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Accelerating Preschoolers' Early Literacy Development Through Classroom-Based Teacher–Child Storybook Reading and Explicit Print Referencing

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This study examined the impact of teacher use of a print referencing style during classroom-based storybook reading sessions conducted over an academic year. Impacts on preschoolers' early literacy development were examined, focusing specifically on the domain of print knowledge. This randomized, controlled trial examined the effects of a print referencing style on 106 preschool children attending 23 classrooms serving disadvantaged preschoolers. Following random assignment, teachers in 14 classrooms used a print referencing style during 120 large-group storybook reading sessions during a 30-week period. Teachers in 9 comparison classrooms read at the same frequency and with the same storybooks but used their normal style of reading. Children whose teachers used a print referencing style showed larger gains on 3 standardized measures of print knowledge: print concept knowledge, alphabet knowledge, and name writing, with medium-sized effects. The convergence of the present findings with those of previous efficacy studies indicates that print referencing intervention can be used confidently as an approach for facilitating print knowledge in preschool-age children. Speech-language pathologists can serve an important role in supporting preschool educators as they use this evidence-based technique with pupils in their classrooms.
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... The use of comments during shared book reading also plays a role in supporting oral language growth (e.g., Ard & Beverly 2004;Barnes et al., 2017) and increasing awareness of print (e.g., Justice et al., 2009). Comments are statements which are not phrased as a question and do not require an instant response from a child (Barnes et al., 2017). ...
... Further, Zucker et al. (2009) noted that ECTs are also unlikely to focus their time on print when reading to children. With training, however, Justice et al. (2009) demonstrated that ECTs were able to incorporate both prompts and comments using print referencing strategies to increase preschoolers' print knowledge during shared book reading. Using print referencing heightens children's interest and attention towards print resulting in them learning about print more quickly . ...
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The use of shared book reading is regarded as valuable to support young children to build their oral language and emergent literacy skills in preschool classrooms. Quantitative and qualitative features of early childhood teachers’ (ECTs’) shared book reading practices are important contributors to quality shared book reading experiences. The aim of this study was to gain in-depth insights about the range and frequency of extratextual oral language and emergent literacy utterances (utterances beyond the story text) used by ECTs during shared book reading with preschoolers as well as their use of paralinguistic and nonverbal features. Video-recordings were made of 32 ECTs engaging in shared book reading with their four-year-old preschool class. ECTs’ extratextual utterances and their paralinguistic and nonverbal features were classified using a validated observational checklist: The “Emergent Literacy and Language Early Childhood Checklist for Teachers” (ELLECCT). Results showed ECTs frequently used responsive statements such as commenting on the story or acknowledging or imitating children’s utterances in book-related talk. ECTs most commonly asked closed questions during shared book reading and regularly used paralinguistic and nonverbal features such as prosody and volume in order to engage children. In contrast, ECTs used only a limited range of dialogic reading prompts and explicit vocabulary strategies and only infrequently expanded children’s utterances. Notably, ECTs rarely used strategies to target children’s print knowledge or phonological awareness. Although extratextual dialogue was used regularly by ECTs during shared book reading, targeted techniques that are known to build oral language and emergent literacy were not consistently demonstrated. These results suggest missed opportunities for preschool children to benefit from shared book reading.
... Children's print awareness or print concepts knowledge represents children's understanding of print as an object of meaning (i.e., that print and pictures symbolize different things), print features (i.e., letters and words in English, punctuation), and how print is organized (i.e., print in writing moves in logical ways, such as left to right in English) (Clay, 2000;Justice et al., 2009). Print knowledge is prominently featured in US early learning standards (Tortorelli et al., 2021), because it is implicitly necessary in understanding that marks on a page have meaning and that oral language can be captured by forming letters, spelling words, and composing text (Puranik & Lonigan, 2014;Welsch et al., 2003). ...
... However, recognizing the relations between oral and written language is foundational to early writing development (Rowe & Wilson, 2015) and children benefit from conversations about print concepts specifically . Limited explicit attention to print while writing aligns with research noting a similar lack of print referencing by adults while reading (Justice & Ezell, 2004;Justice et al., 2009). ...
