Examining the Decisions and Practices of Exemplary Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Teachers when Differentiating Reading Instruction

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Examining the Decisions and Practices of Exemplary Fourth- and Fifth-Grade Teachers when Differentiating Reading Instruction a Grounded Theory Approach
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1 online resource (197 p.)
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english
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Thoermer, Andrea L
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University of Florida
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Degree:
Doctorate ( Ph.D.)
Degree Grantor:
University of Florida
Degree Disciplines:
Curriculum and Instruction, Teaching and Learning
Committee Chair:
BONDY,ELIZABETH
Committee Co-Chair:
LANE,HOLLY BARNES
Committee Members:
FANG,ZHIHUI
SINDELAR,PAUL T

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differentiated -- exemplary -- factors -- instruction -- nature -- reading -- teachers -- upper-elementary
Teaching and Learning -- Dissertations, Academic -- UF
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Curriculum and Instruction thesis, Ph.D.
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Abstract:
The purpose of this study was to understand how four exemplary fourth- and fifth-grade elementary teachers differentiate reading instruction. Using a constructivist approach to grounded theory, the researcher conducted individual interviews and classroom observations to identify the factors contributing to teachers’ decisions to tailor reading instruction and the nature of their differentiated reading instruction. The findings, presented as a manuscript submitted to a peer-reviewed reading education research journal, were represented in a grounded theory. The theory reveals that the teachers considered three factors when making decisions about differentiation: teaching philosophy, teaching context and analysis of data. These factors, in turn, impacted the nature of differentiated instruction in regards to a) the actual reading content students were taught, b) the instructional practices and materials teachers used, and c) the products students engaged in to demonstrate their understanding of the book, skill, strategy or concept taught. Content, process and product decisions were student-centered and determined by ongoing data collection and analysis of each child’s reading level, background knowledge, reading skill knowledge, learning preferences,academic identity and interests. As a step toward linking the grounded theory to practice,the implications of this study were used to write a practitioner article about data-based decision-making for differentiating reading instruction. This paper was submitted to a peer-reviewed practitioner journal in an effort to help teachers use data more wisely to improve the differentiation of their reading instruction.
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In the series University of Florida Digital Collections.
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Includes vita.
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by Andrea L Thoermer.
Thesis:
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2013.
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Adviser: BONDY,ELIZABETH.
Local:
Co-adviser: LANE,HOLLY BARNES.
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RESTRICTED TO UF STUDENTS, STAFF, FACULTY, AND ON-CAMPUS USE UNTIL 2014-06-30

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1 EXAMINING THE DECISIONS AND PRACTICES OF EXEMPLARY FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE TEACHERS WHEN DIFFERENTIATING READING INSTRUCTION: A GROUNDED THEORY APPROACH By ANDREA LAUREN THOERMER 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 2013

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2 2013 Andrea Lauren Thoermer

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3 To my husband, Jim Thank you for your endless love, support dedication, patience and encouragement so my dream could become a reality. This is only because of you.

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4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS The printed pages of this dissertation reflect a culmination of the years of study I have had at the University of Florida as well as my relationships with many generous and inspiring people who I have met since beginning my graduate work. With their combined support along this gre at journey, I would not be completing this final phase of the doctorate program. The list is long, but I cherish each contribution to my develo pment as a scholar and teacher: To my advisor Dr. Elizabeth Bondy, a gracious and intelligent mentor and role mod el who se steadfast guidance support and attention to detail during the entire dissertation process challenged me as an emerging scholar, teacher educator and researcher by demonstrating that rigorous scholarship can and must be accessible to everyone To my committee members Drs. Holly Lane, Paul Sindelar and Zhih u i Fang for their encouraging words, thoughtful criticism, and time and attention during busy semesters. To Lisa, Devon, Sarah and Anna for graciously opening their classroom doors so this study could be possible and the world of reading research could be enriched by their exceptional reading practices. To my invaluable network of supportive, forgiving, generous and loving friends without whom I could not have survived the process: Rachel Wolkenha uer, Sarah Venturini, Renee Melin, Danielle Lesko Dr. Ruth Britton, Amber Benedict, Brooke Langston and Alexandra Lauterbach Their encouraging words, laughter, and praye rs were the perfect medicine.

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5 To my parents Mike and Catherine, father and mother in law Jim and Sandy, brothers Matthew and Kyle, sister, Elise brother s in law, sister s in law and their spouses and children for their love, support and understanding during the long years of my education. To my husband, Jim, for bein g my best friend, drill instructor voice of reason, counselor and life raft who always came to my aid during the deadlines, late nights and long weekends. And finally, to God, my Savior, and source of strength, truth, gui dance and peace.

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6 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDG MENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 LIST OF FIGURES ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 9 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................... 10 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTI ON ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 12 Statement of the Problem ................................ ................................ ....................... 12 Purpose of the Study and Research Questions ................................ ...................... 17 Significance of the Study ................................ ................................ ........................ 18 De finition of Terms ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 19 Organization of the Study ................................ ................................ ....................... 20 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ................................ ................................ ............ 21 Differentiated Instruction ................................ ................................ ......................... 22 Instructional Decision Making ................................ ................................ ................. 26 Teacher Effectiveness Research: Historical Overview ................................ ..... 27 Studies of Instructional Decision Making ................................ .......................... 29 Effective teacher decision making ................................ ............................. 36 Summary of Studies in Instructional Decision Making ................................ ...... 39 Decision Making Studies in Reading Instruction ................................ .............. 41 ................................ 42 decisions in reading ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 44 making in reading .......................... 49 making in reading ................................ ................................ ................... 55 Summary of the Studies on Decision Making in Reading ................................ 60 Limitations in the Literature ................................ ................................ ..................... 61 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY ................................ ................................ ............... 64 Epistemology and Theoretical Perspectives ................................ ........................... 65 Research Design ................................ ................................ ................................ .... 67 Participant Selection ................................ ................................ ......................... 68 Participant Description ................................ ................................ ..................... 69 Site Description ................................ ................................ ................................ 70 Data Collection ................................ ................................ ................................ 71 Interviews ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 72 Field notes ................................ ................................ ................................ 74

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7 Data Analysis ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 75 Memo writing ................................ ................................ ............................. 76 Coding ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 76 Evaluation Criteria ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 78 Credibility ................................ ................................ ................................ .......... 78 Originality ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 78 Resonance ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 79 Usefulness ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 79 Writing ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 80 Subjectivity Statement ................................ ................................ ............................ 80 Limitations ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 81 Summary ................................ ................................ ................................ ................ 82 4 THE NATURE OF AND FACTORS IMPACTING EXEMPLARY UPPER ........ 83 Instructional Decision Making ................................ ................................ ................. 86 Decision Making Studies in General ................................ ................................ 87 Decision Making Studies in Reading Instruction ................................ .............. 89 Theoretical Framework ................................ ................................ ........................... 93 Methods ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 95 Participants ................................ ................................ ................................ ....... 95 Data Collection and Analysis ................................ ................................ ............ 96 Coding. ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 97 Findings ................................ ................................ ................................ .................. 98 Devon (fourth never trust themselves, those are the first ones I go after, not as a predator, but to make sure that you are going to be supported and you can fail as much as you want, but you will learn and to have them gain a ................................ ................................ ..................... 99 Lisa (fifth be conferencing during that time. Their literature circle book I try to keep one hair ............ 100 Anna (fourth r level or literacy stations; maybe doing a word study activity, or they may be working on their actual book club activity. I will be taking small groups, or ........................... 101 Sarah (fifth meetings with the kids, just one or two minutes so that way you hit every child once or twice a week and then longer periods of time when a child is ................................ ................................ ................................ 102 Theoretical Model ................................ ................................ ........................... 103 Factor 1: Teaching philosophy ................................ ................................ 104 Factor 2: Teaching context ................................ ................................ ....... 108 Factor 3: Analysis of data ................................ ................................ ......... 113

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8 Nature of differentiated reading instruction ................................ .............. 118 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 127 Implications for Reading Education ................................ ................................ ...... 130 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 133 Concluding Thoughts ................................ ................................ ............................ 134 5 USING DATA TO DIFFERENTIATE READING INSTRUCTION .......................... 136 Recommendation 1: Determine the Purpose for Collecting Data ................... 138 Recommendation 2: Consider a Range of Data Sources ............................... 139 Recommendation 3: Think About the Utility of Formal, Informal, and Organic Assessments ................................ ................................ ................. 140 Recommendation 4: Collect Data Often ................................ ......................... 143 Recommendation 5: Organize the Data ................................ ......................... 145 Recommendation 6: Use Data from Multiple Sources to Clarify Insights into ................................ ............................. 145 Recommendation 7: Devise and Execute an Action Plan. ............................. 146 Closing Remarks ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 148 6 CONCLUSIONS ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 150 Discussion ................................ ................................ ................................ ............ 154 Implications for Reading Education ................................ ................................ ...... 157 Implications for Future Research ................................ ................................ .......... 160 Concluding Thoughts ................................ ................................ ............................ 161 APPENDIX A IRB PROTOCOL ................................ ................................ ................................ ... 162 B INFORMED CONSENT LETTER ................................ ................................ ......... 165 C INITIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE ................................ ................................ ................ 167 D PARTIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR INTERVIEWS 2, 3, AND 4 .......................... 169 E FIELD NOTES SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ....................... 170 F MEMOING SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ............................. 171 G OPEN CODING SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ..................... 174 H FOCUSED CODING SAMPLE ................................ ................................ ............. 178 I THEORETICAL MODEL ................................ ................................ ....................... 179 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................. 180 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ .......................... 196

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9 LIST OF FIGURES Figure page 4 1 ......... 135 5 1 instruction ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 149

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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 EXAMINING THE DECISIONS AND PRACTICES OF EXEMPLARY FOURTH AND FIFTH GRADE TEACHERS WHEN DIFFERENTIATING READING INSTRUCTION: A GROUNDED THEORY APPROACH By Andrea Lauren Thoermer December 2013 Chair: Elizabeth Bondy Major: Curriculum and Instruction The purpose of this study was to understand how four exemplary fourth and fifth grade elementary teachers differentiate reading instruction U sing a constructivist approach to grounded theory the researcher conducted individual interviews and classroom observations to identify the factors reading instruction and t he nature of their differentiated reading instruction The findings presented as a manuscript submitted to a peer reviewed reading education research journal, were represented in a grounded theory. The theory reveal s that the teachers considered three fac tors when making decisions about differentiation: teaching philosophy, teaching context and analysis of data These factors, in turn, impact ed the nature of differentiated instruction in regards to a) the actu al reading content students were taught, b) the instructional practices and materials teachers used and c) the products students engaged in to demonstrate their understanding of the book, skill, strategy or concept taught Content, process and product decisions were student centered and determined by ongoing data collection and analysis of each

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11 preferences, academic identity and interests. As a step toward linking the grounded theory to practice, the i mplications of this study were used to write a practitioner article about data based decision making for differentiating reading instruction This paper was submitted to a peer reviewed practitioner journal in an effort to help teachers use data more wisely to improve the dif ferentiation of their reading instruction.

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12 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION Statement of the Problem strengths is a critical part of improving McGill Franzen, 2009; Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morri son, Petrella, 2004; Connor et al., 2009; Connor et al., 2011; Duke, Pearson, Strachan & Billman, 2011; Kucan & Palincsar, 2011; Reis, McCoach, Li ttle, Muller, & Kaniskan, 2011). Effective differentiation is accomplished by using assessment data to tailor instruction so all students are provided access to the same r eading curriculum (Watts Taffe et al. 2012). However, for differentiated instruction reading outcomes, high achieving, average, and low achieving readers need different amounts and kinds of i nstruction (Connor, Morrison & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2009; 2 011; J uel & Minden Cupp, 2000). In 2004, Connor, Morrison and Petrella observed third comprehension instruction based on four dimensions: a) explicit versus implicit, b) teacher managed versus child managed, c) word level versus higher or der, and d) change over time. The researchers found that students who tested average and below average in language and reading comprehension skills improved significantly when instruction was more explicit and managed by the teacher. In this study, explici t comprehension activities included research based activities reported by the National Reading Panel ( National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2000) to promote the construction of meaning, such as vocabulary instruction, the explicit teach ing of strategies (i.e., identifying text structure, predicting, and questioning) and

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13 cooperative learning to promote strategy use. For example, explicitly teaching the conventions of text (e.g., grammar) and vocabulary (e.g., morphological awareness) and managing highly interactive discussions significantly increased comprehension achievement in typically developing and lower achieving students. Additional explicit instructional strategies explanation and modeling through think alouds, genuine and though tful feedback, and opportunities to practice a comprehension skill or strategy with someone who is more adept at using the skill or strategy have been found to be effective with average and below average readers (Baumann, 1984; Baumann, Seifert Kessell, & Jones, 1992; Duffy et al., 1986; Engler t, 2009; Gersten Fuchs, Williams, & Baker, 2001). In contrast, students testing above average achieved higher comprehension growth when they had responsibility for managing their learning in activities focused directly on meaning construction (e.g., more opportunities to learn in cooperative groups or with a peer). However, child managed, meaning based instruction had a negative effect on typical and lower d emonstrates the importance of strategically matching reading instruction to fit the reading profile of each student. Similar results were found when exploring the child and instruction interactions with first graders receiving decoding instruction (Conn or, Morrison & Katch, 2004 ). Students who scored average and below average on decoding and vocabulary skills in the fall significantly improved their word recognition skills in the spring when decoding instruction was initially teacher managed and explicit an d gradually shifted more responsibility to students to manage their own l earning as the year progressed.

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14 Several years later, Connor et al., (2011) further sub stantiated past findings regarding differentiated reading instruction. The researchers randomly p laced third grade teachers in one of two interventions: 1) meaning based, differentiated reading instruction (i.e., word reading, reading comprehension, and vocabulary) or 2) undifferentiated vocabulary instruction. They discovered that the meaning based, differentiated instruction, determined by student data, content focus, type and amount of instruction and grouping arrangements, was more effective than the undifferentiated, Based upon these studies, the researchers suggest the following: We cannot assume that a one size fits all whole class instructional approach promoted in many core literacy curricula is going to be generally effective for many third graders, especially f or students who begin third grade with very strong or very weak skills. As we define high quality instruction, we have to ask for which student with which profile of skills and consider that these profiles are changing over time. What is effective and high quality instruction for one student may be ineffective and, hence, poor quality for a student with a different profile of skills (Connor et al., 2011, p. 207) Connor and colleagues (under review) also suggest that effective differentiated instruction ext ends beyond the amount and type of instruction provided (i.e., code focused/meaning focused, and teacher managed/child managed) but also encompasses classroom learning environment elements: classroom organization, support for student language development a nd teacher warmth, response to student were greatest when teachers had highly organized rooms with established routines and expectations, provided oral language support, and demonstrated warm interactions with and emotional support for student learning coupled with particular types and substantial amounts of instruction specific to their reading profile.

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15 Taken together, this evidence from studies of differentiated reading inst ruction points to the fact that in order to be effective, instruction should be strategically planned knowledge, reading skill level, and interests to determine the appropriat e type and quantity of instruction for his/her literacy needs. When literacy instruction from year to year strategically executes these differentiated instructional components, there is an accumulating effect on st udent reading outcomes (Connor et al., in press). Yet, despite the scholarly work illustrating how to maximize student learning through differentiated instruction, previous classroom reading observation studies in grades K 6 have only explored the quantity and quality of reading instruction during the Language Arts block where frequency counts and descriptions of the reading practices as well as mode of delivery were documented (e.g., Concannon Gibney, 2009; Donaldson, 2011; Ness, 2011; Pressley, Wharton McDonald, Mistretta, & Echevarria, 1998; Pre ssley et al. 2001; Solic, 2011; Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Walpole, 1999; Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Walpole, 2000; Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriquez, 2002; Wharton McDonald, Pressley, & Hampston, 1998). For example, Donaldson (2011) analyzed observati on data on reading comprehension instruction for K 3 classrooms in 22 Reading First schools over the course of three consecutive school years, and discovered that comprehension instruction was delivered in small and whole group arrangements, yet explicit instruction (i.e., explanation, modeling, and when or why to use the skill or strategy) and guided practice occurred less frequentl y (15% and 14%, respectively). In the studies specifically exploring exemplary schools ading achievement (Pressley et al., 1998; 2001;

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16 Tayl or et al., 1999; 2000; Wharton McDonald et al., 1998), some commonly observed practices included: a) use of various grouping strategies, b) coaching and/or scaffolding ruction consisting of explicit instruction and authentic reading opportunities, and d) class discussions encouraging higher level responses to text. According to Taylor et al. (1999), it was the time spent in small group reading instruction that distinguis hed the more effective schools from the least effective schools. The effectiveness of small group instruction on student reading outcomes was also corroborated i Thus, existing research supports the critical importance of dif ferentiating reading instruction (Juel & Midden Cupp, 2000; Tomlinson, 1999, 2000a; 2000b; Duke et al., 2011), and observational studies suggest there is evidence of effective teachers tailoring instruction for their diverse learners to promote reading ach ievement (Pressley et al., 1998; 2001; Taylor et al., 1999; 2000; Wharton McDonald et al., 1998). However, not enough is known about how effective teachers make decisions to differentiate iverse needs. That is, what information do exemplary teachers use to guide their decision making when tailoring instruction for low average and high achieving readers? Even less is known about this phenomenon in upper elementary school classrooms (Conn or, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2009; 2011). Pressley transform many more classrooms and schools into effective literacy e ducation

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17 are needed to provide direction for differentiated reading instruction i n upper elementary classrooms. Purpose of the Study and Research Questions The purpose of this grounded theory study was to gain insight into how exemplary fourth and fifth grade teachers differentiate reading instruction for their students. The study complement ed differentiation in primary grades. W hile this study did (i.e., Individualizing Student Instruction [ISI]) that uses Assessment to Instruction (A2i) software and complex algorithms to compute the type and amount of differentiated instruction needed for each c hild in the classroom, this study did components in addition to the classroom learning environment elements (under review ) 000; 2002), effective teachers of reading strategically navigate the complexities of the classroom setting by incorporating practices similar to the model to meet the varying needs of their students (e.g., flexible grouping strategies, amount of scaffoldin g or teacher management, etc.). However, less is known about how exemplary teachers make instructional decisions concerning the differentiated reading instruction they provide for their students without the assistance of researcher designed software and co mplex algorithms. Therefore, my study focus ed on how exemplary upper elementary school teachers of reading make decisions about differentiating instruction within the core reading curriculum for at risk, average and high achieving readers who have varying needs, interests, and strengths. The following research questions were explored:

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18 What is the nature of differentiated reading instruction in exemplary fourth and fifth grad What factors do exemplary upper elem entary school r eading teachers consider when making decisions about differentiating reading instruction? Significance of the Study reading education for several reasons. First, teacher decision making influences the reading practices, methods and materials employed, and these decisions greatly impact student learning (Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Solic, 2011; Stern & Shavelson, 1983). Instructional decisions, exhibited through judgments and actions, are reflections of educational contexts and the purpose and value of obtaining an education (Shulman, 1986). These decisions occur prior to instruction (i.e., planning), during the natural classroom setting where the teacher must make decisions quickly while processing large amounts of information simultaneously, and during post activity while the teacher reflect s upon and evaluat es the effectiveness of instruction (Borko, Shavelson, & Stern, 1981; Duffy, 1981; 1982a; 1982b ; Hall & Smith, 2006; Stern & Shavelson, 1983; Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Westerman, 1991). Effective teachers, in particular, are ugh this decision (Allington & Johnston, 2001; Shulman, 1986). Understanding the decisions exemplary teachers make when tailoring instruction for their students helps to fill a gap in c lassroom reading research. Although studies of making processes regarding one aspect of rea ding i nstruction,

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19 differentiat ion have not been foun d Insights from this study will illuminate the thoughts outcomes, revealing reasons behind their success with students. The findings can also reveal if upper elementary teachers differentiate reading instruction sim ilarly to the primary teachers studied by Connor and colleagues (2004 ; 2011). There is evidence reading are influenced b y different factors (Norman, 2008). Given the changing demands of reading between the primary and upper elementary years, it would not be surprising to find differences in teacher decision making and practice. Second, the findings from this study can infor m the direction of future scholarly work in reading research and provide administrators, reading researchers and teacher educators additional insight into the minds of exemplary teachers who demonstrate instructional success. Understanding the thoughts, ju dgments and decisions behind developing high quality learning experiences to support and improve the teaching of current and future educators in this highly complex and mul tidimensional process. Definition of Terms Differentiated Instruction is a framework for teaching that provides all students access to the same curriculum by using assessment data to tailor Tomlinson, 19 95 ; Watts Taffe et al., 2012 ). This term will be further discussed in Chapter 2. Exemplary teachers are teachers who have been nominated by the district level language arts coordinator and confirmed through principal recommendation as being highly effect ive at differentiating reading instruction for students on all levels of the reading continuum (e.g., more advanced readers to struggling readers). Specific criteria for determining teacher effectiveness were established prior to speaking with the la nguage arts coordinator. Palmer, Stough, Burdenski, and Gonzales (2005) reviewed literature on teacher effectiveness and suggest four markers for identifying expert teachers. These criteria were used in the

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20 selection of exemplary teachers: 1) a minimum of three years of teaching experience in a specific content domain and instructional context; 2) nomination skills; 3) documented impact on student learning, and 4) appropriate certif ication and degrees for the domain in which they teach. Highly effective teachers demonstrate consistent, positive student reading achievement outcomes on formal and informal assessments. Refer to the definition provided for exemplary teachers. In this s tudy, these two term s will be used interchangeably. Upper elementary teacher a teacher who educates children in grade four or five Organization of the Study The remainder of this dissertation is divided into five chapters. Chapter 2 provides a critical review of literature pertaining to differentiated reading instruction and teacher decision making in general and reading specifically. Chapter 3 describes the manuscript format. Chapter 5 links theory and practice by presenting a practitioner oriented article about data based decision making for differentiating reading instruction. Lastly, Chapter 6 provides a review of the entire dissertation project and implications for research and practice on differentiated reading instruction.

