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Early Literacy Development: Research and Implications


Letter names and letter-sounds to figure out what sounds to say: CAT = K A T ... CAT = Components of Early Literacy. Reading & Writing. Extended. Discourse ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Early Literacy Development: Research and Implications

Early Literacy DevelopmentResearch and
  • David K. Dickinson
  • Peabody College of Education, Vanderbilt
  • California Preschool Instruction Network

Consider Further Training .
  • There is a serious shortage of doctoral level
    personnel with knowledge of early literacy
  • Students accepted into Vanderbilts PhD program
    for training future researchers pay no tuition
    and receive stipend support for five years.
  • In the future we might offer a doctorate in
    educational practice (EdD) designed to allow you
    to continue in your current position.
  • Contact me or the Vanderbilt U. website Peabody
    College of Education, Teaching and Learning

Getting Off to a Strong Start is Vital
Strong Reading Skills Are Essential for Academic
  • Reading skill is required for success in all
    other academic areas (including math).
  • Poor readers are far more likely to be retained.
  • Children who are held back are far more likely to
    drop out.
  • Failure to graduate (even if you get a GED)
    reduces career opportunities.

Early Skills Predict Later Literacy
  • Early skills predict later reading comprehension
  • gr. 1 vocabulary ? gr. 11 comprehension
    (Cunningham Stanovich)
  • gr. 4 vocabulary ? gr. 12 reading (Snow et. al.)
  • Kindergerten vocabulary ? gr. 7 comprehension
    (Dickinson Tabors, 2001)
  • 88 of kindergartners with reading difficulty
    are poor readers in 4th grade (Juel, 1988).
  • Skills that support reading ability are stable
  • Levels of phonemic awareness are stable during
    elementary school years and beyond. (Torgesen,
  • Relative vocabulary levels are stable. (Biemiller)

Weak Literacy Skills Have Long-term Implications
  • Adults with low literacy skills
  • Unemployment (50 decrease in weeks worked)
  • 7x more likely to be poor
  • 4-5x more likely to be on public assistance
  • Decreased political participation 40 lower
  • Poor health outcomes
  • 50 of those in prison have serious reading
    problems (National Center for Learning

Challenges Our Society Faces
Vocabulary Experience Varies Hart Risley,
Meaningful Differences, Brookes Publishing
Vocabulary Learning Between 30 and 36 months
(Hart Risley, 1995)

Phonological Awareness Skills Begin to Diverge in
the Preschool Years
Many Children from Low-Income Homes Start School
Seriously Behind in Language Skills
  • Four-year-old Head Start children, on average,
    score at levels equivalent to children age 210.
  • Many children (Even Start, bilingual/ELL)
    children begin school even farther behind in

Achievement Gap Among 9 Year Old Children NAEP
Long-term Trends Show a Persistent but Narrowing
Why Do Some Struggle?
  • Poverty
  • Stressed lives, limited time for children
  • Fewer books, educational activities
  • More health challenges, depression
  • Parents have limited education
  • Less likely to provide extensive cognitive
  • Less aware of need for the kinds of interactions
    that foster early literacy.
  • Parents may have limited knowledge of English
  • Schools have limited resources and many children
    with great needs

Challenges, Not Deficiencies
  • Children who show slower language and early
    literacy development
  • Have the ability to learn.
  • Can make rapid progress when provided strong
  • Families of these children
  • Want their children to be successful.
  • Have the capacity to provide children more
    enrichment with your help.

Challenges Teachers Face
Classrooms Often Do Not Provide Optimal Support
  • Research
  • Children have few conversations with teachers.
  • Teachers tend to use a limited variety of words.
  • Extended conversations are rare.

Early Language and Literacy Classroom Observation
  • Basic Early Childhood
  • Classroom Climate
  • Opportunity for child choice
  • Contents of classroom
  • Classroom management
  • Physical environment
  • Separate Element
  • Using Technology
  • Language, Literacy, Curriculum
  • Oral Language Support
  • Presence of Books
  • Book Reading Practices
  • Support for Writing
  • Curriculum Support
  • Approach to Assessment
  • Facilitating Home Support for Literacy
  • Valuing Diversity

ELLCO Ratings of Dimensions of Classroom Quality
(n 133)
Percentage of Time Teachers Used Advanced
Purposes During Free Play Meal Time (n 61)

Challenges Teachers Face
  • Many children and few adults
  • management challenges
  • limited time for individualized conversations
  • Lack of knowledge and awareness
  • knowledge of the importance
  • skills are more tangible and often tested
  • awareness of how one interacts is extremely
  • How one uses language has deep roots in ones
    history, personal, cultural and racial identity.

