D. Experience-Based Knowledge

Earlier you considered two important sources of evidence: the best available research, along with definitions and demonstrations of practice, and policies/professional guidelines about dialogic reading practices. Experience-based knowledge is another source of evidence to help guide your decision-making. Experience-based knowledge is the “know-how” that comes from solving problems, overcoming barriers, and making decisions in everyday life.

CONNECT staff identified experts, practitioners, and parents from around the country who have experienced-based knowledge on the topic of dialogic reading and invited them to share their views.  These knowledgeable spokespersons are:

Pam Zornick

Pam is a pre-K teacher in North Carolina and has been teaching young children for more than twenty years. She has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Intervention and Family Support with a Social Inclusion focus, and has worked as a lead teacher in an inclusive setting. Pam also serves as a supervising teacher for student teachers.  Listen as Pam talks about how student teachers can shape classroom practices, including a story of how one student teacher changed the way an assistant teacher read to the children.

Samtra Devard 

Samtra is the founder of the HOPE Center Network for Families – which operates under the core belief that “Every Child Has Possibilities.” She resides in Bear, Delaware, with her husband and their three children, one of whom has a disability. Samtra is an advocate for children and their families with a particular interest in systems change. She is a parent leader in numerous national and state organizations and initiatives, as well as a writer and speaker at workshops and conferences nationwide. Samtra holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from Drexel University. Learn more about the HOPE Center Network for Families at www.hopecenterofde.com. Listen as Samtra talks about why it is important for teachers to know and use research-based literacy practices with young children with disabilities.

Cristina Gillanders

Cristina Gillanders is an Investigator at the FPG Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She has been in the field of early childhood for more than 20 years as a bilingual early childhood teacher, director of an early childhood program, and teacher educator and researcher. Her research focuses on young Latino emergent literacy, bilingualism, and early childhood teaching practices for Latino dual language learners. One of Cristina’s recent articles, Storybook Reading for Young Dual Language Learners, focuses on research and recommended reading strategies for these children. Listen as Cristina talks about why reading aloud is important for dual language learners.

Now listen to audio clips 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 from phone interviews with these spokespersons and identify important considerations to keep in mind about effective dialogic reading using Activity 6.8a.

Audio 6.1: Pam Zornick

Pam Zornick, a pre-K teacher, talks about how student teachers can shape classroom practices, including a story of how one student teacher changed the way an assistant teacher read to the children. (running time: 1 min., 42 sec.)

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It’s really great to have this opportunity to have someone to come in who is studying currently in the field who brings in new ideas and new perspectives.  I think one of the most important things is that it keeps us on our toes. But also, the student teachers just come in with such new ideas, that I learn every time that they come in. I get a new idea on how to incorporate literacy or math into my classroom practices and so I learn from them.  So I think it’s a win-win situation.

We had been watching our student teacher and listening to our student teacher speak on what she was learning, and she’d been bringing new ideas into the classroom. Now the student teacher was gone. It was my assistant teacher’s turn to come and read that day and she picked up the book and the book was about a pig and a blanket. And before she started reading she took the time to show the children the cover of the story, describe what was on there, and then she asked the question to the children “Have you ever had a special blanket or something that you liked to hold when you were tired or sad?” and they had a conversation about their special blankets.  My assistant teacher told about her special blanket that she used to have and the children all talked about theirs. So I thought it was so phenomenal that during this time when our student teacher was in the classroom and all this activity was going on, my assistant teacher was able to absorb this information and then take it and bring it out during a reading time with the children, and have this conversation. Before she would automatically  other times just open up the book and start to read.

Audio 6.2: Samtra Devard

Samtra, the mother of three children, including one who has a disability, talks about why it is important for teachers to know and use research-based literacy practices with young children with disabilities. (running time: 1 min. 31 sec.)

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I didn’t know how literacy instruction worked and how does reading instruction have an, I mean for a typical child, you know, we all as parents we’re told, read to our children and we do so, you know, for pleasure for you know, just fun, and for activity with our kids but what is really important for children with disabilities, and this is just something I’ve discovered with my daughter is the actual building blocks needed to learn to read and those are something that I wasn’t aware of as a parent. So that I could be a partner with the instructors throughout the entire journey of literacy for my daughter.  And when I know that a leading program or methods of instruction that are being enacted with my daughter are research based it says that there is a framework  that the instructor will be operating in and we will look to make adaptations or modifications as required for my child in particular. But we have a solid foundation.

Audio 6.3: Cristina Gillanders

Dr. Gillanders, an investigator who studies Latino emergent literacy and bilingualism, talks about why reading aloud is important for dual language learners. (running time: 1 min. 52 sec.)

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Reading aloud allows you to be very intentional about the words that you need to teach to these children. So that’s why you have to think about reading aloud as a strategy for promoting vocabulary development in dual language learners. When you’re planning you’re designing your reading aloud you have to think about three things. One is what kinds of strategies are you going to use in order for your dual language learners to understand what the content of the book is about, what the text is about. The second thing you have to think about is, because you’re interested in vocabulary development, what words and phrases you intentionally want to teach through the reading aloud strategy. And the third thing you have to think about is how the dual language learners are going to participate in the reading aloud session and this is particularly important for dual language learners because usually when you’re a teacher the way you engage children in the reading aloud is through asking questions. Isn’t that right? That’s what you do, you ask questions to engage them in the story.  But if the children do not have the English proficiency to respond to those questions then they’re not going to be engaged in the story so you have to think about what other forms of engagement you can use for children to participate in the story.