Collaborating for Convergence: Instructional Interventions for Children's Reading of Expository Text
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There are mounting concerns to ensure that children are prepared for the literacy demands of the 21st century. Reading inability at 9 years of age portends a lifetime of illiteracy for the majority of struggling readers. Given the greater weight placed on expository text from the junior grades onwards, children with reading disabilities become increasingly constrained by their reading deficits, putting them at risk of falling ever further behind their normally achieving peers. This ethnographic study, extending over an 8 month period and finishing on the last day of the school year, targeted older poor readers at the junior level. Less is known about their reading deficits, relative to younger struggling readers. Therefore, the first of three principal objectives aimed to extend understanding of the processes whereby older poor readers interact with expository text by providing a qualitative finer-grained assessment of their particular difficulties than presently exists. The second objective was focused on developing and implementing a cohesive program of research-based interventions that targeted critical requirements of successful interactions with expository text, including the ability to summarize, locate information, and attend to text structure. The third objective involved establishing and describing a collaborative, intensive research partnership with two classroom teachers at the junior level to implement and evaluate research-grounded interventions for their students with reading difficulties, working within the context of the regular classroom. The dual researcher role, as collaborator with the teachers and instigator of the intervention program, shaped a reconfigured model of special education, responsive to a diverse range of student needs and abilities, and situated within a content-rich, challenging curriculum. Parallel lessons afforded the opportunity to tier instruction with increasing intensity for the children with the highest needs. Results showed the critical importance of aggressively promoting self-efficacy, self-regulation, and metacognitve awareness for older struggling readers. As these children’s strategic repertoire increased, so, too, did their comprehension and comprehension-monitoring. Differentiated instruction that was tiered, flexible, and responsive supported social inclusion and social collaboration. Social context and authentic content became interwoven and instrumental in engaging the children, maintaining their motivation and sustaining their commitment to read to learn.