Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Education

Advisor

Sigrin Newell

Abstract

Motivation, which is based on experience, is crucial in promoting literacy acquisition; however, little research has explored what children experience during literacy activities such as poetry reading and writing. This phenomenological study explored what elementary students experienced during literacy activities focused on poetry. Educational reform inspired by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 is based on a narrow range of quantitative research and does not consider the multifaceted nature of literacy and the experiences of the learner. Bruner's psychocultural theory and the belief that an individual's experiences are the core of existence were the philosophical and theoretical frameworks used to craft this research. This study was conducted to illuminate children's experience during literacy activities, including Poetry Break, which has been observed to be an eagerly anticipated part of daily classroom rituals at a culturally diverse Title I school. Interviews were held with 22 fifth through twelfth grade students from culturally diverse backgrounds. Fourteen were English-language learners. Students were asked to reflect upon and describe their experiences of poetry reading and writing when in the third or fourth grade. Data were analyzed by isolating thematic statements to glean the essence of the poetry experience. The experiences of fun, being center stage, working with friends, emotional outlet, expressing oneself, choice, creating community, improved reading, and writing were some of the themes that emerged. Implications for positive social change include the use of these findings by educational planners to create motivational and engaging literacy learning activities that can result in improved literacy.