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This study examined preschool teachers’ writing knowledge and how this knowledge relates to classroom writing practices. Head Start teachers (N = 47) across two states participated by completing a knowledge questionnaire in which they responded to three vignettes and samples of preschool children’s writing. Teachers’ writing practices were gathered and coded from half-day video observations. Questionnaire responses were iteratively coded, first, using a set of a priori developed codes, derived from well-established theories of writing and including subcomponents of writing: handwriting, spelling, composing, and print concepts. Then responses were open-coded using an iterative process. Responses to the vignettes revealed that teachers’ knowledge of early writing development generally aligns with research-based conceptualizations for handwriting and print concepts, but less so for spelling and composing. Teachers varied widely in the components they discussed, with clear patterns across the three writing samples. Observations of teachers’ practices revealed that teachers primarily enacted practices focused on children’s handwriting skills and engaged in scaffolding strategies designed to make writing easier for children more frequently than modeling or expansion strategies. Most instructional strategies were considered low quality as teachers were observed doing much of the cognitive or physical work of writing. Teachers’ knowledge and practices were related. Teachers demonstrating higher knowledge complexity (i.e., discussed more writing components in their responses) engaged children in more writing and offered higher quality supports reflecting a wider range of writing components.
... Both, the frequency of shared reading and extratextual conversations beyond reading the text, are predictive of growth in code related skills and oral language (Zucker et al., 2013). Extratextual conversations to increase emergent readers' print knowledge is known as print referencing, an evidence-based technique using verbal (e.g., 'this is the letter M, it sounds like mmm') and nonverbal (e.g., pointing to text) cues to call attention to printed matters during classroom-based storybook reading sessions (Justice & Ezel, 2002, 2004Justice et al., 2009). ...
... Despite the short intervention children benefit in both domains with very high effect sizes. Justice et al. (2009) investigated print knowledge development through classroom-based teacher-child storybook reading with explicit print referencing and found a medium effect size (d = 0.5) after 120 reading sessions. Shamir et al. (2012) contrasted adult reading and individual e-book reading and found after 6 sessions an increase in a simple CAP score with a high effect (d = 0.7) for both interventions. ...
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This study examined the effects of a classroom-focused intervention on different domains of early literacy. The intervention consisted of shared e-book reading combined with a print referencing technique done via a SMART board. The specific goal of the study was to examine whether children could be instructed simultaneously in print knowledge, phonological awareness, and vocabulary, without a loss of impact on the development of either skill. Results revealed significantly larger gains with high effect sizes in print knowledge (ηp² = .474) and phonological awareness (ηp² = .370) when children received the print referencing e-book intervention compared to the control conditions. Print referencing did not hinder children’s learning of new words, but enhanced vocabulary to the same extent, or even higher, as e-books typically do in kindergarten when print referencing is not involved. The findings indicate that e-book reading merged with print referencing is a beneficial method for enhancing essential early literacy skills simultaneously. The learning tool is particularly efficient for a tailor-made educational setting, as it allows differential attention to students and lessens the workload for teachers.
... Combined with the fact that preschoolers themselves do not focus much of their attention on print (Evans et al., 2008), this has implications for preschoolers receiving optimal benefits for their emergent literacy growth during shared book reading. Following training, however, ECTs have been able to increase their use of a print referencing style and thus improve children's alphabet knowledge and print concept knowledge (Gettinger & Stoiber, 2014;Justice et al., 2009). The existing research on ECTs' use of questioning during shared book reading indicates they tend to focus on less cognitively challenging questions (Deshmukh et al., 2019) or questions that do not elicit much verbal language (Hindman et al., 2019). ...
... Frequency is important due to the relationship between ECTs' use of oral language and emergent literacy strategies during shared book reading and children's outcomes (e.g. Justice et al., 2009;Mol et al., 2009). Therefore, the use of the OMLIT-RAP as a training tool has important limitations as it cannot differentiate between a teacher who is maximising opportunities during shared book reading with a higher frequency of instructional behaviours versus a teacher who is making less frequent use of such opportunities. ...
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Shared book reading in preschool settings plays an influential role in supporting children’s oral language and emergent literacy skills. Early childhood teachers can provide high-quality shared book reading experiences using extratextual utterances (reading beyond the story text) to maximise these learning outcomes. We report on the development and psychometric properties of the ‘Emergent Literacy and Language Early Childhood Checklist for Teachers’ (ELLECCT) tool, a comprehensive observational checklist designed to document early childhood teachers’ extratextual oral language and emergent literacy strategies during shared book reading. The ELLECCT measures teachers’ dialogic reading prompts, vocabulary promotion strategies, responsive statements, print knowledge and phonological awareness. The ELLECCT also contains a rating scale examining paralinguistic and nonverbal strategies used by early childhood teachers to support engagement during shared book reading interactions. The psychometric properties of the ELLECCT were measured in a four-phase process. Content validity was tested using the Content Validity Index and a three-round Delphi process was used to measure face validity. Both intra-rater and inter-rater reliability were evaluated from a sample of 32 shared book reading observations. The study findings provide preliminary evidence for the psychometric properties of the ELLECCT, such that it is judged as suitable for evaluation of early childhood teachers’ use of extratextual and paralinguistic strategies while engaged in shared book reading. We describe the ELLECCT’s potential application in both classroom coaching and training, and as a research tool, to support early childhood teachers’ skill-development during shared book reading.
