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BUILDING BLOCKS FOR LITERACY® offers early care and education providers and parents effective PLAY-based strategies to increase early literacy skills. Based on research from the National Research Council and the 2008 National Early Literacy Panel, BUILDING BLOCKS trainings support professionals as they work with children ages birth to five to help them become successful literacy learners.
The chart below shows remarkable early literacy gains made by target children (blue) whose early care professional participated in a 6-month BUILDING BLOCKS training and mentorship. In all cases, pre- to post- test results are statistically significant. Conversely, control children (red), whose providers did not participate, show essentially no gains in literacy over six months. Further study has shown a greater proportion of target children moving from below average literacy categories to average or better compared to controls. Finally, at the end of six months, target children demonstrate literacy skills that exceed national norm expectation whereas control children do not.
The following bar graphs highlight the remarkable impact the BUILDING BLOCKS program has on early care professionals, showing impressive gains in teachers’ knowledge of early literacy as a result of a 6-hour BUILDING BLOCKS training. All of the improvements here are statistically significant and studies of teacher knowledge over six-month mentorships confirm that knowledge gains hold.
Current research indicates that extending the knowledge of teachers leads directly to increased student success. Our Professional Learning programs offered through the Cynthia K. Hoehl Institute for Excellence (CKHIE), provide opportunities for individual educators, school teams and/or whole districts to extend their expertise to improve student outcomes.
ONSU has been involved in a remarkable four-year training that included:
2013-14: Year 1 – School Improvement Coaching
2014-15: Year 2 – T-I-M-E for Teachers™
2015-16: Year 3 – Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator training with school year long practicum
2016-17: Year 4 – Orton-Gillingham Classroom Educator training for new teachers and those new to the school as well as Orton-Gillingham Associate Level training for advanced special educators and classroom educators
Results from the 2015-16 school year to the 2016-17 school year show evidence of growth in students’ foundational and reading comprehension skills across grades and schools.
Current trends, using the district’s local assessment tool TRACK MY PROGRESS, show strong growth in reading from fall to spring/summer 2015-16, with gains maintained, if not enhanced, over the summer into the 2016-17 school year (a time when most students regress). This is likely due to summer services provided by district interventionists who had been trained in structured literacy by Stern Center staff over the past four years.
School leaders attribute this achievement to their collaborations with the Stern Center, which led to their new structured literacy model.
District leaders are immensely impressed:
“Since implementation, more students each year are meeting targets on Universal Assessments in the area of foundational skills. For example, 72% of first grade students met or exceeded the Foundational Skills target on Universal Assessments in December, and the group is on track to meet the district goal of 80%.”
~ Michaela Martin, Co-Director of School Transformation
“The Stern Center is a dynamic organization, always on the cutting edge, maximizing learning outcomes for kids.”
~ Ed Nasta, Co-Director of School Transformation
“Our students’ phonemic awareness and understanding of language is amazing. Our instructional language is consistent and precise, and our teachers’ confidence has never been greater.”
~ Jamie Kinnarney, Principal Williamstown Elementary School
Diagnosis of Adults and Children after Evaluation
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Stern Center instruction is highly individualized and thus progress assessment is customized to each student. This allows for superb progress monitoring but makes collecting aggregate data difficult. Testing annually has shown patterns of statistically significant growth in the following areas:
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Age Range 5 to 15 years
Goal of Program
Children attend 50 minute group sessions 1/week to help them:
Parents noted positive gains in their child:
What parents are saying
“Parents learn good prompt/language to use at home thru the observations.”
“The program really boosted his self‐esteem…”
“… gave him practical tools he uses in everyday interactions.”
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Age Range 18 to 42 years
Goal of Program:
Adults attend 60 minute group sessions 1/week to help them:
What participants are saying
“I liked meeting people who have similar social issues.”
“I liked the instructor and how she treated me like an adult…”
“It was nice learning about different situations and ways to deal with them.”
Download the full report | PDF
Promoting Early Literacy through Professional Development for Early Childhood Professionals: A Cost and Time Efficient Model that Works! Nathan, J. & Podhajski, B. (2017). (In Submission).
