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Introduction to the Four Blocks

  1. 1. Introduction to the Four Blocks Approach to Literacy in Special Needs Classrooms
  2. 2. “No student is too anything to be able to read and write” David Yoder, DJI-AbleNet Literacy Lecture, ISAAC 2000
  3. 3. Our National Literacy Plan “Ensuring all students gain at least a minimum acceptable standard in literacy and numeracy is critical in overcoming educational disadvantage. This means that gaining literacy and numeracy skills is a central equity issue in education today.” (DEST, 2005)
  4. 4. Accommodating Struggles physical demands cognitive demands sensory demands communication demands experience demands affect demands
  5. 5. So how do we teach literacy for all our diverse students?
  6. 6. Emergent Literacy
  7. 7. Traditional view of Literacy • Emphasises “readiness”; • Literacy is learned in a predetermined sequential manner that is linear, additive, and unitary; • Literacy learning is school-based; • Literacy learning requires mastery of certain prerequisite skills; • Some children will never learn to read.
  8. 8. Traditional Model of Literacy Learning (Erickson, 1999) Readiness SpeakingSkills Listening
  9. 9. Current/Emergent View of Literacy • Literacy development is constructive, interactive, recursive, and emergent; • Literacy development is a process that begins at birth and perhaps before; • Emergent literacy is “…the reading and writing behaviours that precede and develop into conventional literacy”; • Emergent literacy is appropriate for all children.
  10. 10. Oral and Written Language Development (Koppenhaver, Coleman, Kalman & Yoder, 1991. Adapted from Teale and Sulzby, 1989) AAC/Speaking Reading Literacy Writing Listening
  11. 11. Emergent Literacy • Emergent literacy behaviours are fleeting and variable depending on text, task and environment; • The functions of print are as integral to literacy as the forms.
  12. 12. Emergent Literacy
  13. 13. Kade and Georgia
  14. 14. Emergent Literacy Intervention • Happens in the pre-school years for most children; • Incidental learning and teaching about letters, words, literacy concepts; • Children with phonological awareness at the beginning of school may not have had good emergent literacy input.
  15. 15. Emergent Literacy and Children with Disabilities • Light et al (1994), Frame (2000); • Passive interaction pattern; • Larger number of new books; • Fewer repeated readings; • Less time spent on literacy activities.
  16. 16. Emergent Literacy Intervention • Some school aged children need emergent literacy experiences before they can develop conventional literacy; • Lots of simple books being read to them; • Chances to scribble with the alphabet; • Good literacy environment and models; • Need to make sure student gets exposed to reading AND writing AND word intervention.
  17. 17. Emergent Literacy • Give every student a “pencil”! • Provide a literacy rich environment; • Ensure links between environment and print are constantly reinforced; • Alphabet books; • Phonological awareness activities, particularly for students with Complex Communication Needs (CCN).
  18. 18. Emergent Literacy “Written language activities and experiences should not be withheld while speech, language, motor or other skill(s) develop to arbitrary, prerequisite levels.” Koppenhaver and Erickson (2000)
  19. 19. Conventional Literacy
  20. 20. Silent Reading Comprehension Word Language Identification Comprehension Print Processing Beyond Word Identification (Slide from Erickson and Koppenhaver, 2010)
  21. 21. Beginning To Read Phonological awareness, letter recognition facility, familiarity with spelling patterns, spelling-sound relations, and individual words must be developed in concert with read reading and real writing and with deliberate reflection on the forms, functions, and meanings of texts. (Adams, 1990)
  22. 22. Literacy Instruction Phonics Balanced Literacy Instruction Whole Language
  23. 23. Balanced Literacy Instruction • Uses all valid parts of literacy instruction – not one approach; • Works for students all along the literacy continuum – from emergent to formal; • Four Blocks is balanced literacy instruction.
  24. 24. Four Blocks
  25. 25. Four Blocks • Created by Patricia Cunningham and Dorothy Hall; •; • Four Blocks in Special Ed wiki
  26. 26. Four Blocks • Centre for Literacy and Disability Studies, North Carolina; • Big thank-you to them for teaching me about Four Blocks, sharing their resources and being awesome! • Have a good look at their resources section.
  27. 27. If All Children Are To Learn, All Teachers Must Teach Everything (Koppenhaver, Erickson & Clendon, 2008)
  28. 28. Technology To Support the Four Blocks
  29. 29. But remember..... ICT = It Can’t Teach
  30. 30. Guided Reading
  31. 31. Guided Reading • Primary purposes are to assist students to: – Understand that reading involves thinking and meaning-making; – Become more strategic in their own reading. • Must use a wide variety of books and other print materials. • NOT listening comprehension.
