AN ETHNOGRAPHIC STUDY OF
CHILDREN'S MOTIVATIONAL ATTITUDES
TEACHER PERSPECTIVES IN CROSS-AGE READING
AMONG ELEMENTARY STUDENTS
Douglas W. Rudig
B.A., University of Illinois Chicago, 1968
M.S.T., Drake University, 1970
A thesis submitted to the
Faculty of the Graduate School of the
University of Colorado at Denver
in partial fulfillment
of the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development
1995 by Douglas W. Rudig
All rights reserved.
This thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy
Douglas W. Rudig
has been approved for the
Rudig, Douglas W. (Ph.D., Administration, Supervision, and Curriculum Development)
An Ethnographic Study of Children's Motivational Attitudes and Teacher Perspectives in
Cross-Age Reading among Elementary Students
Thesis directed by Professor Michael Murphy
The primary focus of this study was to examine the attitudes of second and fifth grade
students regarding various strategies related to cross-age reading. Within the analysis of the
data collected, consideration was directed toward the perceptions of the students compared
to those of their teachers and parents.
Approximately fifty pairs of "reading buddies" from two elementary schools in New
England participated in this eighteen week study. These "student dyads" met once or twice a
week, for approximately 60 minutes. Three stories taken from classic literature, representing
three different cultures, were read aloud using a unique concept of dual reading levels. Each
reading buddy took a turn reading his or her individual part. On one page, a fifth grader
would read the more difficult text aloud to the second grader. On the next page, a second
grader would read the less difficult text aloud to the fifth grader. In addition to the dual level
reading experience, the "buddies" completed a variety of interactive activities including; pre-
reading discussions, higher level thinking questions, writing and drawing productions, and
creative productions. The students also experienced repeated readings, and reading with a
An ethnographic approach using triangulation for data gathering was utilized. Student
interaction was observed and video taped at various stages of the study. The attitudes of
the students were surveyed through the use of questionnaires, daily journals, and participant
interviews. Information and perspectives from the teachers and parents were included in the
data gathering process.
Data gathering techniques were cross checked to verify validity. The results of this study
analyzed motivational aspects of cross-age dual level reading from the viewpoint of the
children. Insights were discovered regarding motivational strategies in cross-age reading of
elementary age students.
I. INTRODUCTION................................. 1
Statement of Problem &
Purpose of the Study........................ 4
Justification of the Study.................. 5
Research Design Overview.................... 9
Definition of Terms........................... 14
II. REVIEW OF LITERATURE.......................... 18
Whole Language................................ 20
Cross-Age Tutoring............................ 25
Read Aloud.................................... 28
Paired Reading............................... 34
Multiple Readings............................. 38
Parent Involvement............................ 41
Curriculum Considerations..................... 43
III. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODOLOGY................. 48
The Research Design Based on
Ethnographic Techniques........................ 49
Ethnographic Research Information........49
Pilot Project.................................. 54
Sampling Focus................................. 61
Data Gathering and Sampling Techniques......... 66
Recording Data and Methods of Collection....... 70
The Design of the Reading Materials............. 72
Teachers Guide................................. 73
IV. ANALYSIS OF THE DATA.............................. 97
An Overview of Student Perspectives.............98
Physical Learning Environment
for the Students......................... 99
Dual Level Learning...............101
Production and Presentation
Interactive Response Questions....110
Multiple Readings........................ 111
Parent Involvement in Reading.............113
Varied Partnership Structure..............116
Perspectives about Teacher and
Teacher Conferencing and
Analysis of Data Gathering
Student Response Journals..............130
V. CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS.........................136
1. How do children view the elements
of cross-age, dual level interactive
2. How do students view a cross-age,
dual level reading program as compared
to the teachers and parents...............139
3. Are these strategies motivating
factors in reading....................... 142
4. Should educators consider using
ethnographic research techniques for
Supplemental Conclusions..................... 149
Student Questionnaire................. 149
Student Response Journal.............. 150
Summary: Implications for Educators.......... 151
Related Assumptions................... 153
Considerations for Future Studies.... 154
Appendix A.................................. 156
Appendix B.................................. 158
Appendix C................................ 161
1.1 Example of Dual Age Reading Level
(Page 3 from Alladin)............................... 8
1.2 Graphic Organizer for Cross-Age
3.1 An Overview........................................... 75
3.2 The Reading Program.................................. 76
3.3 Graphic Organizer for CrossAge
3.4 Training............................................. 78
3.5 Conferencing Rubric.................................. 79
3.5.1 Example of Questions from Conferencing Rubric........ 81
3.6 The Three Stories.................................... 83
3.7 The Dual Level Text Format........................... 86
3.8 Book Buddy Packets:Student Guides.......................87
3.9 Step 1: Discussion................................... 88
3.10 Step 2: Initial Reading. ....................... .... 89
3.11 Step 3: Second Reading............................... 90
3.12 Step 4: Teacher Conferencing......................... 91
3.13 Step 5: Third Reading................................ 92
3.14 Step 6: Home Reading................................. 93
3.15 Step 7: Group Discussion................................ 94
4.1 Activity Examples....................................... 105
4.2 Student Response Journals............................... 134
4.3 Activities.............................................. 135
The love of reading is one of the most important gifts that teachers
and parents may give to children. Literature will provide experi-
ences that are ordinarily inaccessible to students, broaden their
knowledge of the world and its people, and improve reading skills,
such as decoding and comprehensioh. Literature is one of the basics
and should be taught in all curricular areas.
Recommended Readings in Literature
Kindergarten through Grade Eight
California State Department of Education
Through many generations, children have loved to listen to sto-
ries and have repeatedly asked, "Will you please read it again?"
Children enjoy asking questions about stories, love discussing book
characters, and long to participate in reading words for themselves.
The attitude of children toward reading is an important part of the
To many non-educators, reading aloud and interacting with chil-
dren about literature may seem like relatively simple concepts; yet,
the process is highly sophisticated. Significant research has been
conducted in the areas of whole language, reading-aloud, parental in-
volvement in reading, and cross-age companion learning. Most of this
research focuses on the impact that individual strategies have on
The main focus of this study centered on the attitudes of chil-
dren who used a combination of strategies in a classroom setting.
Rather than isolating one particular strategy and studying its im-
pact, this study looked at integrated activities in an authentic
classroom situation. In a regular classroom setting, students are ex-
posed to various reading strategies that are taught in a variety of
ways. For example, students may spend a designated amount
of time reading silently or listening to someone else read aloud. A
child might be engaged in a paired reading exercise with a classmate,
sitting in a group taking turns reading aloud, or being read to by an
older student. Another student might be filling in blanks on a work-
sheet, while someone else is connecting vocabulary words with their
meanings. Discussions about a story's setting, characters, or main
idea might be engaging other students.
By teaching varied strategies, educators attempt to meet student
needs by teaching to their learning styles. One student may be a vis-
ual learner, another student may be an auditory learner, while kines-
thetic learning may be the preferred approach for still another stu-
dent (Carbo, 1987). The intent of using a wide range of strategies
is to help all students improve their reading skills, including: vo-
cabulary, fluency, expansion of knowledge, listening skills, and com-
prehension of meaning. When considering the various learning styles
of students and the various strategies used in shared reading, we as
educators must consider the attitudes of the users. How do students
feel about these various strategies? Are some of these strategies
motivating to students?
In my years as a teacher and an administratorhaving worked
with rural farm students in Iowa, urban students in Chicago, and Na-
tive American children in ArizonaI have observed many students who
simply participate in the school's reading program to satisfy a re-
quirement. Yet, other students seem to enjoy reading and the reading
activities that are offered in the school setting. If we as educa-
tors can learn more about reading strategies that motivate children,
we can create better programs to provide positive reading opportuni-
What are the motivational attitudes of children who engage in
reading strategies that encourage them to be highly interactive and
responsible for their own learning? Just as the whole language phi-
losophy supports the learning of language through engagement
(Goodman, 1984), this study focused on students engaged in selected
reading strategies and their attitudes toward that interaction.
In selecting strategies I considered the following attributes of
effective learning that contribute to reading achievement: interac-
tive participation, communication, a variety of learning modalities,
a focus on understanding meaning, creativity, and authentic learning
experiences. Further information regarding these attributes is cited
in the Review of Literature in Chapter II.
Statement of Problem
Puroose of the Study
The purpose of this study was fourfold:
1) To investigate the motivational attitudes of students using
the following interactive reading strategies:
- dual level reading-aloud (refer to Figure 1.1.and Definition
- cross-aged companion reading;
- multiple readings;
- other activities/interactive exercises (including pre-reading
discussions, questions, higher level thinking skills,
summarizing, self-appraisal, production, and presenta-
- parental involvement (primary students only)
2) To research the following areas which relate to this study:
whole language, read aloud with cross-age reading, and the strategies
of multiple reading, and parent involvement in reading;
3) To devise an integrative method that will combine all the
identified strategies in a sequential, comprehensive manner that can
be used by students and teachers. These strategies will be incorpo-
rated with the use of classic literature. The use of classic litera-
ture in reading is cited in Chapter II.
4) To develop methods to observe and compare attitudes of stu-
dents toward the instructional strategies used by the students based
on qualitative research techniques.
In order to accomplish these purposes, the following essential
questions serve as a focus for this study.
1) How do children view the elements of cross-age interactive,
dual level reading?
2) How do children view a cross-age, dual level reading program
as compared to the teachers and parents?
3) Are these strategies motivating factors in reading?
4) Should educators consider using ethnographic techniques for
Justification of the Study
Justification for this study centers on three main points.
First, the strategies used in this study are important in the reading
process. Positive impact in reading has been cited regarding the
following individual strategies: reading aloud (Jolly, 1980; McCor-
mick, 1979; Goodman, 1984; Harste, Woodard & Burke, 1984), paired
reading (Topping, 1986a; Wheldall & Mettem, 1985; Limbrick, McNaugh-
ton, & Glynn, 1984), cross-age reading (Fogarty & Wang, 1982; Boh-
ning, 1982; Smith, 1980) parent involvement with reading aloud
(Flood, 1987; Heath, 1980; Lautenschlager & Hertz, 1984; Jett-
Simpson, 1981; Chan, 1974; Trelease, 1982). Further investigation of
these strategies may provide insights into the reading process.
Second, analyzing attitudinal information from children about
reading strategies may help define particular motivation factors. How
students feel about what they do and how they do it can help educa-
tors better define motivating programs and activities in reading. Un-
derstanding motivation in reading may help students become life-long
Third, the investigation of the dual reading level in cross-age
reading may be a significant strategy in reading motivation. I be-
lieve educators should explore new paradigms in the field of educa-
tion and stretch present knowledge. How students respond to using
these strategies and how they feel about these strategies may provide
insights into the reading process (see Figure 1.1).
In conclusion, the improvement of education and the exploration
of new paradigms are integral in the role of building administrators.
Knowledge of the reading process, curriculum structures, and new
ideas in assessment and evaluation are essential to effective educa-
tional leadership. Utilizing current research and literature to
create new learning models, working to improve the refinement of ex-
isting educational assessments or discovering how children are moti-
vated to embrace learning are necessary practices for professional
From this study I will explore interactive strategies that moti-
vate students in reading as judged from the students' point of view.
From analysis of the data gathered, I will relate emerging patterns,
inferences, suggestions, and conclusions that will assist teachers
and administrators in better motivating children in the reading proc-
Aladdin summoned the Genie, and in a few moments, the eighty
slaves anived. They filled the small house and the garden. Aladdin
ordered the slaves to march to the palace.
The Sultan couldn't believe what he was seeing. Everyone crowded
around to see the richly dressed parade of slaves carrying the golden
basins upon their heads. They entered the palace and presented the
impossible request. The Sultan, who cared for riches beyond everything
else, hesitated no more.
He told Aladdins mother, I welcome your son with
open arms. He may marry my daughter.
