Update on the VaRiSS project

Our initial ESRC funding has come to an end. With all of the data in, we are working on analyses and papers at the moment. We have also been working closely with teachers and policy makers to draw out the implications of our findings for education.

Though this part of the project is finished, the project will not stop here. This year, Lianne Farrer will be taking the lead on continuing to work with schools and pupils on a number of interesting projects – watch this space!

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Longitudinal data collection is complete!

So… after approximately 1200 hours of data collection over the last 2.5 years, the data for all three phases of the longitudinal study on Vocabulary and Reading in Secondary School are in! Thanks to all the pupils that we’ve been following pupils from Year 7 (11-12 years) to Year 9 (13-14 years) across three secondary schools. We are presenting preliminary findings from the first two phases of the study in Porto on the 15.7.2016 and will be working hard on inputting and further analysis over the coming months so watch this space. Enormous thank you to Lucy Taylor, Nicky Dawson, all of the families involved, and of course to Garth Hill, Emmbrook and Cox Green schools!

Watch this space!

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Two children in every classroom with language impairments!

Courtenay Norbury and colleagues have just published a really important article showing that we should expect to find two children in every Year 1 classroom with language impairments. For more information and to download the paper, follow this link to the SCALES study website.

Well done Courtenay, Debbie and the SCALES team!

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Practitioner Research Day 5 July 2016

Literacy & Mental Health in Schools

Working Together: Research and Practice Meeting 2016

SERNSYou are warmly invited to attend our annual practitioner research day to be held at Royal Holloway, University of London to bring together researchers and practitioners working with children. The aim is to work together to ensure that research is guided by practice and vice versa. At this event, we will be launching the South East Research Network for Schools (SERNS).

Tuesday 5th July 2016 (9.45am-4pm)

Queens Building, Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham Hill, Egham, Surrey, TW20 0EX

LUNCH AND REFRESHMENTS WILL BE PROVIDED

To register your interest, please follow this link

Please email Jessie.Ricketts@rhul.ac.uk for further information

 

 

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Welcome to new members of the team

Lucy Taylor will be joining us as a research assistant on the project for six months from January. Rosie McGuire and Grace Pocock, both final year psychology undergraduates here at Royal Holloway, are also joining us as undergraduate research assistants. Welcome to the team!

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Involving secondary pupils in research

As described in an earlier post (https://variss.org/2014/12/18/pupil-survey/), we visited St Crispin’s School in Wokingham in November and December 2014. Pupils in Year 8 designed, administered and analysed a questionnaire about pupils’ views on the importance of reading. The pupils worked really hard and came up with lots of brilliant ideas and one of them wrote this summary of the experience, which was published in the school newsletter earlier this year.

Before Christmas there was a survey conducted by a small group of pupils with the help of some researchers from Royal Holloway University of London. We aimed to find what people think about reading and what their purpose for reading was. The research was also meant to let pupils see how research is done. We started by doing two surveys about reading ourselves. We came up with lots of ideas and decided the top 10 best questions for the survey. We wanted it to be successful so we thought of tweaking the questions (turn the positive questions into negative questions) to see that people read the questions properly. The questions would be answered as Strongly Agree, Agree, Neither, Disagree and Strongly Disagree. We made a survey on Survey Monkey and sent emails to students to fill it up.

We met two weeks after the first meeting and analysed and discussed all the data. We got a total of 42 surveys filled in and we saw the survey was successful; there were some questions in which the results were balanced (people gave lots of different opinions and they were spread out and not focused on one opinion) and in some places it was higher on one side than the other (more people agreed or strongly agreed than the number of people who disagreed or strongly disagreed and vice versa). We discussed the causes for these results and came up with many great explanations.

We then discussed what we could do better if we were to do it again. We had a great time in these meetings and we got to see how a survey is done. We learnt a lot about people’s opinions on reading and possible reasons for their views. We as a group will be doing a seminar in parliament for our survey.