... The positive effect of coaching on children's academic skills should also be linked to their language skills and self-regulation, which are particularly sensitive to teaching quality (Pianta et al., 2017). Coaching that targets teacher instruction of particular domains, such as literacy (Justice et al., 2009) and behaviour management (Raver et al., 2008), affects children's academic skills positively. ...
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Coaching is proven to be an effective strategy of professional development; however, rare research has documented the nuances of coaching effects and the enablers in early childhood education. This study presents a systematic review of 33 randomised controlled trials or (quasi-)experiments to investigate the effects of coaching as a professional development tool on early childhood teachers' instruction and young children's developmental outcomes. The synthesis of evidence revealed positive effects of coaching on teachers' knowledge gains and instructional competencies and a range of children's developmental outcomes (language and literacy, social-emotional development, and academic skills). We analysed the ‘who’, ‘what’ and ‘how’ components of coaching to explain the enabling factors surrounding the effects of coaching. Empirical evidence synthesised in this review supports the theoretical notions of situated learning derived from anthropological studies of apprenticeship, suggesting that coaching should be situated in the real teaching context for promoting its effects. This systematic review is the first to apply situated learning theory in discussing how coaching works and reveals a robust positive effect of coaching on teachers' knowledge gains and instructional abilities, and children's developmental outcomes. Guidelines that could help understand the application of coaching are provided to inform the scaling up of coaching-focused professional development programmes in early childhood settings. Implications of this research synthesis are also discussed for future research.
... In regard to specific skills, research points to the importance of interactive shared book reading to support children's knowledge and skill development in three areas most closely linked to reading achievement: (1) print knowledge, (2) phonological awareness and (3) oral language (NELP, 2008;National Research Council, 2008). Print knowledge instruction provides explicit teaching focused on enhancing children's emerging knowledge of the specific forms and functions of written language, such as recognizing letters, words, and print conventions (e.g., Justice et al., 2009). Phonological awareness instruction teaches prerequisite decoding skills focused on sound awareness abilities such as rhyming and blending and segmenting words, syllables and phonemes (e.g., O'Connor et al., 1993a). ...
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Language and literacy skills are critical for academic success. Shared book reading is an evidence-based practice for improving a range of language and literacy skills in young children, including those with or at risk for learning disabilities. The aim of this paper is to describe how teachers and speech-language pathologists (SLPs) can collaborate to support young children’s learning through shared book reading. An overview of shared book reading is presented, followed by a description of the collaboration, implementation of the shared book reading sessions, as well as instruction that can take place after the reading. By collaborating through shared book reading, teachers and SLPs can enhance their overall instructional quality to more effectively support the language and literacy needs of children with or at risk for learning disabilities.
... An important component of HLE is parents' activities aimed at supporting the early literacy development of their children. These are, for instance, reading to children, discussing the story topic and characters, directing the children's attention to the printed word, explaining the formal components of a text, and explicitly teaching them letters and words (Hindman & Morrison, 2012;Justice, Kaderavek, Fan, Sofka, & Hunt, 2009;Rodríguez et al., 2009;Sénéchal & Le Fevre, 2002;Silinskas et al., 2012;Tamášová & Šulganová, 2016). A range of studies has tried to explain the benefits of literacy practices through a number of children's literacy outcomes. ...
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This study explores children's agency in shared book reading sessions with parents and its relation to family literacy characteristics, parents' literacy practices with children and children's print knowledge. Research participants were 142 Czech children, ages 3–6, and their parents. Parents rated their children's agency and the attributes of the home literacy environment in a questionnaire. The data shows that children in the sample exerted agency in shared book reading situations, some of them extensively. Out of the four components of agency, children's manifestations of volition in shared book reading appeared to be the most extensive, followed by asking questions, imitating reading and monitoring parents when they were reading to them. Overall, the results indicate that literacy-aimed activities, which the parents carry out with their children, relate to children's agency more than literacy qualities of the home, like the number of children's books, children's exposure to literacy, or parental education.
