Annals of Dyslexia

, Volume 66, Issue 1, pp 71–90 | Cite as

How Portuguese and American teachers plan for literacy instruction

  • Louise Spear-SwerlingEmail author
  • Joao Lopes
  • Celia Oliveira
  • Jamie Zibulsky


This study explored American and Portuguese elementary teachers’ preferences in planning for literacy instruction using the Language Arts Activity Grid (LAAG; Cunningham, Zibulsky, Stanovich, & Stanovich, 2009), on which teachers described their preferred instructional activities for a hypothetical 2-h language arts block. Portuguese teachers (N = 186) completed Portuguese versions of a background questionnaire and LAAG electronically, in Survey Monkey; American teachers (N = 102) completed identical English measures using paper and pencil. Results showed that teachers in both groups usually addressed comprehension and reading fluency on their LAAGs and that they also allocated the most time to these two areas. However, American teachers were more likely to include teacher-directed fluency activities, whereas Portuguese teachers were more likely to include fluency activities that were not teacher directed. Significantly more American than Portuguese teachers addressed phonics in their planning, whereas significantly more Portuguese than American teachers addressed writing processes such as revision. Both groups of educators demonstrated large variability in planning, with many teachers omitting important components of literacy identified by researchers, for writing as well as reading. The study highlights the importance of providing teachers with comprehensive, research-based core literacy curricula as well as professional development on key components of literacy. Study findings also suggest significant relationships between orthographic transparency and teachers’ instructional planning.


Cross-linguistic Reading Teacher beliefs Teacher education Teacher knowledge Writing 



This research was supported by a 2-year grant from the Foundation Francisco Manuel dos Santos in Portugal as well as by a Connecticut State University research grant in the U.S.A. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to these funding agencies as well as to the teachers and school districts who participated in the study and sent messages of interest about our research. In addition, warm thanks to our research assistants for their help with data collection, coding, and analysis, and to Anne Cunningham for providing us with inspiration as well as guidance in this work.


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Copyright information

© The International Dyslexia Association 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Louise Spear-Swerling
    • 1
    Email author
  • Joao Lopes
    • 2
  • Celia Oliveira
    • 3
  • Jamie Zibulsky
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Special Education and ReadingSouthern Connecticut State UniversityNew HavenUSA
  2. 2.School of Psychology, Department of Applied PsychologyUniversity of MinhoBragaPortugal
  3. 3.Lusófona University of PortoPortoPortugal
  4. 4.Psychology Department, T-WH1-01Fairleigh Dickinson UniversityTeaneckUSA

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