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REL Midwest Ask A REL Response

Literacy

February 2019

Question:

What research is available on evidence-based practices on in-class reading practices and providing diverse reading material for students in grades 6–12?



Response:

Following an established Regional Educational Laboratory (REL) Midwest protocol, we conducted a search for research reports and descriptive studies on in-class reading practices for grades 6–12. In particular, we focused on identifying resources related to diverse reading materials, multimodal text and independent in-class reading time. For details on the databases and sources, keywords, and selection criteria used to create this response, please see the Methods section at the end of this memo.

Below, we share a sampling of the publicly accessible resources on this topic. References are listed in alphabetical order, not necessarily in order of relevance. The search conducted is not comprehensive; other relevant references and resources may exist. For each reference, we provide an abstract, excerpt, or summary written by the study’s author or publisher. We have not evaluated the quality of these references, but provide them for your information only.

Research References

Albright, L. K., & Ariail, M. (2005). Tapping the potential of teacher read-alouds in middle schools. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(7), 582–591. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ684330

From the ERIC abstract: “Many educators recommend reading aloud to students, but little is known about the nature of teacher read-aloud practices beyond elementary school. This article describes a survey of 141 middle school teachers in one U.S. school district. Eighty-six percent of the teachers reported reading aloud to their students; however, teachers defined reading aloud in a variety of ways, including reading announcements and instructions. Many of the reasons teachers gave for reading aloud (e.g., modeling, making texts accessible, supporting comprehension, reinforcing content) were supported by research. The preponderance of reasons indicated an emphasis on efferent purposes for reading, which emphasize learning information from text. Teachers most often read aloud chapter books and textbooks; few mentioned nonfiction books, picture books, newspapers, or magazines. The most common reason teachers gave for not reading aloud was that it was inappropriate for their subject area, and several indicated that they never thought about reading aloud. The authors suggest an increased emphasis on helping teachers become aware of the multiple benefits and purposes of reading aloud and offer practical suggestions for finding texts and implementing read-alouds in all subject areas.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Christenbury, L., Bomer, R., & Smagorinsky, P. (Eds.). (2009). Handbook of adolescent literacy research. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED516429

From the ERIC abstract: “The first comprehensive research handbook of its kind, this volume showcases innovative approaches to understanding adolescent literacy learning in a variety of settings. Distinguished contributors examine how well adolescents are served by current instructional practices and highlight ways to translate research findings more effectively into sound teaching and policymaking. The book explores social and cultural factors in adolescents’ approach to communication and response to instruction, and sections address literacy both in and out of schools, including literacy expectations in the contemporary workplace. Detailed attention is given to issues of diversity and individual differences among learners.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Fisher, D., Flood, J., Lapp, D., & Frey, N. (2004). Interactive read-alouds: Is there a common set of implementation practices?. The Reading Teacher, 58(1), 8–17. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ684368

From the ERIC abstract: “Read-alouds are a common component of literacy instruction. However, research on the method for providing read-alouds is limited. To determine if there was a common set of implementation practices, the authors examined the read-aloud practices of 25 teachers who were nominated by their administrators as experts. From these data, the authors identified several factors common to read-alouds. The authors then observed 100 additional teachers to determine how common each of these factors were in read-alouds.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Gabriel, R., Allington, R., & Billen, M. (2012). Middle schoolers and magazines: What teachers can learn from students’ leisure reading habits. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 85(5), 186–191. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ974030

From the ERIC abstract: “Teachers, parents, and librarians are constantly looking for methods and materials that engage students as readers and motivate them to increase the time they spend reading. In this article we describe findings from a study of middle schoolers’ magazine reading habits that gave us a close look at the power of magazines as supplemental supports for struggling and reluctant readers as well as the specific reasons students gravitate toward magazines for leisure reading. We provide suggestions for the ways in which classroom teachers can leverage student interest in magazine reading to increase independent reading in school, and validate students’ out of school literacies.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Lenski, S., & Lewis, J. (Eds.). (2008). Reading success for struggling adolescent learners. Solving problems in the teaching of literacy. New York, NY: Guilford Press. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=ED501175

