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Abracadabra

Abracadabra

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Published by Gustavo Candelas

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Published by: Gustavo Candelas on Nov 15, 2010
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ABRACADABRA
Evaluation of a Balanced Text and Word-level Reading Intervention – Winter 2006
Preliminary Findings, June 2006
 
 
The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial contributions towards the research and development of ABRACADABRA from the following agencies; Industry Canada, The Chawkers Foundation, Inukshuk, andthe Fonds Québécois de la Recherche sur la Société et la Culture. This project would not have beenpossible without this support. For further information or to view the software please visithttp://grover.concordia.ca/abra/version1/
 
Executive Summary
ABRACADABRA (http://grover.concordia.ca/ABRA/version1/abracadabra.html) is a web-based application that implements a balanced reading curriculum in a digitalenvironment, allowing student 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.Created by the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP),ABRACADABRA has experienced an iterative process of research and developmentthat proves its efficacy, ensures its usability and defines its practicality. Amultidisciplinary team consisting of researchers, practitioners, school administrators,instructional designers and developers are involved in all phases of this process in order to accomplish our goal of creating this evidence-based resource for students andteachers.This report contains the exciting preliminary results from our Winter 2006 study,examining the effectiveness of the tool as a resource for teaching reading. Small groupsof students were randomly assigned and worked with trained facilitators on combinationsof activities. The comparison group did not work on the ABRACADABRA program butstayed in the classroom and received their regularly scheduled language arts instruction.
Significant effects in areas of letter-sound knowledge and blending demonstratethat this tool can give students building blocks to become good readers.Furthermore, significant effects in students’ listening comprehension
 
give usstrong cause to continue our research in the power of technology as a tool for learning.
Positive trends in other reading sub-skills also demonstrate that we are on theright track to developing an effective literacy tool for teachers and students.During this same period a sub-study was conducted in two kindergarten classrooms. Inorder to determine if ABRACADABRA can be used as an early intervention, smallgroups of students worked with a facilitator on the ABRACADABRA activities appropriatefor this age group.
This intervention reported significant effects in letter-soundknowledge and blending vowel/consonant words.
 
On a combination of all readingtasks the intervention groups read nearly two times as many words as those whodid not partake in the sessions.
The results of this preliminary analysis give us strong reason to continue practicing thisprocess of research and development so that we may meet one of our primaryobjectives:
To transfer scientific knowledge to the educational community in the form of  practical tools.
A more thorough analysis of the data will take place over the next severalmonths, as we feed such information into the design of ABRACADABRA, ultimatelyrefining its effectiveness as a literacy resource.
These encouraging findings weremade possible by our partners in the community who allowed us access to their schools, their teachers, and of course, their students.
 
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.
History
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.

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