ____ b. Reducedprice breakfast ......................................................... ____ c. Free school lunch .................................................................... ____ d. Reducedprice lunch ............................................................... ____ 4. How many children in your class have the following characteristics? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE. IF STATEMENT DOES NOT APPLY TO ANY CHILDREN IN YOUR CLASS, ENTER 0 ON THAT LINE. a. Are classified as Gifted a nd Talented ..................................... ____ b. Are participating in a Gifted and Talented program ................ ____ c. Are repeating this grade this year ........................................... ____ d. Are below grade level in their reading skills ............................ ____ e. Are below grade level in their math skills ................................ ____ f. Are above grade level in reading ............................................ ____ g. Are above grade level in math................................................. ____ h. Are tardy, on an average day.................................................. ____ i. Are absent, on an average day ............................................... ____ 5 At this point in the school year how would you rate the behavior in your class? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. Group misbehaves very frequently and is almost always difficult to handle ...................................... .....................................1 b. Group misbehaves fr equently and is often difficult to handle... 2

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97 c. Group misbehaves occasionally................................................ 3 d. Group behaves well................................................................... 4 e. Group behaves exceptionally well............................................. 5 6. In a typical day, how much time do the children spend in the following activities? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER ON EACH LINE. DO NOT INCLUDE LUNCH OR RECESS BREAKS. No Time = 1 Half hour or less = 2 About one hour = 3 About two hours = 4 Three hours or more = 5 a. Teacher directed whole class activities? ................... 1 2 3 4 5 b. Teacher directed small group activities? .................. 1 2 3 4 5 c. Teacher directed individual activitie s?............. 1 2 3 4 5 d. Child selected activities?..... 1 2 3 4 5 e. Children working collaboratively in heterogeneous groups (not grouped by ability)?...... 1 2 3 4 5

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98 7 To what extent do you integrate curriculum areas around common or unifying themes? (e.g., using math and science concepts in the same unit of study or using arts and social studies in the same unit of study)? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. Never....................................................................................... 1 b. Occasionally ............................................................................ 2 c. Usually..................................................................................... 3 d. All the time............................................................................... 4 READING/LANGUAGE ARTS INSTRUCTION 1. What type of materials form the core of your reading program? CIRCLE ALL THAT APPLY. a. Primarily basal......................................................................... 1 b. Primarily trade books............................................................... 2 c. Both basal and trade books..................................................... 3 d. Other materials (Please specify) _______________________ 4 2. About what proportion of your reading instruction time is focused on having children read for the following purposes? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER ON EACH LINE. Almost all of the time = 1 A t least two thirds of the time = 2 At least onethird of the time = 3

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99 Little or no time = 4 a. Reading for literary experience (e.g., stories, poetry, science fiction, folktales)............1 2 3 4 b. Reading to gain information (e.g., science articles historical sources, textbook chapters, essays) .. 1 2 3 4 c. Reading to perform a task (e.g., documents, forms,directions) .... ....1 2 3 4 3. How often do children in your class engage in the following activities as part of reading? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER ON EACH LINE. Almost every day = 1 Once or twice a week = 2 Once or twice a month = 3 Never or hardly ever = 4 a. Discuss new or difficult vocabulary .......... 1 2 3 4 b. Read aloud ...............1 2 3 4 c. Talk with each other about what they have read........ 1 2 3 4 d. Write about something they have read ........... 1 2 3 4 e. Work in a reading workbook or on a worksheet ........... 1 2 3 4 f. Read silently...................1 2 3 4 g. Read books they have chosen themselves .............1 2 3 4 h. Do a group activity or project about what they have read ............1 2 3 4

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100 i. Discuss different interpretations of what they have read ...............1 2 3 4 j. Explain or support their understanding of what they have rea d ............ 1 2 3 4 k. Take quizzes or tests .................1 2 3 4 l. Watch movies, videos, filmstrips, television, or lis ten to tapes or compact discs.. 1 2 3 4 4. How often do you perform read alouds in your classroom? CIRCLE ONE a. Daily b. Once or twice a week c. Once or twice a month d. A couple of times a month e. Once per month f. Less than once per month 5. What is your definition of performing a read aloud in your classroom? _____________________________________________________ _________________ ______________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________ 6. Which genre(s) do you generally use during read alouds in your classroom (i.e. narrative, inf ormational, poetry, biography)?

