1. Doris Baker
  2. https://www.smu.edu/Simmons/AboutUs/Directory/TeachingLearning/Baker
  3. Assistant Professor
  4. English Learner Vocabulary Acquisition
  5. https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1467
  6. Southern Methodist University
  1. Jillian Conry
  2. PhD Student
  3. English Learner Vocabulary Acquisition
  4. https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1467
  5. Southern Methodist University
  1. Paul Polanco
  2. PhD Student
  3. English Learner Vocabulary Acquisition
  4. https://ies.ed.gov/funding/grantsearch/details.asp?ID=1467
  5. Southern Methodist University
Public Discussion
  • May 13, 2018 | 03:34 p.m.

    Having a research strand in how English learners learn statistics (http://www.math.utep.edu/Faculty/lesser/ELL.html), I'm very excited to learn about this intelligent tutoring system with prompts -- very impressive!

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 07:36 a.m.

    Thanks for watching Lawrence. Please let us know if you have any questions. It was a wonderful collaborative experience.

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 13, 2018 | 05:34 p.m.

     

    Thanks for watching our ELVA video. We would like your feedback on the following questions based on your role in education:

    As a teacher, do you envision a computer program that could help your students learn the vocabulary you are teaching them? What would be the roadblocks for you to use such a program?

    As a community member: What did you see in this video that called your attention?

    As a researcher: What are the challenges in teaching vocabulary that you think researchers need to flesh out more? How would you recommend teaching vocabulary with multiple meanings?

  • May 14, 2018 | 11:57 a.m.

    Doris!  This is a very cool video!  Thank you for sharing!  ELVA rules!

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 03:43 p.m.

    Thanks for watching Eric. Elva was inspired, in part, by the NSF support of the Finland research exchange you directed.

  • Icon for: Andee Rubin

    Andee Rubin

    Facilitator
    May 14, 2018 | 05:11 p.m.

    This is a lovely video - especially the ending, which so captures the joy of students who enjoy learning.  I'm curious about a lot of technical things - for example, how much of what students say does the avatar understand?  Is there a training period?  How does the avatar decide what to say back to the student?  How flexible is the underlying technology?  What are the limits of the technology you're currently using in terms of language understanding and generation?  Please excuse the nerdiness of my questions; before I became an educational researcher, I was an artifical researchers studying natural language understanding, so this touched a lot of old knowledge!

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 14, 2018 | 07:55 p.m.

    These are great questions. We trained the system so that there was always a default response (e.g., the definition of the word). There was a training period that required us to make guesses of what students would say and based on that decide what would be the most appropriate response. The more data we collected, the better the system became in recognizing student speech. There are limitations to the system we used in terms of language understanding that we tried to offset by having the avatar use more generic prompts. Despite the errors in speech recognition, most students were willing to "forgive" the avatar when they felt she was not understanding them. I hope this helps!

  • Icon for: Paul Polanco

    Paul Polanco

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 06:38 p.m.

    Great questions Andee. I was the lead developer of the science content and the funding for my doctoral studies came from this grant. To follow-up on Doris' comments, an innovative part of the system was the accuracy of the word recognition, that allowed us to use the platform. The system is not true artificial intelligence, because the responses were not necessarily natural. We developed the content based on many hours of data collected from second-grade speech patterns, possible responses the students would give, and various grade-level appropriate discourse. The purpose was to guide their thinking towards a specific vocabulary development using different prompts. To account for the correct answers, we determined various iterations that students could use and decided what was an "acceptable" or "correct" answer based on the research we had about the vocabulary. We tried to develop a more appropriate form of AI, but quickly found that we were limited by the technology and what's available in terms of more adequate response recognition that would allow us to make a system that is easy to modify. Hope this helps Andee. Let me know if you have further questions.

  • Icon for: Erica Halverson

    Erica Halverson

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 08:09 p.m.

    That was a great video! It started with the problem you were trying to solve with the kids, and it got right into the intervention. It was well produced, and it got right in to how the intervention.  I love how the intervention engages the students in speaking the new vocabulary, instead of simply reading and clicking the correct answer.

