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IES Contract

Title: Reading Roots II: Reading "Between the Lions": Combining Instruction with Technology and Multimedia to Ensure That Every Child Succeeds in Reading by Third Grade
Center: NCER Year: 2019
Principal Investigator: Cerf, Christopher Awardee: Sirius Thinking, Ltd.
Program: Small Business Innovation Research      [Program Details]
Award Period: 2 years (6/26/2019 – 6/25/2021) Award Amount: $900,000
Type: Phase II Development Award Number: 91990019C0039

Project Website:

Video Demonstration of the Phase I Prototype:

Purpose: In this project, the team will create Reading Roots II: Reading "Between the Lions," a multimedia classroom intervention that uses systematically targeted videos and game-like technology-assisted partner practice activities to personalize literacy education for grade 1 students.

Project Activities: During Phase I in 2018, the team developed a prototype that integrated videos from the literacy education TV series Between the Lions and technology-delivered learning games designed to promote critical reading skills into a three-week-long segment of the Success for All (SFA) first-grade instructional model. At the end of Phase I, a pilot research study was conducted with grade 1 students from a school that included a high proportion of students eligible for free and reduced priced lunches. Results demonstrated that the prototype operated as intended, that students found the activities engaging, and that from pre-test to post-test students' scores increased in letter-sound identification, sounding, blending, and spelling words.

Project: During Phase II, the team will expand the video and interactive content of the platform to enable it to cover a full academic year's worth of lessons, and will complete development of the technological infrastructure, including the data management module, the reporting dashboard, and supplements to promote family engagement. Researchers will carry out a pilot test to examine the usability, fidelity of implementation, and efficacy of the platform in increasing reading outcomes of first graders, compared to a similar group of students that does not have access to Reading Roots II. The pilot study will include 480 students in grades 1 from eight schools where 92% of students are eligible for free and reduced priced lunches. Students in four of the schools will be randomly assigned to use the intervention and the other half will proceed with business as usual. Analyses will compare pre-and-post reading scores between the groups on established standardized measures. Cost will be assessed as calculated by fair estimates of materials, software licenses, initial and follow-up professional development, and any additional personnel.

Product: In this project, the team will create the technology-delivered version of Reading Roots II: Reading "Between the Lions," by integrating content from Between the Lions, including multimedia videos and learning games to personalize learning. To participate in the intervention, students will work for 10 to 30 minutes per day in pairs while sharing a laptop or tablet. Students will alternate in roles as "coach" and "reader" reading sounds, words, or phrases presented on the computer, with an animated narrator reading the correct answers. A teacher dashboard will generate real-time progress reports at the student, class, and school level for teachers and parents.

Related Projects: In previous research and development supported by ED, members of the team added computer activities and targeted multimedia resources from Sesame Street and Sirius Thinking to non-technology delivered classroom interventions previously developed by SFA for K and pre-K students, where children practice content and skills while working with a peer partner. In a previous ED/IES SBIR project, Sirius Thinking created and researched embedded vocabulary segments within the Between the Lions television program. And in a recently completed ED/IES SBIR initiative, Sirius Thinking and Success for All developed a technology-enhanced multimedia tutoring tool designed to enable paraprofessionals to serve up to six grade 1-3 struggling readers at a time.