Saturday, May 17, 2014

Literacy Update 14 May 2014 - Guest blog post by Jane Carroll

Kia ora tātou,

Well here we are in week two of this short term already.  

This week I am delighted to introduce Jane Carroll with a guest blog post. Jane has more than twenty years of experience as a Speech-Language Therapist, working as part of the Early Intervention Team and School Focus Teams in the Ministry of Education and, for the last five years, in private practice. She is currently conducting research in Oral Language and Literacy as a PhD candidate at University of Canterbury.

Kate Nation: Learning to read and learning to comprehend: Insights from poor comprehenders.
Recently some of us were fortunate to be able to listen to Kate Nation giving lectures in the Psychology Department at the University of Otago. Kate Nation is a Professor in Experimental Psychology at Oxford and a Fellow at St John’s College, Oxford. Kate has been at the University of Canterbury as an Erskine Fellow.
Kate began her talk with the nature of reading. She explained that reading is multi-faceted and therefore very difficult to tease out and research components in a very pure sense.
In particular, she highlighted that English:
·      is an alphabetic language but doesn’t have consistent 1:1 letter sound correlation
·  has parts of speech, for example, past tense, that alter both the visual and language structure
·      has metaphorical language, where the reader is required to interpret the writer’s intent
·      expects us to have the ability to maintain different parts of the story in your head.
There was discussion about the view of reading where decoding and comprehension are both necessary and neither alone are sufficient. Within these two components there is overwhelming research support that progress in reading comprehension is dependent on the ability to read words and sentences both accurately and fluently. There is also a high correlation between reading comprehension and listening comprehension in adults.
Most children who are poor comprehenders are also poor decoders however those who are just poor at comprehension are estimated to be about 10% of the population and tend to go unnoticed in many classrooms.
A number of experiments have been carried out with children who have been identified as just having comprehension difficulties (that is, have typical developing decoding skills) that have been matched with children whose reading is developing typically in both decoding and comprehension. These experiments try and answer the question “Is it memory or language that is the contributing factor for poor comprehension?” This in itself is extremely difficult due to the nature and complexity of comprehension.
The evidence is pointing towards more specific language difficulties rather than generalized memory showing that language issues predate comprehension difficulties. Children show slower processing speeds even when they get the answer correct and in experiment show that they make more errors related to now outdated information. That is, they find it more difficult to sift out redundant information.
A number of studies have shown that poor comprehenders tend to have difficulties with spoken language processing such as vocabulary, sentence comprehension, morphological relationships, narrative production, making inferences and listening comprehension.
Poor comprehenders do exhibit problems with working memory but only in verbal not nonverbal domain.
It is known that reading is a major determiner of vocabulary growth but poor comprehenders read less leading to slower vocab growth.
So at the end of the session I was left with this is what the research shows but what are the implications for the classroom? How do teachers assess children’s  reading comprehension? Is it the 5 questions after a running record or do teachers use other tools? Do teachers use narratives or dynamic assessments to really go deeply into the understanding? If teachers do, how do they record the support or prompting levels required for the child to be successful?
Further reading:
Raising awareness of Specific Language Impairments – lots of really informative video clips from all different perspectives
Oral and written interventions that are based on research have been shown to be effective
Jane Carroll

Jane Carroll - Developing Oral Language Skills - Jane Carroll, Speech language therapist and PhD candidate discusses developing the oral language skills of those just beginning school. Jane outlines a project to help teachers share a common language of learning with their students about phonological awareness and emergent literacy.

Pam Becker - Phonological awareness and classroom based research - Classroom teacher Pam Becker worked with Jane Carroll, as part of research into the development of phonological awareness. Pam talks about the steps she took to improve student outcomes in their oral language development and the impact this had on her practice and her students.

Latest Literacy Links and Look ups…


NZLA - the 37th New Zealand Literacy Association Conference. Register now.
CLESOL - the 14th National Conference for Community Languages and ESOL. Register now.
Ngā mihi nui
Anne Kenneally
Literacy Online Facilitator
CORE Education

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