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Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB)

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB)

By Diane Browder, Susan Gibbs, Lynn Ahlgrim-Delzell, Ginevra Courtade, and Angel Lee

Differentiated Instruction

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) integrates individualized student objectives to encourage active participation and access to learning.

Data Capture

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) includes ongoing assessments and progress monitoring tools to capture data and document student achievement.

Research Based

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) uses highly effective instructional strategies supported by research to promote student learning and progress.

Standards Alignment

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) aligns to both state and Common Core standards.

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A targeted curriculum designed to help elementary students with developmental disabilities develop foundational literacy skills through a collection of engaging activities.

Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) is an ideal curriculum for students with significant developmental disabilities, autism, or who use various communication methods. ELSB supports students in developing the foundations of literacy (conventions of print, phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, and sight word vocabulary) and covers all National Reading Panel components.

ELSB is based on systematic and direct instruction principles and is aligned to standards. It incorporates least-prompt strategies, teachable objectives, built-in lesson repetition, and ongoing assessments. The eight ELSB levels contain five structured lessons each. Instruction may be done in small groups or one-on-one for two, 30-minute daily lessons.

Why teachers and educators love the Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) curriculum:

  • Reflects five years of research from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC).
  • Endorsed by the Council for Exceptional Children— Council for Administrators of Special Education.
  • Offers eight levels, each with five lessons to use the appropriate child-specific, least intrusive prompt strategy.
  • Provides a multiyear curriculum for students who use a variety of methods to communicate.
  • Adaptable for individual or small group settings and for grades K-5.

What makes this early literacy curriculum so effective?

Supporting Research for Systematic vs. Sight Word Instruction

Research for the Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) was conducted through Project RAISE and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte (UNCC). Dr. Diane Browder, principal author of ELSB, directed an analysis of 128 studies on teaching reading to students with cognitive disabilities. Her research indicated the effectiveness of using systematic instruction techniques compared to teaching sight words. Five years of research have been completed. Sixty students with moderate-to-severe disabilities received daily instruction in the ELSB curriculum. These students were compared with a control group using a sight-word-only approach. ELSB students earned significantly higher scores on the post-test for ELSB as well as the Nonverbal Literacy Assessment and receptive language measures.

Data from the first 3 years of classroom research showed that the ELSB group had higher gain scores (post-test minus pretest) than the control group on all four