How Bright World Adventures Fosters Vocabulary Developement
The breadth and depth of a child’s vocabulary is directly correlated to that child’s reading comprehension. In fact, the vocabulary of a child entering first grade predicts not only their reading ability at the end of first grade, but at the end of 11th grade (Juel and Deffes, 2004). Third grade reading ability is predictive of high school graduation and college attendance (Lesnick, Goerge, Smithgall & Gwynne, 2010). And literacy represents a key determinant of economic success (Snow, Burns & Griffin, 1998).
Thus, expanding children’s vocabulary becomes critical to their reading success, their academic achievement and their long-term economic wellbeing.
There are three facets to each Bright World Adventures app-an eBook, Explore, and Games. Each component contributes uniquely to the vocabulary development of young children.
Theories abound about how to best expand children’s vocabulary. Research indicates that read-aloud experiences can assist children in language and vocabulary growth (Blachowicz et al., 2006 and Sinatra, 2012). Bright World Adventures contributes vocabulary-laden, nonfiction, eBooks to parents and teachers as an option for reading aloud to the children in their charge. Traditional, hard cover storybooks foster tender moments between adults and children as they require readers to unveil text to non-readers. These shared reading experiences should always and forever be encouraged. Yet the eBooks provided by Bright World Adventures also allow children to engage in independent reading to their heart’s content.
This is significant for three reasons:
- The app will read to children, which models fluent oral reading speed, pacing, accuracy, intonation, and proper expression. Exposing children to fluent oral reading promotes benefits to children’s vocabulary development and reading achievement. (Shanahan, 2006)
- Words are highlighted as read, which improves children’s focus on and subsequent recognition of words from the text, as well as their vocabulary. (Bus, 2009)
- Re-reading opportunities, at home and at school, encourage vocabulary growth and understanding. Children need exposure to new vocabulary multiple times before generating those words accurately. (Nation, 1990) Children can choose to re-read stories from Bright World Adventures as often as they like without trying the patience of the app’s story reader. Children learn the meaning of most words via independent reading and our story reader makes that option accessible to even the most nascent of emergent readers. (Hiebert, 2009)
The stories of Bright World Adventures are produced in 3D animation and that has a motivational influence on children as well as an educational advantage. (Korat, 2008) Imagine the word “surge” being used in a story about the ocean while children are seeing, via 3D animation, the ocean move back and forth. This feature can only prompt vocabulary development and comprehension.
A dictionary feature is at children’s immediate disposal providing on-demand help in decoding individual words, so that a problem with a few words does not disrupt a child’s reading. (Sherman, 2004) Dictionary definitions are audible and explain words in terms relevant to children as well as use unfamiliar words in context.
Children can record themselves reading the story whenever they choose, providing opportunities to practice their oral reading and thereby improving fluency and comprehension. (Polette, 2005) This is a novel and motivational feature that prompts children to engage in self-assessment of their oral reading skills.
All stories and story features are provided in English and Spanish, providing bilingual children an opportunity to toggle between languages. This feature fosters an expansion of both vocabulary and comprehension skills. (Langer, et. al., 1990) Translation is a strategy often employed by proficient bilingual readers. They utilize both languages during reading to foster more ample comprehension. (Jiménez, 1996)
Listening skills are the basic bricks and mortar of language acquisition. (Bozorgian, 2012) In the Explore feature of our apps children will hear more domain-specific and general science vocabulary. After tapping/clicking a feature in a given 3D environment students will hear information related to that feature. The information will be relevant to the topic of the app but will be ancillary and expansive in nature fostering an increase in children’s receptive language as well as offering additional exposure to words presented in the story.
