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The purpose of this longitudinal study was to learn how beginning elementary teachers understood and used curriculum materials for teaching reading, and how, in turn, these materials shaped teachers' instruction. We followed 4 teachers who worked in markedly different school situations and were provided a variety of curriculum materials, ranging from scripted reading programs to supplemental materials without teaching guides. Data were gathered through classroom observations, interviews, and curriculum artifacts over the teachers' first 3 years on the job. Our analysis suggested that curriculum materials interacted with teachers' knowledge of reading and reading instruction, and with the contexts in which they worked. As a result, curriculum materials both fostered and inhibited teachers' on-the-job learning. We found that the 2 teachers with weak knowledge or more restrictive materials and environments learned the least and were least able to adapt instruction to meet the needs of their students. The 2 teachers with stronger knowledge, access to multiple materials, and support for decision making regarding materials and instructional strategies learned the most and were most able to adapt instruction. Furthermore, early experiences with specific curriculum materials had effects 2 years later on these teachers' instructional practices. Implications for curriculum mandates, material selection, and professional development are discussed.

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This document was originally published by University of Chicago Press in Elementary School Journal. Copyright restrictions may apply. DOI: 10.1086/509528

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