  32. 32. Purposes for Reading • Need to set a purpose every time you do guided reading; • If you don’t set a purpose students think they have to remember everything – or become passive; • Purpose needs to be broad enough to motivate processing of entire text.
  33. 33. Guided Reading • 1 book per week; • Different purpose each day; • Build confidence; • Some students will participate in the repeated readings or in setting purposes as they become more skilled; • Help students become independent.
  34. 34. 5 part Guided Reading • Before reading: 1. Build or activate background knowledge 2. Purpose “Read so that you can” • During reading: 3. Read/listen • After reading: 4. Task directly related to the purpose 5. Feedback/Discussion (typically woven into follow-up) • What makes you say that? How do you know? Why do you think so? • Help students gain cognitive clarity so they can be successful again or next time
  35. 35. Cock-A-Moo-Moo 1. Read to learn which animal in the book is your favourite (before reading, list the animals in the book)
  36. 36. #1 - Read to learn which animal in the book is your favourite
  37. 37. Participation for students with CCN • If they have a comprehensive communication system (egg PODD) then they can use that to participate across the day; • If they don’t then we need to provide ways for them to participate; • AND we need to work towards getting them a comprehensive communication system.
  38. 38. Cock-A-Moo-Moo Purposes 1. Read to learn which animal in the book is your favourite (before reading, list the animals in the book) 2. Read to see what is the funniest sound the rooster makes (before reading, list the sounds the rooster makes) 3. Read to decide which feelings the rooster has (before reading, list some feelings you know) 4. Read to discuss why the fox was sneaking in (before reading discuss reasons he might sneak into a barn) 5. Read to see which farm animals aren’t in the book (before reading list the farm animals you know)
  39. 39. #2 - Read to see what is the funniest sound the rooster makes
  40. 40. #3 - Read to decide which feelings the rooster has
  41. 41. #4 - Read to discuss why the fox was sneaking in
  42. 42. #5 - Read to see which farm animals aren’t in the book
  43. 43. Repetition with Variety To learn a skill and generalise it across contexts, instruction must provide repetition of the skills in a variety of ways
  44. 44. Variety • Variety of purposes; • Variety of approaches; • Variety of texts;
  45. 45. Variety of texts • Commercial books; • Fiction and non-fiction; • Language Experience/custom texts; • Created texts about class/individual experiences; • Personal alphabet books; • TarHeel Reader books.
  46. 46. What does Emma do? by Mr Clark
  47. 47. Guided Reading Books • Those you already have (class and library); • Information from the www; • Created books on topics of interest in PowerPoint, Clicker 5, Boardmaker Studio; • TarHeel Reader; • Start-to-Finish books. • Guided Reading packs at
  48. 48. Picture, Symbols and Text • Symbols appear to improve access to literacy..... But do they really?
  49. 49. Why no picture-supported text when teaching reading? • Pictographs can be distracting for developing readers who may pay more attention to the pictures than the text they are learning to read/decode • After a review of literature Hatch (2009) found “the outcomes of several research studies that investigated the use of pictures to support the development of word identification in readers with and without disabilities indicated that children learned more words in fewer trials when words were presented alone than when paired with pictures (Pufpaff, Blischak & Lloyd, 2000; Samuels, 1967; Samuels et al, 1974)
  50. 50. Why are pictographs distracting? • Symbols representing function words are typically opaque and unrelated to the meaning of the text. • The lack of consistency of symbols and symbol-sets used to represent words across AAC user’s learning environments, and; • The multiple symbolic representations and meanings for single written words e.g. play.
  51. 51. When should we use symbols? • To support COMMUNICATION – All day, every day – During reading instruction – During writing instruction • To support behaviour and self-regulation – Visual supports – Visual schedules
  52. 52. Self-Selected Reading
  53. 53. Self-Selected Reading • Primary purposes are to assist students to: – Understand why they might want to learn; – Become automatic in skill application; – Choose to read after they learn how. • It isn’t self-directed if you don’t choose it yourself; • You can’t get good at it if it is too difficult.
  54. 54. Self-Selected Reading • How do we create in our classrooms the conditions that lead students to a love of reading? • How do we provide our students with successful practice that will make them fluent readers?