What Abilities Support Literacy?
Building Blocks for Literacy
The Reading Process
  • Decoding
  • Phonemic awareness to figure out how letter
    sounds relate to words.
  • Letter names and letter-sounds to figure out what
    sounds to say
  • CAT K A T
  • Spoken Vocabulary
  • Understand what the words mean once you say them
  • CAT

Components of Early Literacy
Reading Writing
World Knowledge
Uses of Print
Self Regulation
Sound-symbol correspondence
Phonemic Awareness
Extended Discourse
Rich Vocabulary
Phonological Sensitivity
Letter knowledge
Literacy is Created From Many Strands
  • What do these children understand about how
    print works? About books?
  • What skills are they developing?
  • How has their teacher supported them?

Strong Language Is At the Core of Early Literacy
Why Focus on Language?
  • Literacy development
  • Language-based interactions are central to early
    literacy learning.
  • Language skills are central to long-term literacy
  • Social and emotional development
  • Language abilities are vital to development of
    social competence and self-regulation.
  • Social competence and self-regulation are key to
    long-term adjustment and academic success.
  • Support for literacy-related used of language is
    not always optimal in homes and classrooms.

Oral Language From Conversations to Literacy
  • Conversations
  • Short turns
  • Check understanding
  • Shared experiences knowledge
  • In the same location
  • Gesture
  • Eye gaze
  • Intonation signals how you feel, marks importance
  • Reading
  • No turns!
  • You monitor alone
  • Cannot assume shared knowledge
  • Not shared location
  • No voice to signal feeling or importance
  • Rely on words, syntax (grammar), world knowledge

Oonga Boonga
  • Louise kept crying until her tears ran like
    rivers to the sea.
  • Louise kept crying until her wails shook the
    pictures off the walls.
  • Louise kept on crying until her sobs woke all the
    dogs and cats on the block.
  • Louise kept on crying till the birds flew out of
    the trees and the squirrels scampered away.

Over in the Meadow
  • Over in the meadow, in the sand, in the sun,
    lived an old mother turtle and her little turtle
  • Over in the meadow, where the stream runs blue,
    lived an old mother fish and her little fishes

Relationships and Social Development Are Tied to
Language and Literacy Development
Language and Social Development and
  • Language is social. It is used to
  • Create and deepen relationships.
  • Solve problems.
  • Share experience and knowledge.
  • Play with friends.
  • Language helps with self regulation
  • It helps with understanding emotions of oneself
    and others.
  • It can provide self-control strategies.
  • Stronger language skills are related to better
    self regulation ability.

Self-Regulation, Language and Relationships with
  • Social and self-regulation skills enhance the
    ability to form relationships with teachers.
  • The quality of teacher-child relationships in
    kindergarten and grade one have enduring effects
    on children.
  • Teacher-child relationships have enduring effects
    on teachers!

Lunchtime Conversation
  • Cindy Hoisington
  • Head Start teacher
  • Classroom with 12 ELL children speaking 9
    different languages
  • Contributing author to Opening the World of
    Learning (OWL)
  • Lunchtime after girls had explored snails during
    choice time

Noteworthy Features
  • Intensive focus on the child building a
    relationship between teacher and child.
  • Supported and challenged language skills.
  • Extended and in-depth conversation exploration of
    a single topic.
  • Support for vocabulary learning and precise use
    of language. (eyes open awake)
  • Modeled correct grammar (its eyes was/ were
  • Used complex grammar (Last week, when I was )
  • Others are encouraged to listen and thereby
  • Experience a high level conversation.
  • Learn to carry on a conversation with an adult.
  • Learn to listen to other children.

Children Who Are Just Learning English
Children Who Speak 2 Languages
  • Having strong language skills is what matters
  • Basic skills transfer across languages (letter
    knowledge, attention to sounds of words).
  • Ways of using of language (to think, to question,
    to learn) transfer
  • Parents need to use their strongest language.