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21 CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE making processes when differentiating reading instruction for students with diverse nee ds using grounded theory methodology. This chapter analyzes and synthesizes the literature on differentiated instruction and teacher decision making processes. It is important to note that when conducting research using grounded theory methodology, the lit erature is reviewed prior to beginning the study in order to sensitive the researcher to concepts and disciplinary perspectives in the field. If needed, t he review of literature is refined following the data analysis process which can help to locate, evaluate, and constructed grounded theory in relation to the topic under study (Charmaz, 2006, p. 163). This can their [scholars in the field] ideas illuminate your theoretical categories and how your Overall, the review will be structured to a) situate this study in current research, and b) elucidate a gap in the literature that my study will addre ss The review is organized into two main sections: 1) differentiated instruction, and 2) teacher decision making processes in general, and in reading, specifically. The studies for this review came from the following sources: 1) educational databases (EBS CO Host, Academic Search Premier, Education Full Text, and ERIC) 2) handbooks of research in reading and reading comprehension, 3) Internet based searches (GoogleScholar) and 4) reference lists from the literature. The search terms included: differentiated reading instruction, individualized instruction, instructional choice, teacher thinking, teacher decision making, teacher effectiveness, and teacher

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22 cognitive processes. Criteria also established guidelines for choosing the literature. Studies had to meet the following conditions to be included in the review: 1) published in a peer reviewed journal or research collection and 2) focused on teacher decision making in reading instruction and differentiated instruction. Both conceptual and empirical research w ere include d. Differentiated Instruction teaching and learning that values the individual and can be translated into classroom D ifferentiating instruction is therefore key to the sustainability of uccess for all students is more than a slogan or even a laudable goal; it may be a key to the survival of the American public school as society George, 2005, p. 186). Providing 1998). F inding better ways to educate s tudents on an individual basis will honor every right to excellent instruction as advocated by the International Reading Association (See IRA, 2000 to read the set of ten principles to serve as a guide for educational policy and pr actice in literac y ). Differentiation is not a new concept in the educational arena. A ccording to Anderson (2007), differentiated instruction has been in existence since the initiation of the one room schoolhouse. However, it became more of a national priority when Marland (1971), the U.S. Commissioner of Education at the time, charged Congress with the task of ensuring a more differentiated education for gifted and talented children starting at the federal level and moving to state and local levels. Low priority had been

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23 gi ven to this group of children as indicated by the small percentage of educational services available to enhance their learning opportunities despite the good intentions to do so. It was reported that through differentiated instruction, gifted students coul d more easily possible through the regular curriculum, to use resources not normally available to them, and to develop their unique talen 1993, p. 105). by the Education Product Information Exchange Institute (1979). The report indicated that 60% of fourth grade students passed the mathematics pre test at the beg inning of the year prior to receiving instruction from the teacher. Taylor and Frye (1988) noted similar findings for average and above average fifth and sixth graders in reading were not receiving necessary modifications of the regular curriculum to profoundly impact their learning (Archambault et al., 1993), and that essentially, the curriculum was duals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) enacted a law designed to protect the rights of all students with exceptionalities, inclusive of students with learning disabilities as well as the gifted and talented, to receive a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which has since been reauthorized in 1997 and 2004. By doing so, educators are mandated to ensure students are provided special services that are responsive and tailored to their unique needs Today, this notion has grown to include every student in their classr oom;

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24 yet, to offer students such an education, Tomlinson and Kalbfleisch (1998) suggest following a set of three principles specific to differ entiation. The first principle is that learning environments must feel emotionally safe fo r learning to take place. If students feel threatened, at risk or rejected, their first reaction is preservation rather than learning something new. Secondly, students do their best learning when they experience appropriate level s of challenge. Content and activities that are too challenging or too easy will result in students sh utting down. Lastly, each child needs to make his/her ow n meaning of ideas and skills, and therefore, cannot be force d to understand. Students can constru ct a web of meaning when teachers orchestrate thought provoking activities that allow students to link new concepts to their past and current understandings and ideas In other words, these principles entail cultivating a learning environment that is highl y organized and where children feel safe, (Connor et al. under review), know their knowledge and interests are valued, and find the learning tasks moderately challenging and 1995). Utilizing ongoing assessments provides teachers w ith the kind of information to assessments assist educators in gain ing valuabl e information readiness level s interests, and learning profile s (Connor, Morrison & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2011; Tomlinson, 1995). Readiness refers to the knowledge, experience and skills students bring to a particular learning situation. It can vary from situation to situation and is in fluenced by previous life experiences as well as their attitudes about school. Interests result from tapping into topics that capture

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25 persistence in learning. Learnin g profiles reflect how students learn best and include preferred learning style, culture, and gender (Corley, 2005). Whereas some students learn best by completing a group activity with peers, other students may prefer to work alone; yet, preferences can v ary with the particulars of the task and the classroom climate. Teachers can also use this information to establish flexible grouping patterns such as small group (e.g., based on similar or mixed interests, readiness levels, or learning styles), one on one and/or whole group instruction. In addition, decisions about a ) the content to be learned, b ) the processes or sense making activi ties to learn the content, and c ) the final product (e.g., project or task) to demonstrate what was learned can be determine d (Tomlinson, 2000b; Tomlinson et al., 2003). Whereas some learners may require additional scaffolding and ongoing support, other learners may quickly grasp the conce pt and work more independently. Chapman and King (2005) suggest eleven practical ways to g uide teachers toward differentiating instruction for their students: 1) know the standards; 2) vary instructional strategies and activities; 3) create a learning climate; 4) exhibit 5) provide a wide variety of materials and resources; 6) kno w the students; 7) assess before, during, and after the learning; 8) adjust assignments; 9) plan student focused opportunities; 10) use flexible grouping designs and 11) know change is gradual. According to Hawkins (2000), it takes a vast amount of confidence, efficacy and personal perseverance to sustain practices for differentiation; however, b y attending to competent, creative and

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26 profess calling of honoring each educational rights (IRA, 2000). Instructional Decision Making Teachers play a significant role in deciding how to differentiate instruction for the variety of lear ners they teach (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Mo rrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2011; Juel & Minden Cupp, 2000; Jones, Yssel, & Grant, 2012; Tobin & McInnes, 2008). Because classrooms are multidimensional, dynamic and complex environments where events occur simultaneously and unpredictably and the teaching demands are continuous and insistent (Doyle, 1977), teachers are constantly making decisions regarding what to teach, how to teach and when to deliver the instruction. For example, they must strategically choose the content, the most appropria te materials, the most efficient organizational structures and the right amount engaged, motivated and focused on the learning activity or task. Shavelson (1973) stated that the act of teacher decision making is the basic skill of teaching. In fact, Jackson (1968) noted that teachers participate in around 200 or 300 decisions every hour; Stern and Shavelson (1983) reported it to be at least 10 decisions every hour, wherea s Clark and Peterson (1984) stated that teachers make at least one decision every two minutes, specifically while teaching students, resulting in approximately 30 decisions every hour. Although differences exist in studies concerning the number of decision s teachers engage in, what we do know is that decisions are constantly made and put into motion. Teachers are continually thinking about, planning for, reflecting on and responding to various classroom stimuli (Doyle, 1977). Given the highly complex world a teacher must navigate on a daily basis, it is not surprising that

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27 research ers began to focus on instructional decision making as a key characteristic of effective teach ing (Duffy, 1981; Shavelson & Stern, 1981). Teacher Effectiveness Research: Historical Overview Teachers are the most important and influential school related variable in a successful academic journey (Darling Hammond, 1996, Haycock, 1998; The National effective teach is an elusive construct that continues to evolve. Prior to the 1960s, scholarly work in teacher effectiveness focused on a) teacher personality and educational characteristics (e.g ., student attitudes and achievement), b) proving one method superior to another, and c) systematic observation of verbal interactions (Duffy, 1981). The problem was that these foci did little to explain the nature of teacher effectiveness. Then in the 196 0s, the national priority in the educational arena due to the Post Sputnik era. American children were perceived as badly educated when compared to children in the Soviet Unio n. To compensate for these negative perceptions about American education a more challenging academic curriculum and rigorous teaching expectations were established (Brophy & Good, 1986). Starting in the early 1970s, research on effective teaching began to include more observations to investigate classr oom interactions (Duffy, 1981). Observational studies in teacher effectiveness research initially assumed a behaviorist perspective, focusing on discrete teaching skills and which teacher behaviors had the mo st significant impact on student achievement (Clark & Peterson, 1984). Often referred to as process

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28 referenced student outcomes The nature of the research lent itself to very linear Teachers were deemed as effective when they provided more opportunities to learn through direct instruction, enforced optimal classroo m management techniques, and established psychological conditions where the classroom climate encouraged high expectations of students, exuded high teacher and student efficacy, and increased successful student experiences (Brophy & Good, 1986; Duffy, 1981 ). However, many researchers were less supportive of relying solely on process product research to and prescriptive, too simplified given the complexities of the classro om and overly behavioristic (Duffy, 1981). Eventually in the mid 1970s, other factors were thought to influence teaching and learning, in particular, the cognitive processes of teachers: thinking, judgments, and decision making (Borg, 2006; Brophy & Good, 1986; Clark & Yinger, 1977; Clark & Peterson, 1984; Duffy, 1981; Rupley, Wise & Logan, 1986). According to Duffy (1981), cognitive perspectives on teacher effectiveness grew out of process product research because it was believed that specific thought pro cesses drove teacher actions or behaviors and that when effective decisions were made, student learning and achievement would improve. Essentially, in order to conduct instruction in a certain manner, teachers had to make decisions about which practices to enact It was during this shift i n teacher effectiveness research, that scholarly work on teacher decision making began to investigate the mental states of teachers. What do teachers think about when teaching students? What factors are guiding their thoug hts?

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29 Is there a model that can explain their thought processes? How do teachers differ in their thought processes? These are just a few of the burning questions researchers investigated. Each of these will be further explored in the sections to follow, alo ng with a critical review of instructional decision m aking in reading, specifically. Studies o f Instructional Decision Making making research because it was one of the first studies to trul y capture the complexity of the teacher does when he is alone at his desk and what the teacher does when his room occurring during preactive, interactive and postactive teaching phases. Decision making instructional practices using a variety of materials, r esources, organizational formats and learning structures to carry out the classroom practices. Interactive decisions occur 1982). Research also refers to the decisions decisions (McNair, 1978). Postactive decisions are reflective and evaluative in nature and concerned with how the plans and activities were previously carried out in the classroo m. ion between the various phases teachers talked about when explaining their classroom instruction, research on teacher decision making flourished. From 1977 to 1986, several reviews of research on instructional decisions were conducted, each with their own perspective for examining teacher decision making (Clark & Yinger, 1977; Clark & Peterson, 1984; Duffy, 1981; 1982b; Duffy & Ball, 1983;

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30 1986; Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Stern & Shavelson, 1983). Yet, according to Shavelson was and continues to be undergirded by two basic assumptions. The first assumption is that teachers are professionals who behave rationally when making decisions and judgments in their complex teaching en vironment. And, for the most part, teacher between decisions and judgments because jud gments were viewed as one cognitive component of teacher planning and decision making, according to Stern and Shavelson The rational model portrays decisi on making as an information processing activity where teachers attend to multiple classroom issues simultaneously using information about their students, the subject matter, and classroom and school environment to deduce a set of alternative hypotheses fro m which to choose to guide further action (Clark & Yinger, 1977; Kleven, 1991; P eterson, Marx, & Clark, 1978; ons to the diagnostic make a judgment based on their observations, and then decide to continue teaching as planned or consider an alternative route (Peterson et al. 1978). According to Clark and Yinger (1977), judgment and decision making are a result of about how they make sense of the world. Teacher beliefs about education, teaching and

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31 learning, and conceptions of a subject matter, stem from teacher elements of the classroom situation that are most important, the relationships among model assumes a theory driven approach to decision making. However, S havelson and Stern further explain that the first assumption references the intentions of teachers and not their actual behaviors. Two reasons are provided to support their statement: 1) the immediacy of teaching situations may preclude teachers from makin g rational and reflective decisions, and 2) compared to processing and problem solving capacity is limited because of the complex, teaching environment they must navigate. According to a study conducted b y Doyle (1977), teachers reduce the environmental demands by engaging in the following cognitive strategies: 1) chunking grouping of discrete events into larger units; 2) differentiation discriminating among units in terms of their immediate and long t erm significance, 3) overlap handling of two or more events simultaneously, 4) timing monitoring and controlling the duration of events, and 5) rapid judgment instructional situati ons is further corroborated by Clark and Yinger (1977): even if instruction is going poorly as indicated by student behavior and alternatives are considered, teachers will rar ely implement the alternatives. To work efficiently in the reality of their compl ex situation, teachers construct simplified models of what is actually occurring, and as such, behave rationally within this simplified model of reality. That is, teach

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32 decisions and judgments in their complex teaching environment (Shavelson & Stern, judgments and decisions (Shavelson & Stern, 1981). If this we re not the case, then teachers would, in essence, be mechanical robots on autopilot; yet, not enough is known about how thoughts become teacher actions. not theory driven and r eflective decision makers, but rather technical managers of instructional materials and activities (Duffy, 1981; 1982a; 1982b; Duffy & Ball, 1983; 1986). As technicians, Duffy argues that teachers reduce the cognitive load by simplifying the teaching envir onment and pushing theory into the background so they smoothly: The mental life of teachers has been revealed as a crowded, hectic place in which multiple demands compete for atte ntion in a maze of conflicting complexities y with 25 30 youngsters forces teachers to think about (and to make decisions ab out) activity flow, management and monitoring, leaving little time to thin k about devel oping curriculum, supplementing textbooks, planning integrated activitie s, striving for elusive goals, spontaneously generating diagnostically appropri ate instructional cues, and so on (Duffy, 1982b, p. 360) Duffy further explains that there are four clas sroom conditions that dominate teacher thinking and push them toward routines rather than deciding upon alternative actions to classroom issues that arise. First, schooling is a social phenomenon where organization, group management, creation of learning c limates and efficient routines classroom survival ; if there is a breakdown, things can be sabotaged (Doyle & Ponder, 1977 1978). Third, implicit (e.g., administrat ive expectations) and explicit (e.g., drive for

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33 accountability) mandates limit instructional options. The final conditions pushing teachers to maintain routines, is the unique role strain teachers assume at the classroom level, school level and professiona l level. In addition to their traditional instructional roles, teachers also serve as substitute parents, counselors and first aid personnel. Based on these conditions, it is not surprising that teachers view their job as coordinat ing pac ing regulat ing a nd oversee ing student progress (Duffy & McIntyre, 1980). Yet, ( 1984 ) study suggests that teachers can be taught to improve their interactive, rational decision making processes a valuable skill to obtain. According to Peterson et al. (1978), a p otential outcome of failing to act or make rational decisions is decreased student attitudes and achievement scores. Parker believed the quality of student behavior, co nsidering alternate teacher behaviors, weighing these alternatives and selecting a teacher behavior. In turn, student attitude and achievemen t could be positively impacted. In an experimental design, twenty four elementary teachers from one school district were randomly assigned to a treatment (n=12) or control group (n=12). The experimental group was involved in nine weeks of guided reflection where teachers reflected on their interactive decisions, student behavioral cues leading to decisions, perceived a lternatives, and process of weighing those alternatives, and role taking activities. In the role taking activities, the teachers consulted and guided teachers outside the group about their decisions during instruction. The control group read an article on interactive decision making. After treatment, all teachers engaged in a

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34 stimulated recall interview from one videotaped lesson where frequency of each de cision making area was scored. nt from the recall of decisions ( d =.8 ). They recalled higher frequencies of the four quality indicators for decision making. However, observations of practices could have provided more information about the magnitude of the two training effectiveness. Further, the findings are limited by the small group sizes and the difficult y of determining if the findings were related to significant differences between the two groups actual decision making or just differences in the teache during the interviews. Although teachers did demonstrate the ability to engage in more of the rational decision making model during interactive t eaching are inconclusive. And, the difficulties of a rational approach to making decisions is further confirmed w hen ut the importance teachers place on maintaining a smooth flow of instruction. In 1980, McCutcheon observed and interviewed twelve teachers in grades K 6 from six different schools about their planning process and the nature of their plans. She found that t eachers did not follow an objective oriented, or rational approach to the planning process; nor did the teachers weigh alternatives. Instead, teachers went with their first idea, which was activity oriented; the plans served

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35 & Shavelson, 1983 p. 282 plan or ( Morine Dershimer, 1978 1979, p. 8 5 Peterson, 1984 p. 44 ) for teachers carrying out their instruction. when implementing planned instruction; yet, when com pared to interactive decisions, planning or preactive decisions are more conscious than unconscious (Shavelson & Stern, 1981) and thus, teachers can choose the content to be covered, sequence of topics and allotment of time for activities and learning. In their review, Shavelson and Stern (1981) found that teachers consider many elements when planning the task or activity: a) subject matter taught, which usually comes from the textbook or basal, b) materials to be manipulated or observed, c) the activities or things that will be taking place during the lesson, which is inclusive of sequencing, pacing and timing of materials needs and interests, and f) social and cultural context (communit y and groupings of students). According to Clark and Peterson (1984), teachers plan instruction daily, weekly, and/or yearly in relation to the ir short and long range goals. It is important to note however, that simply because teacher s may not engage in thinking about and weighing the pros and cons of choosing from several alternative routes does not indicate that they are ineffective (Duffy & Ball, 1986). In fact, according to Duffy and Ball (1986) teachers, even effective ones, serve as technicians or managers of their instructional environment. They suggest that given the complexity of thinking, the classroom and to student learning outcomes perhaps teachers

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36 time on task a practice noted to impact student outcomes (Brophy & Good, 1986). Two studies substantiate these conclusions and further extend the knowledge base about maki ng processes (Putnam 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984). Effective teacher decision making While many reviews on teacher decision making suggest that teachers make few decisions about curriculum and instruction (Clark & Peterson, 1984; Duffy & Ball, 1986; Stern & Shavelson, 1983), evidence suggests that beyond procedural decisions, teachers are capable of making substantive decisions about content and student understanding (Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984). Substantive decisions are those o promote student understanding of the content and processes involved in reading, and include decisions about what to teach, interpretation of the content, exploitation of critical moments, qualitative restructuring of student responses, selection of alter native explanations or strategies, and affective responses to student decisions occur when planning instruction and pedagogical decisions occur during expert teachers do more than just maintain well established routines, pacing, and classroom activity flow, they also respond to student errors, redirect student responses to a task, select alternative ways to model the concept, change the lesson itself, and give different instructional examples to ensure effective delivery and student understanding (Putnam & Duffy, 1984). To describe an exceptional first and second e and interactive decisions, Putnam (1984) collected documents, conducted interviews, and and followed with a debriefing and verification session

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37 from September to March. Putnam found that ive decisions throughout the year were strongly related in that later decisions were guided by former decisions, and governed by her long making phases: 1) data collection and synthesis; 2) preactive decision making; 3) data collection and interactive decision making; 4) reflective thinking, synthesis and preactive decision making; 5) interactive decision making; and 6) data collection and verification of stu dent achievement. Essentially, she collected data, synthesized the data, and made decisions based on the data. Ms. Fer e ro consciously processed information and made decisions; planned instruction guided by her beliefs, knowledge, and assumptions about lear ning and her role in the classroom; used her schemata to organize and simplify the teaching task; kept her use of resources to a minimum and very simple; and used many different recording systems that were simple and student user friendly. She also establi shed routines and procedures at the beginning of the year to create a classroom environment conducive to in creased learning opportunities. Similar findings were gathered when Putnam studied her colleague, Duffy (1984) cision making model. Duffy, an expert teacher, teacher educator, and influential reading researcher, went on sabbatical for one year to teach high and low group students while Putnam observed and described his planning and instructional decisions. Supporti conceptions of learning play a role in their preactive and interactive decisions, which are related and revolve around content, pedagogy, classroom management and student behavior; interactive decision making takes various forms throughout the school year

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38 depending on the goals and function of instruction; and there are consequences of critical decision pedagogy assisted in the planning of s uccessful instruction, whereas his critical interactive decisions either helped or hindered instr uction and occurred less often. Ms. Ferero and Duffy had complex instructional schema, consisting of knowledge and beliefs about teaching and learning Unlike some teachers, they did not consider other factors and therefore, could focus on student learning Putnam stated that Ms. Ferero did this by exerting knowledge structures based on their recall of classroom events and their analysis of, and approaches to, problems during interactive tea ching in comparison to novice teachers. Cognitive ability measures were also administered to determine if there were differences in the classroom an alysis related to this element. After viewing three pre established classroom scenes containing 17 role played classroom events, ten teachers were interviewed and asked to describe the events and decisions that could have been made to change the course of events. Findings revealed that t he experienced teachers had more highly developed procedural knowledge structures, which assisted in the decision making process of solving problems. Because verbal ability was significantly related to recall of events only and the experienced teachers had higher scores in this area, the researchers suggest that the underlying ability to do so, but in their knowledge structures. Experienced teachers tended to

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39 elaborate o n answers and justif y their comments demonstrating their procedural knowledge obtained from years of experience. leveraging instructional decisions is also evident in several other st udies comparing and Livingston and Borko (1990), when compared to novice teachers, expert teachers are more adaptive and flexible with their instruction, utilizing highly in teractive activities and driven by their initial instructional goals. They are efficient and responsive to developed, complex and interrelated content and pedagogical schema, and improv ising when nd are not as comprehensive in their content coverage. Further, Westerman (1991) found expert needs in the classroom, whereas novice teachers are unsure of how to use information gained during instruction to plan future lessons. Ho and Liu (2006) found similar results when expert and novice teachers taught students with intellectual disabilities. Summary of Studies in Instructional Decision Making Over the years, there have been various perspectives about instructional decision making Researchers in support of the rational approach agree that teachers are professionals who diagnose an issue, form several solutions based on the issue and then choose from the be st option for the given situation. Although time instruction they adjust to

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40 the multiple demands by using strategies to reduce the cognitive load placed upon them. Other researchers contend that t eachers act more like technicians with the goal of maintaining well established routines and procedures to ensure smooth activity flow. activity oriented rather than objective decisions are more conscious. Yet, the literature comparing expert and novice teachers supports both views, w here expert teache rs cross into each perspective. While research demonstrates that teachers, of all experience levels, tend to engage in the latter (i.e., technician), there is evidence that expert teachers tend to make more rational decisions during real demonstrate more support for the rational model as they tend to be more goal oriented in their instruction throughout the year, p lanning instruction based on their conceptions developed schema based on years of teaching experience, that separate the also supports these findings (Feldon, 2007; Jarodzka, Scheiter, Gerjets, & Gog, 2010). Although we cannot link teacher decis ion making to effective teaching, these findings bear reason to believe that student outcomes will be higher in classrooms with teachers who are experts in their field.

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41 Decision Making Studies in Reading Instruction The landmark studies and theoretical mod els on teacher decision making in general were foundational to the teacher decision making research in reading instruction. In fact, many of the scholars (i.e., Shavelson & Stern, Duffy and colleagues) were prolific in both areas of study addressing teache making processes. reading because reading alone is a complex coordination of multiple cognitive functions working simultaneously to make meaning (RAND Readin g Study Group, 2002). Paired the various needs of their students (Doyle, 1977), it was imperative to further ons and considering multiple an d dynamic contextual variables. While many studies were conducted during the 1980s, numerous studies have continued to expand upon the knowledge base of teacher decision making in reading instruction. Initial research convers ations in decision making focused on the nature of the process through the creation of decision making models and testing aspects of those models. By laying the groundwork for research in reading education, studies in reading have taken a different avenue and their relation to various factors associated with reading. Teacher and student knowledge, beliefs and experiences, external elements beyond teacher or student control, and professional learning opportunities are factors identified in the studies as work. As evidence indicates, anything in the environment surrounding and affecting the

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42 educational experience can be identified as an element of the educational context ( Vygotsky, 1978) The remainder of the review is organized by the contextual effects of a) students, b) teacher beliefs and knowled ge, c) policy, and d) professi onal learning experiences. motivated by the student, both as an individual and in group settings (Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980; Englert & Semmel, 1983; Hoffman, 1979; Howard, 1988; McNair, 1978 1979 ). Evidence also reveals that a majority of the instructional decisions concerning the student occur during the planning phase (Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980; Hoover, (1985) study exemplifies the importance of the student when making classroom instructional decisions. The researcher asked 24 teachers from Kindergarten t hrough seventh responses, despite grade or experience level, fit into two broad categorie s: evaluation of students and student instruction, where teachers most critical decisions dealt with student group placement followed with individualizing instruction to the needs of the group or the individual student. Buike (1980) suggests that grouping students, while a complex process itself (Schwartz, 2005), helps to reduce the complexity of teaching reading because rather than focusing on each and every student in the class, teachers can diagnose the general needs of the group as a unit. According to groups during the preactive stage are based on a variety of student attributes. Reading

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43 achievement, sex, participation in class and problematic behavior are student characteristics the researche rs found teachers typically take into consideration. Grouping decisions also vary based on the experience level of the teacher. Borko and Niles (1982) conducted a mixed method study using self report techniques such as questionnaires and descriptions in ad dition to policy capturing methodology with student teachers (n=40) and their cooperating teacher (n=27). The researchers discovered practicing teachers used more complex strategies for grouping and judging mastery of content. While all teachers placed stu dents into a high, middle and low reading group, well and grouping decisions only on reading achievement and self correction of errors during oral reading whereas teache rs also used nonacademic indicators (e.g., class participation, b ehavior and social competence). Despite the variety of information that can be used for forming groups, most c competence (Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980). Consequently, reading groups are generally organized homogenously where instruction varies widely from group to group. dec the middle and high groups were instructed at a faster pace than the lower ability groups, which afforded them the opportunity to learn a larger amount of information. In another study (Englert & Semmel, 1983) investigating the prompts teachers provide in prompts when working with poorer readers and the prompts typically address the

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44 seman instructional decisions were particularly concerned that students understoo d the meaning of what was read. Conversely, Buike (1980) found that while the teachers in her s tudy spent more occupied with managing student behavior issues, which cost the s tudents valuable time for learning. Because evidence suggests that instruction varies between groups, if grouping structures are rigid and formed years in advance with limited opportunities for students to move between groups as their needs change, which w as found to be the case in one study (Norman, 2008), student learning could be greatly impacted. beliefs and knowledge in relation to reading (Borko & Niles, 1982). Effe sions in reading Over the last 30 years, studies in reading research have investigated the making. Of these studies, teacher beliefs incl uded beliefs about reading in a general sense (Bawden, Buike, & Duffy, 1979; Borko & Niles, 1982; Davis & Wilson, 1999; Howard, 1988; Rupley & Logan, 1985), beliefs about how one reads and how reading develops, in particular ( Friesen & Butera, 2012 ; Kinzer 1988 ), and beliefs about reading teaching methods and learning (Friesen & Butera, 2012; Ibanez & Ocampo, 2011). In regards to (Rupley & Logan, 1985), the five reading comp onents (e.g., phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension), their students and reading pedagogy

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45 practical knowledge (Friesen & Butera, 2012). Within the se studies, there are controversial findings about the impact of either beliefs or kn decisions. Numerous studies (Bentley, 2007; Borko & Niles, 1982; Friesen & Butera, 2012; Ibanez & Ocampo, 2011; Richardson, Anders, Tidwell, & Loyd, 1 991; Rupley & Logan, experienced teachers of reading (Howard, 1988; Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984), g and implementing reading instruction. Considering expert teachers of reading, who are typically classified as experts based on years of teaching experience (Palmer et al., 2005), it makes sense that their beliefs, formed after years of trial and error, h ave been found to strongly impact their decisions (Fogarty et al., 1983; Living ston & Borko, 1990; Peterson & Comeaux, 1984). Further, studies that found consistency did so across multiple grade levels and experience levels: from pre K teachers (Friesen & Butera, 2012) to the primary (Bentley, 2007) and intermediate grades (Davis & Wilson, 1999), to content area teachers in grades five, six and seven (Davis & Wilson, 1999; Ibanez & Ocampo, 2011), and also included teachers at the preservice and inservice le vels (Borko & Niles, especially knowledge of instructional reading approaches, play a significant role when making implementation decisions within a new core reading progra m (Bentley, 2007). Qualitative methods (e.g., interviews, observations and questionnaires) were employed to capture these findings.

