Can storytelling improve bilingual children's literacy skills?

Raised of $250 Goal
Funded on 1/13/15
Successfully Funded
  • $250
  • 100%
  • Funded
    on 1/13/15

Project Results

Despite widespread research support for bilingual education, sheltered English instruction (SEI) or pull out ESL programs remain the most common models for teaching English Language Learners in the United States.  Teachers working in SEI and pull out models can leverage some of the tenets of bilingual education to build students’ home language proficiency and value home language practices of students as they also acquire English. Importantly, this allows teachers working in restrictive policy contexts to support student biliteracy. In this article, we discuss a bilingual bookmaking initative which supported the creation of biliterate communities of practice and incorporated technology platforms to facilitate ESL students’ biliteracy.  Importantly, the bookmaking initiative also shifted the ways that general education teachers viewed the participating students. Lessons from this experience may inspire bilingual, ESL and general education teachers, monolingual or multilingual themselves, to find ways to engage their emergent bilingual students in biliteracy.

About This Project

This project will use Storybird storytelling technology to allow upper elementary English as a Second Language students to create and publish their own texts. Student literacy skills and attitudes towards school will be evaluated before and after their writing project.

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What is the context of this research?

The number of students who are not proficient in English in US public schools is at its highest in a century. Overall, US schools struggle to provide an appropriate education to these students, resulting in lower achievement levels for ELLs.However, as students with multilingual backgrounds, these children have the potential to be assets to US society for generations to come. Although researchers know that building on students' home language is critical for school success, teachers often have a difficult time doing this in practice. This project will experiment with the use of Storybird technology, which has the potential to allow students to use technology to create bilingual stories.

What is the significance of this project?

Children who attend US schools not proficient in English have lower test scores and higher dropout levels than other students. However, ESL students who are able to read and write on grade level by 6th grade have higher graduation rates, future earnings, and better life outcomes than those who are not. The use of the technology studied in this project may be critical in helping students make literacy gains in elementary school, when they are critical for future success.

What are the goals of the project?

  1. Obtain funding to be able to publish 10 books created by students for the project.
  2. Purchase 10 bilingual books for the school's library as model books for participating students.
  3. Host an author's reception for participating students.


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Because this is a research project, the participating school does not have the funds to support the publication of ebooks or the purchase of additional instructional materials.

Meet the Team

Laura Quaynor
Laura Quaynor

Team Bio

Laura Quaynor is an Assistant Professor of Curriculum and Instruction in the School of Education at the University of South Carolina Aiken. Her research focuses on the ways that schools and teachers prepare students as citizens in the context of disruptive change, with a particular emphasis on multilingual learners in the United States and students in transitional and post-conflict states. Some of her recent publications include: Quaynor, L. (2014). “The means to speak”: Educating youth for citizenship in post-conflict Liberia. Journal of Peace Education, and Quaynor, L., & Hamilton, C. (2012). Providing a global education to refugee students. Social Studies and the Young Learner.

She became interested in this work after working with refugee students and families, and noting the mismatch between student skills and school expectations.

She lives in Augusta, GA with her husband and two children.

Project Backers

  • 12Backers
  • 100%Funded
  • $250Total Donations
  • $20.83Average Donation
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