N. Piquette1, R. Savage2

1University of Lethbridge (CANADA)
2McGill University (CANADA)
A core principle of educational research and development is evidence-based practice. That implies that the best evidence is used to design, develop, and refine learning tools to further understand how children learn and teachers teach. It is “discovering” this evidence that is at the crux of the theory to practice research paradigm. When applied to the domain of literacy, the researcher must then also determine how to “discover” whilst ensuring that all students are exposed to effective interventions. It is the researchers goal to investigate how literacy and web-based platforms can be utilized effectively for our youngest learners.

Globally there is a pressing need for accessible, effective early reading interventions to ensure that all children avoid literacy difficulties. Two school divisions located in Alberta, Canada, demonstrated their commitment to their students, parents, and teaching community by enabling researchers to access information regarding strategies and activities for effectively raising reading attainment for children. The collaborative efforts undertaken with the school divisions and three universities that targeted reading improvement will be outlined in this presentation.

The central thesis of this presentation lies in the literacy development research undertaken with these school divisions as part of a larger Pan-Canadian study. An overview of the technology based literacy tool that actively supported and scaffolded reading instruction will be provided. This web based tool, ABRACADABRA (ABRA: a collaborative effort via CLSP) incorporates reading comprehension and fluency strategies, and rich word-level analysis, with ‘real texts’ and graphics. ABRA is a completely free-access web-based literacy program that organizes diverse activities for phonics, fluency, comprehension, and writing for early literacy development. ABRA was implemented and studied in over 30 classrooms within these school divisions over the past two years hence there is rich data to explore. Furthermore, teacher adoption and acceptance of technology [e.g., ABRA, Smart boards, etc] will be reviewed in the context of student learning support.

Specifically, an overview of the ABRA web-based tool will be presented with Canadian and Alberta HTML and ANOVA results from classroom studies. A secondary MANOVA analysis of the program use in rural schools will be included, highlighting recent research reports that achievement, motivation and engagement were higher for students in technology-enriched learning environments. The presenters will also focus on the criterion necessary for the effective, collaborative and pragmatic research endeavors in schools. The theory-research cycle will highlight the critical elements of school improvement that positively effect student learning, including structure, methods, people, process and data collection and dissemination.

Participant outcomes include a deeper understanding related to web-based tools, further knowledge regarding the necessity of early reading literacy supports, gain ideas on how to implement phonological and word skills into a reading program, and an appreciation of how evidence based research methodologies can demonstrate whether or not a reading intervention is effective. The presentation should be of interest to individuals interested in raising early reading attainment and interested in digital learning environments.