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46 Through a correlational design, researchers have also found a positive relationship between knowledge, in particular, the in teraction of teacher knowledge and Fishman & Morrison, 2009). The more instruction provided by teachers on each end of the knowledge continuum, the worse or better the st While teacher knowledge did not directly affect student word reading growth, we can conclude that the pedagogical decisions, in this case in decoding instruction, are tied ct instruction and ultimately student learning. For example, teachers who scored lower on the knowledge test often provided inaccurate examples, responded inappropriately to students, and were less able to correct student errors, thereby indicating evidenc e of a smaller decoding instructional repertoire. Lack of reading comprehension knowledge can also greatly impede text analysis for use in text n, Hapgood & Palincsar, 2011). These studies suggest that given the impact of knowledge on decision making, it is important for teachers to possess a comprehensive knowledge base. Shulman (1987) recommends building teacher knowledge in the following categorie s because the knowledge, general pedagogical knowledge, curriculum knowledge, pedagogical content knowledge, knowledge of learners and their characteristics, knowledg e of educational contexts, and knowledge of educational ends, purposes, and values and their philosophical and historical grounds (p. 8). Teachers must take the content

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47 knowledge and elucidate it skillfully through reasoning and action so students can gras p the information through use of va rious instructional approaches. In spite of these studies supporting the influence of reading beliefs and knowledge on practices, several other studies reveal that the reading practices chosen by teachers do not always al ign with their beliefs (Kinzer, 1988; Konopak, Readence, & Wilson, 1994). Using a correlational study design, Kinzer (1988) investigated differences in the belief systems between 83 preservice and 44 inservice primary grade teachers and whether their instr uctional choices reflected their theoretical orientation. Each teacher was provided a packet of information containing two sets of 15 statements, each set specific to either how one reads (text based, reader based, or interactive) and how reading ability d evelops (skills, holistic, differential acquisition), and chose five that reflected what a teacher should know. Teachers also chose from one of three prewritten second grade lesson plans in vocabulary, comprehension and syllabication, each lesson represent ing a different theoretical orientation to teaching reading: text based/mastery of specific skills explanations, reader based/ holistic explanations, and intera ctive/differential acquisition. While the teachers typically chose reader based/holistic explana tion lesson plans, teachers did not choose lessons that matched their orientations about text based/skill mastery and interactive/differential explanations. Rather, lessons not reflecting their beliefs were chosen. The researchers noted that when compared to inservice teachers, preservice teachers more often chose lessons aligned with their beliefs. This study suggests that the two belief statements may serve to differentially impact decision making. Caution must be taken, though, because this study relied

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48 aspects could re sult in differential findings. dilemma regarding beliefs in their stud Approximately 850 elementary school teachers were surveyed and 23 observed and interviewed regarding their reading conceptions, the nature of the conceptions, the development of their conceptions over time, and the in conception of reading is reflected in their reading practices, but it tends to be fluid, changing over time, within various contexts (e.g ., grade level and students) and interacting with non reading conceptions (e.g., teacher pupil respect, classroom management and routine, assistance needed for different levels of learners, etc.), which sometimes dominate over their reading conceptions. Th us, Bawden et al. (1979) refer to researchers list seven general principles regarding teac her conceptions about reading: 1. Teachers do have conceptions of reading. 2. Most teachers h ave more than one conception of reading. 3. Teachers also explain their instructiona l decisions with categorizable statements 4. Some teachers possess more complex conceptions than others. 5. Teacher conceptions seem to var y in stability from teacher to teacher. 6. 7. Teachers modify and change their conceptions of reading and reading instruction over time (p 7 10)

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49 Davis and relation to the last principle. While they found consistency between a teacher when teaching third and later seventh grade, when teaching third grade she would abandon her holistic appro ach in favor of a more teacher directed and skill specific approach when planning for and instructing students in preparation for the state mandated test. Essentially, there are times when environmental realities may prevent teachers from carrying out inst ruction consistent with their beliefs. making in reading Policy initiatives and mandates have been identified in the literature as another last decade, there has been an aggressive push for policy regarding curriculum reform, high stakes testing and accountability (Coburn, Pearson, & Woulfin, 2011; Pearson, 2004). Known as one of the most influential educational policy initiatives, the No Ch ild Left Behind (NCLB, 2001) legislation supports test based accountability where student performance and teacher effectiveness is tied to sanctions and rewards, and in some states (e.g., Thus, researchers instructional actions, is a critical topic to explore. Specifically within the studies reviewed, the researchers investigated the impact of testing and reading programs and Howard, 1988; Mendoza, 2011; Norman, 2008; Russavage, Lorton, & Millham, 1985; Schulz, 2005). Subsequently, both positive and negat ive impacts have been reported. In 2005, Schulz interviewed six accomplished K 2 grade level teachers (i.e., National Board Certified Teachers [NBCT]), from five different schools in one suburban

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50 school district, about their perspectives concerning the influence of high stakes tests on their decisions and professionalism. The united focus on instruction in curriculum and standards was viewed positively, and the most significant positive influence of testing on decisions was the use of test scores for planning. Collectively, the teachers believed it was their professional responsibility to ensure student progress as measured by accountability tests. In another study, Bentley (2007) also investigated primary grade g program. The teachers appreciated all the basal had to offer for making instructional decisions in order instructional suggestions regarding teaching the five Scientif ically Based Reading fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. Yet, despite the few positive consequences of testing and reading programs, the negative effects tend to outweigh t he positive effects, and unfortunately, the students are the ones who lose out in the end. Since the 1980s, several studies have shown how reading programs and testing McInty re, 1980; Norman, 2008). Underlying many curricular and instructional policies supporting testing and reading programs is the assumption that teachers cannot be trusted to make good decisions on their own. Control is, therefore, taken away from teachers an d placed in the hands of policymakers who claim to know what is best for every student. Commercialized reading materials are scripted for easy implementation (Duffy & Hoffman, 1999), and high make better deci sions during their instructional reading time. As a result, teachers have

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51 been observed to abdicate decisions to these powerful and coercive pol icies (Duffy & McIntyre, 1980). Basals and other mandated reading programs constrain, overwhelm or limit teacher (Ciminelli, 2010; Duffy & McIntyre, 1980). In a recent study (Ciminelli, 2010) investigating teacher decision making in reading instruction with choices and mandates, element their instru ctional choices, most teachers were resentful about the directive. Teachers felt constrained and unhappy with the enormity of the progra m and its lack of authenticity. Concerning basals, specifically, numerous studies have found they typically govern teach Putnam, 1987; Duffy, Roeh ler & Wesselman, 1985; Roehler et al., 1986). Surprisingly, teachers are aware of the inadequacy of the basal reading materials (Russavage et al., 1985), but wi ll still continue to use them as their main instructional tool, choosing to supplement rather than subtract from the basal (Bentley, 2007; Hoover, 1985). Because of the driving power of the core for making reading instructional decisions, researchers attem pted to provide instruction on how to make more reasonable decisions within the basal, and although student learning improved from modifying the basal, the taxing nature of classroom constraints will likely result in teachers relinquishing decision making to the prescriptive nature of the ba sal (Duffy et al., 1985 ; 1987).

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52 instruction. She surveyed 667 elementary school teachers, including reading coaches and other instructional staf f about their beliefs and decisions related to the teaching of can postulate that their reported practices are a reflection of their classroom instructional decisions. The survey reports indicated that a majority of the teachers rely on a single basal reading program and leveled guided reading books for their reading instruction (Zeig, 2007). Only 4% of the teachers reported not using the core reading program. Although t his survey was only conducted in one state, we can assume that because other states must also follow federal policies similar to the ones in Florida, survey results would deviate minimally. ecisions are predominately driven by the basal, other studies demonstrate the implications of such ader (M cGill Franzen, Zmach, Solic, & Zeig, 2006). Whole class pedagogical practices and above grade level anthologies that do not promote a developmental approach based on student assessment for differentiating instruction, dominate the design. Further, t he sequence of skills is random and the instructional design obscure (Duffy et al., 1985; size fits skills, and lacks the appropriate scaffolds (Block & Pressley, 2007; Dewitz, Jo nes, & Leahy, 2009). Consequently, students who struggle and students who excel in their reading proficiency are impacted the most by the inadequacy of the core reading

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53 bu teachers from using different methods with kids who need them. The professional nature of teaching is threatened because restrictive laws discourage the th oughtful innovation, risk taking, and creativity that is at the heart of professional life. Our professional community suffers because legislating a single answer silences those colleagues exploring alt ernative possibilities. (p. 10) Yet, studies ( Ciminelli, 2010) demonstrate there is potential for teachers to include more appropriate, student centered and authentic activities and lessons when given more autonomy over their reading instruction. Teachers presented with several different instructional options, will less likely decide to include the basal and more likely include guided reading, integrated language arts instruction, readers and writers workshop and litera ture circles (Ciminelli, 2010). Similar to mandated reading programs, policy regardi ng high stakes testing and study (2008) of experienced second third and fourth grade teachers, the larger need of passing the test interfered with the teachers providing instruction specific to each pushed off responsibility to the special education teachers and other pullout teachers to educate the least proficient readers; thereby dep riving struggling students of opportunities to increase their reading proficiency; students who so desperately need multiple and scaffolded opportunities to learn (Brophy & Good, 1986; Engler t, 2009; Gersten et al., 2001).

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54 Norman (2008), Schulz (2005) and White and colleagues (2002) also found that these decisions seemed to be heightened in classrooms where teachers, inservice and preservice taught or interned in a tested grade level. According to Norman (2008), decisions in second grade were based on motiv ating students to read whereas decisions in third and fourth grade revolved around helping students pass the state mandated test. Rereading passages from worksheets, highlighting and underlining estion were the main strategies employed by the intermediate grade level teachers. Similar to inservice teachers, preservice teachers placed in a tested grade level for their internship, tended to make decisions in reading focused on test preparation (e.g. worksheets, test taking skills), narrowing of the curriculum, pacing charts and timelines (White Sturtevant, & Dunlap, 2002). Despite their attention to test preparation, the teachers were torn because their beliefs did not align with their decisions to employ test based activities. In general, the preservice teachers felt they sacrificed good instructional time by being put in a position (1968) finding about teachers s working for and out over the inhabit besides the 10 wee ks prior to the standardized test administration may have resulted in

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55 different findings for these experienced teachers. Further, the fact that the teachers all taught at a Title 1 school may have placed undo pressure on them to perform when compared to sc hools that do not receive federal monies. These two studies, in addition to Davis and Wilson (1999), demonstrate that despite experience level, high stakes testing appears to impact all teac Effects of professional learning e xperiences on teach making in reading There is an abundant amount of evidence documenting the impact of ction (Correnti, 2007; Gersten et al., 2 010; Hilden & Press ley, 2007; Ji nkins, 2001; Nichols et al. 2005; Sailors & Price, 2010; Scanlon, Gelzheiser, Vellutino, Schatschneider, & Sweeney, 2008; Solic, 2011). In the 1980s, when research on decision making in general began to be investigated more closely, learning opportunities focused on training teachers to make rational decisions in their reading instruction (Duffy et al., 1985; 1987; Parker, 1984). For example, in an attempt to give teachers more cognitive control in their classrooms, Duffy and colleagues (1985; 1987) taught ten third grade teachers to provide explicit explanations about how to make reasonable decisions within the prescribed procedures of the basal. Although the students demonstrated more awareness and achievement of strategy use and the teachers proved to be more effective when making rational instructional decisions, maintaining the rational decision making model in the time cons traints was taxing on teachers. Later research investigated the impact of curricular programs (e.g., core reading prog rams) (Bentley, 2007; Ciminelli, 2010), instructional models (Ji nkins, 2001) or new

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56 Price, 2010). Common among the studies is the importance of providing teachers with e nough time to practice the learned strategies and skills in their classroom with ongoing support through guidance, feedback and collaborative learning structures with colleagues (Desimone, 2009; Hochberg & Desimone 2010; Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gall agher 2007). For instance, in a study conducted by Bentley (2007), teachers felt they were provided adequate professional development prior to implementing a new core reading program; however, they wanted additional support throughout the year to ensure ef fective decision making within the program by providing more time for reflection, discussion and the development of ideas. about reading and learning is another element that was p rominent in the research. In a beliefs about the importance of incorporating authentic read ing practices. Subsequently, teachers were less likely to take the initiative to implement the program to fidelity, if at learned strategies and skills (Bentley, 2007; Co ncannon Gibney & Murphy, 2012; decisions will likely include implementing the new reading practices and models for instructi on. One study (Jinkins, 2001 ), in particular, close ly aligns with the premises of differentiated instruction, which proved to be beneficial for the teacher and students. Three teachers from a multi age primary classrooms participated in professional

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57 development on an assessment driven instruction model whe re they were taught the reading/writing processes and connections between achievement and instruction based observations were collected six times over 12 weeks on nine stu dents to determine teaching strategies, resources and grouping needs. Lesson plans, instructional dialogue, informal conversations and interviews were also collected. After twelve weeks of implementing this teaching/learning cycle, seven of the nine studen ts made at least a growth. Writing sample results of each student were scored based on a writing continuum and demonstrated gains on the characteristics within eac h stage. This suggests that when teachers understand and use data to make informed instructional two students who did not make reading gains as indicated by the assess ments, were purpose of the running record and had these two students reading books at their frustration level. This further points to the importance of matching resources and ap Teachers also observed changes in student behaviors and attitudes. The students were given choice in their reading material, took more responsibility in their learning overall and engaged in authentic reading and writing. Conse quently, student learning, engagement, motivation and success increased. Teacher behavior was also impacted. Generally speaking, teachers moved from whole to small group and one on one instruction where their learning expectations were clearly communicated and

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58 spontaneous and specific feedback was provided. While the professional learning experience was impactful for teachers and students, the findings are specific to the context and it is difficult to know if the gains were from focused attention on the in structional teaching/learning model or normal student development. Studies on teacher preparation programs are also included within the umbrella g journey (Sailors, 2009). While there are fewer studies (Shefelbine & Hollingsworth, 1987; Wedman & Robinson, 1998) investigated the effects of a semester long reading making p rocesses and one study (Maloch et al., 2003) investigated the effects of the entire reading teacher the National Commiss ion on Excellence in Elementary Teacher Preparation for Reading making. Findings practice assisted better instructional decisions. Prior to and after completing a three credit hour course to learn how to analyze and correct reading disabilities (Wedman & Robinson, 1998), twenty seven preservice teachers responded t o four problematic reading classroom scenarios. From pre to post diagnosed read ing problems. Yet, when it comes to making decisions during real time

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59 instruction, preservice teachers do not exhibit as many thoughtful decisions (She felbine & Hollingsworth, 1987). The instructional decisions in reading that were potentially troublesome for beginning teachers were those that were highly complex, requiring the teacher to think of multiple variables simultaneously. Diagnosis, planning of instruction, lesson balance and word recognition instruction were a few of these areas of complexity. Difficulties making decisions in these areas were also a result of poor classroom management of routines and procedures as well as weak knowledge of the reading process The researchers suggest that more training was needed in these areas because decisions and were amenable to specific suggestions (e.g., matching students to appropriate texts implementing types of reading practices beyond the usual round robin format and developing background knowledge ) were easier for novice teachers to make It appears that mastery of some instructional procedures can be achieved in the context of undergraduate coursewor k (e.g., basic routines) and others that require more complex decision making require authentic practice with students. Or, perhaps, it is the quality of The findings of a study conducted by Maloch et al. (2003) exemplify this point. Graduates of reading specialization programs (RSP; n=40), reading embedded programs (REP; n=33), and general education programs (GEP; n=28) were phone interviewed three times through their firs t year of teaching. The researchers asked teachers how best to teach reading, the progression of their students, and the relationships between their instructional practices and their teacher preparation

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60 programs. When compared to GEP graduates, the RSP and REP graduates emphasized making instructional decisions and negotiations with their colleagues regarding responsive and mindful teaching and appeared to invest in learning communities to help support their beliefs and practices. GEP graduates reported dec ision making based on structure and curriculum/material coverage rather than aking negotiations with others. The main difference between the RSP and REP programs when compared to the GEP programs is that the latt er programs had a strong reading focus in all their coursework E ven content area methods courses had literacy related activities, and students were required to complete at least 150 hours of field experience. RSP and REP teachers reported th at these exper iences contribut ed to their beliefs, understandings and decision making in reading. While observations are needed to preparation programs strategically prepare teachers throu gh the provision of purposeful course work, apprenticeship opportunities, and a clear vision and focus on reading that sustained in the face of pressing demands of teac hing (p. 453). Summary of the Studies on Decision Making in Reading I nstructional decisions in reading are impacted by multiple contextual factors For one, knowledge of the student are also greatl y impacted by their beliefs about reading and learning as well as their knowledge of the reading process Additionally, policy initiatives particularly focusing on testing and reading programs highly influence what teachers choose to do in the classroom. And, finally, decisions are influenced by the professional learning

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61 opportunities teachers are provided, beginning first with teacher preparation programs and continuing into their profession al lives Limitations in the Literature During the past few decades, a large body of scholarly work has focused on theories of differentiated instruction and documented e ffective practices and structures for meet ing needs (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Tomlin son, 1999; 2000a; 2000b; Tomlinson et al., 2003). Another body of literature has attended to teacher befor e, during and after real time instruction in general and in reading, specifically. Moreover, in studies investigating knowledge, professional learning experiences and polic y mandates have a lso been documented. Yet, little is known about teacher decision making related to differentiation. For example, decisions about assessment, classroom management, materials choice, and length and frequency of instruction and lesson focus have only been exp lored briefly ( Ankrum & Bean, 2008 ). More specifically, how reading instructional decisions vary from student to student and the factors c ontr ibuting to these decisions need further study. Even less is known about this phenomenon with exemplary, upper e lem entary teachers of reading. Given that teaching reading is complex, multi faceted, and requires using a variety of materials and approaches learnin g needs, studying exemplary upper elementary teachers o f reading is of utmost importance. Evidence on expert teachers of reading has concluded that in relation to novice teachers, expert teachers have a comprehensive view of the classroom wh ich helps them to While studies

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62 variability on how the expert teachers were selected. A majority of the studies employed one standard of teaching effectiveness: reputation, National Board Certification, student achievement, years of teaching experience, or administration evaluation or recommendation. Only two studies considered a combination of several criteria for choosing expert teachers. Given the elusiveness of teacher effectiveness, Jackson (1968) and Palmer et al. (2005) suggest it is important to consider more than one standard of teacher effectiveness when identifying teachers for a study. Doing so makes it easier for researchers to compare results of a similar study. For example, a study that uses student outcomes as the standard for effectiveness may yield different findings than a study using years of teaching experience or administrat or nomination. After a comprehensive review of the research on teacher expertise, Palmer et al. (2005) suggest ed adopting the following markers for identifying expert teachers in the field: 1) teachers should have a minimum of three years of teaching experience in a specific content domain and instructional context for which the teacher is being considered an expert; 2) teachers should be independently nominated by at least two mance should be the sine qua non teachers should have appropriate certification and degrees for the domain in which they teach where d eep subject matter knowledge is assumed to exist. Exemplary fourth and fifth grade t eachers were identified and selected using the criteria delineated by Palmer et al. (2005). Insights from this study will illuminate the decisions and actions of

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63 exemplary success with students, and thereby help ing to fill a gap in classroom reading research.

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64 CHAP TER 3 RESEARCH METHODOLOGY The purpose of this study was to understand how exemplary upper elementary approach in qualitative research (Charmaz, 2006), this study s ought to answer the following research questions: 1) What is the nature of differentiated reading instruction in exemplary fourth and fifth exemplary upper elementary school reading teachers consider when making decisions about differentiating reading instruction? T he essence of this qualitative study was to gain an understanding of the in this case, instructional decision making when differentiating reading instruction language (Denzin & Lincoln, 2005). In doing so, qualitative research usually entails the following general processes: the rese archer studies a problem that calls for an explora tion; relies on the views of participants; asks broad, ge neral questions; collects data consisting largely of words (or text) fr om participants; describes and analyzes these words for themes; and conducts t he inquiry in a subjective and reflexive manner. (Clark & Creswell, 2010, p. 66) Given these general processes, qualitative research must be flexible as it explores the complexity of a social context by personal vi ews and perceptions of the phenomenon under study (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). Essentially, the qualitative researcher strives t o make sense of how or why ctions and discursive pattern s.

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65 This study use d a constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology This chapter presents the epistemological and methodological framework informing this dissertation. After elucidating the overarching theoretical framework, the research design, d ata collection and analysis are outlined. Then, the chapter closes with an explanation of the evaluation criteria specific to a constructivist grounded theory methodology, a subjectivity statement, and a review of limitations of the study. Epistemology and Theoretical Perspectives This study was reality, the relationships between the knower and what can be known, and how best to was situated in the constructivist paradigm with underpinnings in symbolic interactionism, which asserts that reality, or truth is constructed during exchanges or interactions with the outside world (Crotty, 1998). Knowledge, therefore, does not exist i ndependently of others R ather it exists in the knower (Schwantz, 1997) ; is dependent upon the social realities of our world ; is communicated through shared symbols such as language (Crotty, (Puddephatt, 2006, p. 9). Because we interpret how others see us during social exchanges (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007), we are inextricably connected to the people and objects we come in contact with. According to Bogdan and Biklen (2007 predetermined responses to predefined objects, but rather as interpreters, definers, contextualized, continually in flux, and thus continge nt upon where we are, what we are doing, and who we are with. In turn, there are countless constructions of reality, many of

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66 which are shared through various cultural activities and events (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Kendall, 1999). This means the researcher mu st seriously study and understand the The researcher does this by becoming connected to and reflected in the research process (Charmaz, 2006), using his/her beliefs, perceptions and assumptions to further reflect, un derstand and interpret the meanings participants bring to the phenomenon under study (Denzin & Lin coln, 2005; Mruck & Mey, 2007). This study s ought to explore exemplary upper elementary realities regarding their decisions and practice s when differentiating reading instruction. Teachers construct ed their understanding of differentiated reading instruction during interactions over time with colleagues, administrat ors and students as well as with their teaching materials, classroom resources and other school related learning experiences. Therefore, each teacher in this study explained the decisions impacting her practices when differentiating reading instruction in relation to her unique, everyday lived experiences. These actions were understood and interpreted when the researcher enter ed in this case, while teachers were observed during and interviewed following reading instruction It is important t o ir decisions and practices are not (Flick, 2009). That is, an interpretivist approach to research champions the use of me ed for the theory to be grounded in the data, illuminating the exemplary ies about

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67 how they differentiate their reading instruction. As such, the findings are not generalizable to other situations, but rather are specific to the context in which the data were collected and analyzed. The outcome of this process is a possible exp lanation (theory) of the phenomenon under study. Research Design Grounded theory methodology is a systematic, inductive process involving the constant comparison of data to generate a conceptually dense, abstract and situationally based theory to describe a phenomenon (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007a). It provides the freedom to write and research outside established theories that may have a in relation to the studied phenomenon G enerat i ng theory entails a process of simultaneously and purposefully collecting, coding and analyzing data until a point of saturation is reached where no new information on the studied phenomenon can be found. At this point, it is assumed the generated theory i s grounded in the data, and adequately represents the situation under study. A constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology inform ed and guide d the data collection and analysis in this study (Charmaz, 2006). As such, the researcher is deeply embe dded in the phenomenon about which he or she is theorizing. This is accomplished by using his/her background knowledge, experiences, and beliefs to ought to understand exemplary fou rth and fifth making factors and practices when differentiating reading instruction. Interviews and observations in the form of field notes capture d lived realit ies and provide d deep insight into hing world.

