Most schools adopt a literacy program that is hot at the moment. For example, when whole language programs hit the education trend, schools began having lessons where students were self-directed and spent much time in real reading and writing while the teachers were facilitators and provided a stimulating environment. When phonics programs hit the media, schools began having more structured programs with teacher-directed activities. These programs focused on one aspect of learning and one type of learner.
The Four Blocks Literacy Program is different. It takes all learning types into consideration. As we know, not all students learn the same way at the same level. While some students are beginning readers and need a lot of coaching and direction, others may be established and need a more self-directed lesson. Some students learn best through listening and others by doing. Four Blocks was developed to meet the needs of all learners.
As its name states, the Four Blocks program has four components- guided reading, self-selected reading, writing, and working with words. Four Blocks provides a variety of activities for all children to learn to read and write. The program provides both student-directed and teacher-directed activities. Lessons are designed to appeal to all types of learners. The key to the program is teaching all Four Blocks. No one block is effective on its on. The program begins at the kindergarten level and has lessons through the eighth grade. The designers of the program, Patricia Cunningham, Dorothy Hall, and Cheryl Sigmon have written many books detailing exactly how the program works and giving examples of how they feel a lesson should be outlined.
My school is very activity in using the Four Blocks literacy program and I have seen it work. I have children entering kindergarten not knowing letters and sounds and leaving as readers. The program must work to some extent because my school ranked fifth in the state of Tennessee according to the report card!
Look for more articles in the future detailing each block!