MET:Using Moodle Reader for Extensive Reading Assessment and Feedback

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This page was originally authored (summary only) by Craig Murrell (2016). Stop Motion Video created by Craig Murrell (2016).


Terms Used in this Wiki Entry

ESOL English for Speakers of Other Languages. The field of English language learning including EFL and ESL.
ESL English studied as a Second Language. The study of English by non-native speakers of English in an English-speaking environment. (ex: Learning English in Canada as a second language)
EFL English studied as a Foreign Language. The study of English by non-native speakers of English living in a non-English-speaking environment. (ex: Learning English in Japan as a second language)
ELL English Language Learners.
Graded Reader Graded Readers are books of various genres that are specially created for learning languages. They have been graded by specific levels of grammatical complexity and difficulty of vocabulary. They may be simplified versions of existing works, such as literary classics, films, biographies, travel books, etc. They may also be original stories or books that are written at a less demanding level.
Extensive Reading Extensive Reading is a method of language learning, including foreign language learning, from free reading of enjoyable books chosen by the student at a level that is usually below the student's current level of language fluency. This encourages high-volume reading in order to expose the student to as much language as possible, with as little difficulty in comprehension as possible. It is pedagogically opposite to Intensive Reading, which is a method of language learning through grammar-translation, emphasizing heavy dictionary use.
Moodle Reader The Moodle Reader module is a plug-in for the popular Moodle LMS. It is a comprehensive assessment and feedback interface for a "blended delivery" Extensive Reading program that utilizes "Graded Extensive Reading" books. Gamefication features in the Reader are effective at motivating students to challenge the quizzes for each "graded extensive reader" they complete. This encourages further self-directed reading by students. Created by Dr. Tom Robb of Kyoto Sangyo University.
M-Reader A completely rewritten version of the "Moodle Reader" module that does not require the Moodle LMS to be installed. This is a stand-alone solution that has the same feature-set as the Moodle Reader. Created by Dr. Tom Robb of Kyoto Sangyo University.
Moodle plug-in Moodle plug-ins are like applets (apps) that extend the functionality of the Moodle LMS. There are hundreds of plug-ins for Moodle, extending the features of Moodle's core functionality.



Extensive Reading

Part 1. Extensive Reading

STOP MOTION VIDEO

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXMsHLHVibA


Summary of Extensive Reading

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go.” Dr. Seuss

Have you ever been a language learner? Have you ever had your language book open to the page with your reading assignment on one side, and a dictionary on the other? Have you ever struggled to understand the grammar or vocabulary on every other line of the passage you are reading? Has your reading assignment been so difficult that your brain felt like it was going to melt?

If you have, then you have been engaged in a language learning process known as Intensive Reading. This style of language learning is heavy on grammar-translation and usually requires a dictionary.

Research suggests that course textbooks are good at introducing new language features in a linear way, but they are not designed to recycle language and build a depth of knowledge. If learners only engage in INTENSIVE READING, it takes much longer for them to develop their own sense of how the language works (Waring, 2009).

Rob Waring states that:
"Simply put, they did not meet enough language to fully learn what they were being taught. Their knowledge is abstract, and stays abstract, because it was taught abstractly because the course books and courses tend to break down the language into teachable units." (Waring, 2009)

A pedagogically different method of language learning is known as Extensive Reading. Extensive Reading is a method of language learning, including foreign language learning, that utilizes free reading of enjoyable books chosen by the student at a level that is usually below the student's current level of language fluency. This encourages high-volume reading in order to expose the student to as much language as possible, with as little difficulty in comprehension as possible.

Waring, 2009, says:
"The aim is to fluently read, or listen to, massive amounts of comprehensible language within one’s comfort zone with an aim being to build fluency while consolidating language knowledge. Reading fluently means reading quickly for meaning and provides opportunities to notice and pick up more depth of knowledge about language features that the course books can only introduce." (Waring, 2009)

There is significant research on incidental vocabulary learning from extensive reading (e.g., Day et al., 1991; Dupuy & Krashen, 1993; Grabe & Stoller, 1997; Hayashi, 1999; Mason & Krashen, 1997; Pigada & Schmitt, 2006; Pitts, White, & Krashen, 1989; Waring & Takaki, 2003), with many studies citing overall gains in language development (e.g., Cho & Krashen, 1994; Elley, 1991; Hafiz & Tudor, 1990). Some studies have also reported benefits such as increased motivation to learn new language and a renewed confidence in reading(e.g., Brown, 2000; Hayashi, 1999; Mason & Krashen, 1997).

Recent research suggests that one of the main factors affecting language learnability includes the ratio of unknown words to known words in a text. The more unknown words it has, the less likely incidental learning can occur. In fact, research suggests that the optimal known word coverage should be about 90-95%. This means that incidental learning occurs best when we are not struggling with a large volume of new words (Liu Na & Nation, 1985; Hu & Nation, 1999).

