Article #21
Working Together with the 4-Blocks Model
Cheryl M. Sigmon

Time and time again teachers and administrators remark how close their staff has grown as a result of implementation of the 4-Blocks Model. One truly wonderful outgrowth of training and implementation of the 4-Blocks Model is the cohesiveness that it seems to promote. The same can be true of any model or major initiative that a faculty embraces where sharing a common goal becomes a catalyst for fostering working relationships. Because 4-Blocks is a model that necessitates on-going training and support, the creation of this nurturing environment seems particularly apparent. Let’s look this week at the various ways that a faculty can plan and work together with the model towards a more effective and efficient literacy program.

True collaboration throughout on-going training and implementation yields huge benefits. As teachers learn the model from qualified trainers, they should continue open dialogues about all aspects of the training. Talking about the training—their questions, their understandings, their application to their own children and classrooms—will help teachers and administrators to clarify, process, and internalize the new information.

Another dimension of training occurs outside the formal training setting when teachers meet together during faculty meetings or grade-level meetings to discuss topics which will further their understanding. Consider some of the following topics in such meetings:

  • Chapters of the various 4-Blocks books
  • How the model changes throughout the year at a grade level
  • Various activities for each block
  • Successes and failures in implementation
  • Coaching
  • Good read-alouds
  • Appropriate chapter books for Book Clubs
  • Strengthening writing through revision
  • Administering IRIs to evaluate student progress and to plan for instruction
  • Good writing mini-lessons
  • Good guided reading mini-lessons
  • How to use your school’s curriculum in the 4-Blocks
  • How to plug the basal into the framework of the model
  • Each separate block
  • Integrating the content areas into the model
  • Discussing what makes a good read-aloud and which books are best suited
  • Recordkeeping systems

The list is endless in the breadth and depth teachers and administrators could cover together.

Besides the discussion of topics, these meeting times could also be used for constructing materials to be shared by teachers at particular grade levels, such as the following:

  • Organizing packets of big books and multiple small copies of the same titles for Guided Reading Block
  • Choosing and packaging multiple copies of related book titles for Book Club groups
  • Putting together book baskets for SSR Block to meet the needs of all children (These could possibly rotate classroom to classroom at grade level.)
  • Making charts that show children how they will be grouped for Guided Reading Block
  • Decorating chairs to be used for Author’s Chairs or Book Talk
  • Constructing folders for holding the Making Words letters
  • Cutting out the letters for Making Words
  • Constructing sets of Making Words lessons to keep on file at grade level
  • Decorating the hallways to reflect how the school values literacy

Likewise, this list is almost limitless in the way teachers can work together. Think, too, about continuing the emphasis of the model into other parts of the school day. Consider starting faculty meetings with a read-aloud. Take ten minutes during faculty meetings to share books that teachers are reading for pleasure. Demonstrate a successful activity for the faculty to encourage them to try new ideas.

Collegial collaboration makes a tremendous difference in the success of a school. It elevates the level of professionalism, keeps communication open, and builds a strong network. I hope that you and your colleagues are talking and working together for your own good and for that of your students.

4 Blocks Goodies