Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

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john walker
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Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by john walker » Fri Jul 04, 2014 8:01 am

A cracking response from Alison Clarke to yet another academic 'balanced literacy' as against direct instruction: http://www.spelfabet.com.au/blog/
Don't people like Stewart Riddle read the work of fellow Aussie academics (and cognitive psychologists) like John Sweller and John Hattie, who are able to support their assertions with robust research?
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

JIM CURRAN
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by JIM CURRAN » Fri Jul 04, 2014 9:24 pm

Thanks John, a great post from Alison Clarke. Recommended reading.

geraldinecarter
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by geraldinecarter » Sun Jul 06, 2014 10:46 am

Huntingdon School are leading the way in conducting RCTs but concern is that EEF have not distinguished between the measurements used: http://ollieorange2.wordpress.com/2014/ ... fect-size/
'for the EEF, anything better than zero would be ‘good’.

This means, in effect, that any old catch-up programme, however poor, will be able to show something better than zero as one-to-one over 20 sessions inevitably shows some improvement, however temporary in many cases.

chew8
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by chew8 » Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:42 am

Am I right in thinking, though, that there can be circumstances in which a small amount over zero might be very good indeed? For example, if two very good interventions were being compared, one might do only very slightly better than the other (effect size only slightly better than zero) but that would still be very good.

Jenny C.

geraldinecarter
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by geraldinecarter » Sun Jul 06, 2014 11:09 pm

This is your subject, Jenny, and your logic is impeccable. But looking at the work EEF has done on catch up programmes, how does the average reader know whether a programme is effective unless ground rules are clearly stated and method of trial spelled out? It seems to muddy the waters. It allows bad programmes to gain credence.

chew8
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by chew8 » Mon Jul 07, 2014 7:44 am

Well, it's not really my subject - I'm no statistician. I agree that ground-rules need to be clearly stated.

I haven't looked at the EEF stuff for a couple of weeks and can't remember exactly what was there, but in view of what ollieorange says I suppose one ought to exercise caution any time effect sizes are mentioned, including in the NFER report on the Year 1 phonics check and in the work of Diane McG.

Jenny C.

john walker
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Re: Literacy chaos or smart huckleberries?

Post by john walker » Mon Jul 07, 2014 9:50 am

I think Hattie has been called out on this already and made adjustments but, regardless, what I'm looking at when I go to the EEF project (http://educationendowmentfoundation.org ... tterbooks/) are the conclusions of the study. To me, and I admit that there are so many un-operationalised terms flying around that make it hard to cast judgement, it looks like the same old, same old. How many studies are we going to have to read in which some prof, who probably hasn't got the first idea about what these secondary kids are missing, goes in and does 'dialogic' reading. Having finished exploiting half-digested Vygotskian language, this is dressing up paired or group reading in the terminological language of 'dialogism' (Bakhtin). Dialogism can be very useful in throwing light on all sort of aspects of language, especially in the field of literary criticism and socio-linguistics; however, it is utterly meaningless in the context of teaching the kids in the study to read - assuming that this is what's needed if one is going to 'enjoy reading for pleasure', given that it can't be much of a pleasure if one can't read.
Here are the conclusions of the EEF study:
Key conclusions
There was no evidence of impact of either Chatterbooks or Chatterbooks Plus on reading ability.
The process evaluation indicates that schools encountered problems with timetabling, planning and resourcing, which make the intervention unsuitable in its current format.
If implementing this intervention with low-achieving pupils, it would be important to find a way of increasing motivation to mitigate behavioural issues.
The dialogic reading component of Chatterbooks Plus could be expanded and trialled separately.
To make Chatterbooks more suitable for a school setting, it would be important to consider how sessions that focus on reading for pleasure can be developed to demonstrate impact on reading ability.
To start with, how is it that a study can be set up in such a way that the schools can't/won't sort out when and where the programme under scrutiny can be taught? And, what does is say about the schools if those that are involved in the project involved couldn't prioritise an intervention which might have had a significant impact on the real-world lives of these kids? I think it's pathetic. Of course, as I'm sure we all know, what this is about is departments in schools refusing to release children from 'their' lessons because they don't want them to 'miss out on the curriculum'. The fact that they can't access the curriculum because their reading and writing skills aren't up to it doesn't seem to occur to them.
So, what does this kind of programme amount to? 'Reading for pleasure' means that they 'read' the obligatory 'age-appropriate' book and receive prompts. What are 'prompts'? I bet we know, don't we? 'Prompts' mean that they are told to guess from context, look at the first sound in the word and guess, look at pictures/illustrations if there are any, and/or they are told what the word is when they can't read it for themselves. After that, they still can't read for pleasure because they still can't read! Or, if some of these children are able to memorise some of the words in the texts they are reading, they'll look good today and the effects wash out tomorrow/next week - as can be seen from the stats.
And, what's more, they waste good taxpayers money on training literate graduates to mediate this stuff when they could be training them to teach high quality phonics programmes to many of these poor, wretched kids.
It really is so frustrating!
John Walker
Sounds-Write
www.sounds-write.co.uk
http://literacyblog.blogspot.com

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