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Designing a Vocabulary Intervention with the Boston Public Schools. Strategic Education Research Partnership (SERP) American Educational Research Association Claire White April 10, 2007. Plan. Research Context: pilot schools Assessment data: establishing the need

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Designing a Vocabulary Intervention with the Boston Public Schools

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Designing a Vocabulary Intervention with the Boston Public Schools

Strategic Education Research Partnership

(SERP)

American Educational Research Association

Claire White

April 10, 2007


Plan

  • Research Context: pilot schools

  • Assessment data: establishing the need

  • Survey data: teacher perspectives

  • Effective vocabulary instruction

  • “Word Generation” intervention

  • Pre-test results

  • Criteria for effective implementation of WG


Steps Forward

Pilot WG

Organizational

Survey

Now

WG pre-test

SERP sub-group

develops WG

GRADE

data

Teacher

Survey

Fall, 2005-2006


Westfield

Middle School

80 % Black

16% Hispanic

1.8 White

1.6 Asian

29% Special Education

MCAS

Reilley

Middle School

62% Black

18.1 % Hispanic

9.3% White

8.9 % Asian

25% Special Education

MCAS

Pilot Schools/Demographics


Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) Results 2006 (ELA)

  • Westfield

  • Reilley


GRADE data/6th grade

  • Reilley – 6th: 4.4 (mean stanine score)

    • 29% scored at the 3rd stanine or below (more than 1 standard deviation below the national mean)

  • Westfield- – 6th: 3.6 (mean stanine score)

    • 49% scored at the 3rd stanine or below (more than 1 standard deviation below the national mean)


Pilot Schools- Survey data

  • Reilley: high internal accountability;

    strong teacher responsibility for student learning, strong instructional leadership

    2. Westfield: low internal coherence and accountability; weak teacher trust of colleagues and leadership; limited responsibility for student learning and student achievement


Leadership support for teachers


Leadership involvement with tracking academic progress


Teachers Share Beliefs About Mission


  • School profiles and assessment data confirm the need for an instructional intervention

  • The internal trust and cohesion level of individual schools provided us with context for intervention design and implementation (level of support, etc.)


Research on Vocabulary Shows…

  • Poor comprehension outcomes in middle school not necessarily a product of poor word reading but lack of vocabulary and academic language (e.g., Buly & Valencia, 2003; August & Shanahan, 2006)

  • Lack of knowledge of the middle and lower frequency “academic “words encountered in middle and secondary school texts impedes comprehension of those texts (e.g., Stahl & Nagy, 2006; Stanovich, 1986; Carlo, 2005)


Vocabulary Instruction in the Middle School Years

  • must be based on an understanding of the interrelatedness of content-area knowledge and academic language (e.g., Graves, 2006; Scarcella, 2003; Stahl & Nagy, 2006)

  • should occur through oral, reading, and writing activities throughout the content areas

  • should allow deeper explorations of language and should be rooted in text (e.g., Beck et al. 2002)


Challenges to Vocabulary Instruction

Our initial classroom observations in BPS revealed:

  • Vocabulary is not usually taught

  • Instruction is fragmented between content areas

  • Texts fail to engage adolescents


Word GenerationProgram Goals:

  • Build the vocabulary of middle school students through repeated exposure to high frequency academic words in various contexts;

  • Promote regular use of effective instructional strategies among teachers;

  • Facilitate faculty collaboration on a school-wide effort.


Word GenerationProgram Features:

  • Focus on the Academic Word List (AWL);

  • Materials designed for flexible use across the curriculum;

  • An expectation that schools will dedicate at least 10 instructional minutes a day;

  • An opportunity for each school team to design a practical implementation plan that suits its own particular school context.


Word Generation: Materials

  • 20 weeks, each focused on a set of 5 words

  • Controversial topics include: global warming, censorship, dress codes and schools, steroids and sports, junk food and schools, the ethics of cloning, etc.

Monday

Paragraph

introduces

words

Tuesday-Thursday

Content-area

word activities

Friday

Writing with

focus words


Pre-launch Vocabulary Assessments

1. Vocabulary Self-Check (VSC)

  • student gauges his/her own level of knowledge about a word (40 items= 30 WG words and 10 non-words

    2. Multiple Choice (Pre-WG)

  • 30 WG words chosen from 100 WG words to be taught over 20-week intervention

“I do not“I have “I know something “I know it well

know it”heard of it” about it” and can use it.”


Multiple Choice (Pre-WG)

Sample items

1. She indicated that she was hungry. □ a. denied

□ b. thought

□ c. showed

□. d. indeed

2. He will analyze the information. □ a. ignore

□ b. anchor□ c. remember

□ d. examine


Westfield MC Means and SD by Grade (n= 265)


Westfield: Multiple Choice Scores

  • Average Performance by Grade

    • 6th 60% correct

    • 7th 67% correct

    • 8th 72% correct

  • Total % Correct across Grades: 66%


Reilley MC Means and SD by Grade


Reilley: Multiple Choice Scores

  • Average Performance by Grade

    • 6th 63% correct

    • 7th 66% correct

    • 8th 66% correct

  • Total % Correct across Grades: 65%


Words Known by Fewer than 50% of Students


Self-report on the same words

  • interpret: up to 85% said they knew it well

  • sufficient: up to 74% said they knew it well

  • diverse: up to 86% said they knew it well


Where are we with WG?

  • Implementing Week 12

  • Collecting and coding writing samples

  • Collecting and coding teacher feedback

  • Gauging effective implementation through various data sources


Criteria for Effective Implementation of WG

  • Focus on criteria for effective implementation and outcomes at:

    • Student level

    • Teacher level

    • School level


Student Level

  • Effective use of words in natural interactions and weekly writing paragraph

  • Improvement in content-area language and vocabulary

  • Improved performance on post assessments


Teacher Level

  • Improved knowledge of effective vocabulary strategies

  • Increased responsibility for teaching content through language and language through content

  • More opportunities provided by teachers for students to use academic language

  • Productive feedback/sharing of concerns through meetings and weekly evaluations on WG materials and activities for revisions


School Level

  • Higher level of cohesion and internal accountability (cooperation across the content areas)

  • Greater involvement by principals in disseminating and overseeing intervention

  • Shared commitment by leadership, teachers and students to developing and sustaining a school-wide word culture


Next steps

  • Continued documentation of effective implementation (classroom observations, interviews, video-recording) and effective instructional practices and word learning

  • Post –survey?

  • Post-assessment(May/June 2007)


Thanks to

  • Joanna Christodoulu- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Michael Kieffer- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Michelle Forman- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Jeannette Mancilla-Martinez- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Sarah Meacham- SERP

  • Lasse Isakson- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Catherine Snow- Harvard Graduate School of Education

  • Jennifer Zeuli- Harvard Graduate School of Education


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