Date of Award


Degree Name

EdD Doctor of Education

Dissertation Committee

Leif Fearn, EdD; Heather Lattimer, EdD; Joi Spencer, PhD


culture, education, elementary schools, English language learners, first grade teachers, instruction, language, learning, Sociocultural theory, teaching, Third Space theory, urban schools, writing


The purpose of this dissertation was to compare the characteristics and attributes of an effective first grade teacher of writing to English learners through the lens of the "third space." The "third space" represents a place where sociocultural theory interacts with language and culture, and authentic, integrated literacy instruction. Because there is no empirical evidence to support the theory of the "third space" the observation and interview data were analyzed using literature that draws on three areas of study: English learners, first grade literacy, and urban schools. The key findings from this study produced three themes that came about by the frequency and consistency in which they were observed in our first grade teacher, then by combining shared attributes from the literature to reveal three broader themes of effective teaching characteristics: Theme 1—Opportunities to learn: High expectations of the teacher and students; Theme 2—Reaching the goal: Scaffolding and monitoring students; and Theme 3—The right answer: Errors corrected by the teacher and student. The analysis also revealed a fourth significant finding. It revealed that every teacher is influenced by multiple factors ranging from grade level to linguistic diversity in the classroom. It may not be adequate to evaluate or assess teachers using a one-dimensional approach. Instead, more accurate information may be revealed if teachers are assessed and informed using multiple observation frameworks from the many areas of study that influence a classroom, much like the theory of the "third space" itself.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access