Are They Really Reading? A Descriptive Study of First Graders During Independent Reading

Lindsey Moses, Laura Beth Kelly

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


This article provides an analysis of how a large, diverse Title I class of 1st-grade students spent independent reading time when an exemplary teacher provided instructional supports to foster engaged independent reading. The data derived from observational checklists that documented students’ literacy-related, off-task, and transition behaviors; video recordings of the literacy block; student interviews; and research notes. The quantitative findings showed that students overwhelmingly adopted literacy-related behavior (rather than off-task behavior) during independent reading. We provide a qualitative analysis of the ways in which 3 of the most frequently observed literacy-related behaviors (documenting thinking or strategies on stickies, conferring with the teacher, and related talking) supported meaning making. After a year of engaged independent reading, students shifted from viewing reading as isolated and accuracy focused to viewing it as an opportunity to make meaning. The findings suggest that fears about emergent readers being unable to productively use independent reading time may be unfounded. The article concludes with implications for practice and teacher education.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)322-338
Number of pages17
JournalReading and Writing Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 4 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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