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purple arrow (1137 bytes)Video and Software Tools for Accelerating Literacy in At-Risk Children

REFERENCE: Sharp, D., Kinzer, C., Risko, V. & the Cognition and Technology Group at Vanderbilt University. (1994). The Young Children's Video Project: Video and software tools for accelerating literacy in at-risk children. Paper presented at the National Reading Conference, San Diego, CA.

CONTEXT: The goal of the Young Children's Literacy Project is to make effective use of new technologies for creating literacy environments that are based on solid theoretical and research-based principles. This paper reviews the design principles that underlie the multimedia learning environments developed by the authors, describes one such learning environment, and reports data from kindergarten and first-grade children who have used these environments.

This following description highlights some aspects of the Young Children's Literacy Project.

DESCRIPTION: The multimedia environments used for this project are adaptable for children of all skill levels. They have complexity for children with high skill levels and scaffolding for children with low skill levels. A 15-minute video is used to introduce children of all skill levels to stories that are much more complex than they could handle in book form. Video helps mitigate the sometimes vast differences in background knowledge that children bring to a story session because it provides rich, visual information about the story.

The computer and video technology are designed to facilitate interaction about the story, especially discussions in which children are the leaders. The technology-based tools provide models of discussions that children can access independently.

Project staff designed computer-supported print versions of the video stories. Children can read these versions as well as their own retellings of the video stories. In addition, there are computer-supported texts comprised of short, decodable words.

After viewing and discussing the video story, children work in small groups with a teacher to plan and write a book, which consists of dynamic images from the video, original text and music from a library of musical clips stored on the computer. The writing process has several phases, all involving multimedia tools on the computer. A storyboarding tool allows the children to sequence twelve pictures from the video, discussing the correct order as a group. The next phase is Reciprocal Teaching, which allows each student to play the role of teacher, leading classmates through the steps of questioning, summarizing and clarifying scenes in the story. For the actual book-writing phase, children begin by orally recording their ideas, which frees them from the memory demands of using print. Then the children translate their ideas into print. In addition to basing books on the video, the children can write their own stories with the Book Maker. For those who need it, story-starters, clip art and drawing tools are available.

The authors discuss their research and evaluation of the project, as well as challenges for the future. These include professional development, integration of science and math curricula, and expansion of home-school connections.

Address: Diana Sharp, Learning Technology Center, Box 45, Peabody College, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN 37203 (615)-322-8070

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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