Figure 1.1. Example of the dual reading level (Page 3 from Aladdin)
Research Design Overview
I introduced this study in 1993 study in a suburban New England
school district. It began with an eight week pilot program using sum-
mer school students conducted during June, July, and August. The pi-
lot project provided me with the opportunity to analyze the program
and gain feedback from students and teachers. Based on this feed-
back, refinements were made in program materials, student training
information, and data gathering techniques. I introduced the formal
study in the Spring of 1994. It took place in two schools for a pe-
riod of eighteen weeks, approximately one hour per week. The students
were engaged in an interactive process using the reading strategies
included in the graphic organizer (see Figure 1.2). I designed this
graphic organizer as a visual aid for the teachers and students to
help them better understand the sequence of the strategies in the
study. The steps in the graphic organizer were based on common prac-
tices used in whole language and reading, as cited in the literature
review in Chapter II. The students who took part in this study were
active participants who engaged in goal-oriented cross-age reading
activities. The teachers acted as program facilitators rather than
I employed a qualitative approach for this study using ethno-
graphic research techniques. Mishler (1979) states that, "ethnography
emphasizes qualitative methods, validity of results, holistic analy-
sis of phenomena, and process variables, whereas experimentation
stresses qualitative methods, reliability of measures, analysis of
parts or components of phenomena, and outcome variables" (p. 12)
Ethnographic research techniques, also referred to as naturalistic
(Goetz & LeCompte, 1984) were selected which allowed me to view the
impact of the reading strategies through the "eyes" of the students,
an emic view (Harris, 1976). The study describes the characteristics
of variables and phenomena that occur. This method of research al-
lowed for the discovery of causal relationships or constructs that
Data collection and analysis, in ethnographic research is eclec-
tic in nature. By utilizing more than one collection method
(triangulation) a study can cross-check for accuracy of data gather-
ing. The following methods of data gathering were utilized: a pre-/
post- baseline questionnaire; observation; videotaping; student jour-
nals; and interviewing. The participants' (children's) viewpoints
were considered and a comparison of viewpoints were made.
The materials used in this study were created and designed by
me, based on information that was gathered in a review of the litera-
ture in related areas. I drew on my background as a published author
and professional designer to complete the project materials. The
strategies of dual level reading aloud, multiple readings, parent in-
volvement, discussion questions, and activities were centered around
three pieces of classic literature (The Bremen Town Musicians, Beauty
and the Beast, and Aladdin). Each story originated in a different
culture. This material emphasized interactive reading strategies. The
storybooks that were used in the study are explained in detail in
Figure 1.2. Graphic Organizer for Cross-Age Reading
The two schools utilized in this study may not necessarily be
representative of all schools across the country.. School selection
criteria were based on access and proximity, with consideration of
variations in size, economic and social differences. Each school se-
lected has students from a range of economic and ethnic backgrounds.
Each school also has children who are considered "gifted," and others
who are considered "at-risk" (see Definitions).
It is assumed that the participants (students, teachers, and par-
ents) responded truthfully in the questionnaires, the journals, and
the interview sessions. All participants were told that the purpose
of this study was to gather "real" feelings about likes and dislikes.
The analysis of this study was conducted by the author. Al-
though a variety of sources were used to gather data, the analysis
was accomplished by one person, not a team. The author consulted
with colleagues and members of the dissertation committee but real-
ized that a single approach to analyzing any study may be limited in
comparison to a team approach.
Definition of Terms
For clarification of certain terms used in this study, the fol-
lowing definitions are provided:
Dual Reading Level Included in this exploratory study is a new
concept of cross-age reading interaction; "dual level reading"
(Figure 1.1). The term dual level refers to a single story that is
written at two distinct levels, a primary level of text (less diffi-
cult) and an intermediate level of text (more difficult). An interme-
diate student (fourth grade and above) reads the more difficult level
text aloud to the primary student. After the intermediate student
has completed reading aloud, the primary student (high kindergarten
through third) reads the less difficult level text aloud to the in-
termediate student. The more difficult text is printed at a smaller
point size and the less difficult text is printed at a larger point
size, so students can easily recognize the text that they are to read
The intermediate level text provides high level vocabulary and
advanced concepts that can be understood by the younger child, al-
though the younger child is not capable of reading the more difficult
text. The primary level text allows young children to interact in
the read aloud process. The dual reading level concept was based on
ideas from a British reading series titled Puddle Lane Reading Pro-
gram and the Cambridge Program, as cited in Chapter II.
Dual level reading is considered an ineractive activity, but, in
this study, I have separated this activity from others since it is
unique and is a mjaor focus Of the study.
Book Buddies- Two or more individuals working together on a
reading task. A task may be reading aloud, listening to another per-
son read, discussing a story, or accomplishing an activity.
Intermediate Student Upper age student, from any grade third
though eighth. In this study, the intermediate level students are
Primary Student Lower elementary age student, from any grade
Kindergarten though second. In this study, the primary students are
Gifted Students Students meeting the criteria established by the
state for mandatory identification (the upper 5 percent of the
school's student population, based on the Connecticut Mastery Tests
mastery tests), teacher's observation, and cognitive ability scoring.
At-Risk Students Students who test below the remedial standards
on the Connecticut Mastery Tests or students who are participating in
the district or state Social Services Program.
Qualitative Research methods that assume reality is always chang-
ing, research should focus on processes, and that understanding and
discovery may occur without preconceptions. Designs of qualitative
research may include ethnography, case study analysis, and historical
or document analysis (Reichardt & Cook, 1979).
Triangulation a multimodel method of data gathering. The vari-
of data collected can be cross-checked for accuracy
used in ethnographic research assists in correcting
could occur if there is only one observer.
This study investigates the attitudes of elementary school chil-
dren who have experienced reading three classic literature stories
and have been engaged in the use of various interactive reading
strategies: dual level text, cross-age companion format, multiple
readings, interactive discussions/activities, and parent involvement.
The analysis of the children's attitudes regarding these strategies
may lead to a better understanding of motivation in the area of read-
A review of current literature in whole language, reading aloud,
cross-age companion reading, multiple reading,, curriculum, and paren-
tal involvement was conducted. Selected information was used to for-
mulate the research design and the creation of materials for this
Utilizing ethnographic research techniques, I assessed the atti-
tudes of second and fifth grade students regarding the cited reading
strategies and allowed for discovery of unpredicted events. Analyz-
ing the data through the "eyes" of the children was a major focus of
the processes I emphasized. Through this study I hope to better un-
derstand if certain reading strategies motivate children. By utiliz-
ing techniques from ethnographic research, and assessments from the
field of education, a new approach to better assist the reading proc-
ess may be synthesized. Using the classroom for research, as well as
a place for learning, may create a higher level of discovery through
on site research application.
REVIEW OF LITERATURE
This chapter covers a review of relevant literature that was
used to focus the scope of this study, create materials, and
formulate procedural methods. As stated in Chapter I, the purpose of
this study is to explore the attitudes of children engaged in
learner-centered, cross-age reading.
First, information dealing with whole language, its basic
philosophy and information that relates to the reading process is
covered. The chapter continues with a review of cross-age tutoring,
read aloud, paired reading, repeated reading, and parent involvement
in reading. Finally, I explored curriculum guidelines used to aid in
the creation of the materials for this study. Each of these areas
provided direct information that I incorporated into the formulation
of the procedures and methodologies used in my study. In addition, I
utilized data from these areas to enhance the purpose of this
investigation, as outlined in Chapter I: to investigate motivation
and attitudes, to design an integrative reading program, and to
analyze student attitudes.
At the end of each major section in this Chapter, I have cited
relevant factors that were incorporated into the design of this
study. Additional references are also cited in Chapter III, "The
Design of the Reading Materials".
The following two articles exemplify ideas and concepts that
formulate a basis for this study. They are taken from a document
compiled by Lillian Putnam (1994), Professor Emeritus, from Kean
College of New Jersey. She asked a number of prominent educators who
have made an impact on the field of reading the following question:
What is the single most important thing we as a
profession know now that we did not know 30 years ago
about the teaching and learning of writing in the
Two responses are as follows:
We know that:
- Literacy development begins very early.
- Cultural differences impact on all learning, including
how to read.
- We can initiate and learn from ethnographic studies.
- Exciting children to want to read can be nurtured by
closer links between children and authors/illustrators.
- It is important to encourage (personal and
intellectual) responses to what is read.
- Reading and writing can strongly support each other in
"journaling" about what has been read.
- The base for assessing a child's reading/language arts
achievements needs broadening to include a child's own
- The reader is a more active participant in the literary
process than may have been assumed, making rather than
taking meaning from the printed page.
- Basals are not the sole instructional vehicle for skill
Trenton State College
We know that children learn to read by reading and
by following along with the print as someone reads to
them. Children who sit beside a reader and follow the
print from an early age learn to read quite "naturally."
We know that the modeling has a lasting effect; children
do what they see others do. The more students read, the
better they read. They get good at what they practice a
lot. Students will not practice reading independently,
however, unless they find the material to be interesting
to them. This happens most often when they get to choose
the material they read. Students choose to read on their
own when the materials they read answer their questions,
are comprehensible, and are well written. In addition to
informational books, students want to read material that
makes them laugh and helps them understand themselves and
their world, as well as material that uses interesting
language. That, of course, is literature.
Bernice E. Cullinan
New York University
A basic premise of a whole-language philosophy toward teaching
is that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In whole
language education the teacher becomes a facilitator who mediates the
opportunities for learning in the child, rather that viewing
themselves as the sole source of learning for the child (Goodman,
1984). These teachers accept the responsibility of offering a
framework to plan, opportunities to explore materials from which to
choose, resources to consider, and an organization that promotes
learning. The whole-language concept reconstitutes Dewey's
learning-by-doing prospect (Dewey, 1963). This new direction is
rooted in a base of research and theory.
...whole language is a philosophy, a belief system
about the nature of learning and how it can be fostered
in classrooms and schools. It is not an approach, per se,
though of course some kinds of activities can reasonably
be characterized as whole language because they are
consonant with this philosophy, while others are
logically rejected by the philosophy. (Weaver, 1990, p.3)
The philosophy of whole language assumes that teachers should no
longer harbor the role of being the sole provider of information and
knowledge. Rather, the teacher should assume the role of facilitator
for the construction of meaning (Weaver, 1990).
To better understand whole language approaches to Monson and Pahl
(1991) use the terms "transmission" and "transaction." They describe
the transmissional model as one that focuses on the dissemination of
skills, facts and information, with the teacher being the primary
provider and transmitter. Learning is teacher directed and the
student is the receiver. Exams are directed to test the facts and
the skills the students have learned from their teacher.
Contrary to this point of view, in a transactional model, such
as whole language, learning is child centered and process oriented.
Learning is holistic in nature. Facts and skills are acquired
through application learning, problem solving, and interactive
experiences. The teacher acts as a facilitator who models learning
behaviors and allows students to discover for themselves.
Assessments take on a process orientation as part of the entire
learning experience. Presentation assessment or production
assessment may occur with students applying their learned knowledge
and their acquired skills in real-life or authentic situations.
Students are provided opportunities to discover information or
Views on whole language theory (Weaver, 1990; Newman, 1985)
state that language and learning are social activities. These
activities occur best in a situation that encourages discussion and a
sharing of knowledge and ideas. The best roles for teachers to
assume are those which lead from behind the scenes. The teacher
should be a facilitator who supports the capabilities of students
indirectly though the types of activities that are offered.
Furthermore, children should be encouraged to question and comment
freely about all matters. Teachers should invite children into
conversation with other children, as well as adults (Smith, 1978).
According to Kenneth Goodman (1984), the whole-language
philosophy follows a scientific base frequently employing
ethnographies to research classroom practices. Whole-language
classrooms become authentic environments where learning processes
develop. Goodman advocates that research using the whole-language
approach should be conducted in the classroom rather than in
laboratories. Authentic settings are the best environments for
learning about learning. "So dynamic is the whole-language movement
that innovative practice is leaping ahead of research and rapidly
expanding and explicating the fine points of theory" (Goodman, 1984,
p. 212). A recently overheard "one-liner" may illustrate Goodman's
point. A college professional queried an educational colleague who
was an elementary school teacher, "Well, yes it may work well in the
classroom with children, but does it work in theory?"
Winograd and Paris (1909) state that the American education
system has created many road blocks to producing thoughtful,
motivated readers. They cite that three major influences have put
constraints on reading instruction: basal readers, assessment, and
Since there has been such a reliance on basal readers in the
past, Winogard and Paris state that a mechanical approach to reading
has developed. Teachers have produced a management approach to
reading instruction rather than a focus on understanding and compre-
hension (Durkin, 1981; Hare & Milligan, 1984). Many teachers'
editions contain very little information that focuses on student
expectations regarding cognitive practices. Shannon (1983) and
Woodward (1906) have indicated that the time required to accomplish
the assignments in most basal readers may actually detract from
creativity and may de-skill students.
