Saturday, July 12, 2008

Summer Literacy Institute

There are just three days left of Fordham's annual summer institute on literacy, the completion of which marks the beginning of my summer vacation.  I certainly have no complaints about the delay however because each presenter has brought a plethora of the latest findings connected with literacy development and implications for the classroom.

In addition to Dr. Marilyn Jager Adams, who spoke about phonological awareness and phonics instruction, the speakers have been as follows:
  1. Dr. Margie Gillis from Haskins Laboratories whose talk was entitled Empowering Teachers: The Key to Early Reading Success.
  2. Dr. Margaret McKeown from the University of Pittsburgh speaking about Engaging Students with Effective Vocabulary Instruction.
  3. Dr Ken Pugh from Haskins Laboratories and Yale University Medical School with The Neurobiology of Language and Reading.
  4. Dr. Eileen Marzola, teacher emerita NYC Department of Education, presenting on The Fluency Factor: The Bridge to Skilled Reading.  
Although I found the discussion about neurobiology and the possibility of 'rewiring the circuitry' of the dyslexic brain intriguing, it was Dr. McKeown whose work I found particularly relevant to my area of interest.

My doctoral thesis intends to examine the reading processes of Deaf children.  Historically, being Deaf has been viewed as a striking deterrent impeding literacy achievement.  Debates have raged for centuries over the best method of instruction and how to bridge the gap between hearing and deaf readers.

Although the dispute has continued to rage on, there has been very little consensus on what actually works or concrete findings that point to successful instructional criteria.

Therefore, in this climate of negativity without results, it is my intention to view the issue through a positive lens.  I prefer to examine the aspects of a deaf reader that are advantageous to the reading task. This includes taking running records (which monitor online reading processes) and documenting the use of appropriate conceptual signs.

For example, when a hearing child reads the word 'like' the listener cannot distinguish if the child is reading for meaning.  The word 'like' will sound the same whether the child understands it to mean

'have a favorable opinion of'

or 'can be grouped with'.

This is not the case for a child using American Sign Language.  The sign for 'like' differs according to the meaning behind it. This means we can actually get inside the mind of the deaf reader in ways that are unavailable for the hearing reader.  You with me?

I knew that I wanted to build on this theory in my work but was still a tad bit unsure of where to go with it.  But Dr. McKeown's presentation made me realize the missing component could be vocabulary instruction.  I do not want to bore you (any further) with the details but when it came time for questions and answers I put her on the spot by asking her to work with me to develop my ideas.  She said "Sure" and I promised to get in touch.

It turns out that this institute is bringing me another step closer to becoming "Dr" rather than just "Mr".  How cool is that?


Mona said...

It would be an interesting research.

I was wondering..would your thesis be wrought with illustrations of the kind you have shown here?

Good luck to you for your doctorate degree!

Gary said...

Hmmm Mona, I didn't think about the necessity of illustrations but now that you mention it I am wondering the same thing.

I'll keep you posted (of course it is still years away so stay tuned).

J. David Zacko-Smith said...

"Therefore, in this climate of negativity without results, it is my intention to view the issue through a positive lens."

All I can say is BRAVO! I love the whole concept of lenses - it shows how subjective and multidimensional things are.

Pauline said...

Effective vocabulary instruction - it was a big component of my own early childhood lessons but I notice it isn't a priority (but should be) even among young hearing children. With 40 minute blocks of instruction time and a plethora of must-get-to material to cover before April and the Comprehensive Assessment tests, vocabulary practice has been given short shrift. I'd be interested in hearing about your research as it progresses.

WAT said...

Like you, I wish I'd never seen that horrid clip I posted on my blog. Sorry about that Gary, but u had me laffing anyway. Anyway, I like this blog. I like you.

How does a Valley Girl speak in sign language when she says, LIKE TOTALLY!


Related Posts with Thumbnails