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101 YOUR BACKGROUND 1. What is your gender? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. Male......................................................................................... 1 b. Female..................................................................................... 2 2. In what year were you born? _____________ 3. Are you of Hispanic or Latino origin? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. Yes .......................................................................................... 1 b. No............................................................................................ 2 4. Which best describes your race? CIRCLE ALL THAT APPLY a. American Indian or Alaska Native b. Asi an c. Black or African American d. Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander e. White 5. Counting this school year, how many years have you been a teacher, including as a part time teacher? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE.

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102 _______ Years 6. Counting this school year, how many years have you taught this grade, including as a part time teacher? WRITE NUMBER ON LINE. _______ Years 7. Counting this school year, how many years have you taught in your current school including part time teaching? WRITE THE NUMBER OF YEARS TO THE NEAREST HALF YEAR (FOR EXAMPLE, 2.5, 3.5). ____________ Years 8. What is the highest level of education you have completed? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. High school diploma or GED................................................... 1 b. Associa te's degree .................................................................. 2 c. Bachelor's degree.................................................................... 3 d. At least one year of course work beyond a Bachelor's degree but not a graduate degree........................................... 4 e. Master's degree....................................................................... 5 f. Education specialist or professional diploma based on

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103 at least one year of course work past a Master's degree l evel ......................................................................................... 6 g. Doctorate................................................................................. 7 9. If you have an associate's or bachelors degree, indicate your undergraduate major field of study. CIRCL E ONE ON EACH LINE a. Early Childhood Education ..................................................... Y N b. Elementary Education ............................................................ Y N c. Special E ducation.................................................................... Y N d. Other Educationrelated Major (such as secondary ed., ed. psych., administration, music education, etc.) ................. Y N e. NonEducation Major (such as history, English, etc.) ............ Y N 1 0. If you have a graduate degree indicate the major field of study of your highest level graduate degree. CIRCLE ONE ON EACH LINE. a. Early Childhood Education ..................................................... Y N b. Elementary Education ............................................................ Y N c. Special Education.................................................................... Y N d. Other Educationrelated Major (such as secondary ed., ed. psych., adm inistration, music education, etc.) ................. Y N e. NonEducation Major (such as history, English, etc.) ............ Y N

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104 11. What type of teaching certification do you have? CIRCLE ONE NUMBER. a. None........................................................................................ 1 b. Temporary, probational, provisional, or emergency certification .............................................................................. 2 c. Certificate for completion of a state alternative certi fication program................................................................................... 3 d. Regular or standard state certificate ....................................... 4 e. Advanced professional certificate .......................................... 5 12. Are you certified in these areas? CIRCLE ONE ON EACH LINE. a. Elementary Education ............................................................. Y N b. Early Childhood Education...................................................... Y N c. Secondary education............................................................... Y N d. Specific subject matter certification......................................... Y N e. ESL certification ......................................................... ............. Y N f. Special education .................................................................... Y N

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105 APPENDIX F COMPREHENSION MEASURES Second grade informational passages and comprehension questions from Teacher Created Resources, Inc. (2010): Day and Night The American Toad Hops Again Busy as a Bee The Platypus The Rock Cycle Grasslands Housel, D. J. (2010). Nonfiction reading comprehension: Grade 2. Westminster, CA: Teacher Created Resources.

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106 Day and Night Every day the sun comes up. And every day the sun goes down. Why? The sun doesnt move around the Earth. The Earth spins as it goes around the sun. The part of the Earth facing the sun has day. The part of the Earth facing away from the sun has night. It takes t he Earth 24 hours, or one day, to spin around once. Sometimes we see the moon at night. Sometimes we see it in the day, too. The moon is always in the sky. But the sun is so bright we usually cant see the moon during the day. The moon goes around the Eart h. It takes the moon 27.3 days to go around once. The Earth is not just spinning. It is also following a path around the sun. It takes the Earth one year to go all the way around the sun. During that time it has different seasons. The seasons are based on where Earth is on its path around the sun.