A second obstruction in the basal reading approach is that of
assessment. Too often testing drives the curriculum and instruction.
Chapter reviews, end-of-unit exercises, achievement tests, and
standardized exams can, unfortunately, create negative results.
Increasing scores become the criteria for classroom instruction.
Yet, many of these tests do not reflect the effectiveness of the
The third constraint identified by Winograd and Paris, is that
of competition. Customary practices using basal reading texts have
encouraged the creation of leveled reading groups. Some students
were in the preferred group who might receive challenging or
enriching work, while other students were assigned to and labeled
with the poor reading group (Allington, 1983). Are we teaching
children that good reading is based on understanding information and
using acquired knowledge, or are we teaching children that good
reading is membership in a particular group?
Using higher level thinking processes and helping students
understand the management and the process of reading is the agenda
that Winograd and Paris advocate. Students must become aware of their
own thinking processes. Learning self-appraisal skills and learning
effective cognitive reading strategies before reading, during reading
and after reading are important methods for students to practice.
When students utilize the strategies of pausing, and reflecting on
their reading through questions or discussion, a greater level of
understanding is gained as compared to students who simply read
through the text (Garner, 1987).. Summarizing main ideas and reviewing
the text to check for comprehension are also recommended strategies
to include in the holistic approach to reading.
Innovations in the improvement to reading instruction, according
to Paris and Winograd include modeling, direct explanation and
cooperation. First, they state that modeling appropriate practices
in reading is one of the best methods for raising consciousness of
appropriate reading strategies. Through modeling, students can learn
elements of information as well as motivation regarding the most
effective ways to employ reading strategies. If students believe they
can correctly imitate a model or a set of strategies, their
motivation and their belief in success will be intensified (Schunk,
Furthermore, explanations must be direct and clear if
comprehension is to be improved. How to apply strategies that are to
be used before, during and after reading must be thoroughly explained
and understood by students. Showing students how to incorporate these
models through role playing and actual practice sessions will enhance
motivation and help students increase their desire to emulate the
strategies (Paris, 1986; Rosenshine, 1979).
A third method to improve reading comprehension is cooperative
learning. The encouragement of discussion between students allows
students to stimulate their own thoughts, share, and encourage new
ideas. New insights as well as social interaction can be developed
through verbal interaction (Yager, Johnson & Johnson, 1981).
According to Hanes and McKeachie (1967), various research studies
indicate that less anxiety and greater motivation occur when students
are engaged in cooperative learning. In cooperative learning
situations, students experience both information giving and
information receiving. This type of strategy has been shown to
correlate highly with academic achievement in schools.
In summary, whole language advocates Paris and Winogard state:
We believe that developing a motivational agenda is
crucial to improving reading instruction......if we wish
to help thoughtful and independent readers, we need to
pay attention to both skill and will. (1909, p. 32)
The prominent factors in this section on whole language that
were incorporated in the design of this study included: literature,
teachers as facilitators, students in a learning-by doing framework,
opportunities for student journaling, the creation of student
products, modeling, the encouragement of personal responses, learning
in a social setting, the creation of authentic classroom learning
environments, a focus on comprehension; higher level .thinking
processes, opportunities for self-appraisal, and cooperative
Cross-Age Tutoring: A Form of Cooperative Learning
Cross-age tutoring is a teaching method that utilizes students
from a higher grade level working with students at a lower grade
level. In a study by Fogarty and Wang (1982) of the University of
Pittsburgh's Learning Research and Development Center, information
was gathered from cross-age tutoring programs. This study focused on
specific elements that appeared to have the most positive impact on
the basic design of the program. Regarding the area of content, the
items that were cited as being highly effective were:
1) including specific content/skill activities;
2) working with the same student for an entire lesson
that covers a number of sessions;
3) the inclusion of questions;
4) immediate feedback/individual attention;
5) sessions that meet regularly.
Gerry Bohning (1982) studied various models and cross-age
tutoring designs. He has cited information regarding the "planning
steps" for the implementation of a tutoring program. His suggestions
Step 1- the selection of background readings;
Step 2- Utilizing a teacher's manual on tutoring (how to train
and select tutoring pairs, how to implement and evaluate a
Step 3- Planning a tutoring program in writing
(criteria for selection of tutors, tasks, materials, time,
location, and how to monitor the program);
Step 4- Beginning the tutoring program on a small scale;
Step 5- Evaluate and revise program.
Design considerations of a cross-age tutoring program are
discussed by Smith (1960). Smith developed a paradigm based on the
"4 T's" (testing, training, tutoring, and translating). In this
design, he structured a program using testing as the first element to
help create a method for matching student to student for the tutoring
program. Smith suggests using assessment measures such as the
Informal Reading Inventory (IRI), the Silent Reading Diagnostic Test,
Stanford Diagnostic reading Test. It is suggested that the results
of these tests (word identification skills, vocabulary, comprehension
skills) can be used to match tutor and tutee. Given the wide range
of reading abilities that can be found at any grade level, a testing
method is sensible for any cross-age tutoring program. Imagine the
distress created if a fifth grade student reading on the third grade
level was paired with a second grade student reading at the fourth
grade level. Teacher input is essential to this pairing selection
The second aspect, tutoring; is defined by Smith into two areas,
preservice and inservice. The preservice aspect involves teaching the
intermediate students about child development and information
regarding the "younger" child. Questions may center on the following
areas- how have you changed since second grade? what was silly then?
what did you think of sixth graders? The inservice should focus on
the specific aspects of the reading program and the objectives that
are to be accomplished. The tutors should be familiar with the
program's intent and format. The tutor should pre-read the text and
if a specific skill is being taught, the tutor must understand the
complete skill him/herself.
Smith recommends that the tutoring session immediately
follow the inservice training session. This will help insure that any
skills that had been covered at the inservice will most likely be
taught in a similar way. It is recommended that the tutoring session
contain three distinct parts, 1) reading, 2) a skills lesson, and 3)
application. This application of the skill can be accomplished in a
variety of ways: a game, role play, puzzle, etc.
The fourth "T" is translating and is designed to focus on the
evaluation of the lesson. Smith suggests this evaluation focuses
totally on the tutor and his success in "teaching" the lesson. Ques-
tions may include: What skill did you teach? Explain if you think
your student enjoyed the task you taught him? What part was the most
difficult? etc. The rationale for concentrating on the tutor focuses
on the amount of reinforcement the tutor receives. He has learned
the initial skill, evaluates the tutees work, and also translates
it. This creates benefits for the tutor in all areas seeing, hear-
ing, and feeling. This author also believes it would be of great
benefit to include the tutee in part if not all of the translation
process. The dialogue between the tutor and the tutee can focus on
"real feelings and attitudes" not just those perceived by the tutor.
Areas in this review of cross-age tutoring that I used to sup-
port the methodology and the design of the materials in this study
include the following: content and application activities; questions;
immediate feedback; regular meeting sessions; written program man-
uals; student training; and a method for tutor evaluation.
Thomas Jolly (1980) quotes Therese Bissen Bard as say-ini,
"Reading aloud may be the single most important potent factor in
influencing response to literature." Similarly, Becoming a Nation of
Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading (Anderson et al,
1985) states "the single most important activity for building the
knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud
to children." It seems to follow, that those fond childhood memories
of curling-up in a chair and listening to someone read you a
story actually has significant redeeming value on the future effects
toward reading achievement.
Priscilla Vail (1977) cites the following benefits from the
reading aloud event: the intake of new ideas; concept development; an
expansion of language and listening skills; the differentiation
between biographies; and the preparation for written language.
Furthermore, she states that reading aloud influences the child's
affective area. These attributes include the concept that reading is
highly valued, reading can be enjoyable, and reading provides
opportunities for children to feel empathy and emotion.
McCormick (1979), in a research review, focusing on the effects
of reading aloud to preschoolers, categorized the following
-in the area of language development children scored
significantly higher than the control group, on receptive
vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, and the length of
-prereaders in the highest level of linguistic
development had more books read to them, were exposed to
books at a higher level of complexity and were read to,
by more people.
-reading aloud produced a greater interest in books than
just discussing them or just having them available.
-children who were read to (60 minutes a week for 3
months) prior to beginning kindergarten scored signi-
ficantly higher on academic readiness tests than children
in the control group.
-among groups of kindergartners who listened to stories
for various amounts of time, the groups who listened the
most, scored highest on readingness scores.
McCormick states that:
a review of the research on reading aloud to preschool
children can only lead to the conclusion that this
activity should be a regular and planned one in every
preschool and kindergarten classroom, and in every home
where there are young children. Reading aloud to
children provides assistance in realizing some of our
most important educational objectives for preschool
children, (p. 11)
Many studies dealing with reading aloud events that have been
conducted during the last few years have centered on the social
aspect between the child and the reader. This concept of social
interaction between the reader and the one being read to is theorized
to be an important element in the early development of a child's
literacy (Bloom, 1985; Ninio & Bruner, 1970; Snow, 1978). This
assumption has led to studies that have concentrated on analyzing the
content of these interactions and an attempt to gain insights into
the most important aspect of this literacy event: the construction of
meaning. Researchers in this area (Goodman, 1964; Harste, Woodard &
Burke, 1984) conclude that the primary goal of reading aloud is to
construct meaning from the text, rather than focusing on the precise
reading of the print. It is important to clarify that the text is
not the same as the print. The text represents the personal
interpretation of the meaning of the written language based on the
reader's knowledge, background and beliefs. When a parent reads to a
child, the parent helps to "fine tune" the text in a story to the
child's experience, abilities, and interests.
Altwerger, Diehl-Faxon, and Dockstader-Anderson (1985) observed
the read-aloud event in parent-child dyads over a six month period
(1905). They traced the interaction from the beginning stages of
"conversational text" to the interaction that eventually developed
into "reading the actual print." The major events in this study
focused on six phases: 1) discussing the story using the pictures and
personal events; 2) relating the child's knowledge to the story;
3) interchanging actual reading of the text with conversation, so the
child can not distinguish between the two; 4)emerging questions from
the child, that can only be answered by the text; 5) responsibility
shift for comprehension begins to occur when the child desires to
increase his own reading and decrease his listening; 6) at this
stage the child is ready to participate in reading (or reciting from
memory) words himself. The reader can help initiate this last stage
in the read-aloud event, by raising the intonation of the voice,
followed by a pause, to encourage the child to predict the proper
This research indicates that reading aloud involves a precise
process and is a major factor in reading development. This process
is based on the child's experiential and linguistic background. The
meaning of the text should be clarified through adapting and
extending the literal print, so the child can comprehend the meaning
the author intended. These types of read-aloud sessions are
essential steps to prepare children to become successful independent
As previously cited, there have been substantial research
projects and studies that concentrate on the importance of reading
aloud, as well as the construction of the read-aloud attributes.
Therefore we should not forget another element that directly involves
our primary clients in this environment, the children. Pure
statistical research provides us with essential knowledge to better
understand the elements of read-aloud theory for children. But, do
we know what the children like? It is fortunate that this all
important element was considered in a study by Mendoza in 1985. The
purpose of this study was to determine the reading preferences of
children between the ages of five and fifteen. The survey focused on
the following areas: desire to read, group size preference, the home
reading environment, prereading practice questions, sustained
interest after reading aloud, and positive aspects of reading aloud.
The questionnaire was read and explained to each child in the
survey. The older students, then' completed the questionnaire
themselves, and the younger children had their responses recorded by
the surveyors. Survey conclusions and recommendations were
categorized into the following ten areas.
1) Overwhelmingly, all the surveyed children liked to have
someone read to them (even the older students), therefore it is
recommended that schools and parents increase this activity.
2) Younger children liked both small groups and large groups
for oral reading, but older students tended to prefer the small
group (clique) setting.
3) Although oral reading occurs at home, it decreases as the
child matures. Therefore it is recommended that schools
encourage parents to continue the practice of oral reading to
their older children, as well as the younger ones.
4) Approximately 40 percent of the students surveyed preferred
having oral discussions done in groups. One conclusion drawn
from this preference centered on the aspect that students may
be uncomfortable being the only person answering questions.
Thus, it may be important to read in small groups and limit the
number of questions during the story session.
