Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Putting Research into Practice: Two Evidence-Based Approaches

Magazine article Perspectives on Language and Literacy

Putting Research into Practice: Two Evidence-Based Approaches

Article excerpt

In addition to the articles reprinted in this issue of Perspectives on Language and Literacy, the editorial board selected two previously published contributions that highlighted evidence-based educational programs to help children with reading disabilities gain the skills and confidence to be proficient readers. Due to space constraints, these two programs- ABRACADABRA (A Balanced Reading Approach for Children And Designed to Achieve Best Results for All) and Empower Reading™-will not be included in the Spring 2019 print edition but are available online at Here is a summary of each.


ABRACADABRA is an interactive software tool developed by researchers in the Centre for the Study of Learning and Performance (CSLP) at Concordia University in Montreal that engages elementary school students in stories and activities to improve their literacy skills. Called ABRA for short, it includes modules for students, teachers, and parents. The 21 interactive stories feature a "birdie" icon that a child can use to hear the text as well as click on a word to sound it out. Another 15 stories written by students and recorded by readers with Canadian, Australian, and Kenyan accents also are available to familiarize children with different pronunciations.

The student module offers alphabetic, fluency, comprehension, and writing activities to help students build their skills, starting from letter-sound associations and word building up to writing words and sentences. The activities can be done at varying levels of difficulty and complexity. The activities also offer game features to motivate and reward children and provide a narrative thread using ABRA characters with personalized stories. Students can choose their stories, activities, and level of difficulty, guided by embedded support.

ABRA is not a substitute for a teacher. The effectiveness of the tool depends on the teachers who apply it, according to the CSLP team. The tool is designed to be flexible, allowing teachers to choose when, what, how, and with whom to use it. The teacher module includes an assessment feature that allows the teacher to track individual student and class performance and produce error reports. ABRA also provides additional support such as lesson plans, videos, and printed materials. Parents can participate in ABRA as well, with a guide explaining how to use ABRA at home along with other resources.

Empower Reading™

Empower Reading™ grew from a research program initiated by a team of psychologists and special education teachers in Toronto who developed interventions for children with reading disabilities. Their research explored deficits in phonological awareness and phonological processing, and how to address those deficits. …

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