Teaching Listening Comprehension. Podhajski, B. (2016). Perspectives on Language and Literacy, 42(3), 43-48.
Early Years: An International Journal of Research and Development , Lane, C., Surges-Prokop, M.J., Johnson, E., Podhajski, B., & Nathan, J. (2014).
Promoting Early Literacy through the Professional Development of Preschool Teachers. 34 (1), 67-80. Published online August 19, 2013.
First Year Cohort Achieves Success for All, Janna Osman, M.Ed., Program Director for Professional Learning and Director of the Orton-Gillingham Institute, and Jane Nathan, Ph.D., Research Director, (2012). Academy News. Winter/Spring 2012.
Critical issues in response-to-intervention, comprehensive evaluation, and specific learning disabilities identification and intervention: An expert white paper consensus, Hale, J., …Podhajski, B., … et al. (2010). LDA White Paper. Learning Disability Quarterly. 33 (3), 223-236.
Oral and written language influences on academic and social functioning: A whole child approach, Podhajski, B., and Ingram, F. (2010). In N. Mather & L.E. Jaffe (Eds.), Comprehensive evaluations: Case reports for psychologists, diagnosticians, and special educators. New York: John Wiley & Sons. (2010).
Professional development in scientifically based reading instruction: Teacher knowledge and reading outcomes, Podhajski, B., Mather, N., Nathan, J., & Sammons, J. (Sept/Oct 2009). Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42 (5), 403-417.
A pathway to reading success: building blocks for literacy, Podhajski, B. & Nathan, J. (November 2005). New England Reading Association Journal, 41 (2), 24-27.
Promoting early literacy through professional development for childcare providers, Podhajski, B. & Nathan, J. (2005). Early Education and Development Journal, 16 (1), 23-41.
The Reluctant Reader, Podhajski, B. (Fall 2002). Children’s Literacy Foundation Newsletter.
Teaching reading and books on tape, Podhajski, B. (2000). LD OnLine. (http://www.ldonline.com/).
Perceptions and knowledge of preservice and inservice educators about early reading instruction , Bos, C., Mather, N., Dickson, S., Podhajski, B., Chard, D. (2001). Annals of Dyslexia, 51, 97-120.
TIME for Teachers: A model professional development to increase early literacy, Podhajski, B. (2000). Their World, 25-37.
Helping teachers to help children learn to read, Podhajski, B. (1999, Spring). LD Matters, Schwab Foundation for Learning Newsletter.
TIME for Teachers – What teachers need to know about what children need to know to learn to read: A trainer’s manual for professional development of K-3 educators, Podhajski, B. (1999) (1st ed.) Williston, VT: Stern Center for Language and Learning.
The sounds abound program: Teaching phonological awareness in the classroom, Podhajski, B. & Lenchner, O. (1998). East Moline, IL: LinguiSystems.
Phonological awareness: An overview, Podhajski, B. (1998, Spring). Linkages: Phonological Awareness Newsletter, National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center.
Professional development in learning disabilities for adult literacy providers, Podhajski, B. (1998). In S. A. Vogel & S. Reder (Eds.), Learning disabilities, literacy and adult education (pp. 199-212). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes Publishing Co.
Family literacy and learning disabilities: Shared opportunities and challenges, Podhajski, B. (1996, Spring). Linkages: Phonological Awareness Newsletter, National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center.
Reading for sale, Podhajski, B. (1994, Winter). Vermont Council on the Humanities Newsletter.
Diagnosis and remediation of learning disabilities, Lyon, G. R., & Podhajski, B. R. (1985). Neurology and Neurosurgery Update Series, 6 (2), 2-8.
Neurology and related language disorders in children: A guide for school personnel, Gomez, A. J., & Podhajski, B. R., Eds. (1978). Middlebury, VT: Addison Press.
Before going to the Stern Center, I struggled with reading and my mind was focused on the fact that I couldn't do it. The Stern Center not only helped me improve my reading skills, but I was able to build confidence in my learning.