ABRACADABRA (http://grover.concordia.ca/ABRA/version1/abracadabra.html) is aweb-based application that implements a balanced reading curriculum in a digitalenvironment, allowing students to develop word, text, fluency, and eventually writingskills. In its entirety, this application will provide an opportunity to enrich students’reading as well as provide full support for those who teach these students. Developedby the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance, this web-based tool, is a workin progress and only slightly over two years old. It has undergone a cyclical process of research, development, formative evaluation and further research to reach its presentstage.
This report highlights the preliminary results from our Winter 2006research, in which two of our partner school boards participated, allowing usaccess to 190 students.
Our aim is to continue to work with our partners, and others,in order to continue to refine this tool, aid in its integration into the classroom, and learnmore about how to help our students learn how to read.
Results from this year’s study clearly show strong effects and the positive trendsdefine ABRACADABRA as a resource that can help children learn the skills theyneed to have to become strong readers.
Our primary goal is to evaluate the effectiveness of the ABRACADABRA application asa tool that will help build literacy skills for emerging readers. Our secondary objectivesare many and will expand as the tool matures. These include answering questions suchas how this tool can help struggling readers, how it can help second language learnersand eventually how teachers can use ABRACADABRA as part of their readingprogram.
The first ABRACADABRA prototype was released in February of 2003. Since then,different versions of ABRACADABRA have undergone a series of evaluations in order to gain feedback on its use. Some of these experiences have been a pilot study duringthe summer of 2003 at the Writer’s Workshop (SWLSB) and Sinclair Laird (EMSB).Exercising our philosophy of using field experiences to refine our tools we developedmore activities and created more stories in order to develop a larger intervention andtest the effects of ABRACADABRA on children’s reading development. We, therefore,designed a study in which small groups (4) of students were guided by trainedfacilitators to work on various activities in the site.
Description of the 2004/2005 ABRACADABRA Pilot Study
Small groups of students (4) from 2 schools,
each randomly assigned
to Intervention R(Rime) or SP (Synthetic Phonics), were removed from their class during language artsperiod to work on the ABRACADABRA program. The 2 intervention syllabuses wereidentical in terms of time (20 minutes 4 times per week), group size, and the childrenwere of equivalent initial ability (across all classes). Each group also received identicalcomprehension, fluency tasks but differed in subtle ways on aspects of alphabeticsexercises. A comparison group stayed in the class and received regular classroomteaching.