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1.1 Description of the Area of Research Title of the Study: Phonics Primer for Year Five Remedial Class in Primary School.
Phonics is letter-sound correspondences. The units of sound can be syllables, onsets & rimes, or phonemes (EdResearch.info). Phonics Primer is a way of learning the sounds of the alphabet in order to decode the English language. It is recognized by a quick pace of teaching letter and the sound or grapheme and phoneme matches and immediately getting students to use this knowledge to read and spell regular words.
Words are read by using the phonological skill of blending the sounds together – synthesis (hence the term “synthetic phonics”). Words are spelled by using the phonological skill of hearing the sounds in words (segmentation) by means of which words are segmented into their constituent phonemes (Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia) Research Questions
1. What is the strategy in teaching synthetic phonics?
2. Can the method be successfully taught in shorter periods?
3. Can the 44 sounds of Phonics Primer help in teaching non-English speakers
who have other sounds that is found in English?
4. Can Phonics Primer be used to teach cohorts in higher levels with reading
Research Variables The instruments that I will use in my research will be: 1. Questionnaires 2. Interviews 3. Classroom Observation Checklist 4. Tests 5. Document Reviews
Gay and Airasian (20030 defined population as “The population is the group of interest to the researcher, the group to which the results of the study will ideally generalized”. The respondents of the research will be for remedial students from the outskirt of Sarikei in Sarawak.
The majority of the students will be of the Iban race. The research will be conducted on two groups of selected students. One group will be used for study, called the experimental group. Another group would be the controlled group and they will be taught with the conventional teaching procedure during English lessons. Both groups will be cohorts who will need assistant in reading. About six students will be involved in this study. They will be remedial students from the cohort of year five students who are in the remedial class. The respected students and school will be chosen simply to fulfill the requirements of the research that will use the Primers phonics approach to teach reading for remedial students.
1.2 Theoretical Framework
Often we find that in schools, there are always students who are very poor in reading English. It is even worst when the students cannot read in a language that is very similar to theirs. This means that the students are having problems in basic reading. We can say that these students are too slow in picking up during their reading lessons in English. In classes where we have been teaching, oftentimes we see that students cannot recognize words and even there are some who cannot read.
The students in rural Sarikei, in Sarawak, specifically are mostly Ibans. They are non-English speakers. They only encounter the language when they come to school. English therefore is very unfamiliar to them. Many English sounds don’t even exist in their mother tongue. Synthetic phonics has all the 44 sounds of the English Language. It is a very systematic way to teach basic reading in English. By using the method of teaching, students can read faster and easier. The method of teaching and the instruments used in teaching it can enable the remedial students of the primary schools to remember the sounds made by the letters and enable them to read.
Research instrument are devices to measure the objects of the study. Instruments come in multiple forms. For this research, the researcher will be using multiple forms like questionnaires, observation forms, interview forms and tests to get information. The questionnaires and interviews will be used to get information about experiences, suggestions and ideas related to the study. The observation forms will be used to make observations during the study. From observation forms, the researcher will be able to see weaknesses and strengths during the teaching of Phonics Primer and also the current teaching method used by the school to make comparisons. The tests which will be given before and after teaching Phonics Primer will help the researcher to find out if the case study that they are doing is suitable and good for teaching remedial students.
Questionnaires are familiar to most people (Berdie, Anderson, and Niebuhr, 1986).It is a written or printed form used in gathering information on some subject or subjects, consisting of a set of questions to be submitted to one or more persons (Your Dictionary.Com)
It is a communication method of designing questionnaires to collect the requisite information. It is a list of questions framed to get facts. A questionnaire is defined as a group of printed questions used to elicit information from subjects by means of self report. Questionnaires will be distributed to both experimental and controlled group.
A teacher questionnaire is designed to gather information administered to English teachers in school. The questionnaire will be done two times, that is before the start of the Phonics Programme. A second questionnaire will follow at the end of the programme. This is to find out the status of remedial reading before and after the programme. If there are any differences before and after the programme, it will be noted down for analysis in the research later.
Students’ questionnaire will also be done. It will be done with students who are involved with the study. They are the experimental group of students and also the controlled group of students for comparison later. Questionnaires can help the researcher discover the experiences, knowledge and backgrounds of the students and the school which is related to the case study that is going to be done. These information will help the researcher to know more and understand more about the stand of the students involved in the study. The questionnaire is also important in helping the researcher to make conclusion and give suggestions for future study of similar case.
