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Effective Teachers’ Communicative Strategies When Instructing Linguistically Diverse Learners
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Effective Teachers’ Communicative Strategies When Instructing Linguistically Diverse Learners


IRN Start Date:1 May 2019



This proposal describes a rationale for the continuation for three years of an existing International Research Network (IRN) whose objective has been to investigate the communicative strategies used by effective teachers from around the world when instructing linguistically diverse learners in elementary grades. In 2015, experienced researchers from two countries, the US and Israel, were invited to establish an IRN and since that time we have expanded our network to include researchers in South Korea and South Africa. Our current research centers on a survey of teachers of elementary grade students and the preparation they have received to be successful in teaching diverse language learners and the strategies they find useful in improving student learning and engagement. We will continue to recruit interested researchers from other countries to expand our investigation in other cultural contexts.



Dr. Geraldine Mongillo and , PhD

Dr. Geraldine Mongillo is interested in the characteristics of effective elementary language arts and mathematics teachers and the communicative strategies used by teachers of non-native language learners. In collaboration with colleagues from William Paterson University, Haifa University, and Western Galilee College, the questioning techniques of effective elementary language arts and mathematics teachers were studied and results were presented at juried conferences including AERA and WERA. This partnership presented a paper at the WERA conference in Budapest, September, 2015, using data that were collected in both US and Israeli elementary classrooms of linguistically diverse learners. The focus of this study was to understand the methods used by these teachers to help their students comprehend content when taught in a language other than their first language (Mongillo, G., Feola, D., Kaplan, R.G., Abbas, R. & Vaknin, V. (2018) (in submission)). Dr. Mongillo’s other research focuses on language and literacy acquisition for P-Adult populations.  She has published studies concerned with at-risk college freshmen and pre-service teachers that suggested strategies to improve expository writing skills (Mongillo & Wilder, 2012; Wilder, & Mongillo, 2007). These studies implemented an interactive online computer-based writing program that required the participants to write descriptive passages about the images viewed online and the other participants had to guess, based on the description, what visual was being described. Further studies focused on employing techniques to help struggling college freshmen acquire academic writing skills. The use of hand held devices to tweet were used to help participants organize and outline ideas before writing (Hong,  Mongillo, & Wilder, 2011; Wilder, Hong, & Mongillo, 2012). Related to the connection between literacy and technology, the use of new media literacy projects for P-Adult learners was studied (Lawrence & Mongillo, 2010).  This study examined the effectiveness of various digital projects used by in-service teachers in their classrooms. More recently two book chapters were published regarding the efficacy of using i-Pad apps to teach literacy skills and strategies (Lawrence, Hong, Donnantuono, & Mongillo, 2015; Hong, Lawrence, Mongillo, Donnantuono, 2014).  These research based chapters provided explicit methods for teachers to use i-Pad apps to target instruction for struggling readers. In addition, Dr. Mongillo was involved in several studies that examined best practices for the preparation of reading specialists (Lawrence, Mongillo, & Hong, 2013; Malu, Lawrence, & Mongillo, 2008; Mongillo, Lawrence, & Hong, 2012). These studies explored the empowerment of teachers as leaders as well as preparing leaders to work with diverse populations. Two current projects that are in preparation also examine the cultivation of teacher and school leaders. More recently, Dr. Mongillo published a paper with her graduate student that examined elementary teachers’ use of multicultural literature in their classrooms (Mongillo, Holland, 2016) and together eith several memebrs of this IRN we published a paper based on the data colelcted entitled, The use of modern standard and spoken Abarib in mathematics lessons: The case of diglossic language (Abbas, R., Vaknin-Nusbaum, V., Neuman, A., Mongillo, G., Feola,D. & Kaplan, R.G. (2018). Current research continues to explore the preparation of etacher leaders to work with divese language learners.


Prof. Vered Vaknin-Nusbaum , PhD

Prof. Vered Vaknin-Nusbaum, Ph.D. is an associate professor and the head of the department of Education, Western Galilee College and research associate, University of Haifa. She teaches undergraduate and graduate students topics related to reading, reading acquisition, and learning disabilities. Over the last two decades she systematically studied questions related to the processing of written language by typical and poor readers and the way specific characteristics of the Hebrew orthography and morphology modify the reading process. She participated in an international language and reading project funded by the NIH with researchers from the US.  In the past eight years, Prof. Vaknin collaborated with faculty in the US and Israel to investigate the communicative strategies of effective elementary teachers. Prof. Vaknin’s other research focuses on the ability to perform phonological distinction by typical and dyslexic Hebrew readers.  She has published studies concerning readers with reading problems and has suggested theoretical explanations regarding phonological and phonetic perception (Berent, Vaknin & Galaburda, 2013). Prof. Vaknin and her colleagues have also investigated cognitive aspects of reading Hebrew among adult readers (Vaknin & Miller, 2014; Miller & Vaknin, 2013). One of the research questions examined the way pointed Hebrew, which is considered shallow orthography, is processed relative to unpointed Hebrew which is deep orthography.  Findings regarding the contribution of diacritics to reading and to the involvement of short term memory in reading may help to understand the cognitive processes involved in reading.  In 2011, Prof. Vaknin and her colleague Prof. Shimron studied the contribution of morphological awareness to reading comprehension among Hebrew elementary school readers. The findings suggest that there are different types of morphological awareness involved in reading comprehension and that readers with low morphological awareness are characterized with poor reading ability. These results raise the possibility that cultivation of morphological awareness is needed in order to improve students’ reading achievement.  Another aspect of these findings may relate to the use of language by teachers in classrooms in different content areas – an aspect we would like to explore further in this IRN. Recently her publications also focus on reading motivation (Vaknin - Nusbaum et al., 2017) which may serve as a key factor in teachers' strategies to promote students' learning.



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