More Than a Gap in Words

Published in Print: April 22, 2015, as Research on Quality of Conversation Holds Deeper Clues Into Word Gap

Key to Vocabulary Gap Is Quality of Conversation, Not Dearth of Words

By Sarah D. Sparks


“The “30 million-word” gap is arguably the most famous but least significant part of a landmark study, Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experiences of Young Children, by the late University of Kansas child psychologists Betty Hart and Todd R. Risley. As the work turns 20 this year, new research and more advanced measuring techniques have cast new light on long-overshadowed, and more nuanced, findings about exactly how adult interactions with infants and young children shape their early language development.”


Parent-Child Conversations

“This is the challenge of translating science to policy, and when one study captures the imagination of the public, and policy is made based on one study,” Mr. Barnett said. A study “has to be viewed in the context of the much larger body of knowledge about language and family and experience.”


“Conversational turns are vastly more important than the number of words a child is exposed to,” Ms. Gilkerson said.






You Can’t Have a Dialogue About Learning Without Back and Forth Questioning

8 Strategies To Help Students Ask Great Questions

04/14/2015, Terry Heick

This is a real wealth of resources on questioning.  Many ideas to choose from.  Applicable across grades.

Update on the Achievement Gap

William Teale (University of Illinois at Chicago, Education) just uploaded a paper on

Early Childhood Literacy: Policy for the Coming Decade

by William Teale et. al.

Gaps in 3 important areas:

Standards and curriculum

Capacity of educational leaders and teachers

Family involvement