The interview is a dialogue between the teachers with the researcher. The most commonly accepted objective of the interview is to determine whether there is a match between the candidates’ education, experience, interest and goals and the goals of the researcher related to the study for which the researcher is interviewing. In this study, the researcher conducts the interview with the remedial students’ teacher. This interview is designed to elicit data using a set of predetermined questions that are expected to elicit the subjects thoughts, opinions and attitudes regarding the teaching of reading to remedial students.
Group Interviews with Teachers.
To identify the major issues surrounding the planning and implementation of reading instruction in schools of a rural school, group interviews will be conducted with English remedial teachers. An interview will be used to facilitate discussion. Responses to the uniform standard questions will contribute to the final analysis of the study findings.
Individual Interviews with Teachers.
To investigate all of the major research questions. presented earlier, interviews will be conducted with English remedial teachers in the selected schools. An interview will be used to facilitate information gathering. Responses to the questions will contribute to the final analysis of the study findings.
Observation Instruments Observation is a technique of gathering data through direct contact with the subjects. In this study, the researcher will observe two classes. The researcher will observe ongoing class using Primer Phonics and the normal teaching of remedial students in the school. Observation instrument is necessary to detect any strength and weaknesses for both types of methodology in teaching remedial students. The detections will be noted down in the researcher’s note book for making analysis, conclusion and suggestions for future researches.
Classroom observation will be done to make sure that Primer Phonics is taught accordingly. A checklist will be used. Classroom observations will also be done for the normal teaching of remedial students in the same school. The need for making observation for the normal method of teaching is to enable comparison among the two types of methodology later. Additional data collection and review will occur during the observations. Researchers summarized notes after each observation.
Test The researcher will conduct two types of tests, the Pre test and the Post test, for two groups of students from the remedial class only. The students will be divided into the experimental and controlled group. A Pre test will be used to see the students’ ability to read before teaching using the Primers Phonic Method. The Post test will be used to see the achievements made after teaching using the Primers’ Phonic Method. Both the experimental and the controlled groups will take the tests so the researcher can compare if there will be any differences in the achievements after teaching using the Primers’ Phonic Method for the experimental group.
The Controlled group will be taught by their own remedial teachers using the usual syllabus in the school. In the tests, subjects are to read a short text of about 150 words. These tests aims to see how good the students can or cannot read before and after teaching using the Primers’ Phonic Method. To assess the students reading, 5 criteria will be ticked accordingly. Students who gets two out of five ‘Yes’ are considered to have pass the Pre Test or the Post test
Document review will inform the research process to varying degrees. Among the documents analyzed were student work samples, report cards, forms, letters to parents, lesson plans, lists of reading books, and other relevant documents pertinent to current reading instruction.
The Theoretical Framework
Diagram 1: The Diagram depicts the theoretical framework.
1.3 Review of Related Literature
The literature reviews forwarded here will help us to understand more about the case study that will be done. A literature review is a body of text that aims to review the critical points of current knowledge and or methodological approaches on a particular topic. Literature reviews are secondary sources, and as such, do not report any new or original experimental work.
Most often associated with academic-oriented literature, such as theses, a literature review usually precedes a research proposal and results section. Its ultimate goal is to bring the reader up to date with current literature on a topic and forms the basis for another goal, such as future research that may be needed in the area.
A well-structured literature review is characterized by a logical flow of ideas; current and relevant references with consistent, appropriate referencing style, proper use of terminology and an unbiased and comprehensive view of the previous research on the topic
I would like to make a review of related literature which is in my area of research, Instruction, Development, and Achievement of Struggling Primary Grade Readers by Elizabeth Campbell Rightmyer, Ellen McIntyre, and Joseph M Petrosko. Reading Research and Instruction. Coral Gables: Spring 2006.
Their study examined the phonics and reading achievement of 117 primary grade students in 14 schools and 42 classrooms. Students received instruction in one of six different reading programs or models based upon the school they attended. Through qualitative data collection and analysis of specific instructional practices, they determined that no model or program proved more effective for the learning of phonics in the first grade after one year of instruction.
The purpose of their study was to examine the phonics and reading achievement of primary grade students receiving instruction in six different instructional programs or models (referred to as “models” in reference to their study). Then, through a qualitative analysis of the specific instructional practices within these models and their understanding of young children’s literacy development, they explain the relative differences in achievement gains of these primary grade struggling readers.
