2004 Conference Proceedings

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 


Bob Keller
Don Johnston Incorporated
26799 W Commerce Drive
Volo, IL 60073
Phone: 847-740-0749, ext 550
Fax: 847-740-7326
Email: bkeller@donjohnston.com

Providing all students, regardless of their reading ability, with as many reading experiences as possible nurtures and develops reading ability. For students with Significant disabilities, the process of learning to read rarely progresses rapidly and typically requires systematic, intensive interventions. These students get stuck at the emergent literacy level because the materials that are available all support reading to the student and gaining information by listening. The Beginning Literacy Framework, created by Karen Erickson, Caroline Musselwhite and Ruth Ziolkowski, provides the foundation to accomplish the systematic, intensive intervention students need to move through the beginning literacy process with books that offer the right level of support and participation.

The three levels (emergent, transitional and conventional) within the Beginning Literacy Framework are described below:

The emergent literacy level focuses on reading to the student. We expect students to be active participants; however, at the emergent level, students are not expected to have any responsibility for actually reading any of the text on the page. The goal of this level is to develop language, build background knowledge, teach concepts about print, develop a love of reading and most importantly help students begin to see themselves as readers! At this level of the framework, there are NO prerequisites and there is no such thing as "not ready."

As the name implies, the transitional literacy level falls between the emergent and early conventional levels. This level centers on reading with the student and handing over increasing responsibility for reading the text. Students can take more responsibility when they are provided with materials that have an increased focus on text features, rather than the language and graphic features that were highlighted in the emergent level. For students with disabilities, learning to read rarely seems to occur overnight. In fact, students with Significant disabilities may be transitioning to conventional literacy for years. But the intensive, systematic process of handing over more and more responsibility for reading has a powerful payoff - students can read many words independently!

The conventional literacy level focuses on having texts read by the student. The goal of conventional level materials are to introduce new vocabulary within a controlled text, foster word recognition and decoding skills and help students apply knowledge about sentence structure by removing predictability. Most importantly it helps students see themselves as independent readers.

Participants will:

A 2-hour hands-on lab sponsored by Don Johnston Incorporated will extend what you learned in this session so you can create your own beginning literacy activities using the text created in this session. Look for "Putting The Beginning Literacy Framework into Action: Hands-on Activity Creation" in your program.

Go to previous article 
Go to next article 
Return to 2004 Table of Contents 
Return to Table of Proceedings

Reprinted with author(s) permission. Author(s) retain copyright.