From the ERIC abstract: “This volume discusses factors that affect struggling readers in grades 7-12 and provides research-based strategies for improving their reading and writing skills. Chapters examine why some adolescents have trouble achieving reading proficiency, describe school-wide policies and programs that support literacy, and suggest age-appropriate classroom practices for promoting reading success. The book shows how literacy skills and strategies can be incorporated into instruction in all areas of the curriculum. Essential topics include assessment; building core competencies, such as fluency, comprehension, and vocabulary; and working with struggling adolescent English language learners. The book is designed for use by middle and high school teachers, literacy coaches, reading specialists and teacher educators, and may also serve as a text in advanced undergraduate or graduate-level courses in adolescent literacy.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Little, C. A., McCoach, D. B., & Reis, S. M. (2014). Effects of differentiated reading instruction on student achievement in middle school. Journal of Advanced Academics, 25(4), 384–402. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1043639

From the ERIC abstract: “Reading instruction often does not focus on appealing to student interests, offering choice, or responding to the needs of advanced readers. In this experimental study, we examined the effects on achievement of an instructional approach involving choice, differentiated instruction, and extensive, supported, independent reading, with corresponding elimination of regular reading instruction. The study, which incorporated multi-site cluster-randomized design, was conducted in four middle schools with 2,150 students and 47 teachers. Pretest and posttest data were collected on reading fluency and comprehension, with Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) procedures used to investigate the effects of the intervention. Results indicated similar results overall for treatment and control group students, with treatment outperforming control on reading fluency at two of the schools. The findings demonstrate that the intervention resulted in similar or higher scores for fluency and similar scores for comprehension, despite the diminished whole-group and small-group instruction provided in the intervention as compared with regular reading classes.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Mitchell, C. C. (2016). Learning from rising sixth grade readers: How Nooks shaped students’ reading behaviors during a summer independent reading initiative. Literacy Research and Instruction, 55(1), 67–90. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1090236

From the ERIC abstract: “Researchers have documented a ‘summer reading setback’ where an achievement gap between proficient and struggling readers expands during the summer. This research focuses on 20 rising sixth graders who participated in a summer independent reading initiative using Nook digital readers. Using a qualitative exploratory design and content analysis, students’ voices were recorded and analyzed to investigate how students’ reading perceptions and reported reading behaviors were shaped by participation in a summer independent reading initiative using digital readers. Important implications were generated and exemplified the following: (1) Social reading relationships were cultivated, (2) Access to texts shaped students’ reading, and (3) Nooks helped to foster reading behaviors. Most notably, 80% of the students reported a preference for digital readers. This study serves as a foundation to consider how and in what ways technology can shape students’ literacy experiences in a technologically saturated society.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Sanacore, J., & Palumbo, A. (2010). Middle school students need more opportunities to read across the curriculum. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 83(5), 180–185. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ893012

From the ERIC abstract: “Independent reading in the content areas is essential for advancing students’ literacy growth through the grades. Middle school students, in particular, profit from opportunities to engage in actual reading and, simultaneously, to be supported from an appropriate structure. Specifically, they need substantial time to read, frequent immersion in a variety of texts, easy access to balanced classroom libraries to support in-school and at-home reading, active participation in drama-based activities, and interesting contexts for learning word meanings. These and other sources of support increase the effectiveness of independent reading across the curriculum by helping middle school students not only improve their reading, but also enjoy reading as a lifetime activity.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Skerrett, A., & Warrington, A. (2017). Language arts instruction in middle and high school classrooms. In D. Lapp & D. Fisher (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Teaching the English Language Arts (pp. 410–435). New York, NY: Routledge. Retrieved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/9781317307365

From the description: “This chapter reviews the body of research on instruction in middle and secondary English language arts classrooms published since 2010 – the year preceding the publication of the last edition of this Handbook. Its goal is to review empirical classroom-based research studies so as to provide a comprehensive understanding of the range of instructional approaches implemented in middle and secondary language arts classrooms today, teachers and students’ experiences of them, and their impact on student learning. Based in the trends revealed in this review of this literature, we propose a vision of language arts instruction and research that we expect to unfold in the years to come. We offer this ‘crystal ball’ of the future of middle and secondary language arts instruction and research at the conclusion of the chapter. We begin our chapter by discussing some significant works and ideas of language arts instruction with which we frame our review.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Spiegel, A. N., McQuillan, J., Halpin, P., Matuk, C., & Diamond, J. (2013). Engaging teenagers with science through comics. Research in Science Education, 43(6), 2309–2326. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3859376/

