Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Childhood Education and Literacy Studies

Major Professor

Jenifer J. Schneider

Co-Major Professor

Sherry Kragler


comprehension strategies, informational texts, interactive read-alouds, primary literacy, science instruction


Although scholars have long advocated the use of informational texts in the primary grades, gaps and inconsistencies in research have produced conflicting reports on how teachers used these texts in the primary curriculum, and how primary students dealt with them during instruction and on their own (e.g., Saul & Dieckman, 2005). Thus, to add to research on informational texts in the primary grades, the purpose of this study was to examine: (a) a first-grade teacher's use of science informational trade books (SITBs) in her classroom, (b) the ways students responded to her instruction, and (c) how students interacted with these texts. My study was guided by a sociocultural perspective (e.g., Bakhtin, 1981; Vygotsky, 1978), providing me a lens to examine participants during naturally occurring social practices in the classroom, mediated by language and other symbolic tools. Data were collected by means of 28 observations, 6 semi-structured interviews, 21 unstructured interviews, and 26 documents over the course of 10 weeks.

Three themes generated from the data to provide insight into the teacher's and students' practices and interactions with SITBs. First, the first-grade teacher used SITBs as teaching tools during guided conversations around the text to scaffold students' understanding of specialized vocabulary, science concepts, and text features. Her instruction with SITBs included shared reading lessons, interactive read-alouds and learning activities during two literacy/science units. However, there was limited use of SITBs during the rest of her reading program, in which she demonstrated a preference for narrative. Second, students responded to instruction by participating in guided conversations around the text, in which they used prior knowledge, shared ideas, and visual representations (e.g., illustrations, diagrams, labels, and captions) to actively make meaning of the text. Third, students interacted with SITBs on their own to make sense of science, in which they demonstrated their interest in reading the texts, formed connections to science, used reading strategies, and adjusted to the text type and variations of text complexity.

The findings indicate the teacher's practices with SITBs were supportive of literacy and science learning for students at various levels of reading development. However, her inexperience with informational books and her preference for narrative demonstrates a need for training to assist her in providing guided and individualized reading instruction with SITBs, as well as provide students with full access to these texts in the classroom. Further, the teacher's overgeneralizations for science during instruction with SITBs indicates the need for training to strengthen her knowledge of science that would better prepare her to convey information and critically read information presented in these texts. Finally, the students' engagement with SITBs and their use of strategies to make sense of these texts on their own, indicates the first graders were motivated and capable readers of informational books.