5) Children like to read to younger children. Therefore
educators should capitalize on this preference and create
opportunities for children to read together, either in small
groups or in a one-to-one situation.
6) Children like to know the following information before
reading a book: information about the author, the characters,
the setting, and the pictures. Younger children prefer to
learn about the characters before the reading begins and older
students prefer learning about them within the natural context
of the story.
7) Children are not comfortable interrupting a story to ask
questions in a school setting, but are comfortable asking
questions at home. Therefore it is recommended that teachers
emphasize that asking questions leads to learning, and should
be encouraged more in the.classroom.
8) Students wish to discuss stories after they have read them.
9) A majority of children preferred to have questions asked
after the story is completed, rather then during the story,
therefore it is recommended that questions are held to a
minimum during the stories' first reading.
10) Students wish to read the stories more than once and should
be given the opportunities to read them by themselves.
From this section focusing on Read-Aloud, the areas of
prominence that were used in the design of this study are: a
read-aloud structure; listening; exposure to vocabulary; creating
regularly scheduled reading sessions; initiating social literary
events; the construction of meaning; relating personal knowledge to
reading; emphasizing intonation when reading; oral discussions;
conveying information about the author, characters, and setting; and
Although much of the research cited in the previous section may
involve paired reading, the major focus of the research was to study
information regarding read-aloud construction. The information
contained in this section focuses specifically on the aspects of
paired reading, the varied schemes of paired reading, and different
forms of paired reading.
Paired Reading One of the first formalized programs utilizing
paired reading was invented in the mid-seventies. His model
consisted of training (verbal/written input, demonstration, practice
and feedback) parents and children in a two-step process: 1) reading
together with a correction procedure, and 2) having the child signal
to read alone with a correction and support procedure. The method of
book selection is completely the child's free choice. The research
evidence indicated that reading accuracy increased approximately 3
times normal rates and reading comprehension increased nearly 5 times
Paired Reading (Bryans variant) This method consists of the parent
and the child reading a book of controlled readability together with
the parent supplying any error words, followed by the child reading
the book alone, with the parent correcting errors. Evaluation
results indicated that accuracy increased significantly, but
comprehension only increased slightly.
Paired Reading (Gillham variant) This technique was designed to be
used with short, controlled readability books that are to be read and
re-read. The parent and child discuss the story and then read it
together. If an error word is encountered, the parent reads it
without the child participating. As the child gains confidence the
parent lowers his/her voice, allowing the child to read alone. If
reading difficulty occurs, the parent joins in, reading again
Prepared Reading As another extension of the original Paired
Reading, Young and Tyre (1905) developed this variant. The parent
discusses the story and reads to the child. The child then reads
silently, asking about any difficult words, and then reads the text
aloud with the parent aiding, as necessary.
Shared Reading A much more simplified version than the other
paired reading concepts, this variant is intended to involve parents
with an easy to learn format. Parents talk about a story and then
they read it with the child. No corrections are specified and the
"pair" is encouraged to read a wide variety of books. Although the
sampling was rather small, the gains in accuracy were significant and
the simplicity of technique and monitoring add to the appeal of the
method (Topping, 1986b).
Pause, Prompt, and Praise This technique that originated in New
Zealand is constructed with the child reading aloud to the parent.
If the student pauses for an error, the parent also pauses, which
gives the child a chance to self-correct. If after a moment the
child cannot self-correct, the parent then prompts the child with a
discriminatory prompt relating to the type of error encountered.
Praise is particularly emphasized. Training is a required part of
this process and children have been found to progress approximately
2.5 times normal rates, on an average.
Puddle Lane Reading Programme This series is structured for
parents only (non-educational) and is divided into five stages, with
parents reading part of the text and the child reading some words and
phrases, alternately. The series of books increases in difficulty
until the fifth stage, when the child is ready to read the same
information that the parent has read. The speculation by Topping
(1986b), states that there is high motivation in a series of this
nature, but there may be dangers in leaving the "reading scheme"
entirely to parents. Further, Topping suggests that a lack of parent
objectivity, the level of parent/child competitiveness, and the
possible inconsistency of parent follow-through are all factors that
must be considered.
Reading Aloud Stories Cambridge Press has published a series of
books by various authors. These books are to be read by the parent
to the child with some key words and phrases appearing in "bubbles"
that relate to certain characters in the story. These special key
words are based on a core vocabulary of 75 sight words. The author's
research indicates that these books are highly motivating and can be
used in several ways, but no objective evaluation is available.
One study, originating from the University of Auckland, New
Zealand, focused on cross age tutoring and the effects of a reading
program on both the tutor as well as the tutee (Limbrick, McNaughton,
& Glynn, 1984). The premise of this study was based on research that
indicated the amount of engaged time that learners spend in reading
predicts achievement. The more time children read, the better they
will learn to read. One way a teacher can increase this amount of
individualized reading instruction is to utilize the concept of
cross-age tutors. As established in this study, a variety of tests
were used to define "low-achieving" tutors as well as the levels of
the younger tutees. Once these groups were assigned, tutors were
trained in procedures in reading. Training was composed of two
sessions that included role playing, learning to provide feedback
based on accuracy, implementing reading procedures, discussing the
stories, and providing praise or corrections where appropriate. The
tutor and the tutee were provided guided practice during the first
session they met together. Research demonstrated that low-progress
readers can be tutored effectively by their peers. During the 6 10-
week sessions, meeting 3 times a week, the younger students gained at
least 6-months and in some cases as much as 22 months, in both
reading accuracy and comprehension. This structure provided teachers
extra time to help individual students, and allowed the tutees to
engage in more difficult reading material than would otherwise be
possible. This procedure was successfully carried out by tutors in
the 10-11 year-old age range. Limbrick, McNaughton, and Glynn (1984)
reported that the tutors improved in their reading accuracy and
comprehension, gaining, between 4 and 24 months on testing
measurements. Indication of tutor improvement was supported through
their regular classroom performance. This cross-age tutoring reading
procedure required tutors to pay close attention to text, and created
a situation where they had to read in more detail. In addition, they
had to participate in discussions and use higher level thinking
skills when working with the younger students. Also, the factors of
enjoyment and creating positive close relationships (between the
tutors and the tutees) developed in this study. A significant number
of tutors and tutees indicated a very close bonding from this
cross-age tutorial structure.
Factors from the Paired Reading section in this chapter that
were used in the design and the concept of this study include: the
dual level reading text format; a student correction process; student
training; praise; immediate feedback; and bonding.
We have all heard children plead, "Please, can we read it
again," but realistically, our schools cannot respond to this
request. With time constraints, reading skills to teach, the scope
and sequence to follow, and "moving on" to the next objective, the
best a teacher can do is to encourage additional readings at home or
Parents may read stories aloud to their child over and over.
Teacher may encourage their students to re-read a story. The
students themselves may chose the same book from the shelf more than
once. But, are the children gaining any more from the fifth reading
than they did from the first reading? Do students, parents, and
teachers have the skills and knowledge to solicit new information
from subsequent readings?
In the field of education terms for this strategy may vary:
multiple readings, repeated reading, or rereading. All these terms
"share a common goalto increase fluency of the slow halting reader
and a common strategy-rereading a meaningful passage until oral
production is fluid, flowing, and facile" (Dowhower, 1987, p. 390).
Multiple reading falls into two general categories: unassisted
and assisted. Unassisted repeated reading was researched by Dahl and
Samuels in 1979. Children read and reread short easy sections of
text orally until they attained a particular reading rate. Various
methods have been used to employ the assisted repeated reading
strategy: students read along with an audio tape while reading a book
(Chomsky, 1983), the use of a partner (Hoskisson, 1975; Morgan &
Lyon, 1979), teacher directed (Smith, 1978).
According to Dowhower the rationale for using repeated reading
can be found in three major areas: whole language, information
processing, and prosodic cue development. Information processing
refers to the increase of word recognition while prosodic cue
development refers to the recognition of print segments and the
reading of meaningful phrases rather than word-by-word.
Research indicates that repeated reading has positive effects on
word recognition, fluency, and reading rate (Carver & Hoffman, 1981;
Morgan & Lyon, 1979) .
The area of reading comprehension was the focus of S.L.
Dowhower's research in 1987. The conclusions of Dowhower's study
indicated that comprehension "is positively affected by repeated
readings" (Dowhower, 1987, p. 402). Additionally, Dowhower stated
that this practice is more effective if several stories are repeated
rather than repeating just one story. Also the positive gains carry
over to new reading passages if the material is similar in
difficulty. Day-to-day reading is not a necessity, but it is
important to monitor the vocabulary so passages are not too easy or
too difficult. Frequent feedback should be given to students who
read slowly, and passages should be kept short.
Each time a story is repeated, new ideas can be fostered and
discussed. In this manner the interest level may be increased and
new levels of comprehension may emerge. Will children realize the
important of repeated readings? Will they think it is boring to read
the same book more than once in a classroom setting?
The focus areas in this section on Multiple Readings that were
incorporated in the design of this study include: assisted, planned,
and repeated readings; the encouragement to improve fluency, word
recognition, reading rate, and comprehension; the inclusion of new
discussions during each reading.
The major focus in this section is related specifically to the
parent/child connection: relationships, formed habits, roles, and
considerations for parent involvement in reading programs.
In a study by Flood (1967), the relationship between
"parent style" in reading, and the child's performance on certain
"pre-reading related tasks" was investigated. Through this study it
was concluded that the elements most beneficial to a child when
reading a story are: 1) warm-up questions which prepare a child for
reading; 2) discussing the content of a story in relation to past
experiences; 3) constant reinforcement in a positive manner; and, 4)
post-story evaluative questions. This 5-stage pattern is similar to
other information gained in studying paired reading, but the focus in
this study substantiates the impact that parents can have on the
reading achievement of their own children.
Heath (1985) discovered an organization pattern that deals with
reading as an entertainment concept versus an instructional concept.
In the early stages of reading, the actual "event" takes on a total
entertainment aspect. Parents and children both, enjoy the pleasure
of reading for the pleasure itself. In the later stages of reading
together, parents expect children to listen to a story for the
information it conveys, so it can be repeated back at a certain time.
No longer is reading just entertainment, but it now takes on a
relationship of knowledge acquisition. This author finds such
research noteworthy when relating this concept to education. As
educators, we may be sending mixed messages to our students. Are we
encouraging the act of reading for pleasure, instruction, knowledge,
or for all of the above? This aspect must be clarified within
reading models and in objective based education, as well as
communicating it accurately within the framework of a parent
Additional aspects to compare when establishing a parent
involvement program related to reading, are cited by Lautenschlager &
Hertz (1984) : developing a series of workshops for interested
parents, creating a bibliography of books appropriate for certain
grade levels, offering sessions to generate parent communication and
evaluation feedback, developing a flier to.distribute throughout the
community, and creating announcements for the local newsletter and
for the local media. Specific reading related material that is
recommended for parents includes: The Lap Technique Video
(Jett-Simpson, 1981), Why Read Aloud to Children (Chan, 1974) and The
Read Aloud Handbook (Trelease, 1989, 2nd Edition). Specific benefits
further cited in this article included, creating 20 minutes of
uninterrupted reading time per day, using an expressive voice when
reading, being sure the child can see the book, inviting the child to
turn the pages, encouraging the child to participate in reading
rhymes, repeated phrases, sentences, and refrains.
Based on a research project funded by the United Kingdom, Mary
Heath (1980) also discovered some interesting aspects regarding the
parent connection in reading. A series of books was purchased to be
sent home for the parent to read to the child. Parents were asked to
record their own reactions in a publication entitled What Do You
Think Book. Insights that would help educators better understand the
valuable role of parental involvement in the reading connection were
gained from this study. The teachers involved in this program
received important feedback from parents that would have otherwise
never been shared. Much of this information from parents could be
used by the teachers to improve an individual child's classroom
performance. In addition, many parents heightened their awareness
regarding the educational development of their own child in the area
of reading. One example cited was that the parents had a better
understanding of the time scale involved for a child to read
fluently. This communication between the home and the school proved
to be a great benefit to all members involved: teacher, parents and
The major factors in this section that were incorporated in the
design of this study are as follows: involving parents in an
established, school based reading project; creating a read aloud
event at home; and encouraging a communication link between home and
This section focuses on curriculum factors that relate to
reading or curriculum considerations that are specific to language
arts. These curriculum considerations provide an overview that is
important in the design of educational instruction or program.