Why? Because as children are exposed to more words their passive knowledge of words increases which in turn increases their active vocabulary. (Golkar, 2007) Every increase in vocabulary leads to better reading comprehension, and that is a worthy goal. If a given word is not part of a child’s oral vocabulary, it follows that he/she will not be able to comprehend that word when encountered in print. Reading vocabulary grows out of oral vocabulary. (Kinsella, 2006) To drive home this point Biemiller (2003) states “ . . . a child’s highest level of reading comprehension is tempered by the child’s highest level of listening comprehension.”
Hypertext is another feature of Explore. Linking children to information relevant to the topic at hand via maps, charts, and diagrams is useful in fostering overall literacy and providing yet more background knowledge. (Bromley, et. al., 1995) In Explore children may tap/click on an animation of a gray whale, for example, to hear a description of the whales’ long migration while seeing a map depicting it. In this way hypertext provides children a scaffold by explaining text concepts via visual aids. (Sherman, 2004)
Talk in elementary classroom environments is often limited to the use of high- frequency words and to a convergent, restricted answer (e.g., What’s this color?); Dickinson & Tabors, 2001) To counter this narrow use of oral language and to build word meanings, Explore fosters an opportunity for children and the adults with whom they interact to engage in meaningful conversation centered around the shared experience in Explore—and to utilize the specific vocabulary associated with it. (Wasik, Bond, & Hindman, 2006). For example, What did you think about . . . ?; Tell me the most surprising thing you heard about . . . ?; and What do you think would happen if . . . ? These opportunities to interact with new words are vital components in vocabulary development (Beck & McKeown, 2001) and they are encouraged via the novel and unexpected information provided in Explore.
The games associated with each Bright World Adventures title vary. There will be occasions when the games require reading comprehension and others where the games require word recognition, for example matching a printed word to an associated picture. Some games will involve identifying synonyms or antonyms of target vocabulary. Others may require cloze reading techniques.
Yet our games are not electronic worksheets. Technology affords us the opportunity to add timing and coordination elements to games as well as to enable Wi-Fi so children can play against classmates and friends. These options are motivational in that they replicate children’s pastime entertainment activities. However by using new vocabulary as the basis of each game, Games foster a positive attitude of play with words.
As mentioned previously, children need many opportunities to encounter new vocabulary before generating it themselves. Games can further such occasions. Graves and Watts-Taffe (2002) posit that engaging in consistent, dedicated vocabulary play helps children develop a consciousness about word learning. Word consciousness, they continue, involves “an awareness of words, a positive disposition toward words, interest in learning about words, and knowledge of various aspects of words.”
The Games feature of Bright World Adventures offer fun, leveled play opportunities while providing practice with new vocabulary, all of which encourages and supports the vocabulary growth of young children.
In SumExpanding children’s vocabulary is critical to their reading success, their academic achievement and their long-term economic wellbeing. With those facts in mind, Bright World Adventures is designed on solid academic evidence that its three features—eBook, Explore, and Games—will foster vocabulary development in young children. The varied features of our apps offer children multiple ways to gain meaning from text, providing numerous opportunities for the expansion of vocabulary. The apps of Bright World Adventures offer purposeful and vocabulary-laden learning experiences so that young children will ultimately read confidently, successfully, and widely.ReferencesBeck, I. L., and McKeown, M. G. (2001). Text Talk: Capturing the benefits of read-aloud experiences for young children. The Reading Teacher, 55(1), pp 10 – 20.Biemiller, A. (2003). Oral comprehension sets the ceiling on reading comprehension. American Educator, 27(1), p 23.Blachowicz, C., Fisher, P., Ogle, D., & Watts-Taffe, S. (2006). Vocabulary: Questions from the classroom. Reading Research Quarterly, 41, pp 524 – 539.Bozorgian, H. (2012) Listening Skill Requires a Further Look into Second/Foreign Language Learning. ISRN Education, vol. 2012, Article ID 810129. doi:10.5402/2012/810129.Bromley, K., Irwin-DeVitis, L., & Modlo, M. (1995). Graphic organizers: Visual strategies for active learning. New York: Scholastic.
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