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About Cheryl Sigmon...
Cheryl Sigmon is the author of Implementing the 4-Blocks Literacy Model (Carson-Dellosa, 1997) and the co-author with Pat Cunningham and Dottie Hall of The Teacherís Guide to the Four Blocks (Carson-Dellosa, 1999). Cheryl was a classroom teacher for a number of years. For nine years she was a language arts consultant for the SC Department of Education, where she worked in K-12 classrooms to help schools strengthen language arts programs. Since January 1999, she has been a freelance consultant, helping thousands of teachers across the United States implement the Four Blocks Model.

More articles by Cheryl Sigmon.

The 4 Blocks Center...
Teachers.Net is proud to support Pat Cunningham (, Cheryl Sigmon (, and their colleagues in the research and development of the 4 Blocks method. Join our community of teachers across the country working with 4 Blocks every day. Visit and contribute to the 4 Blocks and Building Blocks chatboards, and subscribe to a Four Blocks Mailring. It's like having the foremost authorities in 4 Blocks teaching right next door!

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Teachers Guide To Building Blocks

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Implementing the 4-Blocks Literacy Model
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Classrooms That Work : They Can All Read and Write
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Sifting and Sorting Through the 4-Blocks Literacy Model
by Cheryl M. Sigmon

SSR Sharing: "Hey, Teacher, What Do I Say?"

There are very few times that teachers ever have to encourage students to talk--usually it's just the opposite! Just when you think they'll never stop talking, you invite them to talk, and, magically, they have nothing to say!

The sharing time during the Self-Selected Reading Block is one of those occasions that you actually want students to be talkative. So often, however, they come to the front of the room to sit in the share chair, to stand behind the podium, or to share in their small group, and silence falls. "What am I supposed to say about the book?" might be uttered. Or, some students may begin to tell every detail about what they've read--including spoiling the story for others by divulging the ending--because they don't know what else to say.

The solution to this problem is a combination of modeling, practice, or prompting--or sometimes, all of the above. Teachers need to give book talks first to let students know what might be interesting to others and to let them know the appropriate length of sharing time. Sometimes, though, no matter how much modeling is done for students, the students are still reluctant to share or they get stage fright and forget everything they've seen and heard the teacher do to prepare them for their own sharing time. In this event, prompts might be helpful.

Of course, teachers can always verbally prompt students, but we want to wean them from dependence on us. As we do that, written prompts could be very helpful to students. Teachers can make charts to hang in the area near where kids come to share their books. At the primary grades, the chart could have the following types of short and easy statements.

When you share, tell...

your favorite part.
what kind of book you read.
why you liked it, or

why you didn't like it.
something you learned from it.

You'll want to tell kids to pick one or two of these statements to share--certainly not to address all of them.

The chart that prompts older kids might include more sophisticated choices that elevate the sharing to "higher order thinking," such as:

When you share, you could tell...

the name and author of your book.

the type of book and how you decided that.

a part of the book that interested you.

about an interesting character.

your recommendation to others about reading this book

about something you related to in this book.

how this book is like another book you have read.

With some time left in the summer, you might want to think about making your chart to encourage students to share in more meaningful, directed ways. Let's get those kids talking!

Personal: I met fabulous, enthusiastic crowds of "blockheads" last week in Columbus and Cleveland. Wow! 4-Blocks has taken Ohio by storm! I even had the opportunity to meet Mary Miehl, one of the technical support people with T-Net, in Cleveland, along with many of my other internet buddies there in Cleveland and in Columbus. It's great to put faces with names at last! Then on to Chicago and Detroit from there--two more groups of wonderful folks! Everyone has been asking thoughtful questions, and I keep getting such good ideas from all of you!! Tomorrow I'll be with some Texans in Dallas. When the week is done, I will have shared 4-Blocks with approximately 1,500 educators. The model is spreading fast!!!


Below are seminars (some 1 day and some 2 day ones) that I have coming up in the future. Notice that I have at least one scheduled for "Beyond the Basics of 4-Blocks" where we'll look closer at grading, conference skills, plugging in lessons, curriculum planning and other items. That's in response to your requests.

Please know that I have a small group of really excellent folks who work along with me, too. We do site-based work in schools and districts at your request. Contact me if we can be of assistance in offering you various types of staff development: classroom demonstrations, on-site presentations, classroom observations and feedback, and exploring 4-Blocks in more depth, among other offerings.


    DallasJuly 14ERG
    MilwaukeeJuly 31SDR
    MinneapolisAugust 1SDR
    Carmel, INAugust 10-11      ERG (2 day primary)
    Carmel, INAugust 25ERG (1 day primary advanced)
    Batavia, NYOctober 27ERG
    Portland, ORNovember 2SDR
    Seattle, WANovember 3SDR
    BostonNovember 14SDR
    Cherry Hill, NJ    November 15SDR
    San FranciscoNovember 28SDR
    SacramentoNovember 29SDR
    LouisvilleDecember 5SDR
    AtlantaDecember 6SDR

    For ERG workshops, call 843-549-2684 or go to
    For SDR workshops, call 800-678-8908.

Hope to see you at a workshop soon!

Cheryl Sigmon is a regular contributor to Teachers.Net.