Handout #1

Anna M. Swenson
Braille Literacy Consultant
[email protected]
To contract or not to
That was the question that launched
the ABC* Braille Study.
Alphabetic Braille and Contracted Braille
Braille Study
 Research focus: Are there differences in the children’s reading &
writing performance based on whether they were initially taught in
contracted or uncontracted braille?
Longitudinal study, 2002-2007
Children w/o other disabilities in grades pre-k through 4
Half of teachers started students with contracted braille, half with
uncontracted. (Teachers’ choice)
Team of researchers
Qualitative data: interviews, observations, classroom environment;
social interaction
Quantitative data: time for instruction, reading assessments,
writing analysis, videos of hand movements …
The National Reading Panel
& the Reading First Initiative
Reading First Area
Phonemic Awareness
Phonics (Decoding /
ABC Braille Study Assessment
TPRI (Texas Primary Reading Inventory)
TPRI; Brigance (Spelling)
Johns Basic Reading Inventory
Johns BRI
Johns BRI
Quiz Yourself!
ABC Braille Study Quiz
 Question 1: The majority of the young braille readers in the study
were good spellers.
 Question 2: Children who learned uncontracted braille first were
better spellers than those who started with contracted braille.
 Question 3: Students made very few braille errors (e.g., reversals)
when reading aloud.
Quiz continued . . .
 Question 4: Students who knew more contractions read faster.
 Question 5: Most kindergarten and first grade braille readers
demonstrated age appropriate skills in phonemic awareness and
Quiz continued . . .
 Question 6: Students who learned more contractions earlier in
instruction had higher scores in the areas of vocabulary, decoding,
and comprehension than those who started with uncontracted
braille and learned contractions more slowly.
 Question 7: The majority of the study’s participants, none of
whom had a disability other than their visual impairment,
performed as well as their sighted peers on tests of vocabulary
and reading comprehension.
Major Findings
Emerson, Holbrook, & D’Andrea, (2009). Acquisition of literacy skills
by young children who are blind: Results from the ABC Braille Study
 “Students [with no additional disabilities] who were introduced
to more contractions earlier in instruction performed
better on reading measures, such as vocabulary,
decoding, and comprehension.”
 “Students who are blind, regardless of whether they
started with contracted or uncontracted braille, are
falling behind their sighted peers and not acquiring
reading skills at the rate they should.”
Implications for Real-Life Teaching:
One Teacher’s Interpretation
1. Teaching the
Braille Code
2. The Role of the TVI
in Teaching Reading
3. Assessment
4. Literacy
1. Implications for
Teaching the Braille Code
“… it seems that the introduction of contractions
early in a student’s reading process is associated
with higher literacy performance later in the
student’s career.” (Emerson, Holbrook, & D’Andrea, 2009)
 Begin with uncontracted braille:
 Alphabet first
 Materials in uncontracted / customized braille
 Introduce contractions as rapidly as possible
 Begin with fully contracted braille:
 High frequency contracted words (e.g., “go”, “like”,
“do”), familiar names, & motivating words
 Alphabet
 Fully contracted braille materials
Other ABC Findings &
Recommendations Related to Braille
Erin, J.N. & Wright, T.S. (2011) Learning to write in braille: An analysis of writing
samples from participants in the ABC Braille Study.
 Teach reading with two hands from the beginning
 Teach correct fingering on the brailler from the
 Instill the habit of checking work
 Future research question: Does the use of
technology increase the quantity and quality of
students’ written output?
2. Implications for the Role of the TVI in
Teaching Reading or … Whose job is it to
teach reading?
Can we separate the braille code from the
teaching of reading for children who are
learning braille? (Holbrook, 2008)
We are ALL teachers of reading.
3. Implications for Assessment
Know where our students are performing
in key areas of literacy:
Braille Code Knowledge
Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, & Spelling
Vocabulary & Comprehension
Assessment Guidelines
 Assess general literacy areas, in addition to braille-
specific skills.
 Partner with the classroom (or other) teacher for
general ed assessments.
 Use a broad range of assessments.
 Collect data to show progress over time.
 Involve students in monitoring their own progress
Progress Monitoring
Accurate and rapid
recognition of the letters
of the alphabet is a strong
predictor of future reading
achievement. (Adams, 1990)
Broad-ranging Assessments
Braille – Specific
• Assessment KIT of Informal Tools for Academic Students with VI (Includes
Johns Basic Reading Inventory)
• EVALS: Evaluation Visually Impaired Students Using Alternative Learning
Standards Emphasizing the Expanded Core Curriculum
• ABLS: Assessment of Braille Literacy Skills
• Contraction checklists
Informal Reading Inventories
• Accuracy, rate, comprehension, anecdotal observations
General Ed (DIBELS, DRA2, etc.)
Leveled Trade Books
 Wide variety of topics and genres
 Sequenced by difficulty according to
a leveling system
Less controlled, more natural
Books in one level read in any order
Used for instruction in guided
reading groups
APH: braille overlays, website
APH Early Braille
Trade Books
Assessing Reading
Level in the Early
A Comparison
4. Implications for
Literacy Instruction
“A point to be taken from these data is that for any
young student who is blind, instruction needs to focus
on reading processes, regardless of the specifics of how
the braille is introduced.” (Emerson, Holbrook, & D’Andrea, 2009)
Work on ALL key reading processes
from the beginning: Phonemic Awareness,
Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, & Comprehension
Word Study
 Includes
 Letter / contraction recognition
 Phonemic awareness
 Phonics (Decoding & Spelling)
 Part of a TOTAL reading program – NOT a prerequisite
for fluency, vocabulary development, &
 Relate word study to the materials the child is reading
Reading level E, Reading Recovery Level 7-8 (grade 1, Nov-Dec)
APH Early Braille Trade Books, Sunshine Kit 2
I run down the road.
