Evidence and Research informing the design of the ‘chatta’ approach and reflections on its impact.

What is chatta?

Chatta is an approach to teaching and learning based on a distinct, transferable and simple pedagogical design. The approach was developed by Chris Williams and David Andrews following a large scale project with schools and nurseries delivered in partnership with Hull City Councils’ Early Years Team. Chris has a background in Special Education, with advanced qualifications in Special Education and teaching children with Autism. David is an internationally recognised pioneer in the use of classroom technology to achieve impact on pupil progress. The ‘chatta’ approach was designed to combine the best of the best of available evidence on educational practice in a simple, accessible and high impact way with software designed purely and solely for the implementation of the method.

Chatta’s Aims:
• Chatta aims to secure oral narrative competence, which is an essential and proven indicator of future writing competence.
• The approach aims to ensure teachers and teaching staff use evidence based approaches.
• The approach aims to promote more parent/child interaction.
• The approach aims to present a simple and transferable pedagogical design using
digital technology.
• The approach has been designed to be effective for pupils aged 18 months to 18
• The approach supports progress in writing.
•The approach supports language acquisition including second and additional
• The approach has been designed to support progress for pupils with additional needs,
including autism and dyslexia.

Components of the Approach

The approach combines a number of key elements, each of which is supported by evidence of impact.
These are: (in no particular order – they each feature in the ‘chatta’ process)

Starting point or stimulus based on real experiences, stories or subject content.
“Children first need to represent their experiences, feelings and ideas as thoughts in order to be able to express them to others.”
Sutton Trust, Sound Foundations, 2014
Sequences of images presented on a single screen.
“The proliferation of the use of images as a communicant was propelled by the growth of technology that required less in text-reading skills…visual literacy has entered the panoply of skills required for communication in this century.”
Will Eisner Graphic Storytelling and Visual Narrative, W.W. Norton & Co., 2008
“…a narrative structure to comprehend visual sequences and that the brain engages similar neurocognitive mechanisms to build structure across multiple domains.”
The grammar of visual narrative: Neural evidence for constituent structure in sequential image comprehension., Neurospychalgia, November 2014, Cohn N, Jackendoff R, Holcomb PJ, Kuperberg GR.
Modelled Language
“As children learn to speak, adults support their development through informal conversations, through songs and rhymes with movements, through shared reading and through the use of narrative. Asking children to discuss stories or real events (describing what happened, what comes next and what other possibilities might be) helps children to develop their language skills, their thinking and understanding of the world, and lays the foundations for higher planning skills.”
Sutton Trust, Sound Foundations 2014
Oral Rehearsal
“Oral rehearsal supports the transition from talk to text by reducing the cognitive cost of formulation and oral rehearsal is the ‘ideal bridge’ between the creative, spontaneous, content-forming talk used to generate ideas and the more ordered, scripted nature of writing”
How talk becomes text: Investigating the concept of oral rehearsal in early years’ classrooms. Debra Myhill, Susan Jones – University of Exeter, 2009

Talk is the halfway house between thinking and writing”
Vygotsky, L.S., 1986. In: Kozulin, A. (Ed.), Thought and Language. MIT Press, Cambridge, Mass.

Repetition of language
“Short repetitive exposure to novel words induced a rapid neural response increase that is suggested to manifest memory-trace formation.”
Rapid formation and activation of lexical memory traces in human neocortex. Kimppa, Lilli,University of Helsinki, 2017

School and home using the same approach and resources

“Parental engagement has a large and positive impact on children’s learning. This was the single most important finding from a recent and authoritative review of the evidence.”
Review of best practice in parental engagement: Department for Education, 2010
“Providing support for parents to assist their child’s learning in the home is the most effective way to raise achievement. Bringing the home and school closer through out-of- hours clubs, parent classes, extended schools and outreach work is a powerful lever in securing improved learning outcomes.”
Review of best practice in parental engagement: Department for Education, 2010
“Three aspects of parenting have been highlighted as central to children’s early language and learning: (1) the frequency of children’s participation in routine learning activities (e.g., shared book reading, storytelling); (2) the quality of caregiver-child engagements (e.g., parents’ cognitive stimulation and sensitivity/responsiveness); and (3) the provision of age- appropriate learning materials (e.g., books and toys).”
Parents’ Role in Fostering Young Children’s Learning and Language Development Catherine S. Tamis-LeMonda, PhD, Eileen T. Rodriguez, PhD
New York University, USA

