Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Reading aloud: Constructing literacy in an early childhood classroom
by Loysen, Jeanne Reeners, Ed.D., University of Rochester, 2010, 296; 3430512
Abstract (Summary)

Imagine an active happily engaged, communicative, curious group of four-year-old children investigating and discovering as they play together in an early childhood classroom. Imagine yet again, the teacher beckoning them to gather on the rug to listen to a story. What happens next? Are the children allowed to continue in this curiosity-seeking, meaning-making mode before, during and after the read aloud session? Or, are the children silenced physically, socially and cognitively as they sit upright, listen to the teacher read a story from beginning to end with no participatory dialogue? Both of these scenarios exist in present-day early childhood classrooms. This study examines how the read aloud event is utilized to its maximum potential considering all its variables.

This study was designed to investigate the practices of a Master's level teacher and how she uses scaffolding and mediational strategies before, during and after reading aloud to a group of four-year-old children. These children participate in a half-day Reggio-inspired early childhood classroom in a private school, along with a teacher and teacher-assistant. I spent three weeks in the classroom as a participant observer.

Using one major question as a guideline, I then looked at what specific scaffolding and mediational techniques were used by the classroom teacher to promote socially constructed dialogue. I looked at several variables inherent in reading aloud, allotment of sufficient time during the day, size of the read aloud group, whether the teacher allowed dialogue, and whether the book was read more than once, and coupled these to assess the scaffolding and mediational techniques used by the teacher.

Data was collected from multiple sources. These included: daily observations, reflective journal, audiotapes of the stories, transcriptions of the audiotapes, photographs of the classroom, formal and informal teacher interviews, child focus groups, child and teacher co-produced webs and charts, the parent handbook, and a re-visit to the classroom. I used qualitative observational case study research methods to collect and analyze the data. This data allowed me to code the data according to emerging themes and categories.

I used Vygotsky's Social Learning Theory as the lens through which to focus this research study. Using selected parts of this theory, the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD), scaffolding and mediation, I was able to ascertain how this theory can be applied to reading aloud in an early childhood classroom. Application of the theory was evident when several children re-told a familiar story, when the children replicated animal habitats on a wall mural, and when the children worked collaboratively to reconstruct a local farm market in the classroom.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Hursh, David
School: University of Rochester
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-A 71/12, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Early childhood education, Teacher education, Curriculum development
Keywords: Early childhood, Literacy, Reading aloud, Reggio Emilia
Publication Number: 3430512
ISBN: 9781124303352
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