Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters | Literacy Starters Curriculum | Start-to-Finish Core Content
Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters Curriculum
We believe that students with complex needs should be on a path to reading, and this curriculum is the first step on that path. It helps teachers build early reading skills through step-by-step lesson plans tied to picture books that are age-appropriate for students in grades 4-12. The books cover topics in science, social studies, and life skills. In addition, early phonics lessons help students build transferrable decoding skills.
How Does the Curriculum Work?
The Literacy Starters Curriculum features several step-by-step lessons that tie to 15 Literacy Starters books. Teachers deliver effective reading strategies through a repeatable model. Each lesson follows the following process:
• Activate Background Knowledge
• Explicitly make the link between Anchor Activity and Purpose for Reading
• Read and/or listen to the story read aloud as a group
• Complete an after-reading comprehension task
The explicit lesson plans minimize lesson planning time to about 10 minutes.
Who is Literacy Starters Curriculum for?
- Educators who believe all students deserve to be taught to read
- Teachers who work with students with complex instructional needs in grades 4-12
- It is appropriate for students who:
- Can identify most letters most of the time
- Are engaged and interested when books are read to them
- Have a means of communicating
Key contributors include:
- Karen Erickson, PhD (Center for Literacy and Disability Studies, at the University of North Carolina—Chapel Hill)
- Patricia Cunningham, PhD (Wake Forest University, Department of Education)
- Jerry Stemach, M.S. CCC-SLP
- Carol Seibert
Check out sample lessons in our new Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters Curriculum Sampler…
The Curriculum Sampler includes a PDF with sample comprehension and phonics lessons and teacher tools from Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters Curriculum, plus PDF versions of two Literacy Starters books: Off to War (Civil War—States & Slavery) and Out of Here (Solar System—Surprises in Space).
Based on the work of Tierney and Cunningham (1984), and modified by Dr. Karen Erickson, Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters Curriculum was designed around a five-step framework that builds and integrates multiple skills and processes over time. Readers with moderate to more severe cognitive, communication and/or physical disabilities learn to read with explicit strategy instruction—known as Anchor, Read, and Apply—over a variety of reading levels and content.
Each book is supported by multiple comprehension lessons that follow a consistent format and repeated strategy to provide the repetition with variety. Practice and repetition builds skills that enhance students’ cognitive engagement with age-appropriate reading.
1) Activate Background Knowledge
Activate and/or build background knowledge related to strategic purpose(s0 for reading. Although students frequently have adequate background knowledge required to understand a text, they don’t always know when or how to call it up during reading.
2) Explicitly make the link between Anchor Activity and Purpose for Reading
The Anchor connects the lesson to what students know or have experienced and build personal connections to and engagement with the text in order to provide a clear and compelling Purpose for Reading.
- Read this so that you can sequence these events (or pictures)
- Read this so that you can compare and contrast the two main characters
3) Read and/or listen to the story read aloud as a group
Students participate in a shared reading either independently with computer support, or together on the interactive whiteboard, or read by the teacher.
4) Complete an after-reading comprehension task
The after reading task provides an activity where students demonstrate learning and repair any misunderstandings from the reading.
- Arrange 3 pictures (with or without captions) from the story to show the correct sequence of events.
- Compare and contrast two characters from the story by identifying the ways in which they are the same and different.
5) Provide Informative Feedback and Discussion to help students understand what they did to get the right (or wrong) answers to the comprehension task they have just completed. The focus is on how to complete the task successfully, rather than to simply provide reinforcement for correct answers.
- When sequencing pictures/text, ask students questions like “How do you know that?” or “Why do you think so?” to guide them in identifying the exact text and/or illustrations that support their sequencing decisions.
- Using the computer book, display pages of text/illustrations that describe character traits. As students compare and contrast characters, ask “What makes you say that?” to guide them in pointing to the exact text and/or illustrations that supports their answers.
This flexible curriculum includes materials that support instruction for:
Comprehension/Vocabulary Lessons: Build comprehension skills using book-specific comprehension lessons that provide the repetition (of strategy use) with variety (of content) your students need to generalize effective reading strategy use. The lessons were designed with the research expertise of Dr. Karen Erickson (Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill).
Download Curriculum Sampler (.zip)
Phonics Lessons: Introduce and begin building decoding skills with 50 phonics lessons based on Dr. Patricia Cunningham’s time-proven approach to building decoding and spelling strategies featured in her highly-regarded book Systematic Sequential Phonics They Use (Carson-Dellosa).
Fluency/Independent Reading: Increase instructional and independent reading and reading fluency skills through repeated reading of the engaging Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters computer and paperback books.
Flexibility: Mix and match the comprehension and phonics lessons to fit your instructional schedule and meet the improving skills and changing needs of your transitional readers over time.
Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters Curriculum includes:
- Five sets of Start-to-Finish Literacy Starters with CDs
- Civil War—States & Slavery Series
Money Talks, Off to War, The War
- Life Skills—Fun & Functional
Loretta Gets a Zebra, I Can Do That, Not Until You’re 16
- Solar System—Surprises in Space
Out of Here, To the Moon, Nine Planets
- Sports—Safety & Success
Wear a Helmet, Hall of Fame, Play Ball
- Volcanoes—Force & Fury
A Blast from the Past, Hot and Burning, Run for Your Life!
- Civil War—States & Slavery Series
- Literacy Starters Curriculum Guide, which includes:
- 43 book-specific comprehension lessons
- 50 phonics lessons with teacher directions to get students Making Words
- Reproducible worksheets
- Literacy Starters Workshop Professional Development DVD—Training by Dr. Karen Erickson
- Literacy Starters Teacher Guides
Each of the Literacy Starters sets include:
- 3 Paperback Books
- 3 Computer Books on a CD
- 1 Teacher Materials CD
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