In 2014 and 2016 I completed two papers through the University of Auckland towards a masters degree. I did this with the cohort of MDTA beginning teachers and mentor teachers. It was hard work to say the least, working as a full time teacher and studying in 2014, then full time teaching, being a team leader and studying in 2016. I swore never to do it again.
However I was very lucky to be supported by Pt England School and receive a Teach NZ Study Award for 2017 to complete my dissertation and masters degree.
I have always been interested in language, language acquisition and vocabulary. For several years, Pt England School staff received professional development in this area by Dr Jannie van Hees - a passionate and respected researcher at the University of Auckland. She was enthusiastic, confronting, challenging and determined to help us to develop the oral and written language of our students. I, like many others, was a convert, however with the demands of the job, the theory was not well implemented into practice. It did, however, start me thinking about future research options.
In 2016, Dr Rebecca Jesson agreed to provide reading professional development to the Pt England teaching staff. She already had a strong relationship with the school and the Manaiakalani Cluster (now CoL) as she has been the one of the primary researchers into the efficacy of the digital innovation taking place in this cluster.
One of her strongest messages in the development of our reading programme was the necessity for targeted vocabulary teaching and the possibility of combining this with the affordances of the digital technology in order to accelerate the reading achievement of students. This resonated with me, but I, like the rest of the junior school teachers, struggled to implement this into my teaching. It seemed possible with older and more advanced learners, but not for our young readers who were still struggling to decode text.
And so my research project was born. How could we as junior school teachers in a 1:1 iPad environment, implement a targeted vocabuarly programme that was additional to our generally successful guided reading, and used the affordances of the iPad?
My research questions are thus:
- What influence does the introduction of a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the pedagogy of a junior primary teacher?
- What opportunities does a digital vocabulary acquisition programme offer teachers who are looking to accelerate the vocabulary acquisition of Year 3 students who are reading 6-18 months below national standard?
- What challenges do teachers face when introducing a novel, digitally-based vocabulary acquisition programme into classroom literacy classes?
- What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the metacognitive processes of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?
- What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the attitudes of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?
- What impact does a novel digital vocabulary acquisition programme have on the behaviours of low-decile school students who are reading 6-18 months below their expected reading in Year 3?
I have been going through the involved process of getting ethical approval for this research and I hope to begin observing the intervention in two weeks. I have completed a literature review, and will now spend time designing the intervention based on vocabulary acquisition research and the affordances of the iPad. The research will be conducted in a Year 3 class at a Manaiakalani school in Auckland, NZ.