Atharva Patil (8RAI)

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Conferences conferences conferences

Over the summer Jessie and Nicky attended two conferences to present information about the VaRiSS project. Jessie attended the conference of the Society for the Scientific Studies of Reading in Hawaii (yes, Hawaii!) and Nicky attended the Child Language Symposium in Warwick. They presented data from our first experiment showing that children and young adolescents are more likely to learn the meaning of new words when they are taught with the visual word form available. For example, they are more likely to learn that a wimple is something that a nun wears if they have been exposed to the written form of the word wimple as well as its sound and meaning. We had some excellent feedback from other academics and from practitioners working with children. We will also be sharing these results with teachers at various events next year. If you would like more information about this study then do get in touch: jessie.ricketts@rhul.ac.uk

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End of phase 2 testing

We have just finished collecting data for phase 2 of the VaRiSS longitudinal study. Thank you so much to our fantastic schools, pupils and parents for their ongoing support with the project, and to Natascha and Keely for their help with data collection. We look forward to returning for the third and final round of longitudinal testing in January 2016: after that, the data analysis can begin!

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Summary of Dockrell et al. (2015): ‘Capturing communication supporting classrooms: The development of a tool and feasibility study’

This article may be of interest to teachers, speech and language therapists, and other professionals working in schools. Below is a summary of the paper, as well as the full reference if you would like to know more.

Good oral language skills are crucial for literacy development and academic success across the curriculum. It is therefore important to create a learning environment that enhances oral communication, something which requires practitioners to use their knowledge of language development to monitor classroom interactions and to adapt the classroom context. In response to this need, and as part of the Better Communication Research Programme (BCRP), Professor Julie Dockrell and colleagues (Dockrell et al., 2014) developed the Communication Supporting Classrooms Observation Tool. This is a checklist that allows practitioners to look at the ways in which a specific classroom supports oral language, with a focus on Reception and Key Stage 1 (children aged 4-7 years). The checklist was developed based on a review of relevant empirical and evidence-based studies along with Ofsted and Government reports and policy documents, and was designed to cover three dimensions:

  1. Language Learning Environment – the physical environment/learning context
  2. Language Learning Opportunities – the opportunities present within the setting to support language development
  3. Language Learning Interactions – the ways in which adults in the setting talk to children

Each dimension comprises a number of items to be scored during the observation period, and guidance on scoring is provided along with examples for each item. The tool was trialled in 101 classrooms across 39 English schools. Overall, a large number of classrooms scored highly on the ‘Language Learning Environment’ dimension, but scores were lower for ‘Language Learning Opportunities’ and ‘Language Learning Interactions’. The CsC Observation Tool has the potential to be used by teachers, speech and language therapists, and other education professionals to evaluate current classroom practice, set targets and identify areas for further training and provide a measure of progress following intervention.

The online reference for this article is:

Dockrell, J. E., Bakopoulou, I., Law, J., Spencer, S., & Lindsay, G. (2015). Capturing communication supporting classrooms: The development of a tool and feasibility study. Child Language Teaching and Therapy. doi: 10.1177/0265659015572165

Professor Julie Dockrell is based at the UCL Institute of Education. To find out more about her research, see:

http://www.ioe.ac.uk/staff/PHDT/PHDT_19.html

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Newly published article

Jessie and colleagues have just published an article showing that children with and without language impairments find it easier to learn the sound and meaning of a new word when its spelling pattern is available. Follow this link to check out and download the article for free until the 8th of May 2015:

http://authors.elsevier.com/a/1QjOi51Y~xMVG

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Happy Christmas!

We’d like to wish you all a very happy Christmas and New Year. Thank you so much to all the schools and individuals who have supported the project this year. We are very much looking forward to completing the first experiment and starting the second phase of the longitudinal project in January. Watch this space…

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Pupil survey

Earlier this month a group of twelve Year 8 pupils from St Crispin’s School, Wokingham worked with us to create a survey exploring other pupils’ views on the importance of reading. Together, they created the questions for the survey and collected 42 responses from their classmates. They then summarised the findings as a group and discussed possible interpretations of the data they had gathered. We were extremely impressed with the ideas and suggestions that the pupils came up with, and we would like to say a huge thank you to St Crispin’s School for being involved in the project. We hope that the experience has given pupils an insight into the research process. Next steps will be for the pupils to share their findings with a wider audience through an article for the school newsletter and local paper, and further down the line, a practitioner workshop and a parliamentary seminar. Well done to all involved!