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68 Participant Selection Initial selection of the partici pants was purposeful and limited in advance by certain criteria in order to obtain cases of information relevant to the study (Flick, 2009; Morse, 2007). First, all teachers selected were no minated by the district language arts coordinator as exemplary fourth or fifth grade teachers of reading for students of all ability levels. principal evaluations or recommendations based on observations of effective differentiation, appropriate certification and degrees for the domain in which they t aught and a minimum of three years of teaching experience were the defining criteria the district language arts coordinator used when nominating teachers (Pa lmer et al., 2005). Fulfillment of the criteria and consent gave teachers an opportunity to be included in the study. Because I had received permission from the principal reciprocal research review board agreement with my university, approval to conduct the study w as granted after receiving the following items: 1) fingerprinting and background permission to proceed with the study (Appe ndix A) All items w ere sent via mail to the When speaking with each teacher, I explain ed the project, time commitment, and how she was nominated for participation; answer ed questions; and request ed her involvement in the study, which w as incentivized by offering a gift card to be given at the close of the study. Informed c onsent forms (Appendix B) w ere provided to the selected teachers. Th e process result ed in a total participant sample of four female teachers from two elementary schools grade classroom at Otter Elementary School. Two Manatee Elementary School

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69 classroom teachers also participated in the study: Sarah and Anna. Pseudonyms were assigned to prot ect the identities of the teachers (Flick, 2009) All participants were experienced teachers, serving more than seventeen years of teaching experience each and averaging 20 years of experience. Each teacher had also graduated from a traditional teacher pr eparation program and was certified in the state of Florida to teach children in grades K 6 Participant Description Anna was a fourth grade teacher of all subject areas a t Manatee Elementary and was in her 17 th year of teaching As the gifted and talented teacher, she t aught a diverse gifted cluster class that consisted of four gifted, five high achieving, five typically achieving and five special education students. In addi tion, eleven of her students were visually impaired, several had speech impediments two were on 504 plans, one had been diagnosed with and one boy ha d a physical disability and used a modified tricycle to navigate the school. Sarah was a departmentalized, fifth grade Language Arts, National Board Certified teacher (N BCT) who also taught at Manatee Elementary She was in her 22 nd year of teaching, and taught three fifth grade classes a day. While all the fifth graders were at similar reading levels, the class used for this study was her most diverse class of students. She ha d four special education students, one of those students was autistic, and the remaining 18 students ha d a range of reading strengths and weaknesses Devon was a fourth grade teacher at Otter Elementary and, like Anna, was in her 17 th year of teaching children The year this study was conducted, Devon ha d looped with her group of fourth graders, and was completing her second and final year with

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70 them. In addition, to working with the same children from the previous year, she was assigned five new students. Devon ha d one ESOL student and four students who really struggle d with reading; however, a majority of her students met grade level expectations in reading. Lisa was one of the fifth gra de Language Arts and Social Studies teacher s at Otter Elementary and was in her 22 nd year of teaching. Besides her own class of assigned students, she also taught one other class of fifth grade students in both content areas. most of her students performed on grade level ; only a few students struggle d and one was an ESOL student. Site Description Otter Elementary School and Manatee Elementary School were high performing schools located in a mid sized district in northeast Flori student body population was white, 9% African American or black, and 4% Asian, Indian and other minority. This district ha d been ranked number one out of 67 districts on the state criterion test for the past four years. Notab ly, Otter and Manatee ha d earned high ratings under the state scoring system: Otter ha d earned the grade of an d Further, both schools ha d a teaching force of highly qualified educators. Otter serve d a student population totaling 773 pre kindergarten through grade five students. The enrollment status was as follows: white (85.5%), African American (2.5%), Hispanic (5.7%), Asian (3.9%), other minority status (2.4%). Approximately 10.9% of the students were eligible to receive free or reduced price meals each day, a percentage that steadily increase d over the years. Otter Elementary was known for its high parental involvement. Parent involvemen t in school activities ha d exceeded 90%

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71 (PTO) was well funded by small businesses to continually support teacher and student programs throughout the year. There were six te achers in kindergarten and seven teachers in each of grades one, two, three, four, and five. The teaching staff also consist ed of an instructional literacy coach, special education teachers, guidance counselors, speech and occupational therapists, and a be havioral specialist. Manatee was a Title 1 school receivi ng federal funding and serve d a more economically and ethnically diverse student population: Asian (2%), Black (11%), Hispanic (5%), unknown racial/ethnic group (7%), and White (75%). There were 618 pre kindergarten through grade five students enrolled. Approximately 44% of the student population receive d free or reduced price meals. Similar to Otter, Manatee also ha d high parental and community involvement to create an environment geared to the succe ss of all students. Manatee Elementary School ha d six kindergarten teachers, seven first grade teachers, six second grade teachers, six third grade teachers, and four fourth and fifth grade teachers, in addition to many support staff personnel. Data Colle ction There are several characteristics of the data collection process that set grounded theory methodology apart from other types of qualitative research (Hood, 2007). Two distinguishing components are theoretical sampling and theoretical saturation (Char maz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). These features were used to ensure the collection of data with sufficient depth, scope and suitability to depict events (Charmaz, 2006). Theoretical sampling is the process of collecting, coding, and analyzing data for t he purpose of building an emerging theory. This process entails a form of abductive reasoning. Abduction denotes the interplay between inductive and deductive analysis by

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72 confirming previous conceptions and hypotheses through the collection of more data to about differentiated reading instruction (Bryant & Charmaz, 2007b). In short, theoretical sampling was tightened the theoretical formulations and en sur ed a close match with the data (Charmaz, 2006). It was a process that direct ed what data was collect ed next in order to clarify or further understand and inform a concept or category in development. When no new insights could be determined to help suppo rt, refine and/or extend the emerging concepts and properties, a point of saturation was reached. At this point, data collect ion was stopped. Interview and observation d ata w ere collected during the month of May 2013. Participants were contacted through e mail to establish a time and place to meet for the initial semi structured interview. Structuring an interview in this manner allow ed for the requiring strict adherence to a set of questi ons (Flick, 2009). All interviews w ere audio recorded and transcribed. Field notes w ere also collected to enhance understanding s decisions and practices when differentiating reading instruction. In doing so, the observations act ed as a gui de to structure future interviews for the purpose of elaborating an d refining theory construction. Interviews The interview process took the form of an although studied and shaped; open ended, however framed and focused; intense in (Charmaz & Belgrave, 2012, p. 361). The goal wa of their experiences when making instructional decisions about diff erentiating reading

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73 instruction. To begin the process of interviewing, questions were guided by the literature review Obtaining a better understanding of the factors arning needs assisted in sensitizing the data. Reviewing the literature in this field sensiti zed or brought awareness to any decision making factors teachers could potentially report. Sensitizing also mean t that, although there was an awareness of the fact ors research ha d reported to impact teacher decision making processes, knowledge of these factors d id not drive uncover ed from the literature acted points of departure t o form interview questions, (Charmaz, 2006, p. 1 7, emphasis in original ). Teachers w ere interviewed four times. The initial interview occur red during the first week of Ma y 2013. The goal of this interview w as perspectives about their instructional decisions and practices when teaching students with different needs, interests and strengths. Basic conceptions and beliefs about reading inst ruction w ere also explored ( Append ix C for the interview guide). The second, third and fourth interview occur red immediately following the first, second and third tea cher classroom observation ( Appendix D for the interview guide). The purpose of the three post observation interviews w as to garner a deeper understanding of and further refine or elaborate categories under construction within the emerging theory. This was accomplished by using the observation data and information from each interview to ask mor e pointed questio ns in the interviews to follow.

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74 were audio recorded and notes and reflections were written about the process as long as it serve d not to distract the teachers or make them feel uncomfortab le. Charmaz and Belgrave (2012) suggest the interview should be informal and conversational and continually build rapport and was of highest prio rit y during the interview process. Field notes Field notes recorded during observations serve d as another source of data to account for what was heard, seen, experienced and thought in regards to the evolving theory (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007). Charmaz (2006) Observations also shaped teacher interviews and provide d data related to differentiated reading instruction that would have be en missed if only interviews were analyzed Extending key analytic ideas was use in the classroom setting. As a non participating observer in the classroom distance was mainta ined while striving to record the complex social context under study. Each teacher was observed three times in two weeks for the duration of the Language Arts block starting after the initial interview in May Because the two fifth grade teachers were dep artmentalized and therefore, t aught more than one class of students, only one class was observed for this study. Using student assessment data, the class with the most diverse reading needs was chosen. Running field notes were recorded on a laptop compute r during each of the three observations ( Appendix E for an example) The field notes helped to elucidate

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75 teaching reading to a diverse student population. Clarification was sought from the teachers concerning actions observed. Each interview help ed focus future observations to further refine the grounded theory. Data Analysis The data analysis process is another defining characteristic of grounded theory methodology and is in extricably linked to theoretical sampling and saturation (Glaser & Strauss, 1967; Hood, 2007). Constant comparative analysis assist ed in theorizing the four construct abstractions and simultaneously reaching down to tie these abstractions to was accomplished through an action oriented coding process (i.e., open, focused, and theoretical) and enhanced through memoing (Charmaz, 2006) and situationa l mapping or diagramming ( Clarke, 2003 ; 2005 ) Memoing evoke d the emergence of new insights and ideas and raise d categories to conceptual and abstract levels whereas diagramming helped to clarify the r elationships among and between the categories through a visual representation Thus, the writing and mapping component of constructing a theory was just as important as collecting, coding and comparing data. Keeping the emerging theory closely connected to the data by comparing it with other data and memo writing about the relationships between and among codes revealed through diagramming allow ed for rich conceptual and theoretical understanding to be generated (Charmaz, 2006). C onjectures that were formulated at different levels of generality during the analysis changed as more data were integrated and compared with the existing concepts and categories (Glaser, 1965).

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76 Memo writing Memo analysis because it moves codes to theory. Memos facilitated the development of the relationships between and across codes at all stages of the data collection and analysis process in order to transform the your thoughts, capture the comparisons and connections you make, and crystallize writing play ed a central role in the development of the grounded theory by directing and fine tuning subsequent da ta collection and coding ( Appendix F for an example) Advancements in thinking about the phenomenon under study occurred as a result of using memos. Gaps in the evolving theory were identified that had to be strengthened through more data gathering and ana lysis Coding The four initial teacher interviews w ere transcribed within two days of the interview process, and all the transcriptions w ere read in their entirety many times to become familiar with the data. Then each line containing meaningful units w as openly coded or named using a language of action instead of topics (e.g., confessing versus confession). Coding with gerunds allow ed processes to unfold (Charmaz, 2006). These codes or labels summarize d categorize d and account ed for each segment or meaningful unit In other words, initial coding was a safeguard to ensure the emerging codes were a close fit with the data. This was the first move toward making analytic interpretations and building a theoretical framework ( Appendix G for an example) Through constant comparative methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), analytic distinctions were generated to further develop a better understanding of the data. These

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77 comparisons lead to the next phase in coding: focused coding. According to C harmaz organizing the open codes into categories (p. 57). To bring more coherence to the process, the most significant and/or frequent codes were used. The categories constructed during focused coding facilitated understand ing of by forming links and relationships between and among the open codes ( Appendix H for an ex ample) The last phase of coding was theoretical coding. Theoretical codes are integrative; they account for the relationships among and between the categories created during focused coding. According to Charmaz (2006), these codes move the analytic framew ork into a theoretical direction by providing more precision, clarity, coherence and comprehensibility within the emerging theoretical rendering Charmaz (2006) explains the theorizing process as and of constru cting abstract understandings Situational mapping (Clarke, 2003; 2005) assisted in the construction of the did not exist and further ref ine and clarify the strengths and weaknesses between and among the categories and subcategories constructed during focused coding (Charmaz, 2006). By moving back and forth between focused and theoretical codes th rough use of diagramming and the interpretiv e renderings of the links, a theory was constructed and ( Appendix I for the theoretical model) Consequently exemplary upper

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78 making factors and practices w hen differentiating reading instruction to meet their w ere illuminated Evaluation Criteria Quality indicators helped to ensure the credibility and trustworthiness of my Klingner, Pugac h, & Richardson, 2005; Charmaz, 2006; Chiovitti & Piran, 2003). In addition to developing respectful and trusting researcher teacher relationships which eased the co construction of data during interviews and observations by allowing for a high level of comfort (Charmaz, 2006; Hall & Callery, 2001; Norton, 1999), the set of criteria outlined by Charmaz were followed : credibility, originality, resonance and usefulness. Credibility (Charmaz, 2006, p. 182) and was addressed through m ultiple classroom observations of each teacher within the context of her reading instruction T o provide substantial evidence for my research claims increased familiarity with th e classroom environment classrooms following each observation also gave me an understanding of the setting eal time classroom instruction. Origi nality Originality denotes the ability of the study to present fresh categories and new insights into the field of research (Charmaz, 2006). Because little is known about the decision making processes of exemplary upper elementary teachers when differentia ting reading instruction, my study offers new ideas and understandings to extend reading research. The theory constructed from the data provide s a new lens

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79 through which to better understand and further support teachers when teaching reading in addition to opening new doors for teacher educators and future r esearch in this area of study. Resonance R esonance can be claimed the To strive for resonance, participants were selected purposefully to obtain cases of information relevant to the study Further, classroom observations followed by teacher interviews provided data r elated to differentiated reading instruction that would have be en missed if only interviews were analyzed R elevant literature was integrated to support findings and make connections across various research disciplines. Lastly, member checks wi th teachers ensure d the interpretations and final analysis of the data were consistent with the perspectives. In doing so, another aspect of resonance was met: 2 006, p. 183). Usefulness The usefulness of a study is accounted for when people can use the interpretations of the analysis (Charmaz, 2006). The categories must move beyond Instead, the theoretical renderings must p rovide fresh insight and new knowledge into the studied experience for the purpose of contributing to a better world. This study makes a valuable contribution to several key stakeholders in education: reading teacher educators, reading education researchers, and district and school administrati ve personnel. Two chapters are written as journal

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80 articles to supply these stakeholders w ith knowledge about the decisions and practices four and five Chapter 4 was written for a researcher oriented audience to extend current understandings in the world of reading research. C hapter 5 was composed as a practitioner oriented article to provide a real world lens for using the findings to support educators in their everyday teaching. Writing Beyond the development of the theory and to make the final product compelling, the aesthet ics of the writing also serve d as evaluative criteria. The written report should write is a reflection of what we see and experience (Charmaz & Mitchell, 1996 ) Throug conveyed evocatively, enabling readers to construct images of the phenomenon (Charmaz & Mitchell, 1996). By taking these factors into consideration during the design, implementation and write up of the research, the trustworthiness of the were enhanced Subjectivity Statement making processes and practices when teaching reading to students with diverse liter acy needs is informed and guided by my position as a former third grade elementary school teacher, a mentor teacher for prospective teachers, an instructor for teacher candidates, and a doctoral student. Essentially, as an active and reflexive participant in the co

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81 provide a slightly different vantage point in which to frame and shape m y assumptions and interpretations inherent in the findings of the indi As a former elementary school teacher, I understand the day to day workings of a classroom. Further, as a mentor teacher for pre service interns and a tea ching assistant for undergraduate and graduate level reading courses, I have also been able to witness the difficulties prospective and current educators experience when making informed decisions about ways to adequately tailor instruction to meet the need s of their students. These roles will allow me to empathize with and gain a deeper understanding time doctoral student will also influence my interpretations of the data because of the newfound knowledge I have gained about teaching reading. Teachers acquire unique experiences in and out of the classroom, and these experiences shape their beliefs, knowledge, and perceptions of instruction. B y bringing my personal experiences and assumptions to the study as well as passion, curiosity, openness and care, I hope to enrich making factors and practices when differentiating reading instruction for st udents in grades four and five. Limitations Participant selection coul d serve as one limitation to this study. In addition to using the nomination process as described classroom reading practices prior to conducting the study could have ensured the selection of teachers considered to be in the teaching of reading. The others may have based on her own understanding of the criteria used for teacher

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82 selection. Therefore, a different pool of par ticipants from the district could have been nominated for use in this study. By providing in practices, I hope to overcome this potential limitation of the study. Summary This study used a constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology to explore exemplary upper making when differentiating reading instruction and how these decisions are carried out in the classroom. To make se phenomenon, data w as concurrently compared and analyzed at all levels of the coding process until no further insights were apparent. This action oriented, constructive process result ed in a concep tually rich and abstract theory to explain the actions, decisions, judgments and thoughts of exemplary fourth and fifth grade teachers when differentiating reading instruction. Chapter 4 presents the findings of this study in research manuscript format. C hapter 5 links theory and practice by presenting a practitioner oriented article about using data to differentiate reading instruction. Lastly, Chapter 6 provides a review of the entire dissertation project and implications for research and practice on dif ferentiated reading instruction.

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83 CHAPTER 4 THE NATURE OF AND FACTORS IMPACTING EXEMPLARY UPPER ELEMENTARY strengths is a critical McGill Franzen, 2009; Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; C onnor, Morrison, Petrella, 2004; Connor et al., 2011; Duke, Pearson, Strachan & Billman, 2011; Reis, McCoach, Little, Muller, & Kaniskan, 20 11). Effective differentiation is accomplished by using assessment data to tailor instruction so all students are provided access to the same r eading curriculum (Watts Taffe et al., 2012). F or differentiated instruction to have the greatest impact on stude achieving, average, and low achieving readers need different amounts and kinds of instruction (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2009; 2011; Juel & Minden Cupp, 200 0). Connor, Mo rrison and Petrella (2004 ) found that third grade students who tested average and below average in language and reading comprehension skills improved significantly when comprehension instruction was more explicit and managed by the teacher (e.g., explicitl y teaching grammar and vocabulary, and managing highly interactive discussions). In contrast, students testing above average achieved higher comprehension growth when they had responsibility for managing their learning in activities focused directly on mea ning construction (e.g., more opportunities to learn in cooperative groups or with a peer). Instruction conducted in this manner has an accumulating effect on reading outc omes from year to year (Connor et al., in press). Yet, despite the scholarly work elu cidating how to maximize student learning through differentiated instruction, previous classroom reading observation studies in

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84 grades K 6 have only explored the quantity and quality of reading instruction during the Language Arts block where frequency cou nts and descriptions of the reading practices as well as mode of delivery were documented (e.g., Donaldson, 2011; Ness, 2011; Pressley, Wharton McDonald, Mistretta, & Echevarria, 1998; Pressley et al. 2001; Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Walpole, 1999; Taylor, Pearson, Clark, & Walpole, 2000; Taylor, Peterson, Pearson, & Rodriquez, 2002; Wharton McDonald, Pressley, & Hampston, 1998). In the studies specifically exploring exemplary schools and teachers 1998; 2001; Taylor et al., 1999; 2000; Wharton McDonald et al., 1998), some commonly observed practices learning, c) balanced instruction consisting of explicit instr uction and authentic reading opportunities, and d) class discussions encouraging higher level responses to text. According to Taylor et al. (1999), it was the time spent in small group reading instruction that distinguished the more effective schools fro m the least effective schools. Thus, existing research supports the critical importance of differentiating reading instruction (Juel & Minden Cupp, 2000; Tomlinson, 1995; Duke et al., 2011), and observational studies suggest there is evidence of effective te achers tailoring instruction for their diverse learners to promote reading achievement (Pressley et al., 1998; Taylor et al., 1999; 2000; Wharton McDonald et al., 1998). Still, not enough is known about how effective teachers make decisions to differentiat e instruction within the same teachers use to guide their decision making when tailoring reading instruction for their students? Even less is known about this phenomenon in up per elementa ry school

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85 classrooms (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2009; 2011). Pressley (2006) states that by researching excellent literacy teachers we can and schools into effective literacy into how exemplary fourth and fifth grade teachers differentiate reading instruction to meet the learning needs of students. The on differentiation in primary grades; however it (i.e., Individualizing Student Instruction [ISI]) that uses Assessment to Instruction (A2i) software and complex algorithms to compute the type and amount of differentiated instruction needed for each child in the classroom. Instead, in this study, a grounded theory methodology is used to propose a theory about what factors exemplary upper rentiating their reading instruction as well as the actual nature of their differentiated instruction. because teacher decision making strongly influences the reading practices, met hods and materials employed, and these decisions greatly impact student learning (Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Solic, 2011; Stern & Shavelson, 1983). Insights from this study will illuminate the decisions and actions of exemplary teachers to improve helps to fill a gap in classroom reading research.

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86 In order to fill the significant gap this st udy focus es on how exemplary upper elementary school teachers of reading make decisions when differentiating instruction within the core reading curriculum for diverse readers who have varying needs, interests, and strengths. The following research questio ns were explored: 1) What is the nature of differentiated reading instruction in exemplary fourth and fifth grade reading elementary school reading teachers consider when making decisions about diff erentiating reading instruction ? Following a review of the literature related to teacher instructional decision making in general and in reading, specifically, and a description of the methodology, the model of differentiated reading instruction is discuss ed. Instructional Decision Making Teachers play a significant role in deciding how to differentiate instruction for the variety of lear ners they teach (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison, & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2011; Juel & Minden Cupp, 2000; Jones, Yssel, & Grant, 2012; Tobin & McInnes, 2008). Shavelson (1973) stated that the act of teacher decision making is the basic skill of teaching. In fact, Jackson (1968) noted that teachers participate in around 200 or 300 decisions every ho ur; Stern and Shavelson (1983) reported it to be at least 10 decisions every hour, whereas Clark and Peterson (1984) stated that teachers make at least one decision every two minutes, specifically while teaching students, resulting in approximately 30 deci sions every hour. According to Jackson (1968), these decisions can occur in three different phases: 1) preactive

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87 the number of decisions teachers engage in, what we do know is teachers are continually thinking about, planning for, reflecting on and responding to various c lassroom stimuli (Doyle, 1977). Decision Making Studies in General findings regarding the three decision making phases research on t eacher decision making flourished. From 1977 to 1986, several reviews of research on instructional decisions were conducted, each with their own perspective for examining teacher decision making (Clark & Yinger, 1977; Clark & Peterson, 1984; Duffy, 1981; 1 982b; Duffy & Ball, 1983; 1986; Shavelson & Stern, 1981; Stern & two basic assumption s. The first assumption is that teachers are professionals who behave rationally in their complex teaching environment. As rational decision makers, teachers process large amounts of information about their students, the subject matter, and classroom and s chool environment and formulate a set of alternative hypotheses from which to choose to guide further action (Clark & Yinger, 1977; Kleven, 1991; Peterson & Clark, 1978; Shavelson, 1973; Shulman & Elstein, 1975). It, therefore, assumes a theory driven appr oach to decision making. However, Shavelson and Stern further explain that the first assumption references the intentions of teachers and not their actual behaviors. Two reasons are provided to support their statement: 1) the immediacy of teaching situatio ns may preclude teachers from making rational and reflective decisions, and 2) compared to processing and problem solving

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88 capacity is limited because of the complex, teaching environment they must navigat e. The researchers suggest that for teachers t o work efficiently in the reality of their complex situation, they construct ing simplified models of what is actually occurring ded by their judgments and dec isions; yet, not enough is known about how thoughts become teacher actions. not theory driven and reflective decision makers, but rather technical managers of instructional materials and activities (Duffy, 1981; 1982a; 1982b; Duffy & Ball, 1983; 1986). As technicians, Duffy argues that teachers reduce the cognitive load by simplifying the teaching environment and pushing theory into the background s o they routines running smoothly: The mental life of teachers has been revealed as a crowded, hectic place in which multiple demands compete for attention in a maze o f conflicting comple xities y with 25 30 youngsters forces teachers to think about (and to make decisions ab out) activity flow, management and monitoring, leaving little time to thin k about developing curriculum, supplementing textbooks, planning integrated activitie s, striving for elusive goals, spontaneously generating diagnostically appropri ate instructional cues, and so on (Duffy, 1982b, p. 360) I t is therefore not surprising that Duffy and McIntyre (1980) found teachers view their job as coor dinat ing pac ing regulat ing and oversee ing student progress when planning instruction also flow of instruction. In 1980, McCutcheo n found that teachers in grades K 6 did not follow an objective oriented, or rational approach to the planning process; nor did the teachers

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89 weigh alternatives. Instead, teachers went with their first idea, which was activity oriented Eisner (1967) believ es this is the case, because education objectives are not mplementing instruction. Although teacher s may not think about and weigh the pros and cons of choosing from several alternative routes does not render them ineffec tive (Duffy & Ball, 1986). A ccording to Duffy and Ball (1986) teachers, even effective ones, serve as technicians or managers of their instructional environment. However, e xpert teachers also lend credence to the rational model as they tend to be more goa l oriented in their instruction throughout the year, planning instruction based on their conceptions of learning, content, pedagogy, management and student behavior (Putnam, 1984; Westerman, 1991). While teaching t hey also respond to student errors, redire ct student responses to a task, select alternative ways to model the concept, change the lesson itself, and give different instructional examples to ensure effective delivery and student understanding ( Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984). Duffy and Ball (1 983) refer to these substantive ( Fogarty, Wang & Creek, 1983; Livingston & Borko, 1990 ) attribute these decisions to highly developed and complex content a nd pedagogical knowledge structures Although we cannot link teacher decision making to effective teaching (Duffy & Ball, 1983), these findings bear reason to believe that student outcomes will be higher in classrooms with teachers who are experts in their field Decision Making Studies in Reading Instruction during reading instruction, the major areas of teacher decision making research demonstrate that

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90 decisions are impacted by multiple contextual elements. First information about the especially in regards to forming reading groups (Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980; Englert & Semmel, 1983; Hoffman, 1979; Hoover, 1985; Howard, 1988; McNair, 1978) Rather than focu sing on each student in the class, teachers can reduce the complexity of teaching reading by diagnosing the general needs of the group as a unit (Buike, 1980) Therefore, grouping is generally organized homogenously and instruction varies widely from group to group (Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980). According to Borko academic competence, but also vary by certain student attributes: sex, participation in class and pr oblematic behavior reading (Howard, 1988; Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984), are greatly impacted by their beliefs about reading and learning as well as their knowledge of reading (Bawden, Buike & Duffy, 1979; Bentley, 2007; Davis & Wilson, 1999; Friesen & Butera, 2012; Howard, 1988; Ibanez & Ocampo, 2011; Kinzer, 1988; Rupley & Logan, 1985). Considering expert teachers of reading, who are typically classified as experts based on years of teachi ng experience (Palmer et al., 2005), it makes sense that their beliefs, formed after years of trial and error, have been found to strongly impact their decisions (Fogarty et al., 1983; Livingston & Borko, 1990; Peterson, & Comeaux, 1984). While a conception of reading is reflected in their reading practices, Bawden and colleagues (1979) found that it tends to be fluid, changing over time, within various contexts (e.g., grade level and students) and interacting with non reading conceptions