  55. 55. Self-Selected Reading • Most receptive vocabulary growth occurs through exposure to written language rather than direct instruction • Reading volume is the prime contributor to vocabulary growth – True for poor readers and good readers
  56. 56. Self-Selected Reading • Help students to: – Understand why they might want to learn to read – Become automatic in skill application – Choose to read after they learn how • It isn’t self directed if you don’t chose it yourself • You can’t get good at it if it is too difficult
  57. 57. Self-Selected Reading for Students with Disabilities • Need to make books accessible to ALL students • Many children with disabilities have fewer opportunities to practice than their peers and when they do they are often passive participants (Koppenhaver and Yoder, 1992)
  58. 58. Electronic Accessible Books • Accessible books allow students to do independent reading • Talking books also give them the option for support from the computer if needed
  59. 59. Encourage Repeated Reading • Easy texts • Read the same passage in guided reading for several days for a different purpose each day • Pair older readers up with young reading buddies to validate reading of “baby books”
  60. 60. Self-Selected Reading Resources • Commercial books • Custom books • TarHeel Reader books • Other digital storybook website e.g. Starfall, MeeGenius • Digital storybook apps on iPads
  61. 61. Re-Creating Picture Books • One of the most common Accessible Books are re-created standard picture books • These let students of all abilities read these books independently • Also lets us modify the books to suit individual students – make the text bigger for students with vision difficulties, simplify the presentation style for students who are visually distractible, etc
  62. 62. Picture book in Clicker 6
  63. 63. Creating Custom Books • Books with familiar photos can be more meaningful and motivating for many children • You can make older content with simple text • Students can get involved in book creation
  64. 64. Created Book in Clicker 6
  65. 65. Tar Heel Reader • • Lots of simple books on a wide variety of topics suitable for older students (and students of all ages)
  66. 66. Writing
  67. 67. Writing • Students who write become better readers, writers and thinkers • Writing without standards • Learn in classroom writing communities: – Write for real reasons – See others do so – Interact with peers and teachers about written content, use and form
  68. 68. Writing • Writing consists of a large number of sub-skills • These include: – Ideas, language, spelling, sensory motor skills, word identification, word generation, etc • Many of these skills, especially operational skills, need to be automatic before a writer becomes fluent • Need to address both: – The development of skills for writing – Meeting current requirements for writing (record school work, demonstrate knowledge, write to friends, etc.) From Erickson and Koppenhaver, 2000
  69. 69. Writing and Reading • Without a pencil writing doesn’t improve • Without writing, reading development will be limited • If a student doesn’t have a pencil, you need to find one!
  70. 70. “Pencils” • Without a pencil writing doesn’t improve • Without writing, reading development will be limited • If a student doesn’t have a pencil, you need to find one
  71. 71. Writing and Emergent Literacy • The function of literacy is as important as the form • Students need to understand why writing is important
  72. 72. Function Versus Form
  73. 73. Emergent Writing
  74. 74. Emergent Writing Malakye’s name
  75. 75. Emergent Writing Malakye’s picture
  76. 76. Developmental Spelling Stages • Print has meaning (emergent writing) – scribble, numbers, letter-like strings, letters • Visual Cue – read/spell in environmental context, tuned to distinctive visual features • Phonetic Cue – sound it out, “glue to print” (initial sound, initial + final, initial, medial + final) • Transitional – rule based e.g. putting past tense on every verb • Conventional
  77. 77. Print Has Meaning Stage
  78. 78. Print Has Meaning Intervention • Must learn that print has communicative function – Point out environmental print – Create language experience texts – Use Big Books and point to text as you read – Use predictable books and pattern books • Provide daily opportunities to write for real reasons
  79. 79. Visual Cue Stage
  80. 80. Visual Cue Intervention • Must learning that letters and sounds are systematically related – Use patterned, rhymed text to foster phonological awareness – Encourage invented spelling – Informal phonics instruction (there’s a B like in your name Bob) – Use voice output during writing activities
  81. 81. Phonetic Cue Stage
  82. 82. Phonetic Cue Stage • Tyrone – typed his name perfectly • Brum Tyrone Nan baefg – then typed this • Tyrone told me that this says that Brum, Tyrone and Nan are friends, using his page set on Proloquo2Go.
  83. 83. Phonetic Cue Intervention • Must learn automatic application of decoding strategies and develop large sight vocabulary – Read, write, listen across tasks and texts – Use words on the wall – Begin using word prediction as soon as student can pick first letter or the word represented
  84. 84. Transitional Stage
  85. 85. Conventional
  86. 86. Conventional Three rabbits went to Canberra
  87. 87. Personal Connection The power of starting from the things children love the most!
  88. 88. Writing Intervention • Inherently multilevel and individualised • Typically chaotic in classroom context • Goals: creating skills, experiences and interest to help children write well and use writing to accomplish their own purposes • Plan volume of writing versus quality of writing, number of pieces versus length of pieces
  89. 89. Models • Present the form to teach the form
  90. 90. Sentence Combining • Direct instruction in producing more complex syntactic structures • Give students sets of two or more sentences to combine into one – E.g. The box is heavy – The box is big – The box is full
  91. 91. Scales • Also called rubrics – providing example of good writing on a specific area e.g. here’s a piece of writing with good action verbs. Now you write one.