According to information cited by Marshall (1983), in the
development of Boston's K-8 reading/language arts curriculum, it is
essential to include in a curriculum creativity and diversity, clear
expectations, accountability, and control over methods and materials
for teaching. In addition to these recommendations, this research
focused on specific elements of curriculum content. Of these, several
notable features are:
1) subject integration, which includes listening, writing,
speaking and critical thinking;
2) broad objectives that focus on the intended end result of
3) a minimum number of required books covering a variety of
4) books that are child-oriented (i.e. books featuring student
interests, prior knowledge, clarity of writing, and graphic
presentation) rather than those based on readability formulas;
5) a flexible program which can meet individual needs;
6) development of a written philosophy.
Involvement of parents to support reading was also included as
an integral part of the Boston program.
Other basic elements of a reading curriculum are cited by
Victoria Froese (1981), from a committee's findings in developing a
Middle Years Language Arts Curriculum. These findings suggested that
a reading program should: de-emphasize decoding; emphasize
comprehension, provide a differentiated reading program that includes
a variety of grouping procedures (Musgrave, 1975) such as interest
grouping, ability grouping, specific needs grouping, centers, and
contracts. Froese (1901, p. 540) states that "... peer tutoring
should be seriously considered, along with other tutoring approaches
(such as volunteer parents or aides)." In addition, the study
recommends using association (bringing the readers own experiences
into stories), syntax (inflection, intonation), modeling of reading,
extending children's familiarity with literature, using oral reading
in purposeful ways, considering the readers' self-concepts, and
Two of the items cited by Froese in the study are worthy of
additional elaboration: purposeful oral reading and the readers'
self-concept. Usually oral reading is categorized on two levels, the
student reading aloud to the teacher or class and the teacher reading
aloud to the pupils. Oral reading is performed to share
information, entertain, give direction, create a presentation, prove
a point, or to evaluate. When the purpose of oral reading is to
evaluate, a checklist or anecdotal notes should be used for analysis,
and a method of student self-evaluation should be devised. "Oral
reading has a place at all grade levels..."(Zintz, 1975). Froese
also cited information regarding students' self-concepts toward
reading. Evidence exists that reading can be traumatic to some
students, and a real subrole of "reading self concept" can affect all
subject areas (Quandt,1973). Suggestions to help improve readers'
self-concepts are: avoiding a frustration reading level, the
avoidance of assigning a child to a single reading group, comparing a
child's reading with his or her previous work rather than the work of
others, giving praise and reinforcement, and expecting success.
The highlighted areas that were used in the design of this study
from Curriculum Considerations include: an integration of speaking,
writing, listening and critical thinking; a focus on reading
comprehension; a number of required books; a variety of subject
matter; child-oriented books; tutoring; oral reading for purpose; a
method of analysis; reading for meaning and content; inclusion of the
various modalities, and a method to practice reading aloud.
A survey of the literature in the areas of whole language,
cross-age tutoring, read-aloud, paired reading, multiple reading,
parent involvement, and curriculum considerations, provided important
information that was used in the construct and the design of this
study. Strategies and methods incorporated used in this study were
based on research and educational theories.
Emphasizing the teacher's role as a facilitator and presenting
students with the opportunities to interact among themselves without
constant, direct intervention may create a higher level of motivation
and an enhanced understanding of learning (Winograd & Paris, 1989).
Allowing children to experience reading through a learning-by-doing
format enhances the learning process, and reading for meaning must be
a critical part of all reading programs. Cross-age tutoring allows
for immediate feedback and a high level of instructional interaction
between participants. Training is key to this strategy. The
practice of reading aloud is considered to be a major factor in the
development of the reading process. The read aloud experience
increases vocabulary, comprehension and knowledge. Many times bonding
occurs through the read aloud process and "reader" is provided
opportunities to learn and understand more about the reading process
(Heath, 1980). Children also relate to enjoyment of the process
(McCormick, 1979). Reading stories more than once enhances the
positive development of the reading process. Parent involvement in
reading creates positive effects on achievement in children when the
program is connected to a school program or practiced on a regular
Using our classrooms to view educational interaction through the
eyes of children is an exciting practice. Through this authentic
investigation approach it is hoped that valuable insights for
teachers and administrators will emerge.
RESEARCH METHODS AND PROCEDURES
Spindler relates that educational ethnography draws research-
ers from various disciplines.
In fact, ethnography has become virtually a household
word in professional education, and it is the rare re-
search project today that does not have somewhere in the
table of operations at least one ethnographer and some-
where in the research design some ethnographic proce-
dures. (Spindler, 1988, p. 1)
Using ethnographic research techniques for this study greatly
appealed to me as a school principal. Gathering data from various
sources is a common practice in the classroom, as are using obser-
vation and conferencing techniques. It is also common for teachers
to use videotaping to better understand how a lesson was presented or
to study a particular student's interactions in the classroom. Using
these authentic types of data gathering techniques in this study pro-
vided insights for observing and recording student progress in regu-
lar classroom settings. Other practices include the gathering of
production materials and the use of student response writing.
In this chapter, four major areas are addressed: 1) ethno-
graphic research information and the procedures used to gather and
record data in this study; 2) an overview of the pilot program that
was initiated prior the execution of the final study; 3) a descrip-
tion of the sites used in the study; 4) information regarding the de-
sign of the materials for the students and teachers who participated
in the study.
The Research Design Based on Ethnographic Techniques
Ethnographic Research Information
As cited in Chapter I, this qualitative study focuses on four
elementary school classrooms in two separate buildings located in a
suburban New England school district. This section provides informa-
tion regarding ethnographic research techniques, the sampling focus
for this particular study, explanations regarding the data gathering
process, and methods for collecting and recording data.
According to Goetz and LeCompte (1984), the purpose of educa-
tional ethnography is to provide descriptive data about attitudes,
feelings, beliefs, and the activities of the participants in educa-
tional settings or educational functions. Descriptive research,
evaluation, and theoretical inquiry have all been accommodated
through the use of educational ethnography. Goetz and LeCompte cate-
gorize educational ethnography into five general areas. These are:
1. Career and life histories or role analyses of individuals
2. Microethnographies of small work and leisure groups within
classrooms or schools (Au, 1980; Leemon, 1972).
3. Studies of single classrooms abstracted as small societies
(Cox, 1980; Spindler, 1988) .
4. Studies of school facilities or school districts that ap-
proach these units as discrete communities (Singleton, 1967).
5. Conceptually controlled comparisons of any of the latter
four units across numbers of individuals (Fuchs, 1969; Lancy,
Since the participants in this study were members of four ele-
mentary school classes from two different schools in the same school
district, this research is categorized as a microethnographic study.
Sandra Mathison, Evaluation Coordinator of the University of
Chicago School Mathematics Project, refers to information regarding a
standard data gathering technique used in ethnographic research as
"triangulation." Triangulation is a relatively new research concept
that first appeared in a paper published by Cambell and Fiske (1959).
They presented the construct of measuring psychological traits
through the use of several simultaneous methods of data gathering.
Webb et al. (1966) coined the actual term "triangulation" in their
works, and Denzin (1978) provided the basic structure of how to use
triangulation as a research technique. Four types of triangulation
are outlined by Denzin; data triangulation, investigator triangula-
tion, theory triangulation, and methodological triangulation (pp.
294-307). Mathison relates that Denzin only advocates three of the
four methods as being realistic. "Theoretical triangulation is prob-
lematic at best, and likely impossible in reality" (p. 14). The
value of theoretical triangulation, as Mathison views it, is that
each study will contain some element of a theoretical perspective.
Data triangulation refers to the use of more than one source
from which information is gathered. Gathering data at various times
and from different settings are also included, in this method.
Investigator triangulation suggests that more than one investi-
gator be used in the research process. Usually a principal investi-
gator is designated in this method, but the use and roles of other
field workers may be included in various studies.
Methodological triangulation refers to the use of a variety of
data gathering methods or methods of examination.
The rationale for this strategy is that the flaws of one
method are often the strengths of another: and by combin-
ing methods, observers can achieve the best of each while
overcoming their unique deficiencies. (Denzin, 1978, p.
Mathison relates that various assumptions are inherent in this
approach to triangulation. The first assumption is that if any bi-
ases are present in a specific investigator, resource, or methodology
they will be canceled out by other investigators, resources or meth-
odologies. The second assumption regarding triangulation as a re-
search strategy implies that convergence will result in some truth
regarding social phenomenon. The term "convergence" refers to the
outcome when the results from different resources and methods agree.
This assumption suggests that triangulation will provide a single
Mathison suggests that there is a greater value to be considered
from the use of triangulation as a research strategy. She states
that in addition to the outcome of convergence, two other outcomes
should be considered: inconsistency and contradiction. Inconsistency
refers to data obtained from triangulation that might not be consis-
tent with other data. Contradictory data that is gained through tri-
angulation may actually appear to be in direct disagreement with
other data. Mathison (1988) states that:
... several levels of evidence are required for the re-
searcher to construct plausible explanations. There are
obviously that data on hand. There is, also, a holistic
understanding of the project itself, its history, the in-
tentions of the developers, the ongoing relationships
within the project, and so on. (p. 16)
Spradley (1979), in The Ethnographic Interview, outlines six
types of statements that should be considered in gathering data for
an ethnographic study. The first of these levels is universal state-
ments. These statements focus on areas that relate to all humans,
their cultures or their environments. An example of a universal
statement could be that "In all cultures young people receive some
type of education from older persons."
Cross-cultural descriptive statements comprise level two state-
ments. These statements are true about two or more societies. An
example of such a statement is "Numerous countries have established
formal education for youngsters." This is a true statement for many
societies but not all societies.
Level three statements, general statements, are those that focus
on a single society or cultural group, such as, "American elementary
school students learn mathematics and science." This statement is
specific about a certain group, but it is general in nature.
General statements about a specific cultural scene make up the
fourth level, for example, "Fourth grade students in Connecticut take
the Connecticut Mastery Test, yearly." These types of statements are
commonly used in ethnographic studies.
Level five statements are comprised of specific statements about
a cultural domain. A domain refers to any symbolic category that in-
cludes other categories. All terms in a domain have at least one
feature in common. These statements are descriptive in nature and
focus on terms, taxonomies, paradigms, objects, or activities that
may be stated or used by informants or society members. Such a
statement would be, "Students in elementary schools use various types
of writing instruments: pens, crayons, magic markers, pencils."
Finally, level six statements focus on specific incidents, such
as, "Three students were working together at a table brainstorming
words that begin with the letter B. Tommy yells his word very loud
and the other students in the classroom look at him."
Spradley indicates that many dissertations and theses tend to
include a majority of statements from levels three and four. He sug-
gests that the inclusion -of specific statements relating to the cul-
tural domain (level five) and specific statements regarding incidents
(level six) are highly desired. Spradley emphasizes the importance
of including statements from all six levels in ethnographic studies.
Furthermore, he suggests that a majority of statements should concen-
trate at particular levels depending on the audience and the purpose
of the study.
As a preliminary step to gathering the actual data for the
study, it was important to test the materials to be used by the
teachers and students and to execute preliminary interviewing
(Patton, 1980; Harrington & Gumpert, 1981).
The essential questions addressed in this pilot included the
- Is the scope and sequence of the cross-age program materials
presented clearly to the teachers and students?
- Will the materials be appropriately executed according to the
- What is the general reaction to the project?
- Is more clarity necessary in certain areas?
- Are the data gathering techniques appropriate?
During the summer of 1993, the pilot project was conducted by two
teachers at S. School in a New England School District. Two reading
enrichment sessions were scheduled for students in primary grades two
through four and students in grades five through eight.
The teachers teaching this summer program were contacted, and we
discussed the potential for using the cross-age reading strategies in
their reading enrichment course. Both were interested and agreed to
participate in the pilot project. The idea of combining classes for
part of their allotted time provided an excellent incentive for both
the older and the younger students. The teachers also liked the in-
teractive activities used to reinforce the concepts in the stories.
The teachers' program guide, two story books and the correspond-
ing book buddy packets were given to the two teachers. Approximately
one hour was used to explain the program and answer questions. The
teachers determined how they would exchange students and when they
would begin the program.
