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Four Blocks Literacy Model. RE 3030 - 414 Jennifer Lawson Lauren Leslie. Overview. “The Four-Blocks” framework was developed by teachers who believe that to be successful in teaching all children to read and write, we have to do it all !” (The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)

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four blocks literacy model

Four Blocks Literacy Model

RE 3030 - 414

Jennifer Lawson

Lauren Leslie


“The Four-Blocks” framework was developed by teachers who believe that to be successful in teaching all children to read and write, we have to do it all!” (The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)

Doing it all means Four Blocks incorporating the different approaches to beginning reading on a daily basis. Four Blocks provides various opportunities for all children to learn to read and write and substantial instruction to support whatever learning personality a child has.

teacher training
Teacher Training
  • All primary teachers and administrators should attend a 3 day institute set up by the Department of Education
  • The Department of Education consultant should meet at least monthly with lead teachers
  • Lead teachers should go to schools out of state to observe successful Four Block programs
  • Teachers and administrators should attend a mid-year institute with the Department of Education to get further information and ask questions to continue implementation
classroom setup
Classroom Setup
  • Seating arranged so students can work in cooperative groups
  • A colorful and organized Word Wall (letters of the alphabet stretching across a wall with words organized under each appropriate letter)
  • Student work displayed in the room and all throughout the school
  • Vocabulary word charts
  • An editor’s checklist
  • Books, books, and more books!
  • Other reading materials such as magazines and newspapers available
classroom setup continued
Classroom Setup continued
  • A timer for the teacher to use to pace each of the Four Blocks 
  • Evidence that reading has real world applications, such as cereal boxes and news clippings
  • Writing materials and a center or area of the room for student use
  • A carpeted area or rug where students can gather with the teacher for mini-lessons or read-alouds
  • Teachers and students engaged in teaching and learning
the four blocks
The Four Blocks

A multimethod, multilevel framework for lower elementary grade language arts lasting approximately 2 ½ hours each day.

  • Guided Reading
  • Self-Selected Reading
  • Writing
  • Working with Words
guided reading
Guided Reading
  • “The purposes of this block are to expose children to a wide range of literature, teach comprehension strategies, and teach children how to read material that becomes increasingly harder.”(The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)
  • Pre-Reading: 5-10 minutes

-build or review prior/background knowledge necessary to read the selection

- do a picture walk, introduce vocabulary, set a purpose for the reading

  • Reading: 15-20 minutes

- reading with one or several of these methods: shared, choral, partner, echo, independent, or three-ring circus (alone, with partners, or with the teacher)

  • Post-Reading: 5-10 minutes

- follow up activities consisting of: discussion, making a graphic organizer, response writing and making connections

self selected reading
Self-Selected Reading
  • The purpose of this block is to get students to “choose what they want to read and to what parts of their reading they want to respond. Teachers hold individual conferences with children about their books.” (The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)
  • Self-Selected Reading: 30 minutes

- Teacher Read Aloud

- Students’ self-selected readings (student select and read books on their own levels)- Teacher Conferences

- Book talks (opportunities for students to share what they are reading with their peers)


“One way children learn to read is by writing. For struggling children, their own writing is sometimes the first thing they can read.”(The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)

  • Teacher Mini-Lesson: 5-10 minutes

- teacher writes and models all the things writers do

  • Student Writing: 15-20 minutes

-children work on their own writing (writer’s workshop, focus writing, and writing from prompt)

  • Author’s Chair/Sharing: 5-10 minutes

- a time when children can listen to and share with their peers about what they are writing

working with words
Working with Words

“In the Working with Words Block, children learn to read and spell high-frequency words and the patterns that allow them to decode and spell lots of other words.” (The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks)

  • Working with Words: 30 minutes

- Make/work on word wall

- Learn spelling patterns (Making Words, Guess the Covered Word, Rounding up Rhymes, and Reading/Writing Rhymes)

- Transfer from reading and writing

The Four Blocks instruction is neither whole-class nor ability grouped. The teacher uses a range of materials and cooperative structures to make Four Blocks meet all levels and meet the needs of all learners.
our critique
Our Critique
  • Ability grouping in lower elementary classrooms will always be a controversial debate. It is encouraging to learn that Four Blocks doesn’t use ability grouping to teach children reading and writing. Children placed in lower ability groups perceive themselves as poor readers and often have attention and behavioral problems. These stigmatizing effects are usually attached to the child throughout the rest of their education. However, we cannot accurately decide if Four Blocks is a successful program because we have not actually implemented it or seen the program in any school that we have observed.
  • Cunningham, Patricia M., Dorothy P. Hall, and Cheryl M. Sigmon. The Teacher’s Guide to the Four Blocks. Greensboro: Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, 1999.
  • Sigmon, Cheryl Mahaffey. Implementing the 4-Blocks Literacy Model. Greensboro: Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company, 1997.
  • Four Blocks Balanced Literacy packet