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91 (e.g., t eacher pupil respect, classroom management and routine, assistance needed for different levels of learners, etc.), which sometimes dominate over their reading conceptions. In regards to teachers reading knowledge, Piasta Connor, Fishman and Morrison (2009) found a positive relationship between the interaction of reading study, Kucan, Hapgood, and Palincsar (2011) found that a lack of rea ding comprehension knowledge can also greatly impede text analysis for use in text based understanding. Thus, having a robust and comprehensive knowledge base is key to incr easing the effect iveness of reading instruction. Policy initiatives particularly focusing on testing and reading programs (e.g., basals textbooks) also highly influence what teachers choose to do in the classroom (Ciminelli, 2010; Hoover, 1985; Mendoza, 20 11; Norman, 2008). While researchers state standards (Bentley, 2007), there are far more negative consequences. Researchers have found that mandated reading programs (e.g., phonics programs) constrain, overwhelm or limit teachers from making the best instructional decisions to improve students reading (Ciminelli, 2010; Duffy & McIntyr e, 1980). Although teachers are aware of the inadequacy of the basal reading materials & McIntyre, 1980; Duffy, Roehler & Putnam, 1987; Roehler, Duffy et al., 1986). P olicy

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92 regarding high decisions. The larger need of passing the test can interfere with teachers providing the special education teachers to educate the least proficient readers (Norman, 2008; White et al., 2002). Overall, the studies demonstrate that despite experience level, high stakes degree (Davis & Wilson, 1999). And, finally, decisions are influenced by the professional learning opportunities teachers are provided, beginning first with teache r preparation programs (Maloch et al., 2003; Shefelbine & Hollingsworth, 1987; Wedman & Robinson, 1998) and continuin g into their teaching c areer (Correnti, 2007; Gersten et al., 2010; Sailors & Price, 2010; Solic, 2011). In the preservice programs, it appears that mastery of some instructional procedures can be learned in the context of undergraduate coursework (e.g., b asic routines) and others (e.g., more complex decision making) need real, authentic practice with students (Shefelbine & Hollingsworth, 1987; Wedman & Robinson, 1998); or, perhaps, it is the quality of the teacher preparation program, such as a strong read ing focus in all coursework to include the content areas and at least 150 hours of field Common among the in service teacher studies is the importance of providing teach ers with enough time to practice the learned strategies and skills in their classroom with ongoing support through guidance, feedback and collaborative learning structures with colleagues (Desimone, 2009; Penuel, Fishman, Yamaguchi, & Gallagher 2007). Last ly, strategies and skills (Bentley, 2007; Concannon Gibney & Murphy, 2012; Gersten et al.,

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93 ly include implementing the new reading practice s and models for instruction. D espite the scholar ship on differentiated instruction and instructional decision making, there are few out differentiat ing reading instruc tion Even less is known about how exemplary, upper elementary teachers of reading differentiate instruction Moreover, of the studies conducted, typically one standard of teaching effectiveness was considered for choosing expert teachers: reputation, Nati onal Board Certification, student achievement, years of teaching experience, or administration evaluation or recommendation. In this review, only two studies relied on several criteria. Employing different standards for teacher effectiveness when identifyi ng teachers for a study makes it difficult for researchers to duplicate the results in a similar study (Jackson, 1968). Palmer et al. (2005) suggest adopting the following markers when identifying expert teachers: 1) a minimum of three years of teaching ex perience in a specific content domain and instructional context for which the teacher is considered an extraordinary teaching skills; 3) documented impact on student learning, and 4) appropriate certification and degrees for the domain in which they teach. In the study reported on here, these were used to select exemplary upper elementary teachers of reading in one Florida school district. Theoretical Framework This study used a constructivist approach to grounded theory methodology (Charmaz, 2006) involving the constant comparison of data to generate a conceptually dense, abstract and situationally based theory on differentiated reading instruction

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94 S ituated in the constructivi st paradigm with underpinnings in symbolic interactionism (Crotty, 1998). Knowledge, therefore, does not exist independently of others R ather it exists in the knowe r (Schwantz, 1997); is dependent upon the social realities of our world; is p. 9). Ulti mately, meaning making is contextualized, continually in flux, and thus contingent upon where we are, what we are doing, and whom we are with. In turn, there are countless constructions of reality, many which are shared through various cultural activities and events (Guba & Lincoln, 1994; Kendall, 1999). Approaching the grounded theory study in this manner allows the teachers to discuss their understanding of differentiated reading instruction from diverse perspectives developed during past, present and cur rent interactions with colleagues, administration, students, teaching materials, and classroom resources Subsequently, the researcher uses his/her beliefs, perceptions and assumptions to interpret and understand the participants constructed realities (Den zin & Lincoln, 2005; Mruck & Mey, 2007). This occurs w 2007) in this case, while the teachers are interviewed and observed during their instructional teaching time. It is important to note phenomenon under study (Flick, 2009). As such, the findings are not generalizable to other situations, but rather are specific to the context in whi ch the data are collected and

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95 analyzed. The outcome of this process is a possible explanation (theory) illuminating the experience of differentiating reading instruction. Methods Participants To obtain cases relevant to the study (Flick, 20 09; Morse, 2007), the district level language arts coordinator nominated outstanding upper elementary teachers according to the criteria delineated by Palmer and colleagues (2005). Teacher nomination was later confirmed through principal recommendation in effectiveness at differentiating reading instruction for students on all levels of the reading continuum (e.g., more advanced readers to struggling readers). Four exemplary female teachers from two schools fulfilled the requirement s and fourth grade classroom at Otter Elementary School. Lisa team taught where she only provided Language Arts and Social Studies instruction to her class and a collea students. Devon taught all subject areas and had looped with her fourth grade class. Two Manatee Elementary School classroom teachers also participated in the study: Sarah, a fifth grade, departmentalized Language Arts teacher only and Anna, a fourth grade teacher of all subject areas. Pseudonyms were assigned to protect the identities of the teachers (Flick, 2009) who averaged 20 years of teaching experience in various schools with diverse student populations. Otter Elementary School and Manatee Elem entary School were high performing schools located in a mid sized district in northeast Florida. Although Otter served a diverse student population, the school predominantly educated children from more affluent families whereas Manatee, a Title 1

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96 school, r eceived federal funding and thus served a more economically and ethnically diverse population of students. Data Collection and Analysis In a grounded theory study, data are concurrently collected, coded, and analyzed for the purpose of building an emerging theory and ensuring a close match with the data until a point of saturation is reached and no further insights are apparent (Charmaz, 2006; Glaser & Strauss, 1967). Constant comparative analysis assisted in theorizing the construct abstractions and simultaneously reaching down to tie these abstractions to 2006, p. 181). This was accomplished through an action oriented coding process (i.e., open, focused, and theoretical) and enhanced through memoing (Charmaz, 2006; Lampert, 2007) and situational mapping or diagramming (Clarke, 2003; 2005) Memoing evoke d the emergence of new insights and ideas and raise d categories to conceptual and abstract levels whereas diagramming helped to clarify the r elationships among and between the categories through a visual representation. As a result, a conceptually rich and abstract theory was created to explain the actions, decisions, judgmen ts and thoughts of exemplary fou rth and fifth grade teachers when differentiating reading instruction. This action oriented, constructive process occurred during the 2012 2013 school ye ar and included four audio recorded interviews and three observations in the form of field notes during th e first three weeks of May ( Appendix C and D for the interview guides). Observations occurred for the duration of the language arts block starting aft er the initial interview in May. Because the two fifth grade teachers t aught more than one class of students, only the most diverse class was observed for this study. A passive

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97 role was assumed during classroom observations by avoiding eye contact with stu dents and recording field notes on a laptop computer. The observations acted as a guide to structure future interviews for the purpose of elaborating and refining theory construction T herefore, the purpose of the last three interviews was to use the recor ded field notes and information from previous interviews to ask more pointed questions, which took place immediat ely following each observation. Coding. The four initial teacher interviews were transcribed and each line containing meaningful units in the t ranscription segments of data were openly coded using gerunds. Through constant comparative methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967), analytic distinctions were generated by comparing the initial codes to further develop a better understanding of the data. These c omparisons lead to the next phase in coding: ing the open codes into categories (p. 57). Theoretical codes, the last coding phase, are integrative; they account for the relationships among and between the categories created during focused coding. According to Charmaz (2006), these codes move the anal ytic framework into a theoretical direction by pulling the story together. Concept mapping, or diagraming (Clarke, 2003; 2005) assisted the construction of my theoretical codes by providing a exist and further refine and clarify the strengths and weaknesses between and among the categories and subcategories constructed during focused coding (Charmaz, 2006). By moving back and forth between focused and theoretical codes through use of diagrammin g and my

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98 interpretive renderings of the links recorded as memos a theory was constructed and grounded in the data to symbolize the t Furthermore, the set of criteria outlined by Charmaz (2006) further enhanced the trustworth iness of my study: credibility, originality, resonance and usefulness. Credibility was met through use of multiple classroom observations of each teacher as well as member checks with the participants. Given the fact that there exists no study investigatin g the decision making processes of exemplary upper elementary school study will offer new ideas and understandings to extend reading research. Resonance was met through purposeful selection of the participants, methods of data collection and analysis, and usefulness through the dissemination of the findings to key stakeholders in education: reading teacher educators, reading education researchers, and district and s chool administration personnel. Findings In order to illuminate the nature of their differentiated instruction and the factors th e teachers consider ed when making decisions to differentiate reading instruction each teacher is introduced using data obtained during observation s and interviews a nd then the theoretical model (F igure 4 1 ) t hat represent s the teachers collectively is explained. While the model is a general depiction of differentiated instruction and the factors influencing decision making it is i mportant to note that there were indeed differences among the teachers. In particular, they relied more heavily on some factors than others, and the particular differentiated practices varied. The model represents a synthesis of the four exemplary teachers instructional decision makers.

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99 Devon (fourth grade teacher) never trust themselves, those are the first ones I go after, not as a predator, but to make sure that you are going to be suppor ted and you can fail as much as Devon seeks to bring out each individual voice in her classroom by helping students read, write and articulate their thoughts. Her reading instruction is different emotionally and socially. She want s her students to feel psychologically safe loved, cared for and supported he carpeted area in front of her wooden rocking chair as she reads aloud Maniac Magee (Spinelli, 1990) Stopping intermittently to initiate conversation Devon is consciously observing who is speaking and who is not and listening intently to what each child is saying in relation to the text. She provides support if students struggle when answering the questions. For the next 45 the remainder of the class either reads, write s in their journal, practices their individual poetry recitations, looks up interesting words from the book Devon read during the story understanding and confidence levels causes her to ask certain children particular kinds of questions during small group reading instruction Knowing Lena is shy and often learn to articulate her perspective Therefore, she asks Len a a very open ended question to encourage scoots closer, provides another prompt, reassures her that she is on the right track and asks for more

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100 details. Devon proceeds to open the discus sion up to the group, providing questions and other support s when she perceives her help is needed Lisa (fifth grade teacher) Workshop. They all read books on their own levels and I could be conf erencing during that time. Their literature circle book I try to keep one hair above their Lisa utilize s a Readers Workshop framework to support her efforts to differentiate reading instruction. During independe nt reading time, students either read book s independently on their reading level or are grouped with other students on similar levels for literature circle meetings W hile they meet, she intently monitor s their discussions and is available for questions fr om st udents reading independently. A fter reviewing three vocabulary words, Lisa sits in the corner of the classroom and reads aloud the book entitled Freak the Mighty (Philbrick, 2001) Open discussion follows the reading, and then Lisa reminds her student s that for the next 45 minutes the literature circle group will meet in the office while the remainder of them read independently Lisa proceeds to the back of the room, clipboard in hand, to closely monitor, evaluate and assist the literature circle group discussion. While observing, she notices that Tatiana, although not fulfilling all requirements of her literature circle role, Word Wizard, made significant progress from when she previously had the role. Lisa praises her efforts and encourages her to wri te the page numbers next to each word she found to be of significance so she can easily show the rest of the class where the word is found in the story Students reading independently steal her attention to answer questions about the ir chosen book. Depending on the student, she asks or provides different questions and feedback to scaffold their understanding. For instance, her poorest readers need more supportive questioning using the context clues and the root

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101 words when identifying unknown w ords whereas she is typically clarifying or confirming she leaves the literature circle discussion and pulls aside a student to discuss his reading goals for the next n ine weeks by reviewing with him his district level assessment outcomes. The period ends with students writing in their reflection journals about something they read or learned today and sharing their entries with the class. Anna (fourth grade teacher) : literacy stations; maybe doing a word study activity, or they may be working on their actual book club activity. I will be taking small groups conferences du Anna, a firm believer in small group work, f inds that literacy centers, book clubs and focused small group sessions are effective structures for meeting her students various literacy needs. Providing multiple activities at various levels of difficulty al low s her students to choose which learning opportunity would be most appropriate for enhan cing their reading achievement. Shortly after providing whole group instruction using word building games, students gather items needed for the 40 minutes of i ndependent or small group work time. She reminds the students that they are not to be a part of the word building station, listening station or research station until their book club project is complete. Then, she quietly pulls aside her least proficient r eaders and engages them in the explicit teaching of reference skills and multiple meaning words. After getting them to a point where they could work independently on the skills taught she strategically walks around the room to check in with each station t o ensure students are understanding At the listening station, she understanding of the leveled book; at the word building station, she observes the activity completed by each of the four

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102 children; at the computers, she monitors stu completion and success on the Accelerated Reader quiz; and finally, at the research station, she watches her gifted students work together on a group project. She circles back to her lowest performing students to deter mine if more assistance is needed. Finding them to be successful, she calls one student to a table to discuss his current assessment data in order to set new reading goals. Sarah (fifth grade teacher) the kids, just one or two minutes so that way you hit every child once or twice a week and then longer periods of time when a child i Sarah believe s individualized instruction through one on one conferencing is the place to enable this highly focused instruction to occur. By devoting a large portion of her reading block to silent independent reading, she is able to meet with multiple students a day to boost their reading growth. After 20 minutes of vocabulary instruction students sit in front of her rocking chair where she reviews the learning goals for the week and asks s tudents to write and share their own plan of action to meet the goals. goal is to learn how to predict deeply. She models the strategy using the book Meet the Pain encourages students to practice with the person next to them, and carefully watch es to ensure all understand and can use the strategy. Students then proceed to read an appropriately leveled book during independent reading time. Sarah reviews her calendar and notebook and decides to meet with her lowest performing student. Knowing Conno r has poor fluency skills, which interfere with his understanding, she softly speaks to him about his learning goals and the progress he has made over the

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103 past few weeks. Then she models fluent reading and has Connor follow her lead. Next, he practices usi ng the new prediction strategy in the books from his leveled box set as Sarah prompts and supports his efforts until he is able to do it on his own. Conferences to self time where Sarah makes it a point to ensure that the child ren are understanding the book they are reading and us ing the skills and strategies taught during whole group and personalized mini lessons. Language A rts block, while highlighting differentiation practices specific to their classroom Although differences existed, there were commonalities in the factors that influenced their decisions for carrying out certain instructional practices. Therefore, it is im portant to ask, s and choice s to use o ne type of practice over another when tailoring reading instruction The next section elaborates on the theoretical model to further understand what drove these exemplary upper elementary as well as the ways in which they differentiated reading for their students Theoretical Model T he teachers had similar thought processes when making de cisions to meet their t heoretical model (F igure 4 1 ) depicts a synthesis of the components shared among the teachers in regards to the influences on and nature of their differentiated reading instruction. The model furt her reflects the relationships among and between individual components. Generally speaking, the key factors considered when making decisions about how to differentiate the teaching of reading include d h er analysis of

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104 data, which in turn, impact ed the nature of the content, process, and products of instruction. wa s influenced by certain elements within her teachin g context, and those factors together impact ed the types of assessments a teacher personally cho se or wa s mandated to administer. Of the three main factors, analysis of data play ed the largest role in that teachers gather ed pertinent information about thei r students to inform the tailoring of their day to day instruction. Data collected formally, informally and organically inform ed the teachers about academic reading identities, background knowledge, and learning preferences. The nature of their instruction wa s then a result of the decisions teachers ma d e concerning the data gathered. In essence, the wa s fluid and dependent upon their ongoing anal ysis of data, which was impacted by teaching philosophy and teaching context. A discussion of the factors, their relationships with one another, and their instruction will be presented. Factor 1: Teaching philosophy her long term goal s for her students upon exiting the current grade level a nd her beliefs about teaching and learning which assisted her to achieve her goals These goals and beliefs were ac tualized in the everyday tailoring of instruction by carrying out practices that aligned with their philosophy. I ts location i n the figure indicates that it is one of the initial components considered by teachers prior to differentiating instruction for th eir students. While differences existed among the teacher and beliefs, the re were also many similarities. It is also interesting to note that when the exemplary teachers talked about

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105 their philosophies, differentiation wa s not mentioned; their goal s were meant for all students, despite their differences. As competent teachers they did what was necessary to help their students achieve t heir goals differentiating instruction from one student to the next Teaching goals. instill a love of reading and equip students with the knowledge and skills to be specific to reading. Sarah want ed to prevent her students from becoming a dropout improve her reading skills as much as possible so they could leave her classroom able to access any text in later gr ade levels goal was also to prepare students for the upcoming grade level and to g reading, I makes all the other r eading, even the reading for information much more enjoyable and fun focus on reading, specifically parenting goals she by giving graciously to others and always striving for their dreams S he saw it as her duty to be a discip a cat but more importantly, she ensure d each child was safe and comfortable, loved unconditionally, and given an abundance of knowledge Personally experiencing a lot of boredom while attending

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106 was to ensure her students had fun and enjoyed school. She teaspoonful of sugar thing When her students complained about leaving school and as a reward for meeting class goals, Anna received affirmation that her mission was accomplished. Beliefs about teaching and learning. learning assisted in accomplishing their goals. The teachers shared the belief that it was not only important to hold students accountable for their learning, but that students actually want to be held responsible because of the feeling they get from doing things on their own. Devon remarked on you. You can see it; it all comes right up from them. My God, it comes out of their teeth! They feel Therefore, reading successes were celebrated and failures were looked upon as a chance to grow. To increase student responsibility in reading performance and growth Anna, Sarah and Lisa believed it was important to provide students with their data from formal and informal assessments organized in notebooks. Devon chose not to engage students in scheduled formal discussions about their achievem ent. Instead, she believed in the moment conversations with students were effective for highlighting improvements and holding them accountable to areas needing improvement. Yet, building student teacher relationships and cultivating a safe learning environment through tight classroom management was believed to be key to each teacher s success kid s, you know building on trust and expectations. I am not a yeller.

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107 T he teachers also believed in the importance of investing in their own learning and professional growth. Motivated to seek out professional literature to impact their instruction, the tea chers looked to experts in the field or distant colleagues who had proven to be successful educators (e.g., Marva Collins). For example, the framework The Daily 5 a book published in 20 independently by providing mini r ead to s ne on one teacher conferencing. Another shared belief was that students do their best learning through the use of authenti L isa, Anna and Lisa also of ensuring students selected the most appropriate book. Reading authentic literature was e specially important for Sarah as she believed the reading instruction for her most was fragmented between the general education and pull out programs, and as a result, these students did not Devon scattered books in the room to allow for find them Anna and Devon believed it was just as important t hat include developing their character as human beings. Devon stated them independently as each little human, then figure out a way to bring them in and start teaching and never stop educating them from the way they sit up, the way they open a door, the way they stand for a woman, the way they hold their posture, the way

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108 As the two teachers who taught all of the subject areas, they also believed in the imp ortance of integrating the content areas with reading instruction Lastly, Lisa strongly believed in the explicit teaching of reading strategies. She trusted that Also, because prepar ation for sixth grade included passing a standardized test, she saw test practice their test taking skills Anna, on the other hand, was focused on helping her incorporated the use of engaging games, group activities, and book projects to get and ke ep students interested in reading. Factor 2: Teaching context When the teachers talked about their teaching context, they referred to the contexts within and outside of their schools in the past and present. External forces outside the school included nati onal, state or district policy mandates as well as university training. Forces within the school environment included everything else that could potentially influence their reading instruction (e.g., principal initiatives, colleagues, professional developm ent opportunities teaching interns, students ). Contextual factors within and outside of school played a significant role in In turn, t he experiences also informed their over arching goals as ed ucator s However, the external and internal lassroom reading practices were influenced more by internal school forces, whereas external forces served as

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109 guidelines goals or structures for inst ruction. When within school influences impacted student learning, the use of and belief in the practice was reinforced. For example, Sarah believed in the importance of providing one on one instruction for ipating in a book study of The Daily Five. Conducting daily conferences with students, as promoted in the book, dra ma tically increased all of her studen : I really started to see huge improvements with all groups the middle, the l ow, and the high. Typically you find something that works with the low or something that works with the middle, or something that works with the high, but it [ The Daily Five structure] work s with all students. External forces. Across the board, state and national standards informed term goals for their reading instruction. In addition to the standards, Lisa referenced the scope and sequence of the basal, and the district curriculum map further guide instructional decisions each semester T he state policy mandating 90 minutes of daily uninterrupted reading instruction also influence d the amount of time they allotted to the teaching of reading r ninety minutes of language arts the guidelines Response to Intervention (RtI) was national policy that greatly influenced the structures and time require ments in which Sarah and Anna delivered targeted instruction targeted instruction based on ThinkLink scores, STAR reading, teacher data your RtI als o influenced the actual instruction utilized for students in tiers II and III; practices the teachers found to be ineffective for reading

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110 growth: I find it very frustrating with the materials that are given to us to use. I feel like, they say they are bas ed on research, b ut they are worksheet driven; they are workbook t we are hoping to get if we me t with them ever In regards to training outside the school setting, Anna attributed her knowledge about differentiated instruction to her preparation as a teacher of gifted and talented students at a loc al university. Internal forces. Influences within the school operated as the primary vehicle for and beliefs about best practices in reading T he teachers talked extensively about their current and past colleagues and professio nal learning experiences However, past learning experiences had the greatest impact on their beliefs and practices to For example, a special education teacher greatly influenced what reading practices Sarah used with her struggling readers. She also spoke highly of a former principal who introduced professional learning communities (PLCs) ; Kagan strategies ; strategies for differentiat ing the time, task or materials ; and multiple assessments for identify and monitor ing student progress It was his urgency to improve to reflect on her succe ssful and unsuccessful instructional practices Professional district wide training in the Four Blocks model (Cunningham, Hall, & Gambrell, 2002) ttributed her knowledge of differentiation to previous school

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111 wide training programs (e.g., Project Child, Success for All) and the training she received as a school and district literacy coach in the Read ers Workshop model H er with th e Read ers Workshop model led her to believe it was an effective framework f or differentiating instruction. Devon on the other hand, spoke highly of a distant individual whose work inspired her to be a more effective teacher: Marva Collins She also briefl y mentioned her mentor teacher from over thirty years ago who challenged her to be honest with herself about the effectiveness of her teaching practices. t how you teach. Parents are always going to be loving and parents are also going to be hard to Through reflecting and critiquing her own practices, she was able to [teaching] closet T school c ontext appeared to serve different role s for the teachers. Although Lisa and Devon were both from Otter Elementary, only Lisa mentioned the importance of discuss ing teacher She also talked about using her teaching intern to work with her lowest performing readers. T he principal provid ed site based learning opportunities ; however, neither Lisa nor Devon found them particularly helpful for their reading instructi on. Elementary was different. In their school, the principal began two initiatives focused on differentiating instruction: a

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112 required school program (Targeted Intervention Differentiated Enrichment [TIDE]) and individual student goal sheets accountable to their learning TIDE was established to meet the instructional mandates within the RtI framework for the lowest quartile of students and push proficient students to achieve higher goals in reading and mathematics. Thirty minutes a day w ere d evoted to uninterrupted targeted and differentiated instruction where students were grouped at their grade level according to need. Sarah, as the Language A rts teacher, worked with tier two and three RtI children in grade five Anna, given her gifted trai ning, taught gifted children from grades three and four However, with the use of these two new initiatives to address RtI, Sarah and Anna had been given more responsibility to determine how to carry out the let you the professionals Sarah commented that the TIDEs laser and incorporating more formal use of student data for making instructio nal decisions through use of individual goal sheets was effective for increased reading proficiency : We started out with nine reading plans in the beginning of the year and them back down to tier one instruction and are successfully meeting the curriculum at their acces s point and I credit that a lot to TIDE. Overall, none of the teachers found the district mandated professional learning opportunities to be of any value to their teachi ng of reading These meetings were primarily used to disseminate information about current policy mandates and teacher evaluation tools. They preferred to use this time to collaborate reflect and learn from and with their colleagues.