    I have two questions: 1) How is ELVA different from other language-learning programs use speech recognition? and 2) (How) does the program encourage students to use their new knowledge and vocabulary with one another?

    Thanks for the awesome video!

    -Erica

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 15, 2018 | 08:42 p.m.

    Thank you so much Erica for your positive comments. The main difference with ELVA and other language learning programs is that it targets vocabulary that students will see during whole group instruction. So the content is aligned with second grade science and social studies lessons. The goal is that students practice the vocabulary that they can then use during whole group instruction or when talking in small groups about science and social studies. We have had several teachers tell us that students who participated in ELVA got very excited when they heard the words taught during whole group instruction. Not only that, they shared the definitions they had learned with the rest of the class, they used the words learned when answering questions, and they appeared to be more engaged in the whole group lessons.

  • Icon for: Kelsey Lipsitz

    Kelsey Lipsitz

    Facilitator
    May 15, 2018 | 10:41 p.m.

    I loved the last clip that showed one of the students using erupt in a way not related to volcanoes ("erupt with laughter") -- what a fun example of how students are using the vocabulary they learned in a new context. I can see how ELVA would create a safe environment for students to speak and express themselves. Do you have any anecdotal data related to how students are responding to the program outside of the initial gains in vocabulary acquisition (e.g. do they articulate that they feel safer speaking English in that environment)?

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 03:56 p.m.

    Thank you Kelsey. Yes, watching students making the connections of the words to other contexts was very exciting. Students have not told us that they feel safer speaking in English with the avatar, but as you saw on the video, they were much more willing to take risks and express their ideas even if they might not have been completely fleshed out. Some students responded in Spanish too which lead us to believe that they felt confident in responding the best way they could.

     
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    Discussion is closed. Upvoting is no longer available

    Kelsey Lipsitz
  • Icon for: Kelsey Lipsitz

    Kelsey Lipsitz

    Facilitator
    May 18, 2018 | 12:37 p.m.

    That's wonderful, thank you Doris!

  • May 16, 2018 | 10:16 a.m.

    Hi Doris -- What a great project! I'm impressed with the AI component and, like Andee, was interested in how complex the AI is. Sounds like it goes pretty far. Did your SMU team have that expertise or did you work with others? I'm curious whether the words in the system now would be relevant in other districts/state systems or whether this is a proof of concept that your team would modify for each set of users based on their own curricula. If the latter, would the AI training process be faster each successive time or do you expect you'd be be starting from scratch?

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 16, 2018 | 04:06 p.m.

    Great questions Mari. We used an adapted version of a system developed by Boulder Learning. We believe that the words would be relevant across the country because we focused on words that would address the science content suggested by the Next Generation Science Standards, CCSS, and the TEAKS. Most of the words were abstract Tier 2 words (see Beck & McKeown, Snow) that would be relevant to discuss academic content and that we know textbooks don't always explain in-depth (e.g., impact, balance, erupt). Yes, we are looking into a system now that will allow us to create lessons faster, and also that will allow teachers eventually to create their own vocabulary lessons.

  • Icon for: Paul Polanco

    Paul Polanco

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 06:44 p.m.

    Hi Mari, I was the lead content developer for science and worked on the project since the beginning. To follow-up on Doris' comments, the program was not true AI where the responses were totally adaptable to "every" possible circumstance. Rather we created possible prompts and answers that were collected through interactions with the avatar. The initial idea was to create a form of AI but we were limited by the technology available to us. However, as we continue to advance in the development of more natural forms of AI á la Siri or Alexa and as they become more accessible to us, we can see that this method of teaching vocabulary in a deliberate and structured form is a promising way to teach in-depth. Hope this helps Mari and let me know if you have further questions.

  • Icon for: Garima Bansal

    Garima Bansal

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 16, 2018 | 10:27 a.m.

