The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 2 - Page 41


An intentional

Allowing students to self-select texts for independent reading is also critical for creating an environment that embraces the joys of reading. Students must be provided equitable access to texts that allow them to read leisurely and apply literacy skills taught previously by teachers. For example, content area teachers can choose to immerse English learners with books in their native language, giving readers a chance to build literacy and facilitate the acquisition of a second language.

Social Justice and Equity

Part of our joy for teaching and learning can also be seen through our sharing of relevant and authentic literacy experiences with classmates, relatives, and various audiences. To begin the heavy-lifting around this worthwhile work, teachers can select texts that students can connect with. This is an essential first step in creating curriculum that is accessible to students. More importantly, text selections must be varied enough to give learners of all reading levels a selection of texts best-suited to their skill set and individual needs. This is true for all students, including English learners; and, while it is our belief that access to appropriate instructional materials should guide one aspect of our instructional planning, we also know that student interest and inquiry will often foster student motivation and engagement around more challenging and complex texts that are either self-selected by students or assigned by the content-area teacher. To balance both purposes, students must have access to rich classroom libraries that tell students “we value you as readers and writers and this is the class where you will thrive.” Students need to see their lives and experiences reflected in the texts across all content areas.

Commonly referred to as “Windows, Mirrors, and Sliding Doors,” the work of Rudine Sims Bishop (1990) reminds us that students will often have experiences that require taking on different perspectives and views. In other instances, literature will self-affirm what students already know about their own lives, like a reflection staring back at the reader. When it comes to “sliding doors,” ask yourself: how am I cultivating instruction so that my students can experience stepping into a new real or imagined world to feel a sense of belonging? We assert that the place to start would be to ensure that students are seen in the texts and curriculum across content areas.

Teachers can use these general instructions for how to write a “How-to-Be” Poem to model writing in content-area classrooms.

communication” (National Council of Teachers of English, 2016, para. 1). The principles of the NCTE claim that “everyone has the capacity to write; writing can be taught; and teachers can help students become better writers” (National Council of Teachers of English, 2016, para. 21). The principles of the NCTE add that the more an individual writes, the stronger their writing becomes, and writing is a process, a tool for thinking and communicating. Finally, it is argued by the NCTE that strong writing supports strong reading and that students who are engaged in writing often find that reading becomes easier.

Specifically, this project utilized findings from studies about using multisensory strategies to understand more fully how other researchers had effectively implemented these types of interventions in classrooms of young learners. Dowburd-Young (2007) conducted a relevant study in which she described multisensory strategies to include the “use of manipulatives, visualization, songs, and graphic organizers which enabled become more proficient writers” (2007, p.8). She further explained that multisensory instruction is a valuable method for working with students as it targets the use of two or more senses either to “take in or express information” (Dowburd-Young, 2007, p. 4). Several studies with similar findings were reviewed in preparation for this intervention. Through the research of multisensory intervention within the classroom it was determined that this type of intervention may be beneficial with this group of first-grade students.

Pre-assessment Results

A pre-assessment was completed during Week One prior to the beginning of the intervention. Students were asked to provide written responses to the teacher’s prompts in the genres of informative and opinion writing. The Lucy Calkins First Grade Writing Rubric was used to evaluate the students’ writing proficiency. Based on the student responses of each of these prompts, the researcher was able to determine a baseline of proficiency in writing as well as instruction for the next week of intervention. Pre-assessment results on the opinion writing assessment showed all 23 students who participated scored below the first-grade level according to the Lucy Calkins First Grade Writing Rubric. Pre-assessment results from the narrative pre-assessment indicated that 22 of the 23 students who participated scored below the first-grade level, according to the Lucy Calkins First Grade Writing Rubric


The intervention using multisensory strategies to improve writing proficiency was carried out over nine weeks, including the pre-assessment and post-assessment. The writing intervention correlated with the district scope and sequence within the content area of science. Each week, the instructional tasks and activities utilized multisensory experiences in the areas of kinesthetic, visual and auditory strategies. Students followed the writing process throughout the week and published a piece of writing at the end of each week as a formative assessment, which was scored using a teacher-created rubric.

Weeks two-three. The content for the next two weeks included a science unit about solids, liquids, and gases. The structure of a paragraph was introduced, including topic sentence, details, and closing sentence. The multisensory experiences used during this unit were visual, kinesthetic and auditory strategies.

● Visual strategies. Students used colored strips to indicate each part of a paragraph as they composed their writing pieces. They gained information to include in the supporting details through several experiments and videos. A new graphic organizer was introduced; the teacher intern modeled how to underline the topic sentence in green, details in yellow, and closing sentence in red. During this week, a self-assessment editing checklist was introduced that was utilized throughout the remainder of the intervention.