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Past Practice-based Research Collaborative Projects


Dale Walker, Kathryn Bigelow, Eugenie Lee Matula, Mark Nagasawa, Caron Calhoun, Nicole Kirkland, Diane Horm, Heather Schrotberger, Jessica Haremza

This project brings together three Educare Schools in partnership to demonstrate the feasibility of implementing an evidence-based language intervention to bridge the word gap. Designed to build the capacity of educators and parents to promote the communication opportunities and development of infants and young children, the Promoting Communication Strategies intervention will be embedded into randomly selected Educare classrooms in Kansas City Kansas and West DuPage Illinois to provide teachers with additional tools to increase the language-learning opportunities within classrooms. The intervention will also be embedded into community-based initiatives in Educare Tulsa, Oklahoma to extend upon local initiatives to bridge the word gap with parents of children in the community.

View a recent poster presentation on this project here, along with a description of the Educare BWG Acceleration Project from the Buffett Foundation Newsletter.

Linking Pediatric Primary Care to the Community through a New York City Initiative to Promote Early Literacy: A Study of City’s First Readers

Alan Mendelsohn, Adriana Weisleder, Anne Seery, Caitlin Canfield, Carolyn Cates, Leora Mogilner, Ingrid Bentil, Kim Sabo Flores, Shari Levine

City’s First Readers, an initiative of the New York City Council led by Literacy Inc. [LINC], is a collaboration of nonprofit organizations seeking to promote early literacy by providing families early childhood resources and services in multiple platforms, including pediatric primary care (Video Interaction Project [VIP], Reach out and Read [ROR]), libraries (New YorkBrooklynQueens Library systems), home (Parent-Child Home Program), community (LINC, Committee for Hispanic Children and Families), and early childhood education (Jumpstart). This research project examined ways to strengthen linkages between different programs and platforms, as well as benefits of this cross-platform initiative for families.

Watch an overview of Video Interaction Project here!

Check out a poster about the City’s First Readers project presented at the National Research Conference on Early Childhood in July, 2016 here.

Interested in accessing the assessments used in this project? Select the tools by age below.  These assessments were developed by: Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD (1), Carolyn B. Cates, PhD (1), Matthew Johnson, PhD (2), Adriana Weisleder, PhD (1), and Benard P. Dreyer, MD (1)

  1. New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center; 2. Teachers College, Columbia University

StimQ2-Infant Revised

StimQ2-Toddler Revised

StimQ2-Preschool Revised

Too Small to Fail and UCSF Oakland

Dana Hughes, Dayna Long, Jasmine Pettis, Crystal Gariano

This study is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of various approaches encouraging caregiver talking, reading and singing to young children as means to develop early literacy and math skills. The first objective is to document a “campaign” designed to raise public and individual awareness on the importance of parent-child interactions, the second is to assess messaging techniques, and the third to determine the most effective means of influencing caregivers to take action in talking, reading, and singing to young children.

San Mateo County Library Talk Read Sing

Carine Risley and The LENA Foundation

San Mateo County Library Talk Read Sing helps families with children under 30 months close the word gap by bringing groups of 15 together weekly for 8 weeks to engage in Smarter Happier Baby curriculum and use LENA mobile recording technology (like a fitbit for early literacy) to help increase number of words spoken to their child, increase conversational turn-taking with their child, and document amount of electronic noise exposure. Graduating families continue in the program on a monthly basis for an additional 10 months.  The program’s efficient group classes wrap simple talking tips around regular LENA system feedback to show parents how to improve the talk environment at home.

Watch a video about this project here.

Talk With Me Baby: Language Nutrition in the NICU Pilot Study

Arianne Weldon, Ashley Darcy-Mahoney, Bryan Williams, Jennifer Stapel-Wax, Lauren Head, Melanie Manns

Talk With Me Baby (TWMB) is a cross-sector coalition aimed at transforming parents into conversational partners by training nurses to educate parents how and why to provide language nutrition to their babies. The proposed study seeks to assess the extent to which TWMB nurse-led maternal “language nutrition” training influences the language enrichment and development of a sample of neonates in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

Watch a video about Talk With Me Baby here!

Colorado Talks Back 

Jean McSpadden and Christopher Price

This study examines the effectiveness of the BrightbyText system in delivering low-cost, high-reach interventions to support early childhood development. Two groups of families participating in Colorado Talks Back will receive varying levels of intervention with LENA recordings. Coaches will use graphical feedback to support families in creating and accomplishing personal goals to engage with children.