    Hi Doris

    This is an interesting video. And ELVA seems to be useful to millions of children struggling both with English and Science Academic Language. India has got vast linguistic diversity. What was most interesting is its' ability to extend the use of scientific terms in other contexts...after all this is what as science educators we all endeavor to acheive.

    Most of the children in State-sponsored schools study science in their tongue (which is not English) till Grade 5, at times, till Grade 10 or even higher. In such cases, teachers usually teach Science in English (as many of them had their own science education in English during school and college years) while students try to comprehend the concepts in their mother tongue (first language and also the medium of instruction). In such cases, classrooms become difficult spaces for developing science literacy and academic identities. 

    Keeping this view into consideration, I, who work as a teacher educator for pre-service science teachers, have developed a multilingual resource for Grade 6. These are vocabulary cards where scientific concepts are explained both in Hindi and English along with the diagrams. These cards are meant for both students and teachers. Students could refer to them while teachers use English terminology for science concepts which they know in Hindi; and teachers can use it for their lesson planning. We hope to develop a ICT based tool out of it soon which can help them pronounce these concepts well. It is believed that multilingualism is a good thing ..and hence, the approach is not only to develop English proficiency rather to develop both Hindi and English proficiency among all learners sitting in the same classroom studying science. Our goal is to encourage inclusivity and dignity of all children in science classrooms. This is an initiation and we hope to extend it to other dominant languages.

     

     

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 07:59 a.m.

    Hi Garima. Thanks for sharing your interesting approach to teaching science with us. The idea of using cards with both languages that are available to teachers and students is very good and it provides an opportunity for both groups to improve their bilingualism. In our study, we had students who responded in Spanish to the prompts because they were learning Spanish in a dual language program most of the day. Our findings indicated that students learned the academic words the avatar taught them independently of their English language proficiency. Now we are in the process of analyzing the quality of student responses to see if their responses in Spanish differed from the responses in English. So far, we have not found a difference.

  • Icon for: Lawrence Kaplan

    Lawrence Kaplan

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 02:29 p.m.

    Thanks for this interesting video.  I grew up in a Spanish bilingual situation but before the needs of bilingual children were well understood and well before technology providing the sorts of opportunities shown here was invented.  Efforts are underway for indigenous languages, and since many are in danger of serious decline throughout the Americas, there is an urgent need for language revitalization.  It's great to see children in the video learning and enjoying their learning.

  • Icon for: Paul Polanco

    Paul Polanco

    Co-Presenter
    May 17, 2018 | 06:23 p.m.

    Hello Lawrence and thanks for your comments. I was the lead developer of the science lessons and the grant from ELVA helped fund my doctoral studies with Dr. Baker. One of the most revealing things that we have learned with the program development and the pilot studies is that this program can serve as a platform, not only for other languages but also for other subjects as it helps in the development of vocabulary in-depth. In the future, we hope to extend it beyond 2nd grade as a continuation of the learning process.

  • Icon for: Lawrence Kaplan

    Lawrence Kaplan

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 17, 2018 | 07:29 p.m.

    Hello Paul, I've recommended your video to one of our graduate students who has developed a program for teaching Inupiaq vocabulary to students on Alaska's North Slope.  That program has been positive, but there's always the challenge of getting these students, who are learning Inupiaq as a second language, to construct sentences and use the vocabulary in speech.  That part would be very different from working with Spanish speaker in the USA who have much exposure to English, since Inupiaq is present in the students' lives but not to an extent that causes them to learn to speak it, in most cases.  This is the plight of many small languages in this country and even worldwide. 

  • Icon for: Paul Polanco

    Paul Polanco

    Co-Presenter
    May 18, 2018 | 05:10 p.m.

    Thanks so much for recommending our video, Lawrence. I agree with your comment referring to the exposure perspective. I firmly believe in the value of preserving a language because by doing so we preserve more than just language. I have seen some similar work on small language preservation in Mexico where it is institutionalized through textbooks and teaching strategies for indigenous groups, yet this is at a small scale. Keep up this much needed work!