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Bu çalışmanın temel amacı, 60-72 aylık çocukların erken okuryazarlık beceri düzeyinin SED, ev okuryazarlık uygulamaları, öğretmen okuryazarlık bilgi düzeyi ve sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamaları açısından incelenmesidir. Araştırmaya, devlet okulları bünyesinde bulunan anasınıflarında eğitim öğretimine devam eden ve tanılı herhangi bir yetersizliği olmayan 60-72 ay yaş aralığındaki 235 çocuk dâhil edilmiştir. Araştırmaya dâhil edilen çocukların erken okuryazarlık beceri düzeylerine ilişkin bilgiler ‘Erken Okuryazarlık Testi (EROT)’, ailelerin sosyo ekonomik düzeylerine ilişkin bilgiler ‘Aile Bilgi Formu’, ev okuryazarlık uygulamalarına ilişkin bilgiler araştırmacı tarafından geliştirilen ‘Ev Okuryazarlık Uygulamaları Ölçeği (EVOKU)’, okul öncesi öğretmenlerinin erken okuryazarlık bilgi düzeyi ve sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamalarına ilişkin bilgiler ‘Öğretmen Görüşme Formu’ ile elde edilmiştir. Çocukların öncelikle EROT alt testlerinden elde ettikleri puanların SED’e ve yaşa göre dağılımları belirlenmiştir. Dağılımların belirlenmesinin ardından EROT alt testlerinden elde edilen puanların SED’e ve sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamalarına göre farklılık gösterip göstermediğimi belirlemek için Kruskall Wallis- H testi, ev okuryazarlık uygulamalarına ve öğretmen bilgi düzeyine göre farklılık gösterip göstermediğini belirlemek için Mann Whitney-U testi kullanılmıştır. Elde edilen sonuçlara bakıldığında çocukların alıcı dilde sözcük bilgisi, ifade edici dilde sözcük bilgisi ve sesbilgisel farkındalık becerileri alt testlerinden elde ettikleri puanların SED’e göre anlamlı farklılık gösterdiği görülmüştür. Anlamlı farklılığın ise üst SED’den gelen çocuklar ile alt SED’den gelen çocuklar arasında ve üst SED’den gelen çocukların lehine, orta SED’den gelen çocuklar ile alt SED’den gelen çocuklar arasında ve orta SED’den gelen çocukların lehine olduğu gözlemlenmiştir. Ev okuryazarlık uygulamalarının, çocukların alıcı dilde sözcük bilgisi, ifade edici dilde sözcük bilgisi, sesbilgisel farkındalık ve dinlediğini anlama alt testlerinden elde ettikleri puanlar üzerinde anlamlı farklılıklar yarattığı sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Anlamlı farklığın ise erken okuryazarlık becerileri açısından risk grubunda olmayan çocukların lehine olduğu görülmüştür. Okul öncesi öğretmenlerinin sahip olduğu erken okuryazarlık bilgi düzeyinin, çocukların EROT alt testlerinden elde ettikleri puanlar üzerinde anlamlı farklılık yaratmadığı görülmüştür. Son olarak sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamalarının, çocukların alıcı ve ifade edici dilde sözcük bilgisi alt testlerinden elde ettikleri puanlar üzerinde anlamlı farklılık yarattığı sonucuna ulaşılmıştır. Anlamlı farklılığın ise iyi uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfında bulunan çocuklar ile zayıf uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfında bulunan çocuklar arasında ve iyi uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfındaki çocukların lehine, orta düzey uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfında bulunan çocuklar ile zayıf uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfında bulunan çocuklar arasında ve orta düzey uygulamacı olan öğretmenlerin sınıfındaki çocukların lehine olduğu görülmüştür. Elde edilen bulgular alanyazın temelinde tartışılmış ve hem SED’in hem ev okuryazarlık uygulamalarının hem de sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamalarının erken okuryazarlık becerileri için önemli değişkenler olduğu belirlenmiştir. Sonuç olarak, çocuğun erken okuryazarlık bilgi ve becerilerinin gelişimi üzerinde etkili olduğu belirlenen tüm değişkenler bütüncül bir bakış açısıyla ele alınmış ve çocuğun içinde bulunduğu SED’in, ev okuryazarlık ve sınıf içi okuryazarlık uygulamalarının niteliğinin ve niceliğinin çocukların erken okuryazarlık bilgi ve becerilerinin gelişimini destekleyen önemli değişkenler olduğu görülmüştür.
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