Waring, 2009 also states that:
"Importantly, if the reading text is too hard (less than about 98% knowledge of the surrounding unknown words), then their fluent reading will be interrupted and their chance for meeting a lot of language will be reduced as they have to return to more intensive language study to work on the unknown language." (Waring, 2009)

However, we also know that high-volume exposure to language is necessary in order to encode meaning. It can take up to 50 different exposures to a word in context, for the form of a word to be connected to its meaning. Taken as a whole, this implies that we need to read A LOT… but it should be SIMPLE to understand. This kind of high-volume, high-comprehension exposure to language is exactly what Extensive Reading is all about.

One key component to the Extensive Reading movement is that it is a very student-centered learning method. Students are encouraged to read as much as they can by reading books that are interested in, and are easy for them to understand. Textbooks rarely meet this criteria, as they serve a different purpose. Students focus on enjoyment, not language learning, but the high-volume exposure of Extensive Reading means that they are presented with some new words, in context. Students are encouraged to not pick up a dictionary every time they meet a new word, but rather, they should try to infer meaning from the context around it. Eventually, they will have been presented with the new language enough for them to encode meaning on their own.

This helps to avoid the trap, known as the vicious circle of the weak reader. (Nutall, 1996) Weak readers don’t understand, so they read slowly, they don’t enjoy reading because it is difficult, so they don’t read much, which starts the circle all over again. ER promotes the virtuous circle of a good reader by helping them to understand better because the content is 90% known, which helps them to read faster. This leads to more enjoyment in reading, as does being able to choose what they read, so this leads them to read more.



Citations:

Brown, R. (2000). Extensive reading in action. Studies in English Language and Literature, 41, 79–123.

Brown, R., Waring, R., & Donkaewbua, S. (2008). Incidental vocabulary acquisition from reading, reading-while-listening, and listening to stories. Reading in a Foreign Language, 20, 136-163

Day, R. R., Omura, C., & Hiramatsu, M. (1991). Incidental EFL vocabulary learning and reading. Reading in a Foreign Language, 7, 541–551.

Dupuy, B., & Krashen S. (1993). Incidental vocabulary acquisition in French as a foreign language. Applied Language Learning, 4, 55–63.

Cho, K., & Krashen, S. (1994). Acquisition of vocabulary from the Sweet Valley Kids series: Adult ESL acquisition. Journal of Reading, 37, 662–667.

Elley, W. (1991). Acquiring literacy in a second language: The effect of book-based programs. Language Learning, 41, 375–411.

Grabe, W., & Stoller, F. (1997). Reading and vocabulary development in a second language: A case study. In J. Coady & T. Huckin (Eds.), Second language vocabulary acquisition: A rationale for pedagogy (pp. 98–122). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

Hafiz, F., & Tudor, I. (1990). Graded readers as an input medium in L2 learning. System, 18, 31–42.

Hayashi, K. (1999). Reading strategies and extensive reading in EFL classes. RELC Journal, 30, 114–132.

Hu, Marcella – Paul Nation. 2000. “Unknown vocabulary density and reading comprehension”, Reading in a Foreign Language 13: 403-430.

Liu Na – Paul Nation. 1985. “Factors affecting guessing vocabulary in context”, RELC Journal 16: 33-42.

Mason, B., & Krashen, S. (1997). Extensive reading in English as a foreign language. System, 25, 91–102.

Nation, I.S.P. (2001) Learning Vocabulary in Another Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Nuttall, C. 1996. Teaching Reading Skills in a foreign language. Oxford: Heinemann.

Pigada, M., & Schmitt, N. (2006). Vocabulary acquisition from extensive reading: A case study. Reading in a Foreign Language, 18, 1–28.

Pitts, M., White, H., & Krashen, S. (1989). Acquiring second language vocabulary through reading: A replication of the Clockwork Orange study using second language acquirers. Reading in a Foreign Language, 5, 271–275.

Waring, R. (2009). The inescapable case for Extensive Reading. In A. Cirocki (Ed.). Extensive Reading in English Language Teaching (pp. 93-112). Munich: LINCOM Europa.

Waring, R., & Takaki, M. (2003). At what rate do learners learn and retain new vocabulary from reading a graded reader? Reading in a Foreign Language, 15, 130–163.




e-Learning Tools for Extensive Reading

Part 2. MReader and the Moodle Reader Plug-in

STOP MOTION VIDEO

Part 1 of 2
https://youtu.be/nnQKKgwO4O8

Part 2 of 2
https://youtu.be/MO6WVS4Ziu4

Summary of MReader and the Moodle Reader Plug-in



Summary of stop motion video

In order for growth and retention of new vocabulary to occur, great amounts of written texts from graded readers should form part of an extensive reading program. (Brown, Waring & Donkaewbua, 2008)

Many educators understand the value of Extensive Reading, or ER, but it simply isn’t possible to engage in all of the reading necessary to build a depth of understanding of language in the classroom. There are other goals that must be achieved. Recently, a new distinction has been made in Extensive Reading, between replacement ER and additive ER. (Robb & Kano, 2013).

Replacement ER is utilizing classroom time for ER, and Additive ER is additional contact with language, usually outside of class. But, how do you motivate students to engage in reading outside of class. Holding students accountable through assessment is important for achieving learning goals. In typical reading assessment, students are asked to produce a report that confirms their reading and understanding of the material. But producing language necessary to report their understanding is a daunting task for any second-language learner. At beginner levels, the kind of meta-language necessary is often more difficult than the text they read. This makes assessment and feedback very difficult for many language learners.