  • Icon for: Alison Billman

    Alison Billman

    Researcher
    May 18, 2018 | 09:21 p.m.

    This is very interesting work. I am curious about two things: It is exciting to hear about the success you were able to document. Did you have any measures in that included examined students use beyond providing explanations of the words they learned? For example, was there any situation that required students to explain a science phenomenon (e.g., volcanoes and the events that lead up to an eruption) in which you could see how the students used the corpus of words to provide a response? Teachers were enthusiastic. What other information did they about how the word knowledge transferred into the rest of the school day?

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 19, 2018 | 03:11 p.m.

    Hi Alison. Thanks for watching our video. Regarding your question about the measures, yes, we used also a measure where students had to use the target word in a sentence. In addition, we had several standardized measures. The results on our standardized measures were not significant, but the effect sizes were moderate. We also introduced every target word in an appropriate context, and we created comprehension questions where students had to respond using the words taught. Finally, the program includes activities  (multiple choice, yes/no, building sentences) were students have to explain their answers. We are in the process of transcribing and analyzing their responses.

     

    Teachers indicated that students participated much more in their lessons after they had been exposed to the ELVA words. Some of them provided the vocabulary definitions and also explanations of the science topic teachers were covering. We had anticipated this because words were selected taking the Next Generation Science standards, CCSS, and TEKS into account. We are exploring now, however, better ways to connect the vocabulary lessons to teachers regular instruction so they can use the information from ELVA to also guide their instruction.

     

  • Icon for: Chih-Che Tai

    Chih-Che Tai

    Higher Ed Faculty
    May 19, 2018 | 08:42 p.m.

    Doris,

    This is a really interesting project and a wonderful video. The current version is performed in a Laptop-like environment. Does your team has a plan to expand it to an iPad/App-like version? Particularly, when you are working with young kids.

  • Icon for: Jillian Conry

    Jillian Conry

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 09:25 a.m.

    Chih-Che,

    Thank you for watching our video. Yes, we plan to have an app-like version that is compatible with Windows and Mac. In fact, we have already begun to merge the content into a web-based classroom management software system to pilot it. Our intention is that this will make ELVA accessible to more students and allow participation both in and outside of school. We look forward to seeing how students respond.

  • Small default profile

    Christina Ledford

    K-12 Teacher
    May 20, 2018 | 05:07 p.m.

    I find this very interesting! I see the value in the students having to respond orally with the program. I feel it might help tremendously with making them feel less "threat" and stress when speaking as they understand the computer will not be judging them if they make mistakes or have a strong accent when talking. It allows them to practice content while also providing them the opportunity to practice their speaking skills. Thank you for sharing and would like to hear more about the incredible ELVA. 

  • Icon for: Doris Baker

    Doris Baker

    Lead Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 08:28 a.m.

    Thank you so much for watching Christina. Your comment reflects exactly what we attempted to do on this project. Students could practice using their language skills without worrying about making mistakes. We found that at first, some of the shy students would not say very much, but once they realized that it was ok to speak, and that they actually had the answers to many of the questions the avatar asked them, then they started talking more and looking forward to interacting with ELVA. We will continue researching ways to maximize student opportunities to develop their language proficiency through technology. We will keep you posted!!

  • Icon for: Rachel Yim

    Rachel Yim

    Researcher
    May 21, 2018 | 10:50 a.m.

    Wonderful video! I used to teach biology at a high school with approximately 40% international students (most of whom were English language learners), so teaching vocabulary was always difficult. Do you have any plans to adapt your technology for use by older students?

  • Icon for: Paul Polanco

    Paul Polanco

    Co-Presenter
    May 21, 2018 | 11:09 a.m.

    Hi Rachel and thanks for your comment. We are testing a pilot version with second graders at this moment and refining some details. Our goal is to eventually get funding to expand the tool to other grades and teach vocabulary in-depth. The good news is that in the meantime, some of the strategies used in the app can also be used during small group instruction. We will keep you posted!

  • Further posting is closed as the showcase has ended.