The pilot program was conducted over a four week period, four
days a week for approximately forty-five minutes per day. The read-
ing sessions took up approximately half of the daily reading period,
which ran one and one-half hours per day.
Each class had one teacher and two teaching aides. The teacher
of the primary students was a female with twelve years experience at
the elementary school level. The intermediate level teacher was a
male with twenty years experience at the middle school level. The
aides were all intern teachers, preparing for future careers in edu-
cation. The teachers decided to utilize the proximity of both their
classrooms, since they were next door to each other. Half the inter-
mediate students went to the primary students' room and half the pri-
mary students went to the intermediate students' classroom. One
teacher and two teaching aides stayed in each room.
Observations, videotaping, and interviewing were used to gather
information during the sixteen sessions. Since the purpose of the
pilot program was to gather information regarding the understanding
and execution of the program, ethnographic questioning techniques
were used with some but not all of the students (six from each level
- twelve total). The videotape was shot by the teachers, teaching
assistant and me. Three areas of focus were videotaped: general
classroom viewing, student groups, and teacher interaction during the
On the first day, both teachers met together with all the stu-
dents and the teaching aides. The program was explained by the pri-
mary teacher. The intermediate students had a chance to "look over"
the materials the day before, but they did not role play (practice)
or read the materials prior to beginning the first session. During
this initial introduction, the primary teacher explained the program
to both levels of students. She used the training information pro-
vided in the teacher's guide, and explained that the students would
be doing a cross-age reading programolder students reading with
younger students. She also explained that the program was written in
a new way. Each book (story) had two levels of writingon one level
for the older student and a different level for the younger students.
She further explained that all students would learn about the reading
process and that there would be many activities related to the read-
ing. The teacher then held up The Bremen Town Musicians, explained
the two levels of text and repeated how each student would take turns
reading. She then showed the students the book buddy packet and re-
viewed the first two lessons. The students appeared attentive and
interested. They sat on the floor and at desks during the discus-
sion. I observed that many students smiled and turned to their neigh-
bors nodding with approval. The primary students also showed ap-
proval when they learned the book was theirs to keep and to take home
to read with their parents.
The student book buddy groups were announced by the teacher.
Students received their story books and the book buddy packets, and
then dispersed throughout the room to begin working together. The
groups were selected by the teachers based on students1 reading
abilities and compatibility. The groups were mixed with relation to
gender and ethnicity. In one case a brother and sister requested to
From observations and from a review of the videotapes students
appeared to be highly on task. Some groups laid on the floor,
stretched out; some sat side-by-side at their desks; and others sat
on the floor with their backs against the wall. Reading and talking
occurred continually, but no one appeared to be distracted by anyone
else. At no time did students ask (or tell) another group to be
quiet or indicate that anyone was too loud. This same general atmos-
phere occurred every day of the pilot program. Even when students
were engaged in activities, there were still groups that preferred to
work at tables while others worked on the floor.
Although in-depth interviews did not take place as part of the
pilot program, students, aides and teachers were asked to discuss
their reactions regarding the program. The following statements were
typical responses from the six primary and six intermediate students
with whom I talked.
Students were asked, What do you think about the reading pro-
gram you have been doing ?" Some students spoke very comfortably,
others only provided me with very short answers or phrases.
Following are comments shared by students, teachers, and aides.
... fun....liked reading this way instead of being alone...
... liked to talk together...
... liked taking turns...liked sharing...
... it was fun taking turns...
... enjoyed listening and reading...
... liked doing the activities together...
... surprised that they (the younger students) could read
... my partner liked it when I used a lot of expression...
... liked sitting in a corner...more secluded..
... liked connecting with someone...
... it was neat... helping someone...
... the girl I was with asked a lot of questions...
... it helped once you got to know someone...
...we liked reading at our desks better than other places...
Teachers and Aides
... in the beginning, the older students had trouble asking
questions and talking with the other students... the more they did the
better it got...
... the intermediate students were not trained well enough by the
teacher... they should have practiced more...
... I wish we could have showed the intermediate students a
videotape of what was expected of them...
... the step-by-step approach worked well...
... as many students entered the room, they asked, "Are we
having our reading buddies today?"
... one student was uncooperative., all the others were great...
... excellent for older students...to learn the reading process and
... parents ask, "What can I do?"...
... young kids respected the older students...
... young kids thought the older kids were cool...
... one learning disabled student read better with his partner than
he had during other reading activities...
In summary, the pilot program was essential to the process of
creating a successful study. The program was enjoyed by the stu-
dents, and there was a high level of task interaction. The students
indicated they liked the various elements of the program (taking
turns, reading the story more than once, doing activities, taking the
book home). The materials were clear and easy for the students to
The intermediate level teacher and the teacher aides were uncom-
fortable with the fact that information provided in Step #4, Teacher
Conference, was not specific. They requested specific questions for
the various categories; They also wanted more detailed information
defining the levels of understanding in each category. Based on this
input I expanded this information and added it to the program. Also,
portions of the videotape shot during the summer became part of the
subsequent "training" for the students participating in the study.
Providing a visual model of how the younger and older students inter-
acted with each other was an excellent suggestion. It helped raise
the students' comfort level and showed.the type of on-task behavior
that was expected. With the refinement of the information gained
from the pilot program the program materials were complete.
The interview technique questions were appropriate. Students
and teachers were comfortable with the interview format. Additional
data gathering techniques designed for the final study included a
baseline questionnaire (pre- and post-) and a student response jour-
nal. The design of the program materials for "READ WITH ME" was cre-
ated through an extensive process. It incorporated information from
current literature regarding reading; input from experts in the field
of reading; comments from classroom teachers; perspectives from stu-
dents participating in a pilot study; and information regarding moti-
vation and learning.
The sample in this study was purposive in nature. Since the
reading materials were designed for primary and intermediate stu-
dents, the selected sample focused on students in these age ranges.
The selected cluster sample for this study was limited to two cross-
age groups from two separate schools. Each cross-age group was com-
posed of a class of second grade students and a class of fifth grade
students. The community selected was a New England School District.
This site afforded support and geographical access since the re-
searcher was a principal in the district. Also, the district offered
a diverse population of students.
The New England School District was a suburban community contigu-
ous to Hartford, the State capitol. Of its 60,000 permanent resi-
dents, 13 percent comprised the town's school population. The dis-
trict had seen a growth in population of approximately 2 percent from
1980-1990, with projections of a 13 percent increase over the next
five years. The district was approximately 81 percent white, 6 per-
cent Asian, 6 percent Black, and 6 percent Hispanic, with other eth-
nic groups comprising the remaining 1 percent. Pockets of diversity
were spread throughout the fourteen schools in the district: two high
schools, two middle schools, and ten elementary schools.
The sites selected for this study were Site A and Site B Elemen-
tary Schools. Both schools were kindergarten through fifth grade fa-
cilities and were selected for a variety of reasons: population, lo-
cation, and support. The schools' populations, although different
from each other, represented reasonable heterogeneous student groups.
Connecticut State Education Policy requires that each school in a
given district has a racial balance that is similar to that of the
entire district. Site A and Site B both met this criteria. The se-
lection of two sites created a wide cross-section of the student
population and a range of building philosophies that would not exist
if one site was used. Also, the teachers had different levels of
staff development since each building provides their own staff devel-
Site A hosted approximately 300 students, one of the smaller
schools in the district. The school's community was considered mid-
dle class with a few pockets of upper income community members and a
few pockets of lower income families. Most families were considered
professional, although some families worked in the trades. Approxi-
mately 5 percent of Site A's families were on the free or reduced
lunch program. Approximately 6 percent of the student body was made
up of minority students. The average fourth grader in Site A School
scored above the state average on the Connecticut Mastery Tests.
. (Each year, all fourth, sixth, eighth, and tenth grade students in
Connecticut public schools are required to take the Connecticut Mas-
tery Tests. The results of these tests are the standard that is used
determine academic progress in various schools and school districts).
In 1992, fourth grade students at Site A scored the following
averages on the CMT (scores are always one year behind the calendar
Percent of Students At or Above Remedial Standard
(The remedial standards identify a level of performance that suggests the need for
Reading Writing Math
School 82.6 91.3 95.7
District 84.0 91.4 92.1
State 76.0 89.0 88.4
Percent Qf Students At or Above State Goal
(Students who score at or above the state goal
have demonstrated superior performance on the skills, process
and knowledge associated with the particular content area)
Reading Writing Math
School 67.4 21.7 84.8
District 65.9 19.5 75.1
State 52.8 13.9 62.3
Site B School was the largest elementary building in West Hart-
ford, with a student population of approximately 500 students. Site
B's community was more diverse, hosting families with thirteen dif-
ferent languages. The population was mainly working class, with
pockets of white collar workers. Nine percent of Site B's students
were on the free and reduced lunch program. Minority students made
up 14 percent of the student population. Approximately 10 percent of
the students spoke a language other than English home.
In 1992, the fourth grade students at Site B scored the follow-
ing results on the Connecticut Mastery Tests.
Percent of Students At or Above Remedial Standard
(The remedial standards identify a level of performance that suggests the
need for remedial assistance)
Reading Writing Math
School 79.1 90.9 85.1
District 84.0 91.4 75.1
State 76.0 89.0 88.4
Percent of Students At or Above State Goal
(Students who score at or above the state goal have demonstrated superior
performance on the skills, process and knowledge associated
with the particular content area)
Reading Writing Math
School 61.2 10.6 62.7
District 65.9 19.5 75.1
State 52.8 13.9 62.3
In comparing and contrasting the two schools, Site A was consid-
ered a small school in the district with a majority of its students
coming from upper middle income families, while the majority of Site
B's student population would be considered in a much lower economic
strata. Since the researcher works in the district where both
schools were located, site visitations could be easily accommodated.
Observations were to be conducted on a regular basis and communica-
tion with teachers, students or parents were readily facilitated.
Also, since the researcher was the principal of Site A, he was known
by all the children and the teachers. Visitations, discussions, and
videotaping were all regular occurrences at Site A and were viewed by
the students as routine occurrences. At Site B the researcher was
not known by the students or the teachers. Therefore a comparison was
The teachers were selected based on the following criteria:
- interest in the project
- compatibility (between 2nd and 5th grade teachers)
- experience with some cross-age activities
- comparable class sizes
- competency of teachers
The classes used in this study were a second grade and a fifth
grade from the respective schools. At Site A the second grade was
comprised of 25 students (11 boys and 14 girls) and the fifth grade
comprised of 24 students (10 boys and 14 girls). The second grade at
Site B had 22 students (12 boys and 10 girls) while the fifth had 25
students (14 boys and 11 girls).
The second grade teacher at Site A was beginning her eighth year
of teaching, with all of her experience in the primary grades. She
had earned a master's degree in education.
The fifth grade teacher at Site A was beginning her second year
of teaching, although she had previous experience as a certified
teaching assistant. In this capacity, she had substituted for regu-
lar classroom teachers at all grade levels and worked with small
groups of students.
From Site B, the second grade teacher was in her sixth year of
teaching. The fifth grade teacher at Site B was the most experi-
enced, with twenty-four years of teaching experience.
Three of the four teachers had worked with short lesson cross-
age projects at various times in their teaching careers, but no
teacher had ever worked on a formal long term cross-age project. All
teachers used the Houghton Mifflin literature-based reading series as
part of the district's reading program. All teachers were familiar
with flexible grouping techniques, since this philosophy had been re-
cently promoted in the district. These teachers were interested in
the concept of the whole language approach to cross-age reading and
were curious to expose their students to the dual reading level con-
cept. The teachers completely understood that I needed "honest"
feedbackpositive or negative.
Data Gathering and Sampling Techniques
Data gathering was accomplished through the triangulation method.
The term "triangulation" refers to the research practice of using
multiple methods to gather data. According to Miles and Huberman
(1984) "triangulation is supposed to support a finding by showing
that independent measures of it agree with it or, at least don't con-
tradict it"(p. 235).
All possible outcomes, convergence, inconsistencies, and contra-
dictions were considered and explored by the researcher. One of the
most exciting aspects of using the triangulation research strategy is
the possibility of discovering unpredicted phenomena that may occur
during the learning process.
