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Young Learners: Enhancing children’s oral language through talk about text Janet Scull, Louise Paatsch*, Bridie Raban The University of Melbourne *Deakin.

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Presentation on theme: "Young Learners: Enhancing children’s oral language through talk about text Janet Scull, Louise Paatsch*, Bridie Raban The University of Melbourne *Deakin."— Presentation transcript:

1 Young Learners: Enhancing children’s oral language through talk about text
Janet Scull, Louise Paatsch*, Bridie Raban The University of Melbourne *Deakin University ARECE, January 2010

2 Chief Investigators: Associate Professor Margaret Brown (Principal Investigator), Associate Professor Esther Care, Professor Bridie Raban, Professor Field Rickards, Mr Terry O’Connell (Australian Scholarships Group) Research team: Associate Professor Brown (Team leader), Ms Emelie Barringer, Dr Anna Bortoli, Mr Robert Brown, Dr Linda Byrnes, Associate Professor Care, Ms Esther Chan, Dr Amelia Church, Ms Jan Deans, Ms Lucy Jackson, Dr Anne-Marie Morrissey (now at Deakin University), Dr Andrea Nolan (now at Victoria University), Dr Louise Paatsch (now at Deakin University), Mr Derek Patton, Professor Raban, Dr Maria Remine, Dr Janet Scull, Ms Lena Tan, Ms Jessica Taylor and Dr Linda Watson (Birmingham University, UK) Funding Support: Australian Scholarship Group (ASG); Australian Research Council (ARC): Linkage Projects funding scheme (Project number LP ); Melbourne Graduate School of Education, The University of Melbourne

3 Funding: Australian Scholarships Group $500,000 A not-for profit organisation, a parent co-operative focused on providing educational opportunities for children ARC Linkage Grant $395,000 Easier to access if your partner puts up real dollars University of Melbourne $63,078 Through individual staff grants and Early Career Researcher funds TOTAL FUNDING $958,078

4 The Young Learners’ Project - will employ a mixed methods approach to :
Establish an initial child profile. Develop a structured process through which teachers will; a) identify the theoretical constructs that underpin their practices in the preschool and first year of schooling; and b) identify their distinct literacy teaching strategies. Develop a comprehensive early literacy scale. Evaluate effective literacy teaching strategies in the context of individual children’s differences as evidenced in the Child Profile. Develop support material for parents and teachers.

5 This presentation reports a sub-study within this program of research that is investigating patterns in teaching conversations during book reading with implications for children’s language development. In this we will consider: The research base that supports specific links between children’s oral language and literacy learning. Data collection and coding of teaching questions. Patterns in questioning and children’s responses emerging from the data set. Implications for teacher training and develpoment.

6 Language and literacy Oral language is widely recognised as the foundation for reading development as it provides the semantic, syntactic and phonological base for successfully moving from oral to written language (Clay, 2001; Hill, 2009; Raban, 1999; Stanovich, 1986, Snow 1990). However, despite this the two modes of language differ in their physical and social design posing challenges for young readers. As Christie (2002) asserts in terms literacy development it is the mastery of literate language that is one of the most important challenges of schooling. vocabulary choices - rare words grammatical complexity of written language - extended, decontextualised language forms, complex clause structures

7 Where the Wild Things Are - Sendak 1963
Max “sailed off through night and day and in and out of weeks” “And the wild things gnashed their terrible teeth and roared their terrible roars” “And now”’ cried Max, “let the wild rumpus start!”

8 Book reading as a context for developing literate language -
Vocabulary A preference for interactive ‘dialogic reading’ engaging students in conversations about text has been demonstrated to provide the stimulus for expanding vocabulary knowledge (Dickinson & Smith, 1994; Ewers & Brownson 1999; Whitehurst, Zevenbergen, Crone, Schultz, Velting & Fischel 1999; Beck & McKeown, 2001; Wasik & Bond, 2001). Syntax Similarly, reading texts to students introduces new syntactic structures to build and expand their knowledge of grammar (Cazden, 1982). Structural variations introduced in texts develop a familiarity that allows the reader to handle complex language with growing facility. As a stimulus for talk, texts invite dialogue, expand lexical and grammatical competence and provide contexts for language use.