Robb and Kano state that:

Our conclusion is that additive ER can only be widely implemented if there are effective means to hold students accountable for their work, that does not increase the workload of the teachers or unduly intrude on class time. (Robb & Kano, 2013)

MReader and the Reader plug-in for Moodle LMS are tools designed to assist in encouraging and implementing additive ER to the language learning process.

The Moodle Reader module is a plug-in for the popular Moodle Learning Management System. The MReader system is a standalone version that does not require the Moodle LMS. Both systems offer a comprehensive assessment and feedback interface for a "blended delivery" Extensive Reading program that utilizes "Graded Extensive Reading" books. Gamefication features in the Reader are effective at motivating students to challenge the quizzes for each "graded extensive reader" they complete. This encourages further self-directed reading by students.

Both the MReader and Moodle Reader plug-in were created by Dr. Tom Robb of Kyoto Sangyo University to help teachers encourage Extensive Reading in students, while giving them a method of assessment and feedback.

Once the reader is installed, instructors set up their courses with student accounts. Teachers can assign a reading level to students. This limits the choices of books that students can take quizzes on to their level or one or two levels below their current reading level. This ensures that students do not read books that are too easy for them just to earn points, and it also prevents them from challenging a book above their current level because they would spend too much time on Intensive Reading to understand the book.

Students log in every time they have finished a book and take a short, timed quiz to evaluate if they have read the book. They don’t really test the students memory, but rather their understanding of the plot, characters and story. The quiz is designed to be taken open-book, so they can quickly find the answers, but it has a time limit, to prevent them from finding the answers without first having read the book. Questions will range from multiple choice and true-false, to asking them to identify the character responsible for the given quote. Finally, each book has a single chronological order quiz so that students can sort and order the sequence of events to match the story. (Robb & Waring, 2012)

Each quiz is generated from a random question bank to ensure that students will not be able to copy their friend’s answers. The questions for the quiz have been created by the community of instructors and teachers who are part of the Extensive Reader community. This means that more than 4500 extensive readers have had quizzes created for them that are available on the Moodle Reader plug-in.

Once the test is finished, if students achieved a passing score, they are awarded with a “stamp” consisting of the cover image for the book. This gives students instant gratification by expanding their stamp collection of completed books. Students can share their stamp collection with other students, as well as rating the book and providing some short feedback about the book for other students to read. Feedback is one of the most important motivational tools available to teachers. But for feedback to be useful, it must be given to students in a timely manner, with specificity needed to help the students determine their next step. Hattie (2012).

MReader provides students with immediate feeback upon completion of any quiz. The feedback also utilizes a kind of gamification by presenting the accomplishment in the form of a game card, or stamp. These stamps are the cover image for the book they just completed the quiz for. This gives students instant gratification by expanding their stamp collection of completed books. Students can then share their stamp collection with other students, as well as rating the book and providing some feedback for other students by writing a short review of the book. This has proven to be an effective way to motivate students to continue reading.

Finally, Teachers can assign a student, class or institution a reading goal. The goals are based on the number of headwords in the readers. Every time a student earns a stamp, they also get credit for the headwords in that book. This provides students with more immediate feedback on their progress towards the reading goal. It also lets teachers evaluate the progress of their students, class or even the whole institution. These reports can be downloaded in Excel format for offline use.

Robb and Kano (2013) suggest that there are 4 essential elements to implementing an effective additive ER component to any curriculum.

1. The administration requires ER from all students in a specific range of classes.
2. There is an effective way to hold students accountable for their reading that does not increase the instructors' workloads.
3. Likewise, final assessment is performed in a manner that is relatively trouble-free for the instructors.
4. Book management is handled in a centralized, efficient manner, through the school library or a self-access center.

MReader and the Reader plug-in for Moodle are effective e-learning tools that help any institution with item number 2 and 3 in the list by Robb and Kano.

This amazing tool is truly a model of good e-learning principles. It is student-centered and provides the student with instant gratification and notification of achievement. It allows students to collaborate by sharing their accomplishments and feedback with other students. And the test material is built by a dedicated community of teachers, instructors and authors who want to expand the features and capability of this plug-in.

Finally, it allows institutions and instructors a blended-delivery method of distance education, allowing both students and teachers to access the features of this tool anywhere, and anytime.

NOTE: Special thanks to Dr. Tom Robb for all his assistance and feedback.

Citations:

Brown, R., Waring, R., & Donkaewbua, S. (2008). Incidental vocabulary acquisition from reading, reading-while-listening, and listening to stories. Reading in a Foreign Language, 20, 136-163

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York, NY: Routledge Press.

Robb, T., & Kano, M. (2013). Effective extensive reading outside the classroom: A large-scale experiment. Reading in a Foreign Language, 25, 234-247.

Robb, T., & Waring, R. (2012) Announcing MoodleReader version 2. Extensive Reading World Congress Proceedings, 1, 168-171