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107 Day and Night Comprehension questions 1. Which does not move around another object? a. the Earth b. the moon c. the sun 2. What season comes after winter? a. spring b. fall c. summer 3. Because the Earth is always spinning, part of the planet is always a. wet b. in the dark c. cold 4. The word usually means a. almost never b. sometimes c. most of the time 5. What happens every 27.3 days? a. The moon goes around the Earth once b. The moon goes around the sun once c. A week passes 6. Picture a sunset. What is happening on the other side of the world? a. The sun and moon are seen together b. The sun is rising c. The moon comes out

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108 The American Toad Hops Again You may see American toads in a park or your yard. But they didnt start out there. They hatched from eggs in a pond. They stayed tadpoles for ten days. Toad tadpoles are darker and smaller than frog tadpoles. Like fish, tadpoles have gills. As their limbs grow and their tail shrinks, the get lungs. Then they must get out of the water or drown. When they leave the pond, they are tiny toads. Toads catch bugs with their tongues and swallow them. Although baby toads are tiny, no toad ever thinks one is a bug. Toads can see a glow on another toads skin. That way they dont eat each other. The first summer a toad sheds its skin every three days. While it sleeps during its first winter, its skin gets bumpy. Toads can live up to 30 years. They can get really big. But snakes and bir ds eat most of them before that. If they live to be three years old, they go to a pond. There they lay eggs that will hatch into more tadpoles.

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109 The American Toad Hops Again Comprehension questions 1. What age can a toad reach? a. 30 years old b 3 years old c. 30 months old 2. What happens last? a. The tadpole has gills. b. The tadpole hatches from an egg c. The tadpole has lungs 3. If a toad sees a snake, the toad will a. eat the snake b. try to get away from it c. not care 4. The word shrinks means a. breaks b. gets bigger c. gets smaller 5. Why do toads wait three years before laying eggs? a. They need to grow up b. They need to eat bugs c. They need to sleep through the winter 6. Picture a toad catching food. What is it grabbing? a. a snail b. a baby toad c. a fly

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110 Busy as a Bee Bees keep busy all year. In spring the worker bees go out to find flowers. At each flower they get pollen or nectar. Then they go back to the hive. They turn the nectar into honey. They store the pollen to eat later. The queen lays all of the eggs. But t he worker bees do all of the work. Some worker bees feed the baby bees. They give them a mix of honey and pollen called beebread. They build the honeycomb and guard the hive. Other worker bees take care of the queen. In the fall, worker bees use water and plant sap to fix cracks in the hive. Then the worker bees gather around their queen and move their wings rapidly. They keep her warm. The bees help us. By going from plant to plant, bees spread pollen. This makes some plants grow fruits and vegetables. Without bees, fewer fruits and vegetables would grow.

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111 Busy as a Bee Comprehension questions 1. Which bees lay all the eggs? a. worker bees b. queen bees c. baby bees 2. What happens last? a. The worker bees feed the baby bees b. The worker bees get pollen from flowers c. The worker bees make beebread 3. What happens after a bee visits the flowers on a cherry tree? a. The tree grows more roots b. The tree drops its leaves c. The tree grows cherries 4. The word rapidly means a. around b. slow c. fast 5. What do bees make that we sometimes eat? a. honey b. pollen c. beebread 6. Picture a boy getting close to a beehive. Worker bees buzz all around him. What will probably happen next? a. The bees will fly away b. The bees will sti ng him c. The bees will give him honey

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112 The Platypus A platypus is a mammal that lives only in Australia. Their wide, flat tails and webbed feet make them good swimmers. They scoop up worms and shellfish from stream bottoms with their wide, flat snouts. They use the claws on their feet to walk and to dig dir t. They dig burrows along streams. Unlike most mammals, the platypus lays eggs. The female uses grass and leaves to make a nest at the end of her burrow. Next, she blocks the burrows opening with dirt. Then she lays two or three eggs. After ten days, th e babies hatch. They drink her milk for four months. Adult platypuses are small. They are less than two feet long (0.6 m) and weigh just 5 pounds (2.3 kg). Their thick brown fur makes them look bigger. Hunters used to kill them for their fur. But now it is illegal to kill a platypus.

