My research question is: “To what extent will parent involvement in home literacy activities enhanced by school-to-home communication technology affect student achievement in early literacy skills?” My study will include 10 families, who will receive short, phonemic awareness activities to do with their children daily. These activities will reinforce the lessons students are learning in class. Parents will also receive reminders, resources, and opportunities to ask questions via our district’s new parent communication tool, ParentSquare.
The last three articles I found on my topic were:
“Investigation of a parent-directed intervention designed to promote early literacy skills in preschool children” was a great find because this article layed out a few specific strategies that I hope to find useful. The parent-directed intervention in this study used a step-by-step approach to teaching phonological awareness skills. For example, first, the parent would ask the child a yes or no comparison question like “Do rat and run begin with the same sound?”. Next, the parent would ask the child to produce a word with the same beginning sound as a given word, like “Name a word that begins with the same sound as the word ‘rip.’” Finally, the parent would ask the child to produce the single phoneme that is the onset: “What sound does the word ‘rap’ begin with?” The increasing difficulty of each stage is appealing, and I am going to try to work this kind of activity into my parent intervention program.
“Examining an Extended Home Literacy Model: The Mediating Roles of Emergent Literacy Skills and Reading Fluency” is an article that builds on the work of one of the seminal authors on the topic of home literacy practices and their relationships to reading achievement and pleasure, Monique Senechal. This study was a relationship study. The relationships between certain practices, such as teaching children the names of the letters in the alphabet, or reading books together were compared to outcomes such as phonemic awareness, fluency, and vocabulary. While this study is nothing like my research plan, I still learned alot from it. I learned that I need to make the parent activities highly specific in order to achieve the outcome I am looking for. For example, my assessment will be on letter-sound fluency, so I need to make sure that the activities focus on only those skills, even though there are so many enticing activities to choose from… I want to keep the activities super short and focused so that there is a better chance of parents sustaining participation as well as the learning effect I am seeking.
“Texting for increasing parental involvement and student performance” was a really disappointing article to read… I got really excited because it seemed really close to what I want to do. However, this study was done with high schoolers in a science class. Texts sent to parents were concerning homework, attendance, and general information. The texts did not seem to affect students’ grades or attendance. Although I was initially discouraged by this study, I realized that my parent activities are much more direct, specific, and beneficial to students. The texts/emails that parents will receive will hopefully just increase participation and clarity, and I am hoping that the activities will be effective in producing significant growth, even in the short amount of time we will have.
Two out of three is not bad, right? One thing I’ve noticed is that all of these articles start to blend together in my mind, were it not for our handy dandy lit review graphic organizers. These tools are a great resource in keeping things straight, quick access to the articles themselves (I linked them in), and a quick place to store APA citations. Onward, ho!
Linear is out. "Out of the box" is new. But don’t forget that you need a box before you can think outside of it, as Howard Gardner reminds us.
The common thread in this week's learning, as I see it, is THOUGHT and THINKING. Divergent thinking. Howard Gardner tells us that there are 5 minds for the future, and that none of them have much to do with knowing about factual information, subject matter, or memorization.
Ken Robinson says to ditch the fast food conveyor belts of education that we’re familiar with and opt for the customized Michelin-rated restaurants that individualize education to bring out the unique natural talents of children. To do this, we have to stop thinking that life is linear.
John Seely Brown warns us about the “exponential times” in which we are living and teaches that the only way to adapt is to be CURIOUS. “Deep tinkering, playing testing, and trying the system” is the new way to think.
Last, but not least, Mobley offers some hope. If we work to “unlearn,” and DO to “become creative” (you can't read about becoming creative, you have to just get in there and do it), we might have a chance! Like Nike says, “Just DO it!” With a little self knowledge, permission to fail, and the right friends, you, too, can become creative.
Even though there is a lot of great information presented here, I find myself a little paralyzed with indecision. Don’t keep doing things the old way… Innovate! Don’t be linear! Be creative! Be curious! Think divergently! To be honest, this all makes me feel a little schizophrenic… I’m a bit afraid that anything I do might still be “in the box.” Then again, I have always admitted to being a “linear” person. Growth mindset!
What does this all mean in the context of my school, and my students? I don’t know! I can’t think straight! Okay, I’ll try. In my specific role, I don’t often get much time with students. However, I do get face-time with teachers. Perhaps I can choose some of this learning to share with them? Perhaps we can spend a few minutes each staff meeting trying Daniel Pink’s ROWE time (Results Only Work Environment) playing around with technology to find ways to foster creativity with our students? Maybe each teacher can take a turn sharing something that exhibits divergent thinking either for teachers or students? Other thoughts?
Can school-to-home communication technology boost parent involvement in home literacy activities to affect student achievement in early literacy skills?
