This observational study examined kindergarteners' (n= 170) exposure to literacy instruction in their classrooms (n= 36), child-by-instruction interactions, and behavioral engagement in relation to literacy skills. Time spent in four instructional contexts was coded according to who managed children's attention (teacher-managed, TM or child-managed, CM), and the content focus (basic skills such as teaching letters and their sounds, or meaning-focused such as discussing a book); children's behavioral engagement and off-task behavior were also coded live five times over the year. Word-reading and phonological awareness skills were assessed in fall and spring. Hierarchical Linear Modeling results indicated that kindergarteners with lower initial skills gained more in word-reading, but not phonological awareness, when they were exposed to relatively more time in TM basic skills instruction. In contrast, more time in CM meaning-focused instruction did not interact with initial skills to predict either outcome. Engagement analyses indicated that students were more likely to be off-task in CM than in TM contexts. Children who spent more time off-task during TM contexts had lower spring scores on both outcomes. Discussion explores the implications of this work for both literacy learning and behavioral engagement in the transition year of kindergarten. © 2010 Elsevier Inc.
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