The gathering of data included direct and indirect observations,
interviews with students, interviews with teachers, and interviews
with parents. Observations were conducted by teachers, students,
parents and the researcher. Although the primary role of the stu-
dents and the parents was that of participants, they also observed
each other. As the formal researcher, I observed all students. The
teachers observed students as they normally would during any teaching
activity. The parents worked with their own children (primary stu-
dents only). A video camera was used to tape the whole group envi-
ronment, as well as interactions of students working on each reading
strategy. All book buddy teams kept journals (Figure 3.1) to record
feedback upon the completion of each session.
All students were interviewed. During the pilot each student
was interviewed individually, but it was discovered that the students
were more open and spoke more freely when they were in groups of two
or three. Therefore a variety of interviewing formats took place:
individual interviews and groups of two and three students. The in-
terviews lasted for twenty to thirty minutes.
An in-depth interview took place with focus groups comprised of
four students,. two from each school. These students were interviewed
as well as observed at various times during the study. In some cases
the direct observation took place in one of the classrooms; in other
cases the observation was made from videotape.
Based oh Spradley (1979), the types of questions that were used
to conduct the interviews included descriptive, structural, and con-
Descriptive Questions these types of questions enable the inter-
viewer to collect ongoing samples of the informants' language.
If a student says a certain element of the reading is "bad" it
is obviously important for the interviewer to understand the
definition of bad. "Bad" may mean good.
Structural Questions these questions enable the interviewer to
discover information about domains, how informants have organ-
ized their knowledge. A student might explain the ways his/her
partner corrected reading errors.
Contrast Questions these questions enable the interviewer to
discover the dimension of meaning informants attribute to their
understanding of events. A student might relate how cross-age
reading is different from a lesson with the teacher.
The format for an analysis interview is as follows:
Process Explanation a brief clarification regarding the reason
for the interview (to learn about reading from the view points
of the child, teacher, parent).
Expressing Cultural Ignorance sharing that the interviewer is not
the expert and that the informant possesses the important body
Asking Questions covering a variety of questions in a variety
Reinforcement during pauses the interviewer provides an ex-
pression of interest to the informant.
Restating and Incorporating begin with the informant's words; en-
courage clarification and embellishment.
Grand Tour Questions generalized, open-ended questions about
the whole scene or environment. They should gain information
regarding space, time, events, people, and objects (e.g.,
"Please describe the reading program.")
Specific Grand Tour Questions Focus on the most recent event
that has occurred (e.g., "Describe the last time you used the
Guided Tour Questions The informant is asked to accompany the
interviewer on an actual tour of the program, (e.g., "Would you
please take me to the room your program is in and describe to
me what is happening?")
Task-related Guided Tour Questions Ask for information while the
informant is doing a particular task ("Would you please tell me
about the activity you are doing?")
Mini Tour Questions ask about a specific event or task
("Please describe how you correct your book buddy if s/he makes
Example Questions ask to site an example ("Can you give me an
example of how you imitate the rooster when you read aloud?")
Experience Questions ask the informant to relate a personal ex-
perience ("Can you explain how you felt, reading with your book
Native Language Questions Questions that help clarify terms or
references that were used by the informant ("What's another
word for cool?" or "Tell me some other things that you think
According to Spradley, questions should focus on use, not on
meaning. Questions like "What do you mean by that?" or "Why did you
do that?" imply a hidden judgment about the informant. An example of
this consideration regarding the study is: Instead of asking, "Why
did you correct your book buddy that way?", the question can be re-
phrased, "Tell me about the method of correction you used?"
Recording Data and Methods of Collection
The ethnographic record of information gathering consisted of
field notes, interview notes, transcriptions from tape recordings,
student journals, videotapes and examples of students' activities.
All observational notes were written in ordinary language. They
included abbreviations and phrases that clarified meanings and con-
cepts, but not necessarily every spoken word. During interviews
notes were taken. Statements from both these written records were
listed according to the strategies that were being used in the study.
For example, a list of statements from observations were recorded un-
der the category "dual level reading."
During some of the interviews I randomly tape recorded our con-
versations. The exact word-for-word dialogue provided examples of
the type of dialogue that occurred during the regular interview ses-
sions. Dialogue excepts are provided in Chapter IV.
Daily student response journals were used to obtain regular in-
formation directly from all students (Figure 3.1). Since it was im-
possible to observe every session, the response journals provided a
source of direct, candid feedback from the students without any adult
connection. The circled numerical responses were recorded according
to each class in each school, and the statements were listed under
the same categories as were the observation notes and the interview
Some sessions were recorded on videotape. This allowed me to
"watch" and "listen in" on the book buddy teams as they worked to-
gether. I could also observe the entire room more than once to
gather a better understanding of the climate during the various
cross-age reading sessions.
Examples of student activities were collected. This helped me
understand the level of commitment, creativity, and on-task behavior
that occurred during the activity sessions.
Baseline data (Appendix A) was gathered from all students regard-
ing their attitudes toward the various reading strategies being con-
sidered in this study. This information was gathered both before the
students began their activities and after all activities were com-
pleted. This information is part of the data utilized in the analy-
sis of this study. All information was codified according to the
number of student responses in each category. Separate responses were
recorded in each school and at each grade level. There was no codi-
fying based on gender or ethnicity since this study focused on the
attitudes of all the participants not one particular sub-group of the
population in comparison to another
The Design of the Reading Materials
Based on the studies researched in the second chapter of this
document (whole language, cross-age tutoring, read aloud, dual level
text, paired reading, multiple reading, parent involvement in read-
ing, and the area of curriculum) and input gathered from experts in
the field of reading and education, the initial design for the read-
ing materials was constructed. In addition, observations of children
in the pilot study, input from teachers, and my own background expe-
rience were used in the design process. The materials in this pro-
gram were neither structured nor intended to teach word recognition
skills (phonics, decoding, etc.). The design format for these mate-
rials was based upon learning concepts and skills cited in Chapter
II: the construction of meaning during reading, through discussions,
and activities; the monitoring of reading through predicting, con-
firraing> and self-correcting; the expression of meaning through com-
munication, presentation and production; the role of the student as
being responsible for their own learning.
In order to make easy reference to the books and the materials
that would be used in this study, I referred to them as a program and
titled it "READ WITH ME". This helped considerably when speaking
with the students and the teachers about a certain book or a particu-
lar reference. These materials were designed with three separate
1) one teacher's guide
2) three stories
3) three "book buddy" packets (interactive guides to be used by
the intermediate student one packet accompanied each of the three
Examples of all three components are included in this chapter.
In some cases references to the sources researched are indicated to
support certain aspects in this material.
In the pilot study, as well as in the final study, I found the
teaching guide was an essential part of the program. Each teacher
benefited from having the background information before I was sched-
uled to discuss the study with them. All the teachers valued the re-
search included in the guide, and shared with me that the training
information was especially useful. The teacher's guide was composed
of the following sections:
Overview A one page overview of the program using bullet
statements citing the benefits of cross-age reading strategies.
The teachers at both grade levels told me that they shared some
of this information with their students.
The Reading Program An explanation oi; the research and a review
of recent literature that was used to support the formulation
of the materials, and training suggestions. This information
was a condensed version of the literature review presented in
Graphic Organizer for Cross-Age Reading A one page step-by-step
graphic outlining the reading strategies used in the cross-age
reading sessions (as cited in Chapter I).
Training Introduction and training suggestions for the teachers
to used with students at each grade level.
Conferencing Rubric Definitions and suggestions for the teacher
to use during conferencing, if they desired.
This program is a new educational concept designed to enrich, modvare, and improve
reading through the unique idea of a dual-level tea. Cross-Age Classics uses stories from
classic literature. Each story is composed for two distinct reading levels: an intermediate level
and a primary level. The stories are designed to be read orally by two persons, each reading
alternately at his or her own level.
This program is designed for the classroom setting, but it can be easily adapted for parent
and child, special education programs, the media center, or a preschool program.
The following benefits will be realized for the primary child, as the program offers:
exposure to more advanced concepts and vocabulary than that provided by traditional
a design that includes auditory skills, visual skills, and kinesthetic skills
subject areas not previously designed for the primary reader
the motivation, immediate reinforcement, and increased learning that only a compa-
nion reading provision offers
a high level of personal interaction and bonding
an opportunity for pairs of students to work ar their own pace
exposure to classic literature of merit
the opportunity for repeated readings of each story
higher-level rhinking skills
The following benefits will be realized for the intermediate child, as the program offers:
a positive method to build self-esteem through reading and helping others
a method to practice oral reading slrilk
an opportunity to teach the skills learned
a relationship at another peer level
the opportunities to discuss and encourage thinking Ailk at various levels
a greater understanding of the reading process
exposure to classic literature
an application of reading process events
Figure 3.1. An Overview.
The Read With Me Program
llie love of leading is ode of the important gifts that teaches
and patens may give id children. Literature will provide a-
pencscs arc ordinarily inacccsablc to mdcoOi broaden A or
knowledge of the wodd and is people, and improve reading skills.
SUCh aS tWwnifw jj qqq of twww
and should be in all cusxcular areas.
Recommended Readings m Literature:
Kindergarten through Grade Eight,
California State Department of Education
Other than I love you," the three most powerful words a child uttes in a literate society may be
Head with me. The impact of reading aloud is one of the most potent ways to increase vocabulary,
improve comprehension, and broaden knowledge. Reading with children helps them understand their
feelings, reinforces their values, and introduces new perspectives. Qiildren acquire a lifelong love for
reading if it is introduced to them at an early age through a positive, nurturing approach.
This is the purpose of the Read With Me concept: to create an anting, interactive reading enrich-
ment program. The reading model units the concepts of reading aloud, cross-age companion laming,
parent involvement, classic literature, multiple readings, and higher-level thinking skills, along with the
exciting new concept of dual-level reading.
Formulation and Research
Thomas Jolly (1980: 99)) quota Therese Bissen Bard (1976) as saying: "Reading aloud may be the
single most important potent factor in Influencing response to literature." A statement from
Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading shows that the single most
important activity foe building the knowledge base required for success in reading is reading aloud to
children. Those fend childhood memories of curling up in a chair and listening to someone read you a
story actually may have had significant redeeming value in toms of the future effects oo reading
Priscilla Vail and Rudine Sims ate benefits ftam the read-aloud event: the intake of new ideas, con-
cept development, an expansion of language and listening skills, and the preparation for written
language. Other influence derived from reading aloud utilize die child's affective area. These include
the concepo char reading is highly valued; it can be enjoyable: and it provide opportunities for a child
to feel empathy and emotion.
McCormick (1979). in a research review focusing on the effects of reading aloud to preschoolers,
categorized the following information:
In the area of language development, children. In the study group scored significantly higher
than children In the control group on receptive vocabulary, expressive vocabulary, and length of
Prereaders in the highest level of linguistic development had more boob read to them, were ex-
posed to boob at a higher level of complexity, and were rod to by more people.
Reading aloud produced a greats incest In boob than just discussing them or having them
Figure 3.2. The Reading Program.
The Read With Me Model
This section describes each step in the Read With Me Model. All steps should be shared with
students, so chat they have an understanding of the goals, the rationale, and the arpenations of this pro-
gram. As rhis is an enrichment model, plan to use vbi program once or twice a week. Your intermediate
children as well as your primary children will look forward to this special time with their Book Buddies."
Graphic Organizer for Cross-Age Reading.
Training (Intermediate Student)
We are going to be working with a new reading idea called Cross-Age Classics. [Hold up book.]
You will be reading a story from this book with a Book Buddy" partner from______________________ [Name
class and teacher.]
These stories are written in a new way. You will read the high-level rate [show a page] aloud to your
partner, and then, your partner will read the large primary text aloud to you. After you and your partner
complete a story, you will have a discussion and do an activity. Earh story will be read a second and a
third time so that your "Book Buddy will leam to read the tot better and to understand the story
This method of reading will help your partner leam to read better and, believe it or not, it will also
help you to read better too. Studies have shown that, when older students read aloud, teach story discus*
sions. and do activities with younger students, both groups improve their reading skills.
The idea behind Cross-Age Classics is to read well-known stories that have been passed on from
generation to generation, improve reading, and most important of all, have fun with a partner.
Be sure to model reading aloud for your students and allow diem the opportunity
to role-play with other intermediate students. Remind them that the primary
students may be nervous at first, and have them relate what it was like to be that
age. Spcdal Note: If some of your intermediate students are not capable of reading
the intermediate-level test, let them chose primary books from the library. Fart of
your class can read these primary-level bools, and pan of the class can use the
Cross-Age Classic stories. In this way, no older student will be embarrassed, and.
by switching Book Buddies, all primary students can benefit
Training (Primary Student)
We are going to be working with a new reading idea called Cross-Age Classics. [Hold up book.]