Method They examined the instructional practices and achievement of low performing students in first through third grade classrooms in which teachers used one of the following reading models: Breakthrough to Literacy (www.btl.com); Early Success (Cooper, et al., 1997); Early Intervention (Taylor, Medo, & Strait, 1995); Four Blocks (Cunningham, Hall, & DeFee, 1991); SRA Reading Mastery (Engelmann & Bruner, 1997); or Together We Can, a locally developed model based on small group guided reading and explicit teaching of reading strategies and skills. Participants
The study included 117 “struggling” primary-grade readers in 14 schools and 42 classrooms. Schools that had recently received a state grant to implement one of the reading models were invited to participate. They then contacted the principals, asking them to recommend teachers who were particularly successful at implementing the instructional model for at least one year; they believed that principals would avoid selecting teachers who were struggling with the model, classroom management, student diversity, or any of the myriad complexities that teachers face daily. Independently, they checked the teachers’ credentials by using a state-developed data base and found that the majority of them held advanced rank in the profession; 73% had earned at least 30 credit hours beyond the bachelor’s degree.
They also found that 84% of the teachers had taught in their current state of employment for more than five years. The principals distributed consent forms to interested teachers, and when they were returned, the researchers explained to each teacher that the children they wanted to study were those struggling with reading or learning to read. They had no control of the models that were proposed or the schools that were selected to receive the grants. Like many states under accountability mandates, their state is becoming heavily invested in direct instruction models of reading and mathematics, and this predilection was seen in the numbers of students who received scripted early intervention in reading. They asked that by October 1 of the first year of the study, the teachers identify the lowest achieving 20% in their classes.
Again, they did not control for socioeconomic status, gender, or ethnicity of the identified children or in any way second-guess the teachers’ selection. Consenting students became the targeted group of children the researchers tested on the phonics application and reading tasks. There were two to five children in each of the classrooms, although due to attrition and a few flawed tests, this number was reduced in some classrooms. Researchers studied one group of children from the beginning of first grade through the end of second grade, documenting growth in phonics for one year.
These children are hereafter referred to as “first graders,” even though they followed them through the end of second grade. The children in this group were all served by a single reading model – one of the five models that appear in Appendix A – across two years; however, most of the children had different teachers implementing the model the second year (in second grade). The study followed a second group from the beginning of second grade through the end of third grade, also documenting growth after two years.
These children are hereafter referred to as “second graders,” even though they followed them through the end of third grade. Like the first graders, the children in this group were served by the same reading model across two years; however, most of the children had different teachers implementing the model the second year (in third grade). Table 1 lists the participants by model. Procedures for Data Collection and Analysis of Student Achievement Instruments
The researcher pre- and post-tested first grade children on clay’s Hearing Sounds in Words Test (1993), a phonics application task that included encoding a sentence. This measure was conducted only with first graders, as this was the norming sample. It will hereafter be referred to as the “phonics measure” or “phonics achievement.” On the clay test, the examiner reads two sentences to the child, “The bus is coming fast. It will stop here to let me get on.” Then the sentences are read again, word by word, and children encode the sentence as the researcher dictates.
The children are encouraged to do the best they can with the spelling and “use the sounds of words to write as much as you can.” The children score a point for each letter or group of letters they write that correctly correspond to the sounds in the words. Children can score from O to 37 on this test. The researchers selected this test because they believed it to be a more authentic assessment of phonics understanding and use than phonological tests on which children call out letter sounds they see or sound out semantically disconnected word lists. Data collection
Researchers were trained using each of the testing instruments given. The training involved an explanation and demonstration of the testing procedures and observation of videotapes of the project director testing various children. The researchers scored those children, discussed results, and adjusted their expectations through more explanation and demonstration by the director. Children were pre-tested during the months of September and post-tested during the month of May during each of the two years of the study.
Children were tested in one-on-one situations in quiet places, arranged by the classroom teacher or grant administrator for periods of no more than 30 minutes at a time. While the pre-testing took approximately 30 minutes per child, the post-testing took 60-90 minutes per child for most children, thus each child was met two or three times. The researchers attempted to make the children comfortable and rewarded them afterwards with stickers. All reading passages were tape-recorded. Quantitative analysis of achievement data
For ease in comparing achievement, the researchers used the benchmarks provided by each of the tests. Clay’s Hearing Sounds in Words phonics test has a range of 1-37, with intervals of 1. Two trained researchers individually scored every Clay test, and these scores were compared against one another for accuracy. Where there was discrepancy in scoring, a third researcher also reviewed the data, and the group negotiated the final score. Scores were entered into a data base, and two team members reviewed each of them for accuracy in data entry. In this study, test score data were statistically analyzed in two ways.