  92. 92. Inquiry • Pose a problem • Compile data as a group • Write about it as individuals
  93. 93. Free Writing • Also called “Can’t stop writing” • Writing without standards (ie not even teaching) • Big Paper Writing
  94. 94. Writing Intervention • Focused mini-lessons on various aspects of the writing process e.g. brainstorming • These happen daily for the majority of the writing time
  95. 95. Writing Mini-Lessons • Examples are: – Using a spell checker – Capitalising the first word of every sentence – Brainstorming – Revision (thinking like your audience) – Poetry forms – Using mind mapping
  96. 96. Writing for Students with Disabilities • ALL students must be provided with a pencil before they can start writing
  97. 97. Writing With Alternative Pencils CD
  98. 98. Some Options for Production Difficulties • Talking Word Processor • Word Prediction – On computer – In communication software
  99. 99. iPad as a Writing Tool • Difficult for many students • However – easier for some • Some Apps now with word prediction e.g. Typ- O, AbiliPad • Speech recognition e.g. Dragon Dictate, iPad 3
  100. 100. Writing • Does every student you work with have an appropriate pencil? • What is it? • If not – what can you try?
  101. 101. Lachie
  102. 102. Working with Words
  103. 103. Working with Words • Primary purpose is to help students become strategic in reading words; • Make words instruction: – Words based; – Experience based; – Age appropriate; • Should results in students who read and write: – More; – More successfully and independently; – With greater enjoyment.
  104. 104. Early Reading Instruction • Three primary views on what to emphasise in early word level instruction: – Predictability – Decoding – Sight words • Treated as mutually exclusive, yet are not • Question is not which is best, but how to make the most of each
  105. 105. Inner Voice • People who use AAC talk about an “inner” voice • Typically developing children sound things “out loud” then move to inner voice “saying in their head” • Essential that we teach people who use AAC to develop their inner voice early • Helps them to encode and recode, spell, produce language, etc
  106. 106. Working with Words • Needs to be done very regularly • Skills taught are essential for reading and writing development
  107. 107. Getting Started by Teaching the Alphabet
  108. 108. Teaching Alphabet Knowledge • Read alphabet books • Point out letters and print in the environment • Talk about letters and their sounds when you encounter them in every day activities • Provide opportunities to play with letter shapes and sounds • Explicitly reference letter names and sounds in shared reading and writing activities • Use mnemonics and actions • Use student NAMES!
  109. 109. Alphabet Books • There are dozens and dozens of commercially available A-Z books for readers of all ages • Tar Heel Reader has more than 50 accessible alphabet books • You can make your own alphabet books – Not all alphabet books include A-Z – You can focus on a single letter or contrast two letters that a student confuses often
  110. 110. The Letter D Book
  111. 111. dig
  112. 112. door
  113. 113. dog
  114. 114. doughnut
  115. 115. Word Wall • Used to teach words that you don’t want students to have to work to decode or spell • Learning not exposure – about learning 5 words not being exposed to 20 • Need/want/use vs curriculum driven direct- instruction
  116. 116. Word Wall
  117. 117. Onset and Rime Families • E.g. ack, ail, ain, ake, ale, ame, an, ine • Teach one word representing each of these endings, then in other activities teach the children what to do to transfer “back” to “sack, hack”
  118. 118. Onset Rime • Make your own • Lots of free ideas on the web: – Google for Onset Rime Activities – Google for Word Family Activities • Pre-made resources from Intellitools, AbleNet, Crick and many other options • For older students Applied Word Reading Intervention
  119. 119. Making Words • Cunningham and Cunningham (1992); • Scaffolded program to encourage students to become confident about making individual words; • Teaches students to look for spelling patterns in words and recognise the differences that result when a single letter is changed.
  120. 120. Willans Hill Four Blocks • Rural special school in NSW; • In 2011 began Four Blocks in every classroom for a minimum of 2 hours a day; • 70 students – wide range of disabilities; • 27 students assessed completely at beginning of year.
  121. 121. Emergent vs. Conventional
  122. 122. Emergent Students • Doubled their knowledge of concepts about print • Increased letter identification • Slight improvement in phonological awareness • HUGE decrease in “no response” particularly in letter identification • Every student able to contribute a writing sample at end of year as every student had a pencil • Three emergent students became conventional readers and writers
  123. 123. Conventional Students • At beginning of year averaged: – Word identification – Grade 2 – Listening comprehension – Pre-Primer – Reading comprehension – Below pre-primer • At end of year averaged: – Word identification – Grade 3 – Listening comprehension – Primer – Reading comprehension – Primer • On average across all areas, students improved one grade level
  124. 124. Other outcomes • Decreased challening behaviour • Increased attention span • Increased language skills
  125. 125. “No student is too anything to be able to read and write” David Yoder, DJI-AbleNet Literacy Lecture, ISAAC 2000