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Archive for the 'Language and literacy' Category

The benefits of a bilingual brain in the modern world

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 2 May 2018

Roberto Filippi. 

A multilingual world

It is estimated that more than half of the world’s population – over 3 billion people – can communicate in two (or more) languages. If we consider that our societies are increasingly mobile, monolingual speakers will soon be the exception.
I believe all of us at a certain point in life, being at school, at work or when travelling for leisure, have come across the need to communicate in another language. We might all have experienced the challenges of learning a new language but also the benefits of being able to understand other cultures, to express and understand feelings in other linguistic forms.
Italian flash cards
For children raised in multilingual families, the simultaneous acquisition of multiple (more…)

How can research truly inform practice? It takes a lot more than just providing information

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 14 December 2017

Jonathan Sharples. 
The Education Endowment Foundation’s latest evaluation report, the ‘Literacy Octopus‘, provides plenty of food for thought for anyone interested in improving the way research evidence informs practice, not just in education, but across sectors.
This pair of large, multi-armed trials evaluated different ways of engaging schools with a range of evidence-based resources and events. The common focus was on supporting literacy teaching and learning in primary schools.
The findings make it clear that our notion of ‘research use’ needs to extend beyond (more…)

Six reasons why Baseline the Sequel will be a harder sell

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 29 November 2017

Alice Bradbury. 
Last week the government announced details of their latest attempt to introduce Baseline Assessment into Reception classrooms in England. As widely reported, this policy will cost £10 million, with the sole aim of producing data on children aged four which can be compared with their test results seven years later. The return of Baseline, after an unsuccessful foray into testing four-year-olds in 2015, is based on the idea that the best way to judge schools is to measure their ‘value added’. The outcome of the Primary Assessment Consultation was that the best place to establish this starting point was in the first weeks of school in Reception.
There is a certain logic to this, and the resultant possible downgrading of Key Stage 1 Sats to non-statutory in 2023 (as they will no longer be needed as a starting point) may be popular. But, the findings from my research on the previous version of Baseline (with Guy Roberts-Holmes), suggest that (more…)

‘What works’ in education does not always chime with what Ministers want to hear

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 22 November 2017

Dominic Wyse. 
The present government in England says it wants to focus on ‘what works’ in education, backed up by solid research, especially research using randomised controlled trial (RCT) designs. Yet, the mismatch between Ministers’ curriculum policy for English teaching and the growing research evidence base is stark, particularly at primary level.
Especially worrying is the heavy emphasis in the curriculum and the SATs on traditional  grammar teaching. My latest paper (with my colleague Carole Torgerson at Durham University) published in the British Educational Research Journal today is an analysis of what works in education. The paper includes the evidence for a much more integrated approach to the teaching of grammar and writing.
We conducted a review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses, RCTs,
and quasi-experimental trials, and concluded that the widespread use of traditional (more…)

How can digital library systems help teachers support children’s reading for pleasure?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 9 October 2017

Natalia Kucirkova & Teresa Cremin. 
Children need to be able to read well to function in society and their engagement as readers needs nurturing from birth. Digital library systems offer enormous opportunities to tap into children’s interests and enhance teachers’ skills as literacy mentors.
They can help teachers and children find relevant content, archive readers’ responses to individual books and share them with others on a large scale. These systems can support reading for pleasure, acting as free book depositories (e.g., International Children’s Digital Library), providing tailored recommendations for new titles on a regular basis (e.g., Epic!) and offering children multimedia story experiences as in a virtual library (e.g., StoryPlace). Teachers’ resistance or openness to the sustained use of such technologies dictates their potential to make a difference to children’s learning.
In our new paper in the Cambridge Journal of Education we explore (more…)

Call for regulation on securing children’s data in personalised reading

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 17 May 2017

While children’s reading experience is being transformed with digital reading formats, personalised and interactive books allowing for more personalisation, there are risks around the data this releases. Natalia Kucirkova and Rosie Flewitt identify four main areas of concern and call for regulation. Natalia is Senior Research Associate, and Rosie is Reader in Early Communication and Learning, both at University College London, Institute of Education. This post is republished from the LSE blog.

Digital reading formats mean a child’s reading experience can be ‘personalised’ at many levels. Their name can be added into a popular fairy tale, or they can even add their own drawings to a story, make their own voice-overs or replace the main characters’ names with their own (e.g. Mr Glue Stories). Personalised books are now available as interactive digital books downloadable on touchscreens (e.g. Put Me In The Story®) as well as classic printed books (e.g. Lost My Name). This can make reading more enjoyable for young children, and the personalised data that is generated can be used to create adaptive algorithms to match texts to each child’s reading level, language scores or genre preferences (see the iRead project).

Key concerns

On 16 March 2017 we hosted a meeting with some of the UK’s key players in the children’s app and print publishing industry, international researchers and representatives from Book Trust and National Literacy Trust… Read the full post here

[Header image credit: B. Flickinger, CC BY 2.0_08] Photo licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License

Priorities for a new government: advice from our academics part 2

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 12 May 2017


The IOE blog has asked colleagues from across the Institute what’s at the top of their wish list. We are publishing their replies during the run-up to the election.
Primary Education
The new government should take a new approach to primary education that sees this stage as a unique time in children’s lives. This will require them to look again at the purposes of primary education.
The current statutory assessment system is not fit for assessing children’s learning and needs radical change. The government should:

  • Move to national sampling.
  • Abolish the current SPAG test and phonics screening test and replace with more appropriate measures.

When it comes to the National Curriculum, the government should: (more…)

Can we joke about cancer?

By Blog Editor, IOE Digital, on 12 April 2017

Zsofia Demjen.

For some, joking about cancer is completely out of bounds. Cancer, after all, is no laughing matter. The problem is that, sometimes, it has to be. Now, during Bowel Cancer Awareness Month, is a good time to talk about why.
At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (both in 2015 and 2016) comedians like Beth Vyse and Alastair Barrie were among those who based their comedy routines on their own or their partner’s cancer experiences. ‘It is a way of coping’, they said. ‘You can’t not laugh’. And it is a way of coping for the lay comedians among us too.
Our analysis of half a million words on one particular thread of an online forum dedicated to cancer[1] revealed that humour helps – at least for those who want to engage in it. It helps people talk more easily about potentially embarrassing side-effects and helps to reassert autonomy and reduce anxiety by reframing experiences. The particular style of (more…)