Reading Road Trip: Literacy for Language Learners with Diana Burchell

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In this podcast episode, Kate Winn hosts Diana Burchell for a conversation about language learners. Is structured literacy appropriate for multilingual learners? Can early screening and intervention support students in French Immersion? What does research tell us about the language and literacy development of refugees from Syria?

Curriculum Connection

This podcast discusses evidence-based instructional strategies for multilingual learners, a key element of the curriculum's context.

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  1. I have several questions regarding the use of dynamic assessments to assist educators, which is a key area of research interest for me. Dynamic assessments can take various forms, and I believe they hold great potential for helping students learn within their Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD). My research focuses on how to effectively utilize dynamic assessments, particularly in the context of early reading skills, as opposed to static measures like Acadience, DIBELS, or similar Curriculum-Based Measures (CBMs).

    Additionally, I think exploring students’ home languages is crucial. Understanding the strengths within a student’s home language, such as strong phonological or morphological aspects, can inform classroom teaching strategies. This will be important, especially for those seeking a deeper understanding of phonology and morphology in English and how these factors impact reading, especially for multilingual learners.

    Furthermore, considering the linguistic diversity in classrooms across Ontario, where there may be as many as 14 + different languages spoken- if we need to think about screeners for additional languages as discussed in the podcast, then it is absolutely imperative to help educators find the appropriate screeners and assessment tools needed to avoid the over-identification of multilingual learners for reading disabilities.

    1. Such thoughtful questions, Deborah – glad this episode was thought-provoking for you!

      Interestingly, CBMs are often used for dynamic assessments, especially within single case designs. Since they involve multiple small probes of the same skill across time, they are ideal for processes like a test-teach-retest paradigm. Acadience’s research team was originally called “Dynamic Measurement Group” and DIBELS is the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills.

      Have you had a chance to check out the Discussion Guide for this podcast episode? It links to ASHA’s phonemic inventories, as well as the book Difference or Disorder – both are excellent resources for educators to learn more about students’ home language(s).

      1. I really appreciate that Diana spoke about abandoning the “wait and see” approach that is so often employed in FI classes where families are encouraged to stick it out until grade 3-4 to see if their student “catches up”.

        She also mentioned that providing screening and intervention in home languages could be an effective tool as it will ultimately help with their language development.

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