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The Northern School for Autism has a number of Literacy Programs that cater for the diverse needs of our learners. They include:

Whole Word Approach to Reading

Early Literacy Skills Builder Program

Early Reading Skills Builder Program

The Four Blocks of Literacy Framework

Whole Word Approach

  • Teaching words as a whole rather than through a phonics-based approach.
  • Emphasis on “visual recognition of words” and visually representing those words with pictures.
  • Uses the process of “match, select and name” to teach students new words.
  • Focuses on an individualised vocabulary and moves onto a broader school based vocabulary.
  • Moves from teaching single words to building simple sentences and then reading short individualised books.

Why do we use it?

Many children with ASD will find it easier and more efficient to learn to read by first recognising whole words, and then working backward from the whole word to the sounds contained in words. For many of our students, learning the letters and their sounds is initially too abstract.

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB)

This is a program that uses Direct Instruction to teach early literacy skills. A Frog Puppet called ‘Moe’ is the main character in the reading materials and supports student engagement in activities.

The ELSB program has 2 distinct lesson types:

1. Building With Sounds and Symbols

  • 7 Levels - 5 lessons with assessment at the end of each level to determine if students are ready to progress to the next set of lessons
  • Explicit, systematic instruction based on scripted lesson plans
  • Emphasis on pace, efficiency and errorless learning to bring students to mastery as quickly as possible
  • 14 objectives covered over course of program including reading sight words, pointing to text as it is read, responding to literal questions about a story, demonstrating syllable segmentation, identifying letter-sound correspondence, identifying pictures that begin/end with given sounds.

2. Building with Stories:

  • Structured story sharing time which includes pre-reading activities as well as a number of text awareness, prediction, text pointing and comprehension activities throughout the session.

Early Reading Skills Builder Program (ERSB)

Structured and Systematic Phonics and Sight Word Instruction using iPad App, Flashcards, Reading Books & Writing Books. NSA also includes hands on materials and activities to support generalisation of skills.

  • 26 progressive levels with five structured lessons in each level
  • Lessons follow an eight-step activity sequence, which includes identifying, blending, and segmenting sounds; decoding words; reading sight words and connected text; and answering comprehension questions.
  • Students use a writing journal to reflect on what they learned in the level.

The Four Blocks of Literacy Framework

The Four Blocks Framework represents four different approaches to teaching children to read, providing students with a range of learning experiences to support various learning preferences and profiles. The framework can also cater for a wide variety of literacy levels across the classroom.

The Four Blocks of Literacy are:

  • Guided Reading – Supporting students to develop the skills and understandings necessary to be strategic in reading and comprehending a wide variety of texts.
  • Self-Selected Reading – Supporting students to develop the skills to select reading materials that they find interesting and provide opportunities for teachers to conference individually with children about the books they are reading. In this block teachers also model reading aloud to children.
  • Writing – Supporting students to develop the skills to independently write through modelled and independent writing experiences.
  • Working with Words – Systematically teaching high frequency words needed for fluent, successful reading with comprehension. Teaching the skills required to decode and spell words for reading and writing.
Student Learning