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113 Factor 3: Analysis of data Indicated by the size of the box and its position in the model analysis of data Instructional decisions were determined through a continual gathering, analyzing and synthesizing of student informa tion from multiple assessments throughout the year : The first month of school, I do a DRA on all my kids. I figure out their reading levels and do a lot of interest inventories and trial and error with books. You start seeing that pattern with each kid when you look at their book log and response book because that is their thinking You see their reading habits. Then a mid year DRA and end of the year DRA will definitely show if they are improving. I am not huge on Thinklink t esting but it helps because I can see some kids going up on that. It does give you a little bit of the picture. When you start seeing them pick better book in the literature circles. Ho wever, you still have to put it all together. Then conferencing, conferencing, conferencing and talking individually with a kid. (Lisa) Formal, informal and organic assessments gave interests, reading levels, background know ledge, reading skill knowledge, instructional preferences and academic identity, or how students felt about themselv es as students, and were a reflection of Teaching goals and beliefs about teaching and learning choices for acquiring student information, whereas the teaching context often dictated the administration of mandated assessments. G iven the philosophical and contextual differences among teachers, their reliance on specific types of assessments and, therefore, the information they gathered on students varied. However, all of the teachers u sed three kinds of assessments: Formal assessments used a standardized measure to gauge student skill knowledge and lev el and typically reported as a number. Examples include d the district formative assessments (e.g., ThinkLink), state approved skill s tests

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114 (e.g., Florida Focus and Florida Achieves), and the Standardized Test for Assessment of Reading ( STAR ) test Informal assessments knowledge, in addition to understanding of particular reading content or background knowledge using an instrument Examples included informal reading inventories (IRI De velopmental Reading Assessment [ DR A] and Burns and Roe Inventory) Accelerated Reader (AR) quizzes informal Scholastic test s, teacher created tests and rubrics and inte rest inventories Organic assessments includ ed natural ways of gathering information about students reading skills academic identity, background knowledge, interests and reading level where the teacher served as the tool for collecting data (e.g., observ ing and interacting with them, reading students cold reads, parental insight, principal advice ). The teachers were also interested in a variety of kinds of data that were available in the multiple kinds of assessments they used. They sought information about the following: Student i nterest s: What topic s did student s f i nd engaging ? Reading level : At what level could students (instructional level) and on their own (independent level) ? Reading skill knowledge : about the discret e skills that aid them in becoming better reader s (e.g., comprehension skills, reference skills, fluency skills) ? Academic identity : How did students fee l about themselves as students? Background knowledge : ent that could help them read with be tter fluency and comprehension? Instructional preferences : In what ways did students tend to learn best (e.g., small group, one on one, types of reading activities)? Types and outcomes of assessment. Three teachers relied on all three forms ; however, one teacher, Devon, solely relied on two : informal and organic While h er students were also required to take the formal district mandated test s every nine weeks, she did not

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115 talk about using this information for instructional purposes. Philosophical and/or these assessments they were able to gather data about variety of reading skills and/or reading levels. For instance, Sarah and Anna were required to use school wide principal initiatives (e.g., TIDE program and individual goal sheets) where formal data w ere valued; yet, they chose to use the STAR test during the wide and other state approved skills tests reflected her beliefs that test preparation was an Teachers also gathered data multiple types of informal and organic data sources. In fact, the data obtained from these types of assessments had more utility than the formal assessment data and were therefore used to supplement teac he formal information acquired The Diagnostic Reading Assessment (DRA) and Burns and Roe Inventory, reading processes and skill knowledge, while a lso gauging their reading level. Lisa even continued to use the DRA mid year and at the end of the year to gauge reading growth. Similarly, Sarah continued the use of the Burns and Roe inventory, but only for her students who struggled the most w ith reading. Reading skill knowledge was also determined through weekly cold reads of a passage (Sarah and Devon), choral reading during small and large group instruction (Devon), AR comprehension quizzes (Anna), Sarah, and Devon), a Scholastic test that measured s (Sarah) and

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116 teacher created tests (Lisa and Devon). For example, Lisa created a rubric to evaluate the literature circle group meetings in which stude nts were given a grade for a) completing the book, b) adequately fulfilling their role (e.g., Word Wizard, Summarizer, Discussion Director, and Connector), and c) engaging in quality discussions. Devon y needs. Additional information the teachers found to be of value for differentiating reading instruction was also obtained informally and organically: background knowledge, academic identity, instructional preferences and interests. S re captured in parent conversations, observing the student, and administering informal determined prior to studying a particular topic by probing the students with questi ons following a cold read of a short passage as well as listening to children tal k during classroom discussions. Instructional monitored through observations of students and talking to their parents Devon sought advice from her principal in January about th emselves as learners and any past school experiences and/or family circumstances (e.g., death in the family, divorce, sibling relationships) that could have contributed to those feelings. provided ins ight into what kind of questions to ask as well as the reading activities to ensure increased student success. The teachers believed that improving students

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117 reading skills and knowledge would only be achieved once students felt good about themselves as sch olars. The result of obtaining information from multiple types of assessments was a obstacles to their growth (e.g., academic identity, lack of background knowledge, disint erest in activities or topics). Hence, assessments in these forms were the most versatile for acquiring rich information about students from different perspectives whereas formal assessments provided limited student information. The teachers utilized diffe rent structures for organizing student data: student data notebooks, personal notebooks and calendars and student portfolios. For example Sarah made the following comment about record keeping: you and I on your sheet in my notebook calendar and keep my notes on our meeting that just keeps me stra ight. I know I need to go back. Despite the important role formal and informal assessments differentiation decisions, organic assessments were valued the most It was the moment to moment observations and conversations immediate instructional decisions. The exemplary teachers were constantly thinking on their feet and responding instantaneously to remedy the issue. Sa rah explained you right then and there and you ask them a few questions and they get it and they can

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118 Devon had a similar message: My format ives are by listenin ntributing me kno w where I need to teach again. I have to keep thinking and saying to myself fluency increasing? Is her level of comprehension increasing? Is she able to use better vocabulary? Is this one able to pick the right types of book? I go by my gut. I look at a lot of t the hair flip, uncomfortable; the back shoulder roll, uncomfortable. Is it the material? I use all those issue, uncomfortable. I listen to these keys. Nature of dif ferentiated reading instruction factors : teaching philosophy, teaching context and analysis of data. Teaching philosophy influenced the type o mandated to administer; and analysis of the data played the most significant role in their differentiation practices. The form al, informal and organic data they collected and analyzed informed their decisions about three classroom instructional elements : 1) the content or information they would teach students, 2) the processes or learning activities they provided students, and 3) the products or ways they intended to evaluate if learning occurred The content was guided by one feature of the external school context in which they taught: the New Generation Sunshine State Standards (NGSSS) for the state of Florida and Common Core St ate Standards (CCSS) teachers were required to teach their students. Processes included the instructional practices and materials for teaching the content. Lastly, products were comprised of t hree different forms of student

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119 evaluation: organic, informal an d formal. Overall, there were many similarities among the four teachers when it came to differentiating content, processes and products All content decisions were guided by the standards but were differentiated according to instructional practices and materials and student evaluation of the content differed by teacher and were determined by the informa tion collected on each student. Content. The four teachers determined the content to be taught by consulting t he NGSSS and CCS S The content of the NGSSS standards included four components of reading, and the skills and strategies subsumed within each: phonics, fluency, vocabulary and comprehension. The teachers also tried to incorporate the new CCSS, which shift from strictly fo cusing on these components for students to have reading success. They differentiated what to teach based on knowledge or evidence of ficiency within each component. They differentiated the time spent on teaching each compon ent For example, Sarah explicitly taught fluency to only two students because the remaining students spelling and vocabulary by creating lists tied to the specific needs of students. Anna had her stu dents engage in an based allows students to work at their own pace Sarah, Devon, Anna and Lisa differentiated the comprehension skills and strategies and other reading skills (e.g., referencing skills) they taught according to scores on formal, informal and organic assessments. Believing that reading and writin g were highly

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120 interests and needs ellipses in their reading so she taught them how to properly use them in their writing. Process. Process refers to everything included in the implementation of differentiated instruction. Instructional practices and materials for carrying out instruction were therefore considered part of the process. The teachers planned for differentiated instruction primarily using formal and informal d ata, but also differentiated on the fly by remaining responsive to the ir organic data or obse rvations of the students: I plan for the skills and what I want to teach usin g information from the district formative assessments They help me think about who do I need to pull and continue further instruction. I use the STAR specifically to look at their reading levels and to ga uge that. The Burns and Roe Inventory is are on track, but then the kids that are well below, they take it again several more times to compare and contrast with the last test. But, I pull out of m y toolbox depending on how the conference or small group work is going with the student s For example, planned for a short c onferen ce time and then we get into conversations that are a little longer. (Sarah) Instructional practices. The exemplary teachers incorporated a variety of instructional practices to ensure each student received enough scaffolding and support to increase his/he r reading proficiency. For one, the teachers employed flexible grouping patterns R ead alouds and the introduction and review ing of reading concept s or vocabulary words occurred during whole group instruction. Instruction in this size group typically laste d no longer than half of the Language Arts block. Even within large group settings, teachers differentiated: T I can hear their

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121 (Devon). Small group instru ction consumed the other h alf of the Language Arts block. Small group s varied in size and were fluid. S tudents were grouped homogeneously or heterogeneously by reading level, reading skill knowledge, interests, background knowledge or simply by student cho ice. Sarah preferred grouping by based instead of being a henomenal reader. There is usually some kind of comprehension issue, so for that particular skill you may need to be Lisa grouped her students with peers who were close to the same reading level for the literature circ les : levels, but I do try to put one person that is a little higher in there, your ringer in there, that can keep things going. But these groups constantly change every week because I want them to hear the voices of all their classma Devon did the same during her small group instruction ; however, Anna conducted the most small group work of all the teachers. She incorporated book clubs based on reading level, literacy stations based on student choice, small group work based on rea ding skill knowledge, and heterogeneously based word building game groups. One on one instruction occurred whereas Devon only used in the moment one on one instruction Secondly they varied the pacing and amount of reading instruction for students. Teachers met with lower performing readers more frequently and for longer periods of time M ore advanced readers tended to be more self sufficient and therefore were

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122 check met with their poorest readers everyday for at least 20 minutes. Anna compact ed her reading instruction for her higher achieving and more motivated readers what the higher group read, she gave them more time igning smaller reading sections: L isa determine d the ir own pacing an d amount of help needed when reading independently or in literature circle groups by summoning her when they had reading difficulties or questions. However, she often check ed in with students who were reading on a lower level. Third teachers varied their questions and feedback for individuals and groups This especially held true when meeting with children one on one during conferences or in small group settings. Devon, in particular, varied her questions with each student based on his/her knowledge, past experiences, and more importantly, confidence level. More or less scaffolding and feedback to the questions. For example, she initially asked her least confidence readers more open ended questions rather than q uestions looking for specific information from the story to build their efficacy by giving them a better oppo rtunity to answer successfully. Varying feedback for students during independent reading time was exemplified in recounting of events : There are an d then tell them the definition and go on. T here are other kids I always have to make sure I read the whole sentence that the word is in and guide them. S know I want my lower students to hear my thinking out loud of how I figure

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123 it out; not just throwing out the definition and walking away from them, because I want them to experience that process. In addition the teachers capitalized on peer support and encouragement They strategically solicited the help of more motivated students to inspire less motivated students to read p articular books and increase their appetite for reading. L isa called it and provided a classroom scenario about one student helping another choose a book: enging. It can get a little confusing because it has a lot of The students also served as cheerleaders and teacher aides when difficulties ar ose For example, Anna talked about how her more proficient readers took her least proficient reader he became frustrated. In fact, pair reading occurred in several of the classrooms when the material was difficult. P eer support was also used for the purpose of holding students accountable for their behavior. Fo r instance, Sarah had one student help keep another student focused during mini lessons. Further, seats were assigned so students were next to peers they worked well with and who could challenge and help them. The teachers also ions This was especially the case at the beginning of the year when trying to get them interested in reading. Sarah, Anna and Lisa not only helped students choose books of interest, but they also made it a point to ensure the books were appropriately matc hed to their assessed reading level as indicated by a number or letter media center, they know what books to

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124 selections based on interest; however, she did not find it advantageous to use an assigned reading level as this could restrict her students T hree of the teachers d eveloped personal learning goals with their students Sarah, Anna and Lisa created learning goals with students based on their performance on awareness of their achievement. As Lisa also discussed book selections with students and challenged them to read different genres whereas Anna and Sarah had each student organi ze Data Notebooks that included data from district and classroom assessments. Sarah reiterated that writing goals together that either they were that strong in something or that they were that weak in something. It gives them ownership by making them aware of their strengths and weaknesses so Devon also and purposefully engaged in physical cues as two additional means of differentiat ing instruction. While teaching students about the Civil War, Devon in clud ed the study of influential women (e.g., Harriet Tubman) because she believed it was important for the girls in her class to see women as capable, powerful act ivists She also used her body to provide cues to students t o indicate that she was expecting their participation soon, to demonstrate support and comfort during difficulties or times of reduced confidence and to jumpstart better behavior. For example, she described her physical proximity in time of need:

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125 targeting you by your na toward students to facilitate their involvement and participat ion in reading discussions. It was interesting to observe that t eachers established structures and routines to assist the differentiat ion of instructional process es The Reading Workshop mod el, which included a read aloud mini lesson independent reading time and open discussion was one framework used to structure reading time. A modified version of the Four Blocks model consisting of whole group instruction literacy centers, and independent reading time, was another framework employed. These frameworks allowed the teachers to gather a lot of student data in a short amount of time and efficiently work with many students in a variety of group settings. Materials. Another materials they chose for instruction. They used the Internet t o find resources (e.g., video and songs), gather ideas for differentiation, and/ or access particula r programs that provided choice in creating book projects. S ome teachers used particular programs but only for specific purposes. A nna found AR to be beneficial for motivating her students to read at their independent level and also employed the Success for All program with her lowest quartile of readers. Sarah only used the Read Naturally program with one student who struggled reading fluently with speed and accuracy. Lisa incorporated Wordly Wise, a vocabulary progra She knew her students needed multiple opportunities to learn the words and did this by limiting the number of words taught a day and incorporating multiple teaching strategies (e.g., using hand movemen ts to physically portray the meaning, providing and asking for examples of how the word could be used, drawing pictur es, and clapping out the word).

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126 However, all of the teachers found authentic that was of high interest, relevant, mea interests and needs to be the most important element when differentiating the teaching of reading. Yet, the teachers often commented that the lack of good books and/or continually coming up with new books to use for instru ction was one challenge to differentiating. Devon stated, I think teachers should have a really well stocked class library that would be consistent between all the rooms in fourth grade or third grade so title so that we are just constantly back and forth sharing and rea resources we have For me, all the materials have to be tried before they can be put in fr ont of a child. I have to think, what do I really want to draw work on this piece with someone siti ng next to them? : I take home; be home; in the bathtub thinking about what boy go i ng to love, because that one [ Hatchet ] was so hard to beat. So finding is always a challenge, especially when you run out of books to choose from The books they read aloud for instructional purposes were written at a level because they a) lent themselves to teaching a certain reading strategy or skill or contained rich vocabulary, b) had good character development for increasing ch social and emotional capacity, especially for particular students in the classroom, c) were a good example of a particular genre, d) exposed students to new life situations that they may not have experienced otherwise, and e) were well written a nd developmentally appropriate.

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127 Product. G auging student reading success was primarily accomplished through organic forms of evaluation such as observing, listening to and talking with children in addition to reading their journals. Sarah, Anna and Lisa als o employed data checks using the formal and informal results from district assessments, other test preparation assessments made available by the state, teacher created assessments, the STAR reading test, book club projects, and/or AR quizzes. Devon, althou gh not focused on formal goal setting with students, monitored student understanding o f the content using observations and informal tests she crea ted. Nonetheless and as mentioned previously, the teachers favored organic assessments for evaluating students reading from one moment to the next. Devon asse listen to them read and then the child explains to the group what this book was about...that t o me is a telltale sign of improvement that confidence of attack this. Discussion Two of the influential decision making factors in this study, teaching philosophy and teaching context, are consistent with previous research. F or the past thirty five teaching and learning and their teaching context on reading instruction (e.g., Bawden et al., 1979; Borko & Niles, 1982; Davis & Wilson, 1999; Doyle, 1977; Duff y & McIntyre, 1980; Fogarty et al., 1983; Howard, 1988; Jackson, 1968; Livingston & Borko, 1990; Peterson & Comeaux, 1984 ; Rupley & Logan, 1985). Of these studies, some have specifically investigated expert teachers of readin g (e.g., Putnam & Duffy, 1983).

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128 According to Clark and Yinger (1977), decisions and actions stem from theories about how instruction should be implemented. philosophies about reading instruction were the result of experiences from within and outside t heir school environment. Similar to other scholarly work, national, state and local policies (Norman, 2008; Schulz, 2005), student information ( Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980 ), and past professional learning opportunities with colleagues (Solic, 2011) wer practices. Additionally, the role of the principal greatly influence d what and how instructional approaches were implemented ( Bentley, 2007; Concannon Gibney & Murphy, 2012; Hoppey & McLeskey, 2010 ). T he principal wide initiatives TIDE and individual student goal sheets, in the Title I school served as structures for differentiated instruction. Findings also support and add to current research on the nature of differentiat ed instruction (Tomlinson, 1995, 2002, 2011) According to Tomlinson (1995), teachers should differentiate content, processes and products of instruction readiness level, interests, and learning tyle Readiness level refers to the knowledge, ex perience, and skills students bring to a particular learning situation which is influenced by previous life experiences as well as their attitudes about school The four teachers tailored reading instruction according to profile but also considered four additional elements: reading level, background knowledge, reading skill knowledge and academic identity. Although two of the elem ents, background knowledge and reading skill knowledge, are

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129 identity have not been identified as factors to consider in differentiat ion decisions It is important to no te that are not specific to the teaching of reading. Thus, the consideration of st l in their differentiation decisions was not surprising. T he role of demic identity in differentiation is, however, a new element for teachers and researchers to consider. The exemplary reading teachers were equally concerned sense of themselves as students and their attachment to school as they were about t heir reading achievement Because they believed that a positive academic identity was related to academic achievement, they considered this factor in their decisions about differentiating reading instruction. I nformation teachers use to guide decision maki ng shed light on add itional elements that need special consideration for upper elementary school classrooms specifically Connor and colleagues ( Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004 ; Connor, Morrison & Petrella, 2004 ; Connor et al., 2011) reported that differe ntiating reading vocabulary, comprehension, and word reading ), and interests should determine the amount and y found that some teachers also consider academic identity, reading level, and their instructional p references for learning content. While research has found flexible grouping patterns are present in effective use of small groups ( Taylor et al., 1999, 2000 ), new insights have been revealed about how diffe rentiated instruction is enacted The

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130 exemplary teachers tailor ed instruction by varying the amount and pacing of instruction as well as the questions and feed back for individuals and groups They also engag ed in physical cues, solicited peer support and encouragement, consider gender, guid ed book selections, and develop ed personal learning goals. Establishing structures and routines was crucial for allowing these differentiated practices to occur (Connor et al., under review; Sousa & Tomlinson, 2011 ), and authentic literature was the material of choice. Finally, t he findings add to the growing body of evidence noting the influences on Research on expert teachers (Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984 ) has documented ongoing data collection, synthesis and decision making based on s tudent data throughout the year. However, the types of assessments valued by exemplary teachers have been noted less frequently. The exemplary teachers utilized a variety of formal, informal and organic reading assessments. O rganic forms of ere valued the most for mak ing decisions about adjusting instruction. The teachers listened to, observed and conversed with children resulting in high levels of reading achievement, as identified by formal, informal and organic forms of assessment. As a result, teachers could accomplish their goals: to instill a love of reading and equip students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in future grade levels and life beyond school. Implications for Reading Education In this study, exemplary teachers of reading conducted ongoing assessments of their students in order to determine the content, processes, and products of reading instruction. Their teaching philosophies and teaching contexts shaped assessment

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131 choice. The information gathered allowed the teachers to be responsive to and flexible in addressing the needs of their students, using authentic literature to do so. Therefore, providing instructional support systems to assist teachers of all e xperience levels in engaging in the differentiation process may help them be more effective teachers of reading. For instance teachers may benefit from organizational systems or charts that would help them identify areas of need using multiple assessment s Teachers may also benefit from established school wide structures For example, each grade level can collaborate to identify grade level needs and group students so that each teacher takes a group for targeted instruction daily. Developing systems and st ructures is important because many teachers report the challenges they face in attempting to accommodat e students who struggle the most in learning to read (Baumann Hoffman, Duffy H ester, & Ro, 2000). Further, teachers need professional learning opportuni ties to support the differentiation process decisions By collaborating with colleagues reading proficiency. Perhaps J i nkins ( 200 1) study can serve as a model of how to engage teachers in professional development focused on data driven decision making. Using an assessment driven instruction al model teachers were taught the reading/writing processes and connections between achievement and instr uction based on assessment. After twelve weeks of implementing this teaching/learning cycle, student behaviors, attitudes and writing skills improved, and seven of the nine students for whom data w ere ith four of the students obtaining the

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132 teachers understand and use data to make informed instructional decisions based on P rovidin g powerful professional learning experiences for teachers achievement (Sailors & Price, 2010; Hilden & Pressley, 2007) and reinforce the use of good instructional practices for differentiation. As teachers see changes in thei r (Guskey, 2002). R esearch has also shown that teachers are always in need of resources, such as materials and literature, to support classroom instruction (Boggs & Szabo, 2009; Hilden & Pres sley, 2007; Lee, Hart, Cuevas, & Enders, 2004). This was also found to be the T hey were unhappy with the scarcity of high quality, high interest and developmentally appropriate literature to support their differentiat ed reading practices. Books on a variety of levels and topics w ere key to their success ful instruction ; yet, they had limited access to them. To alleviate this issue, schools should ensure teachers have well stocked classroom libraries. McGill Franzen, All ington, Yokoi and Brooks (1999) recommend teachers have at least 1000 books in their classroom library collection. Of course, beneficial for providing teachers and students wi th more reading options (Neuman & Celano, 2001). Knowing money is scarce within schools, perhaps teachers could write classroom mini grants, hold school or classroom fundraisers, ask for donations from families, partner with local businesses, and/or purcha se books at a reduced rate at local librar ies and garage sales.

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133 Finally, this study has implications for teacher education programs. In addition to ensuring pre service teachers develop a comprehensive knowledge base of reading concepts and effective pract ices prior to entering their professional career Fairbanks et al (2010) recommend exploring four additional components. The components include a sense of belonging or professional community and identity as an educator philosophies that drove decision making regarding assessments and reading practices. to improve his/her reading proficiency. The researchers suggest that explicitly addressing these components alongside knowledge development in undergraduate coursework will support pre service teachers in becom ing more thoughtfully adaptive and responsive to students. Implications for Future Research education. While this study was conducted in one school district in the state of F lorida, there is a n eed to examine exemplary teachers in different schools and states. Studying other exemplary teachers using the same criteria delineated by Palmer et al. (2005) would allow for a deeper understanding of differentiated reading instruction across a variety of contexts. Information obtained from additional studies on exemplary teachers can then be used to better support novice teachers as they begin to le arn how to differentiate instruction. Researchers may also be interested in expanding th e scope of this study or

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134 making over the course of a year may clarify tional practices. Following a group or several groups of students receiving instruction tailored to their needs may enrich to their achievement. Researchers may want t o develop a valid and reliable observation tool to capture the nature of differentiated reading instruction using the constructs discussed in the study: content, process, product and data analysis procedures. Evaluating teachers on their differentiation pr actices may be helpful to ensure effective practices are employed and support is provided when differentiation is absent or limited. Concluding Thoughts This research study contributes new insights to the reading research teaching context and analysis of data on their content, process and product decisions to tailor reading instruction. Considering the importance of these three factors and the nature of their differentiated practices can help support all teachers as they seek to tailor instruction for spe cific learners.