Many children enter Kindergarten already behind in the early skills and knowledge they need to become successful readers (National Center for Education Statistics, 2001). When given standard early literacy assessments, these students have a difficult time catching up to their peers who entered prepared (Foster & Miller, 2007). More than a few researchers have found that parent involvement can have a positive impact on student achievement in literacy (Van Voorhis, Maier, Epstein, & Lloyd, 2013). In the small, yet diverse community of American Canyon, it will be valuable to see if this theory can be tested with the added component of technology as a way to increase parent involvement. Pew Research Center on Internet and Technology reports that 67% of people who make less than $30K per year own smartphones, and 82% of people who make $30-49K own smartphones. This means that more parents than ever can use technology to communicate with their children’s schools and access resources to become involved in their education. There is a scarcity of research to be found on home intervention programs that employ parent-school communication technology as a means of reminding and encouraging participation. If a program like this proves to be effective, one potential way to close the achievement gap could be identified.
This will be a pretest-post test action research study. Parents of 10 students in Kindergarten will be invited to participate in a home-based literacy intervention program. This program will include activities designed to reinforce at home what is being taught in the classroom in the areas of phonological awareness and letter-sound correspondences. Activities include alliterative poem readings, letter-sound correspondence tasks, and letter identification tasks. Parents are offered an evening workshop at school (Spanish translation provided) where the literacy activities are explained and demonstrated. A log to capture how often and for how long parents are doing the activities will be sent via the communication tool, including additional digital resources (letter-sound videos and games that correspond to the letter of the week) as well as reminders. Beginning and ending scores on a letter-sound fluency assessment will determine what effect the treatment had on the achievement of the children whose parents participated. The parent logs will reveal whether a relationship exists between frequency/duration of sessions and degree of achievement. An end-of-program parent survey will indicate how parents felt about the value/effectiveness of the program and its components (use of technology, activities, resources provided, workshop).
Foster, W. A., & Miller, M. (2007). Development of the Literacy Achievement Gap: A Longitudinal Study of Kindergarten through Third Grade. Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 38(3), 173–181
Van Voorhis, F. L., Maier, M. F., Epstein, J. L., Lloyd, C. M., & MDRC. (2013). The Impact of Family Involvement on the Education of Children Ages 3 to 8: A Focus on Literacy and Math Achievement Outcomes and Social-Emotional Skills. MDRC.
Zill, N., & West, J. U.S. Department of Education, 2001. National Center for Education Statistics, Entering Kindergarten: A Portrait of American Children When They Begin School: Findings from The Condition of Education. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, NCES 2001–035.
The task of the lit review for our project has felt like a giant thundercloud over my head. Finding articles initially felt like looking for a needle in a haystack, so I thought I would put it off until hearing the presentation from the librarian. Even after watching the presentation a second time, it was still very difficult to pinpoint current articles that apply to my area of study: Use of technology to enhance parent participation in a home literacy intervention program. I decided to divide my search into these two topics:
Now that I have read through all of my articles about home programs and their effect on early literacy, I’ve noticed a pattern that I wasn’t expecting. I think I have heard so often that reading to your children is the number one thing you can do to ensure academic success for their futures. However, I learned that it’s not that simple.
The author names that most frequently popped up in my searches on this topic were Senechal, Ogg, Whitehurst. The only problem with that, is that not all of the articles by these seminal authors were current. Therefore, I only used more current authors, who quoted the aforementioned researchers ultimately anyway. Senechal’s well known research on her proposed “Home Literacy Model” found that a program which focuses on parents’ informal, or dialogic, storybook reading to children will result in gains for those children in the area of vocabulary and comprehension, and not other literacy skills. Programs with a focus on parents’ formal teaching of letters and sounds will result in gains in those specific areas, but not vocabulary or comprehension. Other authors concluded similarly. I found a very informational article that was actually a review on different studies on the topic, with conclusions about patterns seen within those studies. Within this article, a study was reviewed that included a program for parents that focused on storytelling. Interestingly, in SES groups, the storytelling focus produced even more gains in vocabulary and narrative skills than dialogic reading focused interventions.
In the area of using technology to increase parent involvement, few author names popped up more than once. In fact, in my search, only one name did: Christine Olmstead. Her article originally appeared in my search as a dissertation. I later discovered that it had been published in a journal and was thrilled to learn that it was peer reviewed. The article was published in 2013, and did not seem as current as I had hoped. However, the author does address the current trends toward technology use in the classroom and at home, and how the next step is using that trend as a means to engage parents. Her study examines how both teachers and parents feel about using different types of technology for different purposes in communicating.
For example, most parents and teachers feet that email is an acceptable form of communication for updates or information about the class, while they both preferred phone calls or face-to-face for communicating about behavior issues. Interestingly, her study reported that the majority of parents in her study would like to receive text messages about their child’s progress, while the majority of teachers did NOT want to use texts to communicate. I believe this is because the article was written before apps like Remind existed--apps that don’t reveal the teachers’ cell phone numbers and allow for communication on teachers’ terms.
In two studies, the authors refer to a texting "nudge" as a behavior modification tool to encourage parents to regularly participate in a literacy program with their children. These studies boasted significant results in improving student literacy scores by causing parents to participate in the literacy activities more often. These were very exciting to read because it resembles what I want to do at my school very closely. The texting program used in these studies was piloted in the bay area and was developed into a commercially sold program called "READY4K!"