Educational Outcomes
  • Children have better long-term academic success
    when they have strong first language.
  • English vocabulary predicts later reading.
  • It takes 3-4 years to develop language skill
    required for academic success.
  • children can learn English in school and from
    peers and siblings.
  • Two-way immersion programs provide a strong model
    if they are feasible.
  • Preschool teachers must make language their 1

Implications for Families
  • Loss of a childs first language is common.
  • English is the language of popular and peer
  • Children may use language choice as a means to
    express individuality.
  • Children (boys esp.) lose Spanish when it is not
    spoken in the home or at school.
  • Siblings language use affects language
  • Schools and families need to work together to
    build strong L1 and L2 skills.

What You Do Can Have Long-term Benefits for
  • Biology provides us a window of opportunity.
  • Preschool classrooms can make a difference.

Prefrontal Cortex Synaptic Density(from Neural
Plasticity, P. Huttenlocher, p. 45)
Synaptic Density in Language Areas(from Neural
Plasticity, P. Huttenlocher, p. 45)
Cerebral Metabolism for Glucose(from Neural
Plasticity, P. Huttenlocher, p. 45)
Home School Study of Language Literacy
  • Questions
  • What interactions in homes and classrooms support
    language development?
  • What effects do such experiences during the
    preschool years have on long-term literacy?
  • Method
  • Visited homes classrooms from age 3.
  • Audiotaped teachers and children throughout the
  • Assessed language literacy beginning in
    kindergarten. Continued to grade 7.
  • Dickinson Tabors, 2001, Beginning Literacy
    with Language, Paul Brookes Publishing Co.

Kindergarten Skills Predict Grade Seven Reading
and Vocabulary from Dickinson Tabors,
Beginning Literacy with Language, Brookes
Preschool Classrooms Can Provide Long-Term
  • Improved language and literacy skills at the end
    of kindergarten.
  • Improved language and literacy skills at the end
    of fourth grade.

Predicting Childrens Kindergarten Receptive
Vocabulary Scores Using Home Control and
Classroom Variables from Dickinson Tabors,
Beginning Literacy with Language, Brookes
Age 4 Grade 4 Comprehensive Model
Self regulation
Age 4 Group Behaviors
Reading Comprehension
Kindergarten Language
Age 4 T - C talk
Print PA
Practical Applications
1-1 Teacher-Child Conversations
  • Individualized teacher-child conversations (meal
    times, choice time)
  • Frequent
  • Teacher listens to child
  • Teacher encourages clarification
  • Extended on a single topic
  • Teacher uses varied vocabulary
  • Positive, supportive emotional tone (related to
    good conversations)

Strategies for Improving Conversations
  • Stay in one location
  • sit down and stay put for a bit
  • As a team plan ways to ensure that one member is
    freed to interact.
  • Use every minute, including meal times.
  • Set personal goals
  • Strive for five (back-and-forth exchanges)
  • Track which children you and other teachers have
    talked with.
  • Talk about important home experiences.
  • Talk about past and current curriculum topics.

Focused and Informative Group Times
  • Group discussions
  • Informative, interesting
  • Group oriented (not long 1-1 interactions)
  • Organized, focused and with appropriate
    instructional purposes
  • Avoid
  • Extended interactions with individual children
  • Routines that dont introduce new concepts or

Curriculum and Support for Writing
  • Curriculum
  • Varied and interesting content
  • Allow time for in-depth exploration and play
    related to the topic.
  • Writing is encouraged and supported
  • Integrate writing into play and varied classroom
  • Time is planned for small groups led by the

Effective Book Reading and Discussion
  • Book reading
  • Regular reading
  • Read in an engaging manner
  • Discussions are focused and provoke thinking
  • Later today
  • Brief hands-on experience introducing some useful

Work as a Team
  • Intentional efforts are required
  • Team planning to provide time to talk.
  • Provide assistant teachers instructional roles
    and guidance.
  • Work to become aware of your own conversations.
  • track of extended conversations
  • create checklists for others to use when
    observing you
  • record yourself and watch and listen consider
    transcribing brief portions.
  • Make this a long-term project.

Guiding Principles
  • Teach with intentionality.
  • Reflect constantly.
  • Believe passionately in the importance of
    your work.

  • Beginning Literacy with Language
  • Brookes Publishing. (Dickinson Tabors)
  • Handbook of Early Literacy Research, Guilford
    Publishing (Guilford.com)
  • Volume I, 2001 (Neuman Dickinson)
  • Volume II, 2006 (Dickinson Neuman)
  • Opening the World of Learning (OWL) , Pearson
    Early Learning. Openingtheworldoflearning.com
  • Schickedanz Dickinson, 2005
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