First, pretest scores were subtracted from posttest scores. The resulting gain scores were used as dependent variables in a one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA), with the reading models as the independent variables. Test 1 was a comparison of phonics achievement of students in the different reading models (one-year gain). For each test, students’ achievement in only five models was compared. Importantly, due to the unequal number of students in each of the comparison groups, and the small numbers of participants in some of the models, the interpretations about the findings of these tests are made with caution and based on trends in the data.
Data Collection and Analysis of Instructional Practices The researchers collected data on the instructional models in three ways: a) by observing the teachers and taking field notes, b) by interviewing the teachers about their practices, and c) by completing an observation instrument after leaving the site (which required reflection and quantification of what was observed). For this analysis, they specifically gathered data on: 1) the focus of instruction, 2) the primary literacy activities conducted, and 3) the length of time children spent reading connected text. Other salient characteristics of the models, such as whether the model was considered an intervention for struggling readers or a whole class model, are also described. Observations and interviews
Schools were contacted and arrangements were made to observe the teachers who had been previously identified as fully implementing the instructional model adopted through the state program. The researchers visited each teacher four times and observed between 90-180 minutes during each visit, depending on how long “literacy instruction” was conducted in that classroom. Researchers sat in the room and recorded what the teacher said and did in the form of field notes. One important feature in our field notes was the regular marking of time. In an effort to understand how teachers distributed their instructional time for various activities, they recorded the time in the margins of their field notes approximately every five minutes. After each visit, the researchers interviewed the classroom teacher the same day the observations were made. Among the questions they asked were about how typical the observed instruction was and how the children were selected for testing to ensure that they indeed were studying the bottom 20%.
Observation instrument After exiting the field site, the researcher used the field notes and interview to complete an observation instrument that summarized and quantified instructional patterns. A small section of instrument was used to help determine the teacher’s focus of instruction. The instrument, the field notes, and the interview made a “data set” for analysis. Analysis of instruction
In the first phase of analysis, researchers gathered to examine the data sets. Using a form created by the project director, the researchers summarized what happened during each of the visits. From these summaries of the field notes and interviews, the project director created a set of codes that reflected much of the data, a content analysis of sorts (Miles & Huberman, 1994). Then, the research team partitioned the field notes into “activity settings” (Tharp & Gallimore, 1988) in order to create smaller, bounded units of analysis.
This meant that whenever there was a change in activity (the people, place, or product of instruction), the ensuing activity was considered a unit of analysis and coded separately. The Researcher did not consider as “change in setting” instances in which children had to leave a group early or if a lesson was interrupted. Thus, the lessons were coded holistically by setting. Settings lasted from five to 45 minutes. For example, one setting for analysis might be a 10-minute whole class lesson on which the teacher guided the children to “correct” a message she had written without punctuation.
When the same teacher signaled to the children it was time to work in learning centers, a new unit of analysis was begun. Sometimes there were multiple simultaneous activity settings, and the researcher usually made the decision to follow the teacher. For each activity setting, they coded the teacher’s primary activity, followed by what researchers interpreted, from both observations and interviews, was the teacher’s focus for the activity-either to help students develop phonologically (ACTIV-phon), or to help students learn something else (ACTIV-other). The primary instructional activities observed in each class were listed on the summary sheet. Finally, to determine the time children spent reading connected text, they used an earlier analysis of these data (Authors, 2005).
They first defined connected text as “texts of meaningful sentences or longer; that is, more than one connected sentence;” although, in this study, connected text was usually an entire story. Then, they clarified activities that comprised examples of opportunities to read connected text. The following practices were categorized as such: choral reading; echo reading (even though technically the teacher was doing half of the reading); guided silent reading; guided oral reading; and established periods for independent reading. Activities not included as “opportunities for reading connected text” included read aloud story time, times when the teacher was directly teaching something, times when students completed worksheets that included only words or unrelated sentences, drill of individual words, or time on non-print responses to literature.
Then, the researchers highlighted in field notes when students were provided opportunities to read connected text. They calculated the percentage of time in such activity against the total time designated for language arts instruction. They examined all four observations of each teacher together as a unit because they knew they were going to categorize them. Using group consensus, they defined classrooms as having much opportunity to read connected text during all four observations, a moderate amount of time, or little time. After each data set was analyzed and each teacher categorized, they compared instructional foci and practices across models. They listed all the teachers in a given model together, and looked across these data sets for patterns.
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