Sifting and Sorting Through the 4-Blocks Literacy Model|
by Cheryl M. Sigmon
Ready for a Block Party?
In two previous articles, I shared some suggestions for those of you planning staff development to support the 4-Blocks Model. Creative people are always finding new and different ways both to get and to offer training. In fact, many of you reading this article have sought the Internet for professional development pretty resourceful! From one of my friends, DeLinda Youngblood, a wonderful second grade 4-Blocks teacher in Illinois, comes a most creative idea that I think will start a wave of parties around the country. And, weíre all in favor of parties, arenít we? This one is a little different, though it offers fun, fellowship, and food just like most parties do!
Hereís what DeLinda has to share
Let me share with you how our school organized a fun way for teachers to get together to share and learn more about 4-Blocks. We decided to have an afternoon get-together for teachers who are really excited about their implementation of the model. As we implemented the model, we all felt the need to talk about what worked, what didnít, and our particular approach to certain elements of the model. Our idea was to host a Block Party very appropriately named, donít you think?
We had our "Block Party" in November of last year, but any time of the year would be great for sharing ideas about Building Blocks and Four Blocks. Our goal was to give support to those teachers who were implementing Building Blocks and Four Blocks in their classrooms. We decided that the time could best be utilized if we broke up into grade levels with an experienced Building Blocks or Four Blocks teacher serving as the facilitator.
We advertised with flyers that were mailed to neighboring districts and, of course, by word of mouth. Approximately 100 educators responded from all around southern Illinois. Since all were invited free of charge, we relied on donations to help make the evening a success.
The gymnasium was decorated in festive colors and helium balloons, which added to the party atmosphere. Pizza, popcorn, cookies, and sodas kept our tummies from rumbling. (We had donations from Coca-Cola, from our Illinois State Board of Education, and a personal donation, too!) By the way, for anyone ordering for a group of this size, we ordered 25 pizzas (approximately $165) and 12 dozen cookies ($30).
Door prizes from Rigby, Steck-Vaughn, School Specialties, and Apple Branch (our local teacher supply store) allowed everyone to leave with something extra for their classroom. Apple Branch also brought Building Blocks and Four Blocks materials for teachers to purchase. They had a great display!
The most experienced teachers we had in our school led the various grade-level discussion groups. We had wondered if the participating teachers would have questions and would share openly. We should never have worried about that! Once we all started talking, there was almost no stopping us! There was time for grade-level discussions and for us to come back as a whole group to talk about certain general issues and some items that needed the help of all of the minds in the room to resolve.
The grand finale of our evening was the opportunity for all participants to tour the classrooms. 4-Blocks classrooms are special, nurturing, supportive environments that are really fun to visit. Many teachers commented that this was a real high point of the night. Also, this time allowed the facilitators to share the importance of the classroom setup as it relates to each of the blocks. It also allowed for additional question and answer time.
Hereís an outline of our agenda:
5:15-5:30 Seating & Eating
5:45-7:00 Grade level discussion
7:00-7:20 Whole group discussion
7:30-8:00 Room Tours
The evening was a huge success and worth all of the time and energy that it took to plan and host it. Hopefully this information will be helpful to others in their future planning of "Block Parties". Good luck to all who help spread the word!"
Many thanks to DeLinda for sharing this wonderful idea with us. I have visited her school and have found their love and enthusiasm for 4-Blocks to be contagious from the superintendent, the principal, the teachers, the kids, and the parents!
My visit to CA and WY were great! I met such wonderful teachers and administrators along the way Santa Anna, San Juan Bautista, Casper and Cheyenne. 4-Blocks is spreading far and wide! On a sad note, the principal in Santa Anna who had contacted me and who had been so excited about getting 4-Blocks started in his school died of a heart attack a couple of weeks before my visit. The teachers wanted to go forward, however, with the training. Lanny Palagalloís beautiful daughter attended the training session, saying that she knew it was something that he really wanted for his school. I felt honored to be a part of his legacy of 4-Blocks for Diamond Elementary.
Looking forward to seeing you in Indianapolis this weekend and next week for the International Reading Associationís annual conference. Weíll have a whole pre-conference day on 4-Blocks with 300 folks on Sunday. Also, Pat, Dottie and I will be in the Carson-Dellosa booth Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday 2-3 p.m. to meet you. Hope to see you in Indy!
Upcoming 4-Blocks training Iím conducting:
||May 10, 2000
|St. Louis, MO
||May 8, 2000
|Kansas City, MO
||May 9, 2000
||June 19-20, 2000
(2 Day Seminar!) (www.ergsc.com)
||June 29-30, 2000
||Contact ERG (Upper Grades- 2 Day)
||July 6, 2000
||July 7, 2000
||July 10, 2000
||July 11, 2000
||July 14, 2000
||July 31, 2000
||August 1, 2000
|Proposed fall sites:
San Francisco, CA
Hope to see you along the way!
Cheryl Sigmon is a regular contributor to Teachers.Net.