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135 Figure 4 1

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136 CHAPTER 5 USING DATA TO DIFFERENTIATE READING INSTRUCTION Differentiation is central to powerful reading instruction. Teachers who effectively differentiate practices in their reading instruction rely on a variety of ongoing assessments (C onnor, Morrison, & Katch, 2004a; Connor, Morrison, Petrella, 2004b; Connor, Morrison, Fishman, Giuliani, Luck, Un derwood, et al., 2011 ; Roehrig, Duggar, Moats, Glover, & Mincey, 2008 ; Tomlinson, 1995). Data from these a ssessment s provide the clues to understand ing strengths, weaknesses, and interests (Afflerbach, 2010; Thoermer, in preparation; Watts Taffe, Laster, Broach, Marinak, Connor & Walker Dalhouse 2012). A ssessments also offer insight into the effectiveness of particular instructional practices so teachers can make adjustments to the type, amount and/or intensity of instruction in order to maximize learning. Based on the findings of a grounded theory study of four exemplary upper purpose of this paper is to provide educators with recommendations on how to use assessments to make data based different iation decisions in their reading instruction. In the grounded theory study using four interviews and three classroom observations, analysis of data was found to be a key influence on the nature of differentiated reading instruction. In fact, a lthough othe r factors (i.e., teaching philosophy and teaching analysis of data was the factor that most directly influenced their instruction on a daily basis ( Figure 5 1 ). It is important to note that the exemplary teachers were selected based on a) a minimum of three years of teaching experience in a specific content domain and i nstructional context; b ) extraordinary

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137 teaching skills; c ) appropria te certification and degrees for the domain in which they teach; and d) s uccess in facilitating student reading achievement when compared with other teachers in the district ( Palmer, Stough, Burdenski, & Gonzales, 2005). Thus, the re is evidence that the e x played a role in student success. According to their analysis of student data, the teachers differentiated three dimensions of their instruction: content, process, and products. In regards to the content o f instruction, the teachers used the state and national standards as a guide for what students needed to know and be able to do by the end of the school year. However, they differentiated the readin g content in the areas of fluency, vocabulary and comprehe nsion and the skills and strategies subsumed within each component. Based and the time sp ent on teaching each component. The exemplary teachers also differentiated the processes for carrying out instruction. Differentiated processes included the materials and instructional practices used. They differentiated instructional materials (e.g., authentic literature, dictionaries, computerized programs, Internet resources) levels, background knowledge, reading skill knowledge and academic identity (i.e., ) Similarly, they differentiated instructional practices. For example, they made de cisions related to the following practices : a) grouping patterns, b ) amount and pacing of reading instruction, c ) type of que stions and amount of feedback, d ) use of peer support, e ) number of physical cues necessary for participation and support, and f ) g uidance for book selection. Lastly, the

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138 teachers used different products or evaluation tools to determine student understanding and skill mastery. For example, teachers listened to, observed and conversed with children about their reading material; asked t hem to complete book projects of choice; and/or measured knowledge of particular reading skills through m ore formal, paper pencil tests. T he following recommendations are based on the ways the exemplary fourth and fifth grade teachers talked about and use d data to make content, process, and product decisions about differentiating their reading instruction For each recommendation, questions to prompt t eacher reflection are included. Recommendation 1: Determine the Purpose for Coll ecting Data The teachers began their differentiation process with the end in mind T he y routinely sought to glean information about their students in six main areas: interests, reading level, reading skill knowledge, academic identity, background knowledge, and instru ctional preferences : Student interest included any topic students found engaging to learn about. Reading level was the level at which student s could read a book either with the their own (independent level). Readi ng skill knowledge included the level of understanding of discrete skills that aid student s in becoming better reader s (e.g., comprehension skills, ref erence skills, fluency skills). Academic identity encompassed the way student s felt about themselves as s tudents. Background knowledge included what students knew prior to reading new content that could help them read with better fluency and comprehension. Instructional preferences included ways in which students tend to learn best.

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139 They believed insight in t reading potential as well as clues about how to differentiate the content, processes and products of instruction. That is, the teachers tailored instruction by drawing on the six kinds of student da ta they gathered about their students. Questions for teachers to consider: What do you know about your students that could help you to differentiate instruction for them? What else might you need to know to make the most effective instructional decisions f or them? Recommendation 2 : C onsider a Range of Data Sources The e xemplary teachers considered multiple sources of data to understand each student and make appropriate decisions about their instruction. Indeed, teachers gather ed information about students formally, informally and organically : skill knowledge and level based on a standardized measure (e.g., district formative assessments state approved skill s tests and the Standardiz ed Test for Assessment of Reading ( STAR ) test ) Informal assessments knowledge, in addition to understanding of particular reading content or background knowledge using an instrument (e.g., informal read ing inventories (IRI), Accelerated Reader (AR) quizzes informal Scholastic test s, teacher created tests and rubrics and interes t inventories ). Organic assessments relied on natural ways lls academic identity, background knowledge, interests and reading level where the teacher served as the tool to collect information advice, reads and choral reading of passage s and conversing w ith and listening to children). Despite the use of formal and informal assessments for gathering information, the teachers valued most the organic forms for setting immediate and long term instructional goals and practices They were cons tantly listening to and observing

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140 on one, and/or in small ability to sit and read for a period of time without moving around the room, and listened to their actual reading, thought processes and inquiries. Two teachers sought advice from parents about their child ren also requested the input of her principal as she pondered how to intervene with particular struggling readers. P ersonal reflection journal s on current and past teaching practice s were referenced on a daily basis by two of the teachers, and s tudent reading journals offered insight into their thinking p rocesses. Questions for teachers to consider: What kinds of assessment do you rely on when making instructional decisions for your students related to reading ? W hat other types of data might you consider using? Are there other people who might provide useful data about your students as readers? Recommendation 3 : Think About the Utility of Formal, In formal, and Organic Assessments T he exemplary teachers found it equally important to think about the utility of each formal, informal and organic assessment because each type gave them different limitations and advantages of eac h assessment in inform ing their reading instruction F orma reading levels and achievement in a variety of skills, strategies and content. However, the exemplary teachers knew the outcomes of the assessments only revealed a cursory understanding of how well their students could read and understand a variety of texts. That is, the reading outcomes did not reveal why students exhibited difficulties or successes in the tested areas and therefore, were only used as one tool in the process of differe ntiating reading instruction.

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141 I nformal and organic assessments afforded a deeper understanding of the formal assessment data and pro vided insight into areas the formal assessments did not denti t y, learning preferences). Organic and informal forms of assessment were used to collect a majority of the student information. informally using interest inventories and organically through parent intervie ws, and one on one conversations, because of the ease with which these sources afforded the information. Level of background knowledge in relation to the topics, reading skills, strategies and concepts taught was also determined through conversations with parents and observations of students, in addition to cold reads and choral reading. Choral reading after completing the reading of the text to proceeding with the lesson. Parent conversations and observations were also the primary means for preferred ways for instruction (e.g., working in groups, working alone, reading activity preference) and academic ident ity. One teacher also sought advice from her principal. Obtaining information about how students learned best provided hints about how to accelerate reading growth by instructing students in their preferred ways of learning. In regards to academic identity t he exemplary teachers knew if students did not feel confident about themselves as students or simply did not like to read, their motivation and/or willingness to participate in reading activities would be negatively impacted Thus, term success in school and the workforce would also be influenced

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142 reading and self efficacy was therefore a primary goal when think ing about and deciding upon the activities and materia ls to use for reading lesson s. the STAR test and IRIs (i.e., Burns and Roe Reading Inventory, Developmental Reading Assessment [DRA]) IRIs were chosen over the STAR test becau se they provided the teachers with more information than just a reading level. It also gave them an opportunity to hear their students read and process the information they read. The n the teacher and student; however, it required less time than the IRI because students could quickly and independently access the assessment. T he formal assessments had the least utility of the three forms. For example, the reading level growth. Further, k reading skills and strategies was primarily determined through state and district formative assessments. However, informal forms of assessment such as teacher created tests, AR quizzes, IRIs, running r ecords obtained during cold reads, and/or further delv knowledge comprehension and overall reading development Questions for teachers to consider: What are the limitations an d advantages of each kind of assessment you use? What information are you acquiring from each assessment? Can you glean additional information from that source that you What informal and organic assessments are you using to f urther understand

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143 Recommendation 4 : Collect Data Often The exemplary teachers collected data throughout the entire year so they could adapt instruction when needed; however, some assessments were used more often than others and some were administered onl y at certain times of the year. At the beginning of the year, the exemplary teachers typically administered informal and organic assessments: Information from IRIs and the STAR test was used to appropriately matc h students to texts according to their reading level. Only one teacher continued to administer the same IRI (i.e., DRA) at the middle and end of the year to gauge reading level growth in relation to grade level expectations and two teachers continued to us e the STAR test. Interest inventories offered direction on book s to pique sustain the ir desire to read for pleasure. Parental conversations design of learning activities instructional preferences With parents, teachers discussed home and community issues of concern to a student (e.g., divorce, moving, death of a pet) as well as well as factors contributing to those feelings. Those students who were identified as having low self confidence or home challenges were given more attention and support to increase their efficacy. One teacher sustained yearlong parent partnerships to adva skills and assist with classroom beh avioral or emotional concerns. Observations expanded understandings of fluency skills, vocabulary knowledge and comprehension skills) and habits (e.g., wha t books they chose to read, how they interacted with other students during discussions, attention span and interest in activities). At the beginning of the year, observations were particularly important since the teachers had limited information about thei and feeling s about themselves as students. various reading topics, academic identity, and motivation and engagemen t in reading

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144 Day to day observations and conversations with children gave them valuable information that helped them to fine tune th eir instruction on the spot. The teac hers employed additional assessments throughout the year : R ead ing was thoughts and ability to put those thoughts into words. One teacher sought advice in January from her principal on certain stud ents, who despite receiving individualized instruction were not advancing. She inquired into additional academic or family difficulties these students had experienced over the years that could be contributing to their lack of improvement. Another teacher m skill mastery and overall reading progress observed during one on one weekly instruction. C old reads choral reading and questioning gauge d knowledge and proficiency in a var iety of reading skills depending upon the when introduc ing a new unit on one teacher had the class choral read a short quiries, their current level of knowledge. All of the teachers check ed the level and appropriateness of a book during independent reading time by listening to a child cold read a page of the text aloud. The teachers often created tests and rubrics to asses s skills whe n a better form of assessment was unavailable. For example, one teacher designed a rubric to assess her students literature circle meetings in which they were given a grade on their completion of the book, completion of their role assignment a nd the quality of the discussions. Another teacher developed a vocabulary test to Formal and informal skills based tests were administered every nine weeks as mandated by the district to prepa r e students for the end of the year standardized test. Some of the teachers also administered state approved and written formal skills tests to identify reading skill and concept difficulties (e.g., main idea, Afte r pulling aside small groups of students struggling with the same skill or concept, they were administered a similar formal assessment in order to closely monitor their understanding. Questions for teachers to consider: What assessments do you use at the beginning of the year? Middle of the year? End of the year? Everyday? How do the data from these assessments impact your reading instruction?

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145 A re you over or under How might you determine how much assessment i s necessary? Recommendation 5: Organize the Data To facilitate the process of data interpretation and synthesis the exemplary teachers created organizing systems These structures were simple and often involved the students: Individual student data notebo oks allowed students to see their performance on students could easily identify their strengths and weaknesses as readers so they could develop short and long term i ndividual l earning goals. strengths, weaknesses and overall reading growth as well as effective and ineffective teaching materials and practices. The notebook was organized by the day and used t o record the one on one reading conferences with students. Student progression or regression in a particular skill or strategy was notated (e.g., fluency and/or comprehension strategies). This information was then compared with notes from the previous conf erence with the student. Additional comments were included from the teacher based on this comparison. Similarly, a and small group instruction as well as changes in their identity as readers and what prompted this change. She also shifts in book choices and interests, and parents concerns These files, containing student work and notes, were then referenced during parent conferences. Questions for teachers to consider: How will you organize the informa tion collected on each student? What student information is most important to keep within your organizing structures or systems? Recommendation 6 : Use Data from Multiple Sources to Clarify Insights into Sometimes, the variety of data teachers collected co nfirmed a similar insight. F or interest inventories, parent interviews and listening to children talk about their reading

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146 interests. H owever, when information conflicted, the exemplary teachers consi dered determine if additional data might clarify the conflicting outcomes For example, a student understanding of the key ideas, details and theme of a story but he scored poorly on an AR comprehension quiz. Yet, during conversation with the teacher and his peers, he demonstrating a deep un derstanding of the story. He even wrote a mini play with three he disparities in data were attribut ed to the limitations of the AR quiz (e.g., asking lower level questions, susceptibility of st udents quickly finishing the quiz without careful attention to the questions) rather than a lack of under Questions for teachers to consider: What Are you confident that the data provide the answers you sought ? What additional data can you gather if assessment results conflict? Recommendation 7 : Devise and Execute an Action Plan. After collecting and interpreting the data, the exemplary teachers devised and executed an action plan. This action plan was cyclical, moving teachers through four different parts in order to make appropriate decisions to differentiate reading instru ction First, the teachers consulted local, state, and national standards when thinking about and planning reading instruction regarding short and long term learning goals for their students. A few of the teachers also referenced the district curriculum pacing guide

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147 where standards were broken down by semeste r. The standards and guide kept teachers aware of what students were expected to know and be able to do and, therefore, held them accountable to Then, the teachers examined student specific data that provided insight into th eir and skills with the standards and curriculum pacing guide and adjusted instruction w as to use known base words and affixes to identify meanings of unknown vocabulary words and the student demonstrated difficulties doing this, the exemplary teache rs knew instruction was needed. Third, the teachers used student data to determine how to diff erentiate instruction so as to move students toward mastery of the standards. A variety of flexible grouping patterns were utilized to place students together who exhibited similar reading needs so teachers could provide more focused instruction. They inco rporated whole group, small group and/or one on one instruction daily. Within the three grouping patterns, the teachers differentiated instruction as indicated in Figure 5 1. They differentiated the content to be taught; varied the pacing and amount of in struction and feedback; solicited the use of peer support; guided book selections; developed personal learning goals with of physical cues to initiate participation and s upport. Instructional materials were also chosen according to need; however, authentic literature was the preferred choice for providing differentiated instruction.

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148 Fourth, the teachers continued to collect, analyze and synthesize data to assess student pr ogress and make instructional decisions. Ongoing data collection and reading practices were implemented only afte r obtaining evidence of a need. Questions for teachers to consider: Do your local, state and national standards and/or district curriculum map guide your instructional plan ning to meet grade level goals? How are your students performin g in relation to the standards? What are you doing to differentiate the conten t? The instructional practices and Do you continually collect, analyze and synthesize student data to inform your decisions to differentiate? Closing Remarks Making instructional decisions to differen tiate reading instruction is not an easy task ( Putnam, 1984 ; Roehrig et al., 2008 ), as it requires a teacher to gain and interpret year. Doing so requires using multiple f orms of assessment, knowing the limitations and strengths of each assessment, administering the best assessment to obtain the desired information, understanding how to synthesize and organize the data, and translating insights gained from data to classroom practice. This process is ongoing and entails comparing the student information obtained with the state and national standards and/or the district curriculum map to determine how and what kind of reading instruction to execute. When teachers & Moody, 2005) or can maximize learning opportunities to meet the diverse reading needs of their students

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149 Figure 5 1 erentiated reading i nstruction

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150 CHAPTER 6 CONCLUSIONS This study investigated making processes when differentiating reading instruction for the variety of learning needs in their classroom s The following questions guided the study: 1) What is the nature of differentiated reading instru ction in exemplary fourth and fifth classrooms? and 2) What factors do exemplary upper elem entary school reading tea chers consider when making decisions about differentiating reading instruction? A constructivist grounded theory framework was used (Charmaz, 2006) t o understand the complexity of the teachers behaviors and perceptions related to making differentiation de cisions when teaching reading (Bogdan & Biklen, 2007 ) This framework allow ed for actions in their teaching context s to construct a theory that explains their practice. Fo ur exemplary f ourth and fifth grade teachers consent ed to be in the study. To obtain cases relevant to the study, the district Language Arts coordinator nominated one fourth and one fifth grade teacher from two schools as outstanding reading educators based on set criteria which was later confirmed through principal recommendation The grade classroom at Otter Elementary School. Lisa provided Language Arts a nd Social Studies instruction for her class and a colleague students. Devon taught all subject areas and had looped with her fourth grade class. Two Manatee Elementary School classroom teachers also participated in the study: Sarah, a fifth grade, departmenta lized Language Arts teacher, and Anna, a fourth grade teacher of all subject areas. Otter Elementary was located in a more affluent neighbor hood serving a higher population of middle and upper class

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1 51 students whereas Manatee Elementary served a more diverse student population where a lar ger percentage of students were on free and reduced m eals. However, both schools had a high quality teaching staff and had performed well on standardized assessments. During the 2012 2013 school year participants completed four audio recorded semi structu red interviews during the first th ree weeks of May The first interview aimed to gather information on their perceptions of differentiated reading instruction, how this type of instruction was carried out in their classroom and factors contributing to thei r decision making when tailoring reading instruction. Following the initial interview, t hree observations were conducted in each classroom for the duration of the language arts block The researcher assumed a passive role during observations avoiding eye contact with students and recording field notes on a laptop computer The observations acted as a guide to structure future interviews for the purpose of elaborating and refining theory construction T herefore, the purpose of the las t three interviews was to use field notes and data from previous interview s to ask more pointed questions These last three interviews took place immedia tely following each observation. Data analysis began during and after completing the first interview and continued throughout the duration of the data collection process. Meaningful units were openly coded within each interview using gerunds, and observations helped to inform and refine future interviews. Through constant comparative methods (Glaser & Strauss, 1967) and memoing initial codes were compared and used to form categories an d subcategories, which helped synthesize larger segments of the initial codes After the

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152 categories, or focused codes were constructed, relationships we re sought among and between the categories in order to move the data toward an explanatory theory. In addition to memoing, situational mapping assisted in the construction of the theor y by providing a visual representation of the relationships between and among the focused codes Findings revealed that the nature of exemplary upper differentiated reading instruction wa s significantly influenced by three key factors: teaching philosophy, teaching context, and an alysis of data. The factors influenced differentiation of the content, processes to learn the content and products to evaluate if student learn ongoing data analysis from multiple types of assessment (i.e. formal, informa l and organic) was impacted by their teaching philosophy and context and continued to inform content, process and product decisions. educational goals and beli efs about teaching and learni ng. C ertain school experiences were influential in affirming and/or informing their beliefs over the course of their teachin g career, but only when they witnessed increases in s tudents learning In this study, the teachers talked about their t eaching cont ext s in terms of within and outside of school forces influencing their instruction. Discussion of national, state and local policies such as standards and curriculum maps reflected external school forces Outside influences served as guide posts or goals to meet by the end of the school year. Conversely, the internal school forces consisted of teacher s past and current experiences includ ing professional development, collea gues, principal initiatives and students. It was within school elements specific that had the greatest impact

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153 on their instructional decisions for tailoring reading instruction. However, i n one of the two schoo provided the teachers with structures to aid their differentia tion process es Philosophical and contextual factors which consisted of organic, informal and formal types of assessments for gathering reading skill knowledge, instructional preferences, and interests. This information was then used to inform the nature of their differentiated reading instruction The teachers differentiated the content of the national and state standards related to the reading components of fluency, vocabulary and comprehension; the processes or instructional practices and materials for en understood the content ; and the products or ways used to as sess student outcomes in the lea rning process. Structures and routines within a variety of instructional frameworks (e.g., Readers Workshop and Four Blocks model) supported their differentiation processes so they could collect a lot of student data. Within these frameworks, all of the teachers utili zed flexible grouping patterns where they varied their questions, feedback, pacing, and support as well as the amount of instruction provided They also developed personalized learning goals with their students ; helped their students choose appropriate reading materia l ; capitalized on peer support and encouragement; ; and used physical cues for differentiating the teaching of reading. Furthermore, their choice of materials included eeds, and of high interest. In

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154 essence, the nature of their differentiated reading instruction was fluid and dependent upon their ongoing analysis of student assessment data. Discussion Two of the influential decision making factors in this study, teaching philosophy and teaching context, are consistent with previous research. F or the past thirty five teaching and learning and their teaching context on reading instruction (e .g., Bawden et al., 1979; Borko & Niles, 1982; Davis & Wilson, 1999; Doyle, 1977; Duffy & McIntyre, 1980; Fogarty et al., 1983; Howard, 1988; Jackson, 1968; Livingston & Borko, 1990; Peterson & Comeaux, 1984 ; Rupley & Logan, 1985). Of these studies, some have specifically investigated expert teachers of readin g (e.g., Putnam & Duffy, 1983). According to Clark and Yinger (1977), decisions and actions stem from theories about how instruction should be implemented. The ex philosophies about reading instruction were the result of experiences from within and outside their school environment. Similar to other scholarly work, national, state and local policies (Norman, 2008; Schulz, 2005), student information ( Borko et al., 1981; Buike, 1980 ), and past professional learning opportunities with colleagues (Solic, 2011) practices. Additionally, the role of the principal grea tly influence d what and how instructional approaches were implemented (Bentley, 2007; Concannon Gibney & Murphy, 2012; Hoppey & McLeskey, 2010 ). T he principal wide initiatives TIDE and individual student goal sheets, in the Title I school served as structures for differentiated instruction.

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155 Findings also support and add to current research on the nature of differentiated instruction (Tomlinson, 1995, 2002, 2011) According to Tomlinson (1995), teachers should differentiate content, processes and p Readiness level refers to the knowledge, experience, and skills students bring to a particular learning situation, which is i nfluenced by previous life experiences as well as their attitudes about school The four teachers tailored reading instruction according to reading level, background kn owledge, reading skill knowledge and academic identity. Although two of the elements, background knowledge and reading skill knowledge, are identity have not been ident ified as factors to consider in differentiation decisions. in their differentiation decisions was not surprising. The role of and researchers to consider. The exemplary reading teachers were equally concerned se of themselves as students and their attachment to school as they were about their reading achievement. Because they believed that a positive academic identity was related to academic achievement, they considered this factor in their decisions about diff erentiating reading instruction. Information teachers use to guide decision making shed light on additional elements that need special consideration for upper elementary school classrooms,

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156 specifically. Connor and colleagues (Connor, Morrison, & Katch, 200 4; Connor, Morrison & Petrella, 2004; Connor et al., 2011) reported that differentiating reading vocabulary, comprehension, and word reading ), and interests should determine the amount an d instructional preferences for learning content. While research has found flexible grouping patterns are present in effective Taylor et al., 1999, 2000 ), new insights have been revealed about how differentiated instruction is enacted. The exemplary teachers tailor ed instruction b y varying the amount and pacing of instruction as well as the questions and feedback for individuals and groups They also engag ed in physical cues, solicited peer support and encouragement, consider gender, guid ed book selections, and develop e d personal learning goals. Establishing structures and routines was crucial for allowing these differentiated practices to occur (Connor et al., under review; Sousa & Tomlinson, 2011), and authentic literature was the material of choice. Finally, t he findi ngs add to the growing body of evidence noting the influences on Research on expert teachers (Putnam, 1984; Putnam & Duffy, 1984) has documented ongoing data collection, synthesis and decision making based on s tudent data thr oughout the year. However, the types of assessments valued by exemplary teachers have been noted less frequently. The exemplary teachers utilized a variety of formal, informal and organic reading assessments. O rganic forms of

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157 ere valued the most for making decisions about adjusting instruction. The teachers listened to, observed and conversed with children resulting in high levels of reading ach ievement, as identified by formal, informal and organic forms of assessment. As a result, teachers could accomplish their goals: to instill a love of reading and equip students with the knowledge and skills to be successful in future grade levels and life beyond school. Implications for Reading Education In this study, exemplary teachers of reading conducted ongoing assessments of their students in order to determine the content, processes, and products of reading instruction. Their teaching philosophies and teaching contexts shaped assessment choice. The information gathered allowed the teachers to be responsive to and flexible in addressing the needs of their students, using authentic literature to do so. Therefore, providing instructional support systems to assist teachers of all experience levels in engaging in the differentiation proc ess may help them be more effective teachers of reading. For instance teachers may benefit from organizational systems or charts that would help them identify areas of need using multiple assessment s Teachers may also benefit from established school wide structures For example, each grade level can collaborate to identify grade level needs and group students so that each teacher takes a group for targeted instruction daily. Developing systems and structures is important because many teachers report the c hallenges they face in attempting to accommodat e students who struggle the most in learning to read (Baumann, Hoffman, Duffy H ester, & Ro, 2000).

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158 Further, teachers need professional learning opportunities to support the differentiation process where studen decisions By collaborating with colleagues reading proficiency. Perhaps J i nkins ( 200 1) study can serve as a model of how to engage teachers in professional developm ent focused on data driven decision making. Using an assessment driven instruction al model teachers were taught the reading/writing processes and connections between achievement and instruction based on assessment. After twelve weeks of implementing this teaching/learning cycle, student behaviors, attitudes and writing skills improved, and seven of the nine students for whom data w ere students obtaining the rowth. This suggests that when teachers understand and use data to make informed instructional decisions based on P roviding powerful professional learning experiences for teachers can increa achievement (Sailors & Price, 2010; Hilden & Pressley, 2007) and reinforce the use of good instructional practices for differentiation. As teachers see changes in their ( Guskey, 2002). R esearch has also shown that teachers are always in need of resources, such as materials and literature, to support classroom instruction (Boggs & Szabo, 2009; Hilden & Pressley, 2007; Lee, Hart, Cuevas, & Enders, 2004). This was also found to be the T hey were unhappy with the scarcity of high quality, high interest and developmentally appropriate literature to support their

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159 differentiated reading practices. Books on a variety of levels and topics w ere key to their success ful instruction ; yet, they had limited access to them. To alleviate this issue, schools should ensure teachers have well stocked classroom libraries. McGill Franzen, Allington, Yokoi and Brooks (1999) recommend teachers have at least 10 00 books in their classroom library collection. Of course, beneficial for providing teachers and students with more reading options (Neuman & Celano, 2001). Knowing money is s carce within schools, perhaps teachers could write classroom mini grants, hold school or classroom fundraisers, ask for donations from families, partner with local businesses, and/or purchase books at a reduced rate at local libraries and garage sales. Fin ally, this study has implications for teacher education programs. In addition to ensuring pre service teachers develop a comprehensive knowledge base of reading concepts and effective practices prior to entering their professional career Fairbanks et al (2010) recommend exploring four additional components. The components include a sense of belonging or professional community and identity as an educato r philosophies that drove decision making regarding assessments and reading practices. to improve his/h er reading proficiency. The researchers suggest that explicitly addressing these components alongside knowledge development in undergraduate

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160 coursework will support pre service teachers in becom ing more thoughtfully adaptive and responsive to students. Imp lications for Future Research education. While this study was conducted in one school district in the state of Florida, there is a n eed to examine exemplary teachers in different schools and states. Studying other exemplary teachers using the same criteria delineated by Palmer et al. (2005) would allow for a deeper understanding of differentiated reading instruction across a variety of contexts. Information obtained from additional studies on exemplary teachers can then be used to better support novice teachers as they begin to le arn how to differentiate instruction. Researchers may also be interested in expanding the scope of this study or closely studying certain components of the making over the course of a year may clarify Following a group or several groups of students r eceiving instruction tailored to their needs may enrich to their achievement. Researchers may want to develop a valid and reliable observation tool to capture the nature of differentiated reading instruction using the constructs discussed in the study: content, process, product and data analysis procedures. Evaluating teachers on their differentiation practices may be helpful to ensure effective practices are employ ed and support is provided when differentiation is absent or limited.