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113 The Platypus Comprehension questions 1. You can figure out that the platypus cannot? a. fly b. walk c. dig 2. What happens first? a. The female blocks off the burrow b. The female lays eggs c. The female makes a nest 3. What makes platypuses so different from most other mammals? a. They live in Australia b. They lay eggs c. They are small 4. The word illegal means a. against the law b. a good idea c. too hard 5. What do young platypuses share with all other mammal babies? a. They hatch from eggs b. They can swim c. They drink milk from their mother 6. Picture a platypus burrow. What does it look the most like? a. a nest in a tree b. a hole in the ground c. a big cave in some rocks

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114 The Rock Cycle Like the blankets on a bed, the Earth has rock layers in its crust. There are many layers. The top layers are the newest. The bottom ones are the oldest. Rocks on the Earths surface are always wearing away. Rain, ice, wind and moving water make little pieces break off. These little pieces of rock are like dirt. They blow away or get carried away by water. When the pieces are dropped, they form a new layer. Later more rock pieces cover them. In this way, layer after layer builds up. After a long time, heat and pressure squeeze the lowest layer. The rocks get hotter and hotter. They begin to change. Rocks way down inside of the Earth melt. Later they come back to the Earths crust as lava.

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115 The Rock Cycle Comprehension questions 1. When rocks are under great heat and pressure they a. wear away b. melt c. form a new layer 2. Which rocks are the oldest? a. the rocks in the layers near the Earths crust b. the rocks near a volcano c. the rocks in the layers deep inside the Earth 3. How do melted rocks return to Earths crust? a. when a volcano erupts b. when a tornado hits c. when too little rain falls 4. Another word for the Earths surface is a. crust b. lava c. layers 5. The top rock layers a. are always melting b. have been there for the longest time c. have been there the least amount of time 6. Picture the rocks in a desert. What is slowly wearing them down? a. moving water b. wind c. ice

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116 Grasslands Earth has different kinds of land areas. Grasslands are one kind. Grasslands are found far from oceans and lakes. These areas are covered by grass and are often called plains. Few trees grow there. The ground is flat. There is little rain. Americas grassl ands are in the plains states. Grasslands cover parts of Africa. Zebra and antelope live there. Buffalo used to live on the North American plains. Today sheep and cattle graze there. They share the land with rabbits, deer, foxes, and skunks. Grasslands have hot summers and cold winters. Their dirt is filled with dead, rotting grass. This makes rich, black soil that grows plants well. So all over the world grasslands have been turned into farms. These farms grow corn, wheat, and oats. People call our plains states The Breadbasket of the World. These states grow so much grain that there is enough to share with other countries.

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117 Grasslands Comprehension questions 1. Most grasslands are a. near lakes b. flat c. wet 2. What happened first? a. Bu ffalo lived on the plains b. People killed the buffalo c. Cattle lived on the plains 3. A grassland is a little like a desert because both areas have a. winters that are very cold b. rich soil for growing plants c. little rain 4. Another word for graze is a. eat b. plain c. farm 5. What types of wild animals live in a grassland? a. Ones that like cool summers b. Ones that need mild winters c. Ones that hide in or eat grass 6. Picture a grassland on a sunny day. What dont you see? a. a bar n b. pine trees c. a field of corn

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126 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Tiffany Ohlson completed her undergraduate degree in Spanish from the College of the Holy Cross in 1998. She received her masters degree in elementary education in 1999 from Lesley University. She was a literacy specialist in Boston, Massachusetts from 19992004. Tiffany received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2011 with a specialization in Reading Education. Her research interests include reading comprehension, content area literacy, and professional development. She is a member of several professional organizations dedicated to improving reading education for all children including the International Reading Association, American Educational Research Association, and the Literacy Research Association. Tiffany, and her husband, Matthew, are blessed with three beautiful children, Gabe, Brady, and Nate.