Exploring participation in a first-grade multicultural classroom during two literacy events: The read aloud and the literature dramatization

Haag, Claudia Christensen
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This study was undertaken to uncover participation patterns during two literacy events, the read aloud and the literature dramatization, in a multicultural first grade classroom. The population included one first-grade teacher, 2 high verbal students, 2 low verbal students, and 2 ESL students. Questions guiding the research were what constituted participation in each event and how participation differed from one event to the other.

Data were collected for a 16-week period. Categories and codes were identified for both the read aloud and literature dramatization events. In the analysis, structures of participation were enumerated. Next, read aloud behaviors or the dramatization behaviors were analyzed. Finally, evidence of constructing story knowledge was analyzed.

Findings indicated that the teacher was receptive to student turntaking and response, she guided and directed both events through verbal and nonverbal modes, and she elicited response in constructing story knowledge. The teacher showed more director talk, was more explicit with directives, and guided through her participation as an actor and a critic in the dramatizations. Eliciting response to construct story knowledge was higher in the dramatization for one area, negotiates story but was higher in the other two categories, analyzes story and links/connects story, in the read aloud event.

All 6 subjects had an increase in verbal participation in the literature dramatization behaviors compared to the read aloud because of the expansion in dramatization behaviors to include director, critic, and actor participations. Under constructing story knowledge, talk surrounding all three categories (negotiating story, analyzing story features, and linking or connecting the story) was frequent and deliberate in the read aloud event. In the dramatization event, the only category to have high participation rates was negotiating story, where students were asked to recall or improvise lines.

The read aloud event allowed for talk surrounding constructing story knowledge, providing the foundation for the dramatization scripts that were collaboratively negotiated with the teacher. In literature dramatizations, all students, but especially the ESL students, were allowed a wider array of participation opportunities, and during the one analyzed event, both ESL students increased their quantity and quality of participation.

Communication and the arts, Education, Dramatization, First-grade, Literacy events, Multicultural, Read aloud