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We have moved!

Last week Jessie, Nicky and the VaRiSS project moved to the psychology department at Royal Holloway, University of London. Our plans for the project remain the same, and won’t be affected by the move. We’d like to say thank you to the University of Reading for supporting us and the project for the past year, and we look forward to this exciting new chapter.

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Resources for teachers, speech and language therapists and anyone with an interest in children’s reading and language

We’d like to share some resources that we’ve come across that may be useful to those with an interest in children’s reading and language.

Let’s Talk About It

This is a booklet aimed at trainee teachers which gives advice and guidance on children’s communication skills, produced by The Communication Trust. The booklet can be downloaded from the Trust’s website: https://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/resources/resources/resources-for-practitioners/lets-talk-about-it/

RALLI campaign

RALLI (Raising Awareness of Language Learning Impairments) have uploaded a series of short videos to YouTube as part of their campaign to raise awareness of language difficulties. The videos cover a range of topics, including what language impairment is, the impact it can have, and how you can help. The videos give advice and information from speech and language therapists and teachers, as well as from children with language impairments themselves. The RALLI homepage is here: https://www.youtube.com/user/RALLIcampaign

Which interventions should I use for reading?

‘Interventions for Literacy’ is a website designed to give information and evidence on a variety of approaches to literacy intervention. As well as giving an overview of each intervention, the website also provides information on effectiveness. The information is based on a report by Greg Brooks (‘what works for children and young people with literacy difficulties?’), which can also be downloaded from the website. http://www.interventionsforliteracy.org.uk/

Which interventions should I use for Speech, Language and Communication Needs (SLCN)?

‘What Works’ is a database of interventions for SLCN hosted by The Communication Trust. It too provides information and rates the evidence base for a number of commonly-used interventions. These range from interventions aimed at pre-school children right through to those used in secondary schools. Registration is required, but is free. http://www.thecommunicationtrust.org.uk/projects/what-works/whatworkssearch.aspx

View the original research report from Law et al (2012) here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/what-works-interventions-for-children-and-young-people-with-speech-language-and-communication-needs

We hope that these are helpful. Do let us know if you’ve come across any others that we can add here!

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Phase 1 data collection completed!

On Friday we completed phase 1 of our longitudinal data collection in schools. In total, we have seen 210 pupils for two one-hour sessions across three different schools – it’s been a busy few months, but we’re still on schedule. Thank you to Lucy, Rachael and Nicky for collecting the data, and a huge thank you to our schools, parents and pupils for taking part. A few months now to work on some other things, and then back for phase 2 in January!

 

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Visit to Moor House School

On 17th March, Jessie and Nicky visited Susan Ebbels and her Speech and Language Therapy team at Moor House School in Surrey. We presented an overview of the longitudinal study so far, and put forward some of our ideas for our upcoming study on vocabulary learning. Some excellent points were made during the discussion afterwards which we will take into account in our planning. Thanks very much to Susan and her team!

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Vocabulary Survey

Please help us with our research by completing our online vocabulary survey – it should take around 15 minutes. Thank you!

http://www.survey.bris.ac.uk/reading/vocabsurvey

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by | April 7, 2014 · 9:07 am

Progress on the longitudinal study and first vocabulary learning project

Nicky, Lucy and Rachael have just finished assessing children in our second school for the longitudinal study – just one more school to go for this year. Well done all!

Jessie and Nicky are also working on the first vocabulary learning project, watch this space for more news…

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Progress on the longitudinal study

Today, we finished assessments for the longitudinal study in our first school – a third of the way there for this year. Well done Nicky, Lucy and Rachael for all of your hard work in collecting the data!

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Coming soon…

Watch this space for details of  upcoming events and other VaRiSS news!

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