Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Spelling-Related Teacher Knowledge: The Impact of Professional Development on Identifying Appropriate Instructional Activities

Academic journal article Learning Disability Quarterly

Spelling-Related Teacher Knowledge: The Impact of Professional Development on Identifying Appropriate Instructional Activities

Article excerpt

Abstract. Informed instruction that adjusts content, materials, or intensity to student needs is critical for students with learning disabilities. Informed literacy instruction requires teachers to have thorough knowledge of literacy-related content, which includes phonemes, syllables, and morphemes. The current study investigated whether teachers who possess this knowledge are better able to identify student needs and appropriate instructional spelling activities than teachers who do not possess this knowledge. In Study 1, 36 preservice teachers and 38 inservice teachers completed measures to evaluate their literacy-related content knowledge and ability to identify appropriate spelling activities. Overall, the inservice teachers demonstrated greater knowledge and were better able to identify appropriate instructional activities than the preservice teachers. In Study 2, the knowledge of 196 inservice teachers completing varying numbers of hours of professional development was analyzed to determine the effects of professional development on literacy-related content knowledge and ability to identify appropriate activities. Generally, greater teacher knowledge and identification of appropiate activities were related to the number of hours of professional development completed.

**********

In recent years, there has been growing research interest in teachers' literacy-related content knowledge and practices (e.g., Cunningham, Perry, Stanovich, & Stanovich, 2004; Piasta, Connor, Fishman, & Morrison, 2009). The reason for this increased interest is succinctly encapsulated in a statement by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future: "What teachers know and can do is one of the most important influences on what students learn" (as cited in Darling-Hammond, 1998, p. 6).

Unfortunately, even though teacher knowledge and practices are important influences in children's learning to read and spell, many teachers do not have sufficient knowledge to make informed instructional decisions (e.g., Bos, Mather, Dickson, Podhajski, & Chard, 2001; McCutchen, Harry, et al., 2002; Moats, 1994a). Many teachers have not received comprehensive preservice training on how to teach reading and spelling, and inservice training is rarely more comprehensive than preservice training (cf. Joshi et al., 2009; McCutchen & Beminger, 1999; Moats & Lyon, 1996). Additionally, only within the past decade has a body of converging scientific evidence on teacher knowledge and instructional practices been amassed and intently disseminated (e.g., National Reading Panel [NRP], 2000).

Teacher Literacy-Related Content Knowledge

Some recent studies (e.g., Cunningham et al., 2004; Spear-Swerling, 2009) have looked at levels of teacher literacy-related content knowledge, specifically English language structures, such as phonemes, affixes, and orthographic patterns. Other studies (e.g., McCutchen, Abbott, & Green, 2002; Moats & Foorman, 2003; Piasta et al., 2009; Spear-Swerling & Brucker, 2004) have examined levels of teacher literacy-related content knowledge and changes in teacher practices and student achievement as a result of increased teacher knowledge.

Findings show that increased literacy-related content knowledge facilitates teachers' interpretation of assessments, selection of appropriate words for reading and spelling instruction, analysis of reading and spelling errors, and constructive feedback to students' errors (Moats, 1994a; Spear-Swerling, 2009). In other words, informed teachers are more sensitive to the learning needs of individual students, particularly students with learning disabilities in reading and writing. This is important, because students learn best when instruction is proximate to their particular stage in learning to read and spell (Brady & Moats, 1997), and informed teachers can make appropriate adjustments to instruction based on student needs. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.