When we moved to North Carolina years ago, I was offered my first job in a self-contained special education classroom. I had always taught in a resource special ed setting previously, so it was a whole new ball game for me. I remember my first year in that setting, I felt so lost with what to use for reading materials for my young students with autism. We read picture books, but I never felt like I was providing well rounded literacy instruction for these students. We worked a lot on life skills, independent work tasks, basic math skills, social skills, and behavior of course, but when it came to literacy I was LOST.
My second year in NC, my county was offering a literacy training for low incidence teachers. I gladly went, and learned a ton, but the most valuable thing I learned about was a program I could get access to called Early Literacy Skills Builder. It came with a frog puppet and lots of materials. Best part, every day was planned for me already. I started implementing it immediately in my classroom and saw actual results! I had a literacy block in which I would run a small group and my TA’s would do one on one instruction with students who weren’t yet ready to work in a group. I finally felt like I was providing the instruction they needed to gain those foundational literacy skills in a meaningful, systematic way. Fast forward to now. New special needs classroom, same literacy needs.
ELSB in Action
5 reasons I absolutely this program for my students:
Lesson plans are DONE and it’s completely scripted. If you are reading this, chances are you teach a similar population of students. I don’t have a lunch. I don’t have a planning period. I’m lucky if I get a bathroom break during the school day. I have a family at home. Everything in this program is totally scripted and once you’ve used it for a week or two, it’s so easy to flip to the page you need to be at and TEACH. Like I said, I do the program with a small group of students that are able to work in a group and then one on one with students that need the extra attention. All I do is put a post it with the students’ name on the teacher’s manual and flip to the pages right before I pull them.
It’s based on the principles of ABA. This. ALL OF THIS. ELSB is based on the principles of direct and systematic instruction. You can tell a lot of careful planning went into this program with OUR STUDENTS in mind. I have been forced to use so many programs that are nooooot appropriate for my students’ needs.
I am assured I am teaching what I should be. Skills in ELSB lessons are presented in a spiraling format with ample reoccurrence. As you know, most of our students need to work on skills over and over and over before they are mastered, so the fact that this feature is built in is amazing. The literacy components they focus on in ELSB are supported by the National Reading Panel (phonemic awareness, alphabetic principle (phonics), comprehension, and vocabulary).
ALL THE DATA. Each level of ELSB has a student assessment to determine level mastery before moving to the next level. It’s amazing and again, all planned scripted for you! There are also data sheets included for daily data collection as well.
I can see progress with every student. When I have implemented this program daily, I have been able to see progress with even my most challenging student.
My students are engaged! This is my number one reason for loving this program. My kiddos all adore Moe. I can keep their attention for an entire lesson through the use of reinforcement (built into program already) and that adorable frog puppet. I don’t have to do any extra prep for my nonverbal kiddos and can easily incorporate any AAC devices or PECs as needed, while at the same time it’s still appropriate for my verbal students. MAGICAL!
The program comes with seven levels. You start all students on level 1, but if a student is struggling, they have provided a pre-curser level A for students who need time to work on learning to attend to read alouds.
Objectives covered in the program:
1. Read vocabulary sight words
2. Point to sight words to complete sentences
3. Point to words as the teacher reads them aloud
4. Point to or say a word to fill in a repeated story line
5. Respond to a question about the story by selecting the correct picture (the correct word in later lessons).
6. Demonstrate understanding of segmentation by clapping out the syllables in words.
7. Demonstrate understanding of segmentation by tapping out the phonemes in CVC words.
8. Identify letter-sound correspondence
9. Identify the first and last sounds in words.
10. Find pictures that begin/end with a specific sound.
11. Point to letters in words that have been segmented.
12. Point to pictures that represent segmented words.
13. Point to pictures of spoken words.
Research Supporting ELSB
Let me throw some research at you! Project RAISE at the University of North Carolina Charlotte demonstrated that ELSB is a highly effective literacy program. The researchers even used Edmark as the control group to compare with ELSB. The students learning from ELSB had increased their literacy scores to such a degree that they discontinued the control group for the remaining years of the study, and transitioned all students to ELSB instruction. I am a data nerd and read all about the study they conducted, and it made me that much more confident that I have been using the best program for my students. Also, the program is endorsed by the Council for Exceptional Children. Click here to read about ELSB RAISE Research.
If you are interested in ELSB or any of the other amazing programs from the Attainment Company, I’ve included some links below. Definitely contact me if you have any questions about the program, I’m happy to help!
Building with Stories: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/building-stories
Core Curriculum Solution: Elementary: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/core-curriculum-solution-elementary
Core Curriculum Solution: Secondary: https://www.attainmentcompany.com/core-curriculum-solution-secondary
Also, Attainment Company has a Facebook page and Twitter profile where they post resources, giveaways, webinars, and product updates!
I’ll be back in a few days to talk about another awesome program they have that fits PERFECTLY with this one, called Building with Stories. It has helped me step up my literacy instruction even more! Please note: Although I received this program to review, all thoughts and opinions are 100% my own. I have used this program in my classroom for several years now, so I feel very confident in sharing it with you!