Developing an effective and efficient long term impact study of Providence Talks 

Courtney Hawkins, Caitlin Molina, Kenneth Wong

Providence Talks is the first of its kind to attempt to improve the language development environment of children at citywide scale. The model has been piloted with 200 families and shows promising results. This project will support the design of the initiative’s impact study that will measure the model’s effectiveness in improving long term outcomes for children.

You can watch a video about Providence Talks here and check out their most recent findings in this report!

The Martin Family Language Program and the Port Salerno Talks Early Language Initiative

Cristina Smith, Pat Harvey, Julia Garcia, Erika Hoff

In its second session, Port Salerno Talks is serving 25 families with a total of 77 children from the Port Salerno, Florida community. Family coaches work with Martin County School District families to deliver strategies designed to increase the quantity and quality of verbal interplays between caregivers and children. LENA Digital Language Processors are used to quantify the home language environment and offer the basis for setting goals to increase conversational turns. Currently, a programmatic partnership is being developed with a local social service agency and our local hospital system to design a comprehensive services network with multiple points of entry to support language and literacy skills with families throughout our community. In the coming school year, programmatic expansion is planned to additional school sites in Martin County.

Check back soon for a video from this project!

LAUP – Talk Time. Talk!

Rosa Valdes, Claudia Sarmiento, Mariel Kyger, Dawn Kurtz, Drew Barrett

This Los Angeles Universal Preschool study examined the effects of coaching support on families’ knowledge about and implementation of literacy-building practices. Participating families received a literacy tool developed by LAUP, called “Take Time. Talk!”, and also received coaching from Family Engagement Specialists.  Through the “Take Time. Talk!” tool and the coaching sessions, families learned strategies for engaging their children in meaningful conversations, reading aloud to their children, and helping their children develop vocabulary and literacy skills.

Check out five months of lesson plans used in this project, including: coaching session content, books used, description of coach actions, assignments, and activities for families to complete at home.

Touch, Talk, Read, Play Program Evaluation

Jason Yaun, Marion Hare, Katy Spurlock, Ann Kaiser

The Touch, Talk, Read, Play initiative promotes simple ways for families to interact with their children. By encouraging caregivers to talk and read to their children it directly addresses the word gap through exposure to rich language experiences and healthy social and emotional relationships. The study is evaluating the implementation of the Touch, Talk, Read, Play message in the primary care setting. Patients and families are exposed to the message and data is being collected on communication skills and current family reading practices. Follow up data will be collected to reassess communication skills, family habits, and the effectiveness of the messaging. The study is a collaborative between the University of Tennessee Health Science Center and The Urban Child Institute in Memphis, Tennessee. Check back soon for a video from this project!

Time2Talk2Baby: An Audio Coaching App

Peggy Sissel, Nicola Connors-Burrow, Laura McLeane, Patti Bokony, Lori Batchelor

Time2Talk2BabyTM is an audio coaching app in development that sends parents of 0 – 3 year-olds daily reminders to talk, read, and sing to their child. Each short (30 – 60 second) audio clip gives suggestions for topics and different techniques for engaging baby. Ninety moms with babies ages 2 – 34 months were recruited with the assistance of a variety of nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and professionals in family medicine and pediatrics. Moms were randomly assigned to treatment and control groups, with the treatment moms each receiving 58 messages over the course of nine weeks. Messages were age appropriate and sent in four age groups: 0-6 months, 6-12 months, 12-24 months and 24-36 months. Opening and listening rates were tracked for each mom, and each one also completed an extensive online survey. Using the LENATM Developmental Snapshot, pre and post scores on each child’s language assessment showed a statistically significant difference between treatment and control children. At the 95% confidence interval, treatment children gained a mean increase of 6 points. Twenty of the 41 children in the treatment group advanced a total of 316 weeks developmentally, while only 8 of 39 children in the control group advanced beyond anticipated development levels for that time period. Control group moms are now receiving the messages and being tracked, and the majority of moms in the treatment group are also interested in continuing in the study. New content will begin being sent to them in the fall. Overall, the results of Time2Talk2Baby have exceeded expectations, and the app seems to be a viable medium for bridging the word gap.

Check out this slideshow for more details on the Time2Talk2Baby project.