9 Talk for learning The main purpose of teacher talk is to structure opportunities for student learning. Teacher talk used purposefully and concisely allow students’ opportunities for active and focused listening as well as providing a model for student talk. Most learning, however, will occur during the opportunities that are made for student talk. (Essex and Raban, 1999, p7)

10 Method Participants and data collection 19 trained preschool teachers (analysis of 16 transcripts) All work in the funded preschool program (opportunity sample) Participated in a small group book reading session (3-6 children) Teachers selected the book to read (one non fiction text) All sessions were video recorded and transcribed Duration of sessions ranged between 10 to 15 minutes

11 Coding of data Question types used by preschool teachers during book reading sessions - based on Siraj-Blatchford & Mani (2008) - Researching Effective Pedagogy in the Early Years (REPEY) and Effective Provision of Pre-School Education (EPPE). - Closed questions - Open questions - Statement questions - Pseudo choice requests - Recall to elicit 2. Children’s responses - preliminary analysis of grammatical complexity


13 Closed questions and children’s responses:
Known – A question to which the answer is known and to which there is only one acceptable response What’s he doing now? Scaring the dog Is he flying or is he running? Running Not Known – A question to which the child holds the answer. Response usually involves a small selection of acceptable possible choices. And what is your favorite story? Where is the green sheep Yes/No – A question requiring a yes/no response Can bears fly? No


15 Open questions and children’s responses:
Prediction – A question to which the child is encouraged to predict what may be happening in the text. Who do you think is next (child’s name)? White dog Inference – A question to which the child is encouraged to infer from the text/illustration Why do you think she wouldn’t wear it? Because she wants to keep it safe World Knowledge – A question requiring the child to relate to their own experiences and world knowledge Do you know another word for looking? Peeking, looking and staring

16 Evaluation/Opinion – A question to which the child is encouraged to evaluate or give their opinion
Which part did you like? When his room was growing. When he turned strange things into stuff Other – Open questions which do not fit in the sub categories outlined What do you think you would remember?” The clock

17 Clarification – A question to clarify the child’s response
Child - It doesn’t look like a book Tchr -This one? Child - Yeah, it looks like a seat Expansion – A question which expands on the child’s previous response Child - That’s upside-down Tchr - How do know it’s upside down? Child - Because the people and words and all the pictures are upside down

18 The third move - Even sequences that start with known information questions can develop into more..if in the follow-up move, evaluation is avoided and instead justifications, connections are requested. (Nassaji et al., 2000 p 33)


20 Further question types:
Pseudo-Choice Request – A question which is usually a statement or demand (indirect request) or to attend to information in text Will we count them? One…. Are you ready to listen to this one? Do you want to come a bit closer and sit down here? Recall to Elicit Information – A question which seeks to recall information previously learned, experienced or taught What have we been exploring for the last week? Australia

21 Statement Question Types - no response
Acknowledgement – A question which acknowledges the child’s response. A verbal response is often not sought or may lead to a yes/no or non-verbal response He is a bit multi-coloured, isn’t he? Information – A question which provides further information. A verbal response is often not sought or may lead to a yes/no or non-verbal response It seems to be very hard to make them happy, doesn’t it?” It looks like an island doesn’t it?


23 Patterns in teaching questions similar to
Siraj-Blatchford & Mani (2008): Of the total of all 5808 questions asked: 94.5% - closed varieties 5.5% - open varieties This study analysed 498 questions: 82% - closed varieties 18% - open varieties

24 Open questions and opportunities for children’s talk:
Jenny and Finding Time (Vladimir Skutna & Marie-Jose Sacre)

25 Open questions and opportunities for children’s talk:
Why do you think you have to start here? Because that’s where the pirates were and then they sailed away And why is that (child’s name) do you think? It makes you cheer up

26 Closed not known questions provide opportunities for extended responses -
What else do you like on your toast? Peanut butter I like more butter and vegemite I have junk food honey and jam at the same time on the same toast

27 Yes/no questions - Well he’s hiding behind the tree, do you think that makes him scared? No He’s just doing that so no one can see him. He’s got his wings, he’s got his feathers, does he need anything else? [What else does he need?] If you were Jenny do you think you would have felt the same about that plain hat? [How would you have felt if you had a plain hat like Jenny’s?]

28 Implications: Elaborate the relationship between teaching questions, the complexity of children’s responses and oral language development. Examine teaching [the teaching/learning nexus] Description Analysis Predicting outcomes for children (City et al., 2009) Explore productive teaching interactions as a core platform for pre-service and inservice education.

29 For further information:
Young Learners’ Project Dr Janet Scull - Dr Louise Paatsch - Professor Bridie Raban -

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