Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Teacher Leadership (Ed.D)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair/First Advisor

Dr. Corrie Theriault

Committee Chair

Dr. Scott Ritchie

Second Committee Member

Dr. Mark Warner


The purpose of this qualitative study using ethnographic methods was to gain insights into how teachers of primary-aged students successfully enact critical literacy in their classrooms. Using a critical pedagogical theoretical framework, I addressed the following research questions: In what ways are teachers of primary grades modeling and fostering critical literacy within their classrooms? What challenges have primary-grades teachers faced when employing critical literacy practices? What suggestions would teachers offer to those who wish to move toward a more critical stance with their teaching? I interviewed nine K-3 teachers who had experience with critical literacy and supplemented interview data by observing lessons and taking photographs of student work and teacher-created instructional supports. I applied an inductive analysis, looking for patterns and themes.

There were three types of critical literacy enacted by primary-grades teachers: employment of critical literacy through themes predetermined by the teacher, critical literacy taught through student-centered themes, and teachers’ encouraging students to question what they read through social issues texts. Colleges and universities played an important role in supporting classrooms in which critical literacy is a central component. Obstacles existed such as questioning the readiness of students or fears of what parents would think about teachers addressing topics that could be controversial with their children. This study may help teachers interested in making space for critical literacy by understanding ways teachers have successfully enacted critical literacy with primary aged students and illustrating the supports and obstacles that other teachers have experienced along the way.

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