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Project Overview

It is critical that students in the upper elementary grades have access to high quality, evidence-based instruction to read and write Big Words in order to be skilled readers and writers as they progress through school and as they prepare for their careers. Utilizing Design-Based Research methodologies and through a collaboration with upper elementary learners, teachers, and community experts, the project will develop and evaluate the effects of specific instructional components on students’ decoding, encoding, sentence production, fluency and their confidence to read, spell, and compose.

Why Big Words?

Research findings show that struggling readers in upper elementary grades continue to struggle in later grades and are at-risk for serious academic challenges. Decoding instruction often ends after second grade when the instructional focus shifts from word reading (i.e., teaching students how to read, or decode, individual words) to reading for understanding (i.e., comprehending complex sentences and ideas), meaning that struggling decoders receive fewer instructional opportunities to develop proficient reading/decoding skills, yet they face greater amounts of texts with more complex words and greater comprehension demands. Attention should be given to the decoding and spelling of Big Words for upper-elementary learners as challenges with decoding Big Words affect meaning making and challenges with encoding of Big Words can influence word choice in composition and syntactic complexity.

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