Challenging digitally distracted behaviours and the subsequent impact on interactions

“It is vital to support shared family activities through media in ways that stimulate children’s development and strengthen their relationships.”
Families and screen time:Current advice and emerging research Alicia Blum-Ross Sonia Livingstone, London School of Economics

Focusing on oral narrative competence

“The results identify importance of practising oral narrative competence in kindergarten and first grade and the value of composition quality independent of orthographic text accuracy.”
The relationship between oral and written narratives: A three-year longitudinal study of narrative cohesion, coherence, and structure. Pinto, Tarchi, Bigozzi, British Journal of Educational Psychology, September 2015

Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning

“People learn more deeply from words and pictures than from words alone.”
“In 11 experimental comparisons students have consistently performed better when they learn from words and pictures than from words alone.”
Applying Science of Learning in Education, American Psychological Association, 2014 Research-Based Principles for Designing Multimedia Instruction
Richard E. Mayer
University of California, Santa Barbara
“The cognitive theory of multimedia learning has progressed over the past two decades and is poised to become a mature, robust theory as it enters its third decade. Fortunately, the theoretical cognitive foundations upon which the theory is based go much further back and have contributed heavily to its framework of the “big three” sciences, as well as the structure given to its principles by the theory of cognitive load. Its learner-centred and cognitive- constructivist orientation makes it very relevant in current educational applications. The fact that it focuses on finding effective instructional methods rather than a specific technology makes it a dynamic theory that will allow it to expand well beyond the life cycle of any particular technology.”
The Cognitive Theory of Multimedia Learning. Stephen D. Sorden Mohave Community College/Northern Arizona University,2016
Each of the above elements informs the ‘chatta’ process, some explicitly some intrins- ically. Some have more ‘weighting’ than others although all are central to and essential to the approach.

Feedback“No better approach to teaching and learning”
Gabrielle Deed, Special Needs Co-ordinator

“Incredible. Life-changing. Why is nobody else teaching this way?”
Laura Stenton-Slater, Parent

“We use the approach in school and see great impact”
Andrew Smith, Headteacher“My 4 year old has gone from zero speech to speaking in fluent sentences in 6 months because of ‘chatta’”
Ceri Smith, Parent

“The Chatta approach supports children in gaining the skills needed to help them become competent and effective communicators. Chatta helps to provide children with a secure foundation from which to become literate, life long learners.”
Kim Salisbury, Early Years Advisor, Liverpool School Improvement

“Children in Scotland are introducing chatta to their membership to share good practice and to give children the best possible start in life. Chatta allows the sharing of knowledge and resources to support practitioners in achieving this.”
Simon Massey, Head of Development, Children in Scotland

Every child deserves the best start in life and this is a great project. As digital technology is reshaping our lives on a daily basis and the way we communicate, this new app for par- ents is an effective way to support their child’s learning and development. Chatta helps children become better communicators, readers, writers and thinkers, offering huge bene- fits for when they start primary school.”
Phil Webster, Portfolio holder for learning, skills and safeguarding children / Hull City County Council

“I haven’t been this excited about an intervention in a very long time and can’t wait to use it. I’m absolutely buzzing at the moment, can’t imagine how I’m going to sleep tonight.”
Angela Shipley, SEN Support Services / Wakefield

“Excellent. Such a powerful way of using technology to support language development! Theory and evidence of the approach combined with impact. Chatta helps develop com- munication and language progress for all children.”
Marion Hastings, Early Years Improvement Officer (East Riding)

“What first drew me to Chatta was its unique approach to supporting children’s speech, language and communication skills. The impact of Chatta is clear: improved outcomes for children, increased parental engagement and the promotion of a shared ethos in support- ing children’s speech, language and communication skills.”
Jayne Carter, Early Years Consultant, Lincolnshire

“High quality approach based on the very best practice which supports all children. Our schools need Chatta!”
Cheryl Bowers, Senior Early Years Advisor, Hull