Sunday, May 24, 2009

First: Review of Articles

Article 1:
Cohen, L. & Byrnes, K. 2007. Engaging Children with Useful Words: Vocabulary Instruction in 3rd Grade Classroom. Reading Horizons Journals 47 (4): 271-293. [12 May 2009].

This article discussed on an action research regarding emergent literacy development of kindergarden children which the researchers wanted to explore the effectiveness of direct instruction with playful extensions which was integrated into Peer Assisted Learning Strategies for First Grade Readers (PALS) in developing emergent literacy in a kindergarden classroom. This study was done to create an effective literacy programme for kindergarden students and in indirectl will help facilitate teacher in planning lessons aligned with the students' academic needs. As mentioned, the researchers followed PALS with playful extensions of PALS lessons which were integrated throughout the study to maintain the children's interest and motivation. The playful extensions included: an alphabet manipulative game, dry erase marker boards, overhead alphabet tiles and blackboard blending games. In this study, kindergarden students, 13 regular education students and 2 Exceptional Student Education (ESE) students were assessed in skills of alphabet recognition, letter-sound associations, sight word recognition and specific stages of writing development. According to this assessment they were divided into 3 groups, high, average and low performing groups. For 12 weeks, teacher-directed lessons along with playful extension were conducted for the 3 groups. Data analysis was done and the results shows that the students of low performance in the pre-test made the greatest gains in identifying letter-sounds and in applying letter-sound knowledge to making spelling approximations in writing. The high performance students made the greatest gains in sight word recognition.

Article 2:
Keaton, J.M., Palmer, B.C., Nicholas, K.R. & Lake, V.E. 2007. Direct Instruction with Playful Skill Extensions: Action Research in Emergent Literacy Development. Reading Horizons Journals 47(3): 229-250. [12 May 2009].

The action research study discussed in this article was conducted by a classroom teacher and a university professor to answer a question: What is the best method of teaching vocabulary to 3rd grade students. Following this questions, they guided by questions: which instructional procedures for vocabulary acquisition support children's use of literacy? Do instructional strategies for teaching vocabulary differ in supporting 3rd grade children in using vocabulary in oral and written communication. For this, 16 third grade students, 6 girls and 10 boys were involved in the study. The children also made up of 12 bilingual children and 4 monolingual children who were equally distributed into 2 groups: story with instruction group and traditional group. The materials used were 6 selected books, from which 6 tier two vocabulary words were taken from each books and taught to both groups of students. (Tier two word according to Beck, McKeown & Kucan (2002) are words children use in everyday conversations and are rarely taught through direct instruction.) Then, in ten week study, the instructional approaches between the two groups differed. The story with instruction group was read a book throughout the week, given time for discussion and three days of direct word learning strategies each week. The traditional group did not participate in the read aloud and was given daily worksheets to complete four days each week. Apart from that, both groups were given different direct word learning strategies everyday. For story with instruction group, the instructional approach was more student-centred and involved discussions. However for traditional group, the vocabulary instruction only involved direct, explicit instruction of the worksheet task. Every week, the analysis were done by administering pre- (on Monday) and post-test(on Friday). The tests were to calculate accurate usage of the 6 weekly targeted vocabulary words and the number of words used in a sentence to describe the 6 weekly targeted words. Then, mean scores were calculated four weeks later. Overall, findings of this study suggested that children used more targeted words in oral and written communications when provided literature and word learning strategies.

Article 3:
Bintz, W.P. & Dillard, J. 2007. Teachers as Reflective Practitioners: Examining Teacher Stories of Curricular Change in a 4th Grade Classroom. Reading Horizons Journals 47 (3): 203-227. [12 May 2009].

This article describes the study and findings from a classroom-based action research project conducted by two in-school teachers who implementing a new integrated literacy and social studies curriculum and the changes they made in curricular practices and beliefs. There were 3 educators participated: two school teacher who were the reflective practitioners and a university professor as the researcher assisting with data analysis, describing findings and implications. The two school teachers provided the data sources by recording ongoing classroom observations, conducting ongoing reflective conversations and sharing a journal that consisted of notes recorded and shared during the debriefing sessions about their collaborative teaching based on classroom observations and reflective conversations among them. These data were collected for three years which in these three years, both of the teachers planned, implemented and assessed a variety of classroom projects as well as conducting debriefing sessions to reflect and plan. The date then analysed using principles of naturalistic inquiry and driven by the methodology of grounded theory. For this purpose, the teachers used two questions to guide the data analysis: a) what are we learning about ourselves as teachers? and b) what are we learning about curriculum and curriculum development by implementing an integrated literacy and social studies curriculum? The results of the analysis for each year were written in narrative form to describe their personal and collaborative stories of curricular change. Then, based on this, a group of researcher discussed the findings. By this a hypothesis was produced and the researchers believe that teachers must see themselves and their students as creators of curriculum,as reflective practitioners, and as collaborative inquirers. Overall findings suggested that curriculum and curriculum development need more broadly and deeply thinking.