I don’t know about you, but where I work, it’s often hard to convince people that our students have SO much MORE potential.  The first step is presuming competence but the second step is providing our students with the opportunity to learn.  So many students have been passed over and deemed unable to learn to read or write.

Often the students with more complex needs are passed over for actual literacy instruction.   I’ve actually heard the phrase “maybe they can learn read objects.”  I don’t even know what this means!  Good literacy instruction involves words and print!  Do I provide students with multi-sensory stories and use objects with some of my kiddos with vision problems, absolutely.  But it’s NOT the only instruction they should receive!

I’ve had the pleasure of going to many trainings and presentations this year about literacy and how the students I work with can benefit from literacy instruction.  To clarify – I work with students with complex bodies and complex communication needs.  Many are nonverbal, many are in wheelchairs with limited fine and gross motor skills, many have complex medical conditions, and many face low expectations set by those supposed to teach them.  After listening to Caroline Musselwhite, Gretchen Hanser, Karen Erickson, and Susan Norwell I couldn’t wait to get back to school and start putting real literacy instruction in place!

The first step was reading up about the Four Block model for students with disabilities.  The second step was ordering information about alternative pencils.  The third step was to convince a classroom to adopt this model and give it a try! With the help of a fantastic teacher, an incredible SLP, and an amazing OT; we’ve been able to get actual reading and writing instruction off the ground!  We’re 12 weeks in and I’m going to be sharing a series of posts about:

  1. How we got started!
  2. Getting staff on board 🙂
  3. Kinks we had to iron out!
  4. Lesson ideas
  5. Progress
  6. Getting other classrooms on board!

high expectations phrase


We need to raise our expectations and take the plunge!  Literacy is a basic human right and ALL students are entitled to literacy instruction.  Let’s make this happen!

high expectations fish

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