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Implementing a Dialogic Reading Intervention: The Experiences of Teachers of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students

  • Author(s): Urbani, Jacquelyn Marion
  • Advisor(s): Pearson, P. David;
  • Prinz, Philip M.
  • et al.

Deaf and hard of hearing children (hereafter DHH) frequently have delayed language and little experience with books because they do not share a common language with their hearing parents. However, there is little research concerning language and literacy development in the DHH classroom and equally little discussion of teacher responsibilities to address these issues. This study investigated the implementation of dialogic reading, which aims to engage students in active discussion and retellings of stories, using American Sign Language, called story signings. Because dialogic reading research with language delayed, hearing preschool students resulted in significant improvement of language skill (Whitehurst, Arnold, et al., 1994; Whitehurst, et al., 1999), it was a logical candidate for implementation with DHH students.

A hybrid of case study and design-based research methods was used to investigate the implementation of dialogic reading with four elementary teachers of DHH students. This study was undertaken collaboratively with teachers in order to overcome obstacles that might interfere with implementation and sustainability, to make adjustments to alleviate such problems as they arose during implementation, and to identify necessary adaptations for their student population. The teachers taught grades one through five. Two taught in a school for DHH children, and the other two taught in special day classes for DHH students located within elementary schools. Data sources included videotapes of story signings and reading instruction and audiotapes of meetings with teachers.

Findings indicate that the teachers were hindered first by a lack of knowledge and then subsequently by the difficulties of implementation. These difficulties included those identified in previous research: teacher time for small groups, a difference in philosophy of teaching and learning, and teacher effort (Lonigan & Whitehurst, 1998). Specifically, teachers were not regularly engaged in reading to students, admitted they did not know how to address language delays within the classroom, and felt additional adaptations for their students competed with their professional commitment to other curricular areas. Future research needs to investigate implementation issues for the purposes of sustainability, and teacher education programs — for pre-and in-service teachers — need to prepare teachers for the multifaceted, complex nature of instruction.

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