From the introduction: “Despite many years of efforts to communicate new scientific knowledge to the public, surveys continue to suggest that many people remain uninformed about current scientific research (Miller, 2001; Miller, 2004) and fail to recognize how it can be relevant to their lives. There is continued need for investigation on improving methods for engaging people with scientific knowledge. Our goal is to contribute to efforts to disseminate emerging science knowledge by focusing on a particularly relevant science topic, viruses, and a critical age group, teenagers. Prior research suggests that many teenagers have low science achievement and/or low interest in science (Gonzalez, et al., 2008), and thus can be characterized as having low science identity. How can educators engage all teenagers, even those with low science identity? Guided by identity theory and a model of interest development, we assess one possible, unconventional approach – using comic books to convey science information. This study focuses on viruses as scientific content. First we review why knowledge of viruses is important content to disseminate, and provide evidence that the general public’s knowledge of viruses is limited. After discussing the relationship between interest and achievement in science, we describe the rationale for using comics as an educational format. We next summarize key concepts in identity theory and a model of interest development that justify comparing comic and essay formats for disseminating scientific information. We describe the study, results, and implications of our findings for efforts to engage a broad spectrum of youth with science.”

Stairs, A. J., & Burgos, S. S. (2010). The power of independent, self-selected reading in the middle grades. Middle School Journal, 41(3), 41–48. Retrieved from https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ887745

From the ERIC abstract: “Pressured to comply with state and district mandates, teachers may follow scripted, back-to-basics lessons and, as a result, feel frustrated about the assaults on their professionalism and the prevalence of ‘test-prep pedagogy.’ As they experience relentless pressure to improve test scores, teachers face a constant challenge to maintain their commitment to student-centered pedagogy. In this paper, the authors’ main argument is that, despite the aforementioned challenges, literacy educators should keep independent, self-selected reading at the center of the middle grades language arts curriculum. The authors believe that a literacy-rich classroom environment grounded in student-centered pedagogy offers possibilities for engaging all learners and encouraging them to be lifelong readers. After outlining a rationale for independent reading in a reading workshop classroom environment, they describe how these practices were enacted in an eight-grade classroom in Maine. They share students’ reactions to these practices which remind them how influential books can be when students are given opportunity to choose what they read in a classroom environment that values reading.”

Note: REL Midwest was unable to locate a link to the full-text version of this resource. Although REL Midwest tries to provide publicly available resources whenever possible, it was determined that this resource may be of interest to you. It may be found through university or public library systems.

Swan, E. A., Coddington, C. S., & Guthrie, J. T. (2010). Engaged silent reading. In E. H. Hiebert & D. R. Reutzel (Eds.), Revisiting silent reading: New directions for teachers and researchers. Newark, DE: International Reading Association. Retrieved from http://textproject.org/library/books/revisiting-silent-reading/

From the chapter: “In this chapter, we first explain our definition of engaged silent reading and how this level of silent reading significantly influences students’ amount of reading, time spent reading, and academic achievement. Second, we present the current and ongoing research that supports engaged silent reading. Third, we suggest six instructional practices that increase students’ engaged silent reading in the classroom. Fourth, we offer suggestion for future research in this area.”

Methods

Keywords and Search Strings

The following keywords and search strings were used to search the reference databases and other sources:

  • Audiobooks “high schools” “middle schools”

  • “Classroom library” “high schools” “middle schools”

  • “Independent reading” “high schools” “middle schools”

  • “Independent reading” in-class

  • “Multicultural education” reading texts

  • “Multimodal text” literacy

  • “Reading materials” “high schools” “middle schools”

Databases and Search Engines

We searched ERIC for relevant resources. ERIC is a free online library of more than 1.6 million citations of education research sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES). Additionally, we searched IES and Google Scholar.

Reference Search and Selection Criteria

When we were searching and reviewing resources, we considered the following criteria:

  • Date of the publication: References and resources published over the last 15 years, from 2004 to present, were included in the search and review.

  • Search priorities of reference sources: Search priority is given to study reports, briefs, and other documents that are published or reviewed by IES and other federal or federally funded organizations.

  • Methodology: We used the following methodological priorities/considerations in the review and selection of the references: (a) study types—randomized control trials, quasi-experiments, surveys, descriptive data analyses, literature reviews, policy briefs, and so forth, generally in this order, (b) target population, samples (e.g., representativeness of the target population, sample size, volunteered or randomly selected), study duration, and so forth, and (c) limitations, generalizability of the findings and conclusions, and so forth.
This memorandum is one in a series of quick-turnaround responses to specific questions posed by educational stakeholders in the Midwest Region (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio, Wisconsin), which is served by the Regional Educational Laboratory (REL Midwest) at American Institutes for Research. This memorandum was prepared by REL Midwest under a contract with the U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences (IES), Contract ED-IES-17-C-0007, administered by American Institutes for Research. Its content does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of IES or the U.S. Department of Education nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.