You will be reading a story from this book with a "Book Buddy" partner from [Name
class and teacher.]
These stories are written in a new way. You and your partner will talk about a story, then you will
begin reading. Your partner will read the small, printed words [show a page] aloud to you, and then,
you will read the large, printed words aloud to your partner. After you and your partner complete a
story, you will talk about it and do an activity. If you are not sure about how to read a certain word, your
partner will help you. Also. you and your partner will read each story more than once and do a new activ-
ity each rime. This way of reading will help both you and your partner to read better, and it will be fun
The stories you will be reading are very, very old. They have been enjoyed by children all over the
world for more than one hundred years.
Young children enjoy discussing stories before they begin reading, and it helps them better under-
stand that stories take place in different locations and different rime periods. Pre-reading discussions also
help youngsters understand the difference between a real story and a fantasy.
is is important for beginning readers to relate personal experiences to the story. Perhaps they have
visited a place wmifar to the location in die story, or they may have a relative or a friend who reminds
them of a certain character in the story. If the story is about animals, you can discuss their pets and
wiimak at the or on a htn.
Figure 3.4. Training.
Step 4: TEACHER CONFERENCE
TEACHER CONFERENCE (1*3 sole)
UNDERSTANDS MAIN IDEA
RELATES PERSONAL ECPERIENCES
HOME READING SESSION
Figure 3.5. Conferencing Rubric
Conferencing is designed to gain a "viewpoint" from the experi-
ences of the children. The student responses should help the teacher
understand student performance, thus new strategies can be suggested
to make the interactive experiences more successful if a third read-
ing is recommended. Feedback should be provided to both the interme-
diate student as well as the primary student. Focus should also be
directed toward the dynamics that occurrs between the two book buddy
Based on feedback from the teachers participating in the pilot
program, a rubric was created that could be used for. student confer-
encing. The teachers who helped in the pilot program requested an
understanding of the 5-point scale, and suggested that sample ques-
tions should be available during the student conferencing sessions.
This rubric (Figure 3.5) and the following information (Figure
3.5.1) was used by the teachers in the study. Various kinds of ques-
tions were provided for each book title. These questions were broken
down into separate categories. The teacher had the choice of using
the available questions or using their own questions based on the
categories provided. The formulation of the conferencing rubric and
the categories that were included was based on information from Con-
cepts About Print/Book Handling Checklist and from the Handbook in
Understands Main Idea
Some students may relate one main idea, while others may relate
more than one idea. During the conference determine if the students
graep main the main coneept(s) in the story.
- the animals all had problems
- the animals all worked together
- each nniiwi] helped solve the situation
- an unattractive person may be kind
- treat all creatures with kindneas
- appearances are not important
- jewelry and gifts are not as important as kindness
- don't trust strangers
- money or riches can create problems and can help
- love conquers all
- Ask each student to read a few sentences. Listen for:
expression.. .quotes......voice changes......phrases reading rather
than word-per-word reading.
Strategies: provide examples for both students, have the
primary student repeat the phrases read by the intermediate student.
Relates Personal Experiences
- students are able to talk about personal experiences
relating to characters, events, or settings (e.g. their own animals,
visiting a farm, talking about a movie, talking about a magician,
Figure 3.5.1. Example of Questions from Conferencing Rubric.
The purpose of the teacher conference was twofold:
1) to check the progress of each "Book Buddy" team. The team
recorded the completion of each activity on the conference sheet
prior to meeting.
2) to gain information regarding the interactive process of
each team. This information indicated that whether the teacher
should suggest particular strategies.
Below is one example of the recording scale. Refer to Appendix
B for a complete reference.
Using the 1-5 Recording Scale
1-2....low level interactive performance, a highly de-
pendent primary student, difficulty answering questions,
short answers, difficulty with predictions and vocabu-
lary, needs help with many words, monotone, word-per-word
4-5....high level interaction, in-depth answers to ques-
tions, asking questions relating to the story, under-
stands vocabulary, can relate personal events to the
story, oral reading expression.
Frvm thi'Arabai Sifhts
Seau&f and the Be&St
Figure 3.6. The Three Stories
The Bremen Town Musicians, Beauty and the Beast, and Aladdin
and the Wonderful Lamp were each presented as separate books. The
selection of these stories was based on a review of children's clas-
sic literature. Contacts were established with the local libraries
regarding collections of classic children's literature. It was dis-
covered that the most extensive collection of classic children's lit-
erature in the field was located in the Epstein Collection at the
University of Colorado's Rare Books Library. This collection houses
editions of children's books that were printed in the 1800's. From
this source a dozen stories were copied on audio tape or photocopied.
Three stories, The Bremen Town Musicians by The Brothers Grimm,
Beauty and the Beast by Madame Le Prince, and Aladdin, and the Won-
derful Lamp by Scheherazade, were chosen based on the following cri-
- stories that are classics in children's literature.
- stories that are listed in the California State Department of
Education Recommended Readings in Literature.
- stories that represented various cultures.
- stories from different authors.
- stories that had expired copyrights.
- reasonable length for primary age children.
All three selected stories were initially recopied, retaining
all the original text from the books in the Epstein collection. In
producing the final text, the only alterations from the original
writing involved verbiage that could be misinterpreted by young chil-
dren. This verbiage might have been appropriate a hundred years ago,
but today a different connotation might exist. For instance, in the
original Bremen Town Musicians, the donkey was referred to as the
"ass," and the rooster was referred to as the "cock." Since word us-
age has changed in the last one hundred years, and young students may
focus on the modern slang interpretation rather than the original us-
age, changes were made in these words. Other than these minor al-
terations, the text from the original translations of each story was
retained. This text represents the intermediate level text, while
the primary level text was written as a repetition of the intermedi-
ate level text but at a lower reading level. This primary text was
written by the author of this study.
Each book was designed with a spiral binder for ease in turning
pages. The covers were printed on cover stock. A short biographical
sketch of the author and a map showing the author's birthplace was
printed on the inside of each cover page^ Black and white illustra-
tions and text appear on every page. The text utilizes the dual
reading format. An example of the alternating primary and intermedi-
ate level text is provided in Figure 3.7. A sample of the entire
book is provided in Appendix C.
Beauty marked her calendar as each day passed,
and when the appointed time came for her return,
she prepared herself. She looked for the magic rose,
but it had disappeared from its place of safety. She
became frightened and searched everywhere. Crying,
Beauty asked her brothers if they had seen the rose.
They said no. She then questioned her sisters. When
she looked at her sisters faces, she knew they had
taken the rose. Beauty ran to their room. To her
great joy, she saw the rose lying on the floor under a
table, but it was dried up and withered.
She picked up the rose. It became
fresh and beautiful again. She held the
rose to her heart and wished herself back
to the castle.
Figure 3.7. The Dual Level Text Format
Figure 3.8. The Book Buddy Packets; Student Guides The three Book Buddy
Packets, designed to accompany each of the three stories, followed
the same format. Each packet was composed of seven sections and was
designed for use by intermediate students as a tutoring guide. Stu-
dents were instructed that this booklet was only a guide, and if they
wanted to add or try something not in the guide, it was "okay."
The Bremen Town Musicians
(The (Boor abould chart thb with ho or her "Book Buddy.)
Step 1: DISCUSSION
(See model oo p*ft 6)
PSE-REASING: Before ve begin reading. v* ihoald oik ibom nme toy imponxm idea is this norr.
Ve arc going o disuo idsi dui dal vkh **h6,* vhsx," watxt," "ito," why." and Toi'."
WHO: In'a Isa about the ****^ The cover of skb racy ihos the oais chasnei. Can you name
them? (mule, at, dog, rooster). Nov. lei'ituan page ra.Ther;baptaureofthree iocs oo thb page.
The aniy tdb ui chit they arc abbs. Caa you goal which one is the leader? (allot. bexeat, the one
pointing. Any loanable aasver is acoptable.)
WHAT: (look a the cove.) What do you thiak the tide sons? (Be sure you; pins Isevs vhar a
Bunaa is.) Tin 0 the inside from eoro aad share this taaacaciaa with your "Book Buddy."
WHERE: (Aaecba word bt where a wry taka place 0 the Mtmgy. Seme of the ttarngi ia this book aic
Bade aad some arc outside. Let's look sx three nag? in bus nary. Discus the retting* on pages 1. s.
aid t. Have your paraa id! about each place (coummiflc. hnu. srst. and a cabia or house).
WHEN: (Whca a nwy taka place babe part of dreading): Irti again look a page n. Had duo tha:
tell us this BOff aka place a loaf time ago (andlr. old bioea. cooling per in the fireplace).
WHY: Why do you thiak the ia Ab amiy vac: u make r.uiic (for fen. ibr die joy of xaking
music. Aay rosonabJc answc b iccsptiblc.)
HOW: Hov aa talk or sing? (They reallrac'ttfab non' u nor real, it fs a txcojt.)
Figure 3.9. step 1 : Discussion. A pre-reading interactive activity that
provides an opportunity for the students to discuss the following
questions regarding each story: who, where, when, how, what. Refer-
ences were made to various pages in the story, so students could dis-
cover information from the illustrations that helps them discuss each
question. Part of this initial discussion process included the stu-
dents personal background and experiences that related to the story
elements: characters, the setting, or the main idea. Gaining meaning
from illustrations was also part of this process (based on the re-
search of Jolly, 1980; Goodman, 1984; Harste, Burke fi Woodard, 1984;
Winograd & Paris, 1989). Vocabulary used in the story was also part
of the preview discussion, thus rendering the vocabulary familiar
when the story was read.
Figure 3.10. Step 2: Initial Reading.
- Two questions were provided that promote short discussions at
specific places in the story (the pages were listed)
- Three questions were also listed that promoted discussion af-
ter the stories were completed.
- A variety of questions were provided to promote various types
of thinking: speculation, problem solving, brainstorming, inference,
- Directions to create a specific interactive activity that re-
late to each story was provided.
Many of the same learning attributes were reinforced through
the strategies of asking questions and discussions. The positive as-
pects of oral reading, discussing the story, and asking questions
were emphasized in this step (Altwerger, Deihl-Faxon & Dockstader-
Anderson, 1985; Fogarty & Wang, 1982; Winograd & Paris, 1989).
.Hie Bremen Town Musicians
Step 3: SECOND READING
During Ac mod tme yen rad ihii sty, ok Aoe quauuni ufees you cod your "Book Buddy" fiooh
ending ori of Ac fbOowmg p^cs:
(s) Vby do you Aiak Ac ouk *uod ill Ac to be bumbqj?
(ta) Whs do you Aiak Ac robber a oat by "file iha*>
AFTER TKE SECOND BEADING
No* Aac w hive rod Ad nary mood one. lai alk about ieoe nc* tdoi.
WHAT: lai tun 0 page ?. (Kao Ac Add msxs.) you Alwfc of (Coorrai)
noAg void for "caaroda"? (Bad d again if acceary: if 00 insvg. nbsei
e oefa of Ac ADovAg voni and 11k vhiA one rousA Ac bor cpnm
WHERE: Why do you Aiok each cboac in ooo place 0 ilecp? (vud (Conclusion)
fireplace, guarding 001 Ac door, a niter u iifcr a poA. more rocre ouuiet.
Any raaoublc aiver a accepoble. look at page m if occeitan).
WHY: Why do you Aiok Ac robboi Aougbr Aer veie acacked by ragmen?
(Ic w dad. They didnt roe Ae toioali. The aniatala bn and kicked Aea. Any
loanable assvg is iBeptable.)
Ware a ocv eadia( for "The Bresea Tove Musmai."
You are aov rody Sot a ToAe Conference (Step 4).
Figure 3.11. Step 3: Second Reading. The same format cited in step 2.
Each student took turns reading the story a second time. Different
questions, and different activities were provided, so students fo-
cused on new concepts and skills. The purpose of repeated readings
was to reinforce new aspects that were not emphasized in previous
readings, improve information processing, and provide additional op-
portunities to practice cue development, word recognition, fluency,
and reading rate. (Dahl & Samuels, 1979; Morgan & Lyon, 1979; Wi-
nograd & Paris, 1989).