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In an education hungry world for EdTech, it is troubling that the massive efforts undertaken by the US Education Department’s Institute of Education Sciences seem to go unnoticed. IES directly funds research that seeks to promote practical approaches in the classroom. In terms of evidence-based learning innovations, they are by far the most developed initiative.
IES recognizes that often research and practice (i.e., teachers) seem to live in different worlds. For this reason, it is why “What Works Clearinghouse” seeks to translate positive research outcomes into actionable advice.
Here are some practices showing “Strong Evidence” that work in language literacy. By strong evidence, it means randomized controlled trials or similarly rigorous evaluation methods have shown statistically significant, positive results.
Screen-based progress monitoring. And, to kick it off, nothing is more encouraging than recommending to use a tool that describes the language learning activities and plugins available in Moodle. Interactive tools that can evaluate speaking skills, but also simple meaning-based word quizzes, can give educators a leg-up, or at least identify learning difficulties early on. Why are you waiting to set up the Read Aloud plugin in Moodle?
Small teams for the win. Fairly evident, smaller classes work better, when all things are considered. It is particularly ideal for under-performing students.
Be explicit. If teachers want students to increase their vocabulary, teachers must be as clear as possible about the words that will be covered on a given session. Time spent on vocabulary should not cover other additional topics, and should be repetitive on the target words.
Early and often. When students show difficulties with reading, out of five strategies evaluated, an “intensive, systematic” approach with daily sessions of 20 to 40 minutes was the only one considered sound from an evidence-based standpoint.
Intensive individualization. If the latter does not work, trained specialists can be a costly, be an effective and personalized approach – yet hopefully not a frequently recurring measure.