How does creative drama instruction increase the reading engagement of eighth grade students with learning disabilities?

Kirkland, Janice L
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Students with learning disabilities may experience difficulty engaging in literacy activities, as they risk being hindered by negative attitudes and doubt of their intellectual abilities, reduced effort, lower self-efficacy, and failure (Klassen, 2007; Litcht & Kirstner, 1986; Oldfather, 2002; Roberts, Torgesen, Boardman, & Scammacca, 2008). Motivating these adolescents to read critically from an engaged stance is an indispensable requirement of literacy instruction because adolescent readers face increasingly complex material, may risk aliteracy (Brinda, 2007), need to develop a positive reader identity to facilitate life-long reading (Strommen & Mates, 2004), and live in a world with increased literacy demands (Allington, 2001). Hearing the adolescents voices concerning reading engagement is of value (Brinda, 2007: Mizzelle, 1997; Oldfather, 2002) when addressing the literacy needs of these students. Once teachers can understand how their students feel about reading, they can help students to engage in successful learning (Vlach & Burcie, 2010). This study explores if creative drama instruction increases reading engagement of eighth grade students with learning disabilities. Using narrative inquiry, I gathered, analyzed, and interpreted the stories told by the participants through observation, conversation, and interviews using descriptive questions to discover what the students say and do that reveal their experiences and observations of engaged readers, particularly when participating in creative drama activities. I also used student created artifacts, along with student reflections following each drama enactment. Researcher observations, the researcher s reflective journal, and audio and video recordings contributed to the data sources. Themes clustered into the following categories: engaged readers are focused, interact with others, demonstrate their thinking, take an aesthetic stance, do not give up, desire to select good books, and abandon boring books. Data was portrayed using the participants words, where possible, to capture the students voices, personal meanings, and stories.

Communication and the arts, Education, Adolescents, Creative dramatics, Engagement, Learning disabilities, Reading