One study I read showed no significant effect on student learning or attendance after applying a text message program for parent communication. However, this study was done on the secondary level and the text messages were only informational (assignments, behavior issues, etc...).
After reading all of these articles, it has become so clear that studies can only give you a snapshot of one kind of narrow circumstance in one place, at one time. However, patterns can be sometimes found when you put pieces of the puzzle together and do extensive searches on specific topics. I found that the article I enjoyed most was actually a review of many studies done on a topic similar to mine. If I had more time, or knew this before, I would specifically search for more reviews like that one!
In Linda Darling-Hammond’s book, The Flat World and Education, we learned that the US has LOTS of work to do to create equitable education opportunities for all. Why should we? Because we are falling farther and farther behind every other country in our ability to produce educated, well rounded, 21st Century learners! In her final chapter, she summarizes what it would take for us to climb rank. Here are my two cents about these suggestions...
Meaningful learning goals:
Don’t we want goals for our kids, the kids of the nation, that are meaningful, achievable, and will empower them to thrive in and transform our world into a better place so that they will be prepared to do the same for future generations? A shift from assessment practices that are detached from real classroom learning to school based, task oriented portfolios or blended assessments could help everyone focus better. Instead of stressing out and “teaching to the test,” teachers and students could concentrate on deeper learning. Teachers, schools, and districts could have more control over what they would like to assess so that it matches what is happening now in 21st Century classrooms. These “free-range learners” (Nussbaum-Beach, brain-based learning video) could be assessed using the tools with which they are learning 21st Century Skills.
Intelligent, reciprocal accountability systems:
Are we doing our absolute best to give ALL students the opportunity to become successful citizens of the 21st Century? If Dr. Darling-Hammond’s recommendations were followed, not only students, teachers, schools, and districts would be held accountable for performance, but so would the state and the country. We could evaluate the state and federal systems to see if they are providing the MEANS for students to access a quality education. I really like the “reciprocal” part here. Everyone has some responsibility, so let’s look at all the moving parts. I believe that the author’s suggestion of a revamped ESEA would be a major tool in creating this reciprocity by bringing to light system and structural failures--IF done right! I hate to admit that I would not have much faith that it would be done right! However, if we are going to “do right” by our children, it’s important to think about everything that could be done.
Equitable and adequate resources:
One of my favorite quotes in Darling-Hammond readings: “The onus of NCLB is on individual schools to raise test scores. However, the law does not address the profound educational inequalities that plague our nation.” Amen! Then there’s the obvious truth that student achievement is dependent on many things outside the school walls: health care, nutrition, housing, and community factors. Equitable and adequate resources across the country seems like the biggest issue of all. In order to produce decent results, poverty stricken areas don’t just need education reform--they need so much more. If Darling-Hammond’s prescriptions under the “opportunity to learns standards” were followed, high poverty states would get higher shares of resources, provisions would be made for a good supply of highly qualified teachers, appropriate curriculum, materials, technology, and supportive services= a good start.
Strong professional standards and supports:
I really loved this section the best. Hammond’s suggestion that we model the teaching profession after the medical profession and create teaching hospitals with interns to learn from highly skilled master teachers is genius. I believe this type of system would also elevate respect for the teaching profession, as in the highly successful countries that were mentioned in the book. The use of performance assessments for both teachers and administrators would ensure quality and prestige to these positions.
In this section, Hammond also suggests that teacher preparation and professional development needs to be revamped so that “teachers can meet 21st century learning needs and develop sophisticated skills.” This concept rang a bell for me after watching the brain learning video entitled “The Connected Educator: Learning and Leading in the Digital Age.” The idea that there are new literacies that both students and educators must attain for success in the 21st Century seems evident. I love that Darling-Hammond says, “...Furthermore, these leaders need to know how to design and create the schools of the future, not just administer the schools of the past.”
Schools organized for student and teacher learning:
School redesign would be a huge job--almost too huge to imagine anyone actually doing it. The suggestions in this section seem so viable, though! Why hasn’t all of this been taken into consideration? Things like: time for teacher collaboration (more than double what is currently common), lesson study, collective planning, peer coaching, working in teams… In fact I think people **think** these things are happening, and they are. But maybe they’re not happening enough, or not consistently enough.
As part of the changes needed in school organization, Darling-Hammond addresses the idea that schools need networks that foster learning from one another. Also, all this change should include investments in technology that would allow teachers and students to access an “infinite variety of resources and tools for learning, and in new assessment systems that value students’ abilities to use these tools to solve real-world problems.” These statements speak directly to the content in “The Connected Educator” video, where one of the main ideas is that teachers need to have online networks and communities from which to learn, contribute, and lead. Hammond is talking about “School 2.0!” This discussion is motivating because some of these technology focused objectives are not so out of reach for someone like me, at my school, and in my district.
Last favorite quote: “No society can thrive in a technological knowledge-based economy by depriving large segments of its population of learners. The path to our mutual well-being is built on educational opportunity.” ~Linda Darling-Hammond