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161 Concluding Thoughts This research study contributes new insights to the reading research classrooms teaching context and analysis of data on their content, process and product decisions to tailor reading instruction. Considering the importance of these three factors and the nature of their differentiated practices can help support all teachers as they seek to tailor instruction for specific learners.

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162 APPENDIX A IRB PROTOCOL UFIRB 02 Social & Behavioral Research Protocol Submission Form This form must be typed. Send this form and the supporting documents to IRB02, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611. Should you have questions about completing this form, call 352 392 0433. Title of Protocol: Examining the Decisions and Practices of Exemplary 4 th and 5 th Grade Teachers When Differentiating Reading Instruction Principal Investigator: Andrea Thoermer UFID #: Degree / Title: UF Doctoral Candidate Mailing Address: ( If on campus include PO Box address ): PO Box 117050 Gainesville, FL 32611 7050 Email : Department: School of Teaching and Learning Telephone #: Co Investigator(s): UFID#: Email: Supervisor (If PI is student) : Dr. Elizabeth Bondy UFID# : Degree / Title: Ph.D./ P rofessor and Director Mailing Address: ( If on campus include PO Box address ): 2423 D Norman Hall PO Box 117048 Gainesville FL 32611 Email : Department: School of Teaching and Learning Telephone #: Date of Proposed Research: 4/28/13 4/28/14 Source of Funding (A copy of the grant proposal must be submitted with this protocol if funding is involved): Personal funds

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163 Scientific Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this study is t o describe the decisions and practices of exemplary 4 th and 5 th differentiated reading instruction. Describe the Research Methodology in Non Technical Language: (Explain what will be done with or to the research participant.) Participants will be three fourth and fifth grade teachers. Teacher participants will be asked to participate in four semi structured interviews that will be conducted at the school by the principal investigator. Semi structured interviews will last up to 60 minutes. Interviews will also be audio recorded and transcribed. See interview guide s attached. All identifiers will be removed from interview transcripts and each interview participant will be assigned a pseudonym. Data and findings will not be linked observed using running field notes. Student work and discussion will not be recorded. Field notes will document any additi onal information that may be rel evant to the research quest ions. Describe Potential Benefits: This study will provide insight into how exemplary 4 th and 5 th grade teachers make decisions when differentiating their reading instruction to meet the needs of their diverse learners. The findings from this study can promote discussions about professional development opportunities and instructional supports that might be needed to help teachers more effectively teach reading for low average and high achieving students. Describe Potential Risks: ( If risk of physical, psychological or economic harm may be involved, describe the steps taken to protect participant.) No more than minim al risks are anticipated. Describe How Participant(s) Will Be Recruited: Three exemplary teachers from grades four and five in the state of Florida will be nominated by the district language arts coordinator based on set criteria. Selected participants will be informed of the study and asked to sign a consent form (see below). The principal investigator will then establish a time to meet with the participants to conduct the initial interview. Participants have to be full time, practicing fourth and fifth grade teachers. No monetary compensation will be provided to teachers who agree to participate in this study. Maximum Number of Participants (to be approached with consent) 5 teachers Age Range of Participants: 20 70 years Amount of Compensation/ course credit: n/a Describe the Informed Consent Process. (Attach a Copy of the Informed Consent Document See http://irb.ufl.edu/irb02/samples.html for examples of consent.) Exemplary teachers will be nominated by the district language arts coordinator and then provided information on the logistics of the study. Teachers will be reminded that participation is voluntary and that their names will not be

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164 associated with any data collected in the study. They will be provided an informed consent letter, which is attached. (SIGNATURE SECTION) Principal Investigator(s) Signature: Date: Co Investigator(s) Signature(s): Date: Date: Department Chair Signature: Date:

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165 APPENDIX B INFORMED CONSENT LETTER Dear Teachers, Date: ___ ____________________ I am a doctoral student in the School of Teaching and Learning at the University of Florida and would like to invite you to participate in a research study, Examining the Decisions and Practices of Exemplar y 4 th and 5 th Grade Teachers When Differentiating Reading Instruction. This study will explore what factors teachers take into account when making decisions to differentiate reading practices in the classroom. Teachers will participate in four interviews and be observed three times during the Language Arts block If you agree to participate in this study, I will interview and observe your teachi ng practices in reading on three separate occasions during your literacy block. Each interview should take no l onger than 60 minutes. The observations will be scheduled in advance at a time convenient for you. During observations, I will take notes on your instructional practices in reading and then follow up with an interview about what I observed in order to obta in further clarity about your practices and decisions Your name will be coded with a pseudonym or number for confidentiality. No identifying information about you or your school site will be used in any written or oral report. All observation data will r emain confidential to the extent provided by law and will only be discussed wi th the individual participant. There are no direct benefits to you for participating in the study. However, y ou will receive a gift card for your willingness to be involved T here will be no risks for your participation. The observations will not disrupt the learn ing process in your classroom. Yo ur participation is voluntary, and y ou have the right to withdraw your consent without consequences at any time during the study. I am willing to discuss this study with you at any time and will answer any questions. At the completion of the study, I would like to discuss the findings with you. I would then like to share the results of the study with others interested in read ing instruct ion. A copy of the results from this study will be made available to you, should you request it. If you have questions, please contact Dr. Elizabeth Bondy at 2423 D Norman Hall PO Box 117048, Gainesville, FL 32611 or Andrea Thoermer at 1403 Norman Hall, PO Bo x 117050, Gainesville, FL 32611 Please direct any questions or concerns about research participants/rights to UFIRB Office, PO Box 112250, Gainesville, FL 32611 2250; phone (352) 392 0433. Sincerely, Dr. Elizabeth Bondy Andrea Thoermer

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166 I have rea d the procedure describe of Exemplary 4 th and 5 th study. I voluntarily agree to participate in the study and have received an explanation of the stu dy. ______________________________ ________ _________ _________ ______ Signature of participant Date ________________________________ ______________________________ __ Print Name Please provide your daily email contact information (e.g. jdoe@ps.edu ). Thank you. Email address: _____________________________________ ______ ____ ____

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167 APPENDIX C INITIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE In this interview I want to talk to you about how you differentiate reading instruction. 1. Please tell me about your background as a teacher (grade level teaching experience at different locations both current and past). a. What training did you complete to become a teacher? Tell me about your training experience (e.g., teache r preparation program or other alternative routes). i. What experiences were most and least beneficial in preparing you for the classroom? Why? ii. Tell me about your preparation to teach reading. How well prepared were you? 2. instruction look like in your classroom? a. What instructional resources/approaches/methods do you use? b. How much time do you spend teaching reading? 3. Tell me about your classroom learning environment. a. Tell me how you manage and organize your language arts block. i. What factors impact your decisions about managing and organizing the language arts block? b. Talk to me about your relationship with your students. Is your relationship with them related to your d ifferentiation of reading instruction? If so, how? c. What is important about your learning environment as it is related to your reading instruction? 4. Can you please tell me about the characteristics/attributes of the students you are currently teaching at thi s time in the school year? How are they similar to one another? Different from one another? a. Can you please elaborate on these characteristics in terms of reading? b. beginning of the year? Middle of the year? c. How did you come to these conclusions? 5. a. What practices do you use? Group learning structures? Content coverage? i. What factors impact these decisions? (e.g., past experiences, literacy coaches, administration, curriculum, basal readers, colleagues, professional literature, professional development, policy, assessment, etc.) ii. Please talk to me about any additional factors that influence your decision making when differentiating reading instruction.

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168 iii. What is the most influential decision making factor concerning differentiated reading instruction? Could you tell me more about why that factor is so influential? b. average, and above average readers. 6. a. What challenges to you face? b. What strengths do you have that assist you in differentiating reading instruction? 7. How do you know if a stud ent is improving or having difficulties improving his or her reading proficiency? a. Please provide an example of each situation and the decisions you made to support student learning. 8. Tell me more about planning reading instruction that is tailored to each needs. 9. Tell me about your reading instruction during a typical week. In particular, I'm curious about ways you differentiated instruction. How did you decide to differentiate in this manner? 10. You just finished telling me about your current practices and decisions when differentiating reading instruction. Now tell me about how you learned to differentiate reading instruction for students with varying needs. 11. One policy initiative impacting reading instruction is the Response to Intervention (RtI) multi tiered instructional framework. Talk to me about RtI and how it has impacted your reading instruction. 12. kinds of things has your school or district been doing to help teachers imp rove reading instruction, specifically, concerning differentiated instruction? a. Have some of these opportunities been more effective than others? Please explain. b. How has your reading knowledge and instruction been affected by these opportunities? c. Are there other things you think your school or district should do to help teachers strengthen their reading instruction? 13. What questions do you have about differentiating reading instruction? 14. What else would you like to tell me about differentiating reading instruct ion that I Thank you for your time.

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169 APPENDIX D PARTIAL INTERVIEW GUIDE FOR INTERVIEWS 2, 3, AND 4 Partial Interview Guide for Interviews 2, 3, and 4 (specific questions will emerge responses to previous interview questions): At this time, I want to ask you a few questions about what I observed today. 1. Did you differentiate reading instruction today? Tell me about it. 2. I noticed that you often {name a teaching practice related to differentiated reading instruction}. Tell me about this. How did you decide to do this with your students? 3. I also noticed that you used {name the instructional resource} during your reading instruction. Can you tell me why you decided to use this? Have yo u always used these resources? If not, what other resources have you used to teach reading?

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170 APPENDIX E FIELD NOTES SAMPLE Practices Observed on 5/17/13 Time Questions Classroom Layout o Tables, classroom library of leveled books and books organized by themes, chair and area for mini lessons, bulletin boards (empty because of FCAT); Classroom management poster; student work, computer station, books on display on board, schedule listed, Ca me in from recess and picked up folders to go to assigned subject area class; quiet, followed directions, formed two lines New class arrived quietly, sat down in seat, got their homework for the evening and sat on the floor in front of white screen in fron t of classroom. Teacher attended to clerical items. Count down to be ready for work. Introduced self to class. Vocabulary Instruction On screen, the teacher displayed pictures of items and the students had to write down the word that described the pictu re (x ray of hand know what it was. Second picture (tetrahedron polychromatic/polyhedron). Students referred back to vocabulary notes for definitions and students had to explain which word would be the best for the pictures (Polychromatic) because it was displayed in color and usually pictures are in black and white. Asked Madison to think aloud her thoughts WHY MADISON? IS SHE A STRUGGLING STUDENT? Students discu ssed next root word study. Another student noticed a root of a word (Bon in bonjour) that was studied in October. Teacher to think about why certain pictures were associated with the vocabulary words (e.g., polyclinic). Redirected students if answers were not adequately provided. Chart work/Learning Goals for Week and Day Teacher asked how students will prepare and study f or the vocabulary test later this week. Each student wrote down his/her own action plan. Students participated in a mix pair share activity. Third goal predicting deeply (using the text and background knowledge; proof from the text for choice in predicti on); teacher reviewed point of view; figurative language. New chart displayed with two columns: 1) What are the characters saying and doing and 2) My Prediction. Read Aloud poem No questioning during reading? Think Aloud/Comprehensio n Strategy focus Teacher models how to do the prediction activity and asks students to get ready to participate later. First column Mom and Dad love him/her more. Second column jealousy (Connected to own experience growing up with brothers and sister s). Also predicted that jealously may result in fighting. Student reminded the teacher that she forgot to read the title and so the teacher went back and introduced the book, which is an important aspect of the predicting strategy. Turn and Talk activity used to discuss new vocabulary word (errands). Students Turn to Practice Prediction Strategy The teacher provided a question to the students and they had to predict what will happen based on the question. Students have to use story clues to support the ir prediction. Independent Reading Time students have to write down a prediction and the proof for their predictions. Reviewed independent reading expectations. Teacher conferenced with a student to increase his fluency skills while the remaining class g rabbed their container of leveled books to read and practice the prediction strategy. The first conference lasted for five minutes. Teacher met with a nother student for five minutes, and then a third student for five students. 10 10:20 10:20 10:40 10:40 10:45 10:45 11:05 11:05 11:09 11:09 11:2 5 How did you decide which students to choose to provide answers to your questions or think alouds during whole group instruction for vocabulary and the predicting strategy? (see notes on Madison.) How do you attend to in your whole group reading instruction that occurred today ? In your read aloud, specifically? W hat d id you do with the studen t during your one on one time? W hy did you dec ide to meet with this student? W hat did you take into consideration when decid ing to meet with this student? H ow did you decide the amount of time needed to help the student? do you tea ch similar concepts to other students? T alk to me about how you decided to help the second and third student. W hy did you choose to meet with these students, specifically? W hat influenced your decision to use the material/resources that you did with these students? How often do you meet with your autistic child? What modifications do you make to differentiate your instruction for her? Where do your children sit in the classroom? How have you grouped them at the tables? Please explain their place in the r oom and your decisions for having them sit in those seats.

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171 APPENDIX F MEMOING SAMPLE 5.30.13 Nature of DI Anna Questions Still trying to look at all the intricacies of DI and stay focused on how this is similar to other teachers? opportunity for choice (e.g., books for book clubs and book projects to demonstrate understanding). She also looks at the different skill le vels of students because she works on a daily basis with her lowest performing students. Reading levels are also used to ensure students are matched with texts on their instructional level. What else is Instruction must be very diverse because class has very diverse needs. Four Blocks Model which incorporates whole group to teach reading strategies, vocabulary using attention grabber and getting students excited followed with reading response journal/graphic organizer and then into small group instruction and independent reading time either reading alone, in pairs, small groups or in books clubs. Chooses to use stations (book clubs, word study groups, research groups) over Caf five a nd whole group instruction for 30 minutes very flexible groups Listening center ensures reading on their level followed with comprehension questions or activities. Students given choice on reading selections Love to purchase high interest books Integr ating LA instruction with Social studies big unit on government/presidents (136 141, int. 1) Using literature to teach character development/health/social skills because issue with bullying in class and it tied in with standards (143 145, int. 1) Uses a lot of journal writing and dislikes workbooks Student centered room reinforces co ownership of the room. Very comfortable; safe for students to make mistakes; no teacher desk; sharing of teacher items (pens, etc.); still have consequences though; children receive dollars for good character school wide character building initiative (170 182 int. 1) Holding high expectations and accountability so things run smoothly by getting student buy in/interest so behavior issues are less uses team building and team accountability to receive points; a lot of rewards and praises; marble jars/candy for good behavior (190 200, int. 1) Assigning seats every 2 3 weeks mixing things up; allowing student choice at certain times and students sit next to people who hold them accountable and work well with; placing well behaved kids next to poorly behaved kids. Seating gifted together. Providing reading incentives for students temperature gauge, AR, etc. students wanted a Readapaloosa. Teaching words through phys ical movement and word building activities (teaching 5 words a day and putting on word wall) Students talk about how much they love using

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172 the word games to strengthen their vocabulary knowledge. Explicitly teaching high frequency words, polysyllabic word s and testing words Believing students need to know where they are and where they are going being self sufficient and aware of strengths and weaknesses. Using AR quizzes to gauge student understanding of book, but only used as one tool. 6.13.13 Fact ors Assessments Questions How else can I think about this factor?? What are the commonalities among teachers? It is apparent that the teachers use many kinds of assessments throughout the year. Some are used more than others and at particular times of the year. The information gathered from these assessments provide a baseline for carrying out instruction. Based o n their responses, informal reading inventories such as the Burns & Roe Inventory and the Developmental Reading Assessment (DRA) are the most popular forms of IRIs used. The teachers also talk a lot about how they watch or observe their students in differe nt reading situations to give them information regarding their interests and how they interact with texts independently and in a variety of group settings. While not as important as listening to students, information from informal skills tests also provide information about students understanding in these skills. The teachers know that students are expected to take standardized tests before exiting the grade level and teachers te nd to rely on the skills test more than others. Interest inventories were other assessments of choice for the beginning of the year so they could choose books that One teacher about themselve their help and continually relies on their support all year long. The teachers also utilize man y other assessments. Assessments are constantly occurring day in and day out. Two teachers have their students take the STAR reading test to determine if their reading level has increased or stagnated. They still focus most of their time on observing and conversing with children. One teacher uses a data meeting with them during her one on one conferences. Another teacher keeps samples of student work in individual files, making sure to document increases in student confidence levels. Three teachers also use a data notebook for each student and the student also has input. The teachers conference with the students about these data

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173 notebooks and together develop learning goal s that would be most appropriate. Cold reads are also popular with two teachers and all teachers are required to administer the district formative tests every nine weeks, but only three really talked about how important it was when making instructional de cisions. One teacher, in particular, even supplemented the district formative tests with additional state developed skill tests, but was quick to mention that these were only given every two to three weeks. To her, teaching reading involved using authentic literature. These same sentiments aligned with the other teachers. Another teacher used AR quizzes and class. in order to determine commonalities. While do already see some apparent ones, a closer look at each teacher can provide more clarity to the role of assessments in their differentiated reading instruction.

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174 APPENDIX G OPEN CODING SAMPLE

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178 APPENDIX H FOCUSED CODING SAMPLE

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179 APPENDIX I THEORETICAL MODEL

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180 LIST OF REFERENCES Afflerbach, P. (Ed.). (2010). Essential readings on assessment. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Allington, R. L., & Johnston, P. H. (2001). What do we know about effective fourth grade teachers and their classrooms? In C. Roller (Ed.), Learning to teach reading: Setting the research agenda ( pp. 150 165 ) Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Allington, R. L., & McGill Franzen. A., (2009). Comprehension difficulties among struggling readers. In S. E. Israel & G. G. Duffy (Eds.), Handbook of research on reading comprehension (pp. 551 568). New York, NY: Taylor & Francis. Anderson, K. M. (2007) Differentiating instruction to include all students. Preventing School Failure, 51 49 54. Ankrum, J. W., & Bean, R. M. (2008). Differentiated reading instruction: What and how. Reading Horizons, 48 133 146. Annells, M. (1996). Grounded theory method: Philosophical perspectives, paradigm of inquiry, and postmodernism. Qualitative Health Research, 6, 379 393. Archambault, F. X., Westburg, K. L., Brown, S. W., Hallmark, B. W., Zhang, W., & Emmons, C. L. (1993). Classroom practice s used with gifted third and fourth grade students. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 16 103 119. Baumann, J. F. (1984). The effectiveness of a direct instruction paradigm for teaching main idea comprehension. Reading Research Quarterly, 20 93 11 5. Baumann, J. F., Hoffman, J. V., Duffy H ester, A. M., & Ro, J. M. (2000). The First R yesterday and today: U.S. elementary reading instruction practices reported by teachers and administrators. Reading Research Quarterly, 35 338 377. Baumann, J. F., Seifert Kessell, N., & Jones, L. A. (1992). Effect of think aloud Journal of Reading Behavior, 24 143 172. Bawden, R., Buike, S., & Duffy, G. (1979). An examination of classroom cont ext: Effects of lesson format and teacher training on patterns of teacher student contacts during small group instruction. An unpublished paper, Research and Development Cente r, University of Texas, Austin. Beck, C.T. (1993). Qualitative research: The eva luation of its credibility, fittingness, and auditability. Western Journal of Nursing Research, 15, 263 266.

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181 Bentley, S. A. (2007). How teachers make instructional decisions when implementing a new core reading program ( Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Block, C. C., & Pressley, M. (2007). Best practices in teaching comprehension. In L. B. Gambrell, L. M. Morrow, & M. Pressley (Eds.), Best practices in literacy instruction (3rd ed., pp. 220 242). New York: Guilfor d. Bogdan, R. C., & Biklen, S. K. (2007). Qualitative research for education: An introduction to theories and methods. (5 th ed.). New Jersey: Pe a rson Education, Inc. Boggs, M., & their classrooms. In F. Falk Ross, S. Szabo M. B. Sampson & M. M. Foote (Ed.), Literacy Issues During Changing Times: A Call to Action (Vol. 30, pp. 138 150). Arlington, TX: Col lege Reading Association Yearbook. Borg, S. (2006). Teacher c ognition and language education: Research and practice. London: Continuum. and decisions about grouping students for reading instruction. Journal of Reading Behavior, 14 (2), 127 140. of reading instruction. Reading Research Quarterly, 16 449 466. Boudett, K. P., Murna ne, R. J., City, E., & Moody, L. (2005). Teaching educators how to use student assessment data to improve instruction. Phi Delta Kappan, 86 700 706. Brantliner, E., Jimenez, R., Klingner, J., Pugach, M., & Richardson, V. (2005). Qualitative studies in sp ecial education Exceptional Children, 71 195 207. Brophy, J. & Good, T.L. (1986). Teacher behavior and student achievement. In M.C. Wittrock (Ed.), Handbook of Research on Teaching (pp. 328 3). New York: Macmillan. Bryant, A., & Charmaz, K. (2007a). Gr ounded theory research: Methods and practices. In A. Bryant and K. Charmaz (Eds.), The Sage handbook of grounded theory (pp. 1 28). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Ltd. Bryant, A., & Charmaz K., (2007b). Grounded theory in historical perspective: An epistemological account. In A. Bryant and K. Charmaz (Eds.), The Sage handbook of grounded theory (pp. 31 57). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Ltd.

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182 Buike, S. (1980). Teacher decision making in reading instruction. Research Series No. 79, Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University. Chapman, C., & King, R. (2005). Eleven practical ways to guide teachers toward differentiation. Journal of Staff Development, 26 20 25. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative research. Thousand Oa ks, CA: Sage Publications, Ltd. Social Science and Medicine, 30, 1161 11 72 Charmaz, K., & Belgrave, L.L. (2012). Qualitative interviewing and grounded theory analysis. In K. D. McKinney, J. A. Holstein, A. B. Marvasti, and J. F. Gubrium (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of interview research: The complexity of the craft (pp. 347 365 ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Charmaz, K., & Mitchell, R. G. (1996). The myth of silent authorship: Self, substance, and style in ethnographic writing. Symbolic Interaction, 19 285 302. Chiovitti, R. F., & Piran, N. (2003). Rigor and gro unded theory research. Journal of Nursing, 44 427 435. Clark, V. P., & Creswell, J. W. (2010). London: Pearson Education, Inc. Clark, C. M. & Peterson, P. L. (1984). Research Seri es No. 72. Institute for Research on Teaching, Michigan State University. Clark, C. M., Yinger, R. J. (1977). Research on teacher thinking. Curriculum Inquiry, 7 279 304. Clarke, A. (2003). Situational analysis: Grounded theory mapping after the post modern turn. Symbolic Interaction, 26 553 576. Clarke, A. (2005). Situational analysis: Grounded theory after the postmodern turn Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Cimi nelli, M. R. (2010). Teacher decision making in reading instruction with choices and mandates. (Doctoral dissertation). Available from ProQuest Dissertations and Theses database. ( UMI No. 3440280 ) Coburn, C. E., Pearson, P. D., & Woulfin, S. (2011). Reading policy in the era of accountability. In M. L. Kamil, P. D. Pearson, E. B. Moje, & P. P. Afflerbach (Eds.), Handbook of Reading Research (4 th ed., pp. 561 593). New York: Routlege.

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196 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Andrea Lauren Thoermer is from Ohio, and is one of four children of Mike and Catherine Kauffman. She received her PhD in Curriculum and Instruction with specializa tions in Reading Education and Curriculum, Teaching and Teacher Education from the School of Teaching and Learning of the College of Education at the University of Florida in the fall of 2013 Andrea spent her formative years in Smithville, Ohio. She gradu ated from Smithville High School in June 1999. She subsequently earned a Bachelor of Arts d egree in Elementary and Deaf Education from Flagler College, and graduate d with Honors in April 2003. Upon graduating, she accepted a third grade teaching position i n Ponte Vedra, Florida at Ocean Palms Elementary where she taught for seven years. She spent the last two years of her teaching career literacy from the University of North Florida and also attained National Board Certificat ion. In August 2010, she began the PhD program at the Univ ersity of Florida. Andrea is a peer reviewed published author in the field of Reading Education, having a practitioner oriented article published in The Reading Teacher, a book review in Critical Teachers in Teacher Education and several other articles in preparation and under review She has presented her scholarship at numerous local, state, national and international conferences, including the International Reading Association, Association of T eacher Educators Conference, and Literacy Research Association Conference. While in the doctoral program at the University of Florida, she taught eight different online and face to face courses for her department in reading education. Andrea is married to Jim Thoermer, and has accepted a position as a coordinator in the Office of Student Learning with a non profit organization, Step Up for Students In

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197 the organization, she provides professional development to private schools in Northeast Florida She also teaches several literacy courses as an adjunct instructor at the University of North Florida and Jacksonville University, both located in Jacksonville, Florida.