I run down the road,
and my shadow runs, too.
The sun goes away.
The sun goes away,
and my shadow goes, too.
Using Yippy-Day for
Phonemic Awareness Activities
Using Yippy-Day to Teach
Phonics Skills
 Common letter / sound clusters (phonograms,
rimes, or word families): _ ing, _ide, _ope,
_op, _all, _own …
 Long vowel silent e pattern: ride, slide, bike,
rope …
 Two sounds of “ow”, as in “down” and
Teaching Contractions, Phonics, &
Spelling with the Word PlayHouse (APH)
 Consonant substitution
 Vowel substitution
 Rhyming words
 Phonics rules
 Introduction of
Flash Strips
slide ride bike hide
Using Yippy-Day to Teach
Teach contractions at different levels:
• Targeted and practiced for mastery
• Discussed, but not mastered
• Told, but not discussed.
Yippy-Day Contractions & Punctuation Marks
 and (8), the (14), day (10), to (2)
 ing (3), ow (12), sh (8), st (5)
 italic sign, capital sign, comma, exclamation mark,
hyphen, period
“Teachers of students with visual impairments should
continue to monitor their students’ reading fluency as
one useful benchmark of progress in reading.”
(Emerson, Holbrook, & D’Andrea, 2009)
"Children do not need to know all the letters or
sounds, or even very many words, before beginning to
read text. " (Pinnell & Fountas, 1998)
Fluency and the Braille Code
 More symbols to master
 More similar and reversed characters
 Multiple meanings for individual characters
 Lack of redundancy
Connected Text
Teacher-Made Story
The Slide Book
Page 1: go Ana
Page 2: go Ana go
Page 3: go go Ana
go go Andrew
Page 4: go Ana go go go
Fluency means …
 reading accurately
 reading at a normal rate
 noticing punctuation marks
 using expression
 understanding what you read
Promoting Fluency
 Demonstrate what fluent reading sounds like. Model
appropriate rate, phrasing, and expression.
Expect students to reread books until achieving fluency.
Help students develop more efficient hand and finger
movements during rereading.
Record students reading, and have them critique their own
fluency. (student rubric)
Monitor oral reading fluency regularly (e.g., through an IRI),
and keep data to show progress over time.
Monitor silent reading fluency regularly once children are
independent readers.
Always make sure comprehension is a part of fluency
Vocabulary & Comprehension
“Across the years of the study, 24 of 32 students in
Grade 1 were reading below grade level, 18 of 30
students in Grade 2 were reading below grade level,
and about half the students in Grades 3 and 4 were
reading below grade level. … this consistently poor
performance in reading across the grades works against
the findings from the kindergarten and Grade 1 TPRI*,
which showed that these young children had generally
acquired the basic mechanics of reading.”
(Emerson, Holbrook, & D’Andrea, 2009)
(*Texas Primary Reading Inventory)
Concept Development:
Hands-on at Home Depot!
Linking Concepts to Literacy:
Max’s Home Depot Book
 Square tile
 Square of carpet
 Light switch
 Outlet and plug
 Screws and nails (big & little)
 Chain
 Tape measure
 Nuts and bolts (big & little)
 Piece of wood
Read Aloud …
and Use Bloom’s Taxonomy
Vocabulary: “Bumping into Spicy Tasty
Words that Catch Your Tongue”
(Bauman, J., Ware, D., Edwards, E. , 2007)
 Promote curiosity about words in & out of school, in
books and in conversations – “Word Detective”
 Increase our use of interesting words when we talk and
write with our students
 Motivation: Recognize the power of emotional
connections with words
 Keep track of interesting new words with the student – in
a note taker or computer file, on tape, etc.
Monitor Students’ Reading
 Both classroom reading and take-home
 Assist with book selection, and preview contractions,
vocabulary, & concepts
 Teach students strategies to monitor their own
 Check for understanding on a regular basis
 If not done in the classroom, assess comprehension
regularly using an informal reading inventory to show
progress over time.
Basic Comprehension
 Before Reading
 Read the title
 Ask about the pictures
 Predict what the book might be about
 During Reading
 Reread a part if it doesn’t make sense
 Make a Mind Movie after each paragraph or page
 Make personal connections
 After Reading
 Retell the story in your own words and/or
 Summarize the most important events/facts
 Check your predictions. Were you right?
“Talk to Your Book”
Reading Strategies Folder
 P = Prediction
 C = Connection
 I = Inference
 Wow!
 DU = Don’t
 = Difficult Word
Parting Words
Barclay, L., Herlich, S.A., & Sacks, S.Z. (2010) Effective teaching strategies: Case
studies from the Alphabetic Braille and Contracted Braille Study.
“Both teachers knew that they needed to
look at the whole picture of braille literacy,
providing reading and writing instruction
that was integrated with the aspects of
high-quality literacy instruction,
emphasizing motivation and
comprehension in tandem with learning
the code of reading."
Answers to True/False Questions,
Slides 6-8
 1. True
 2. False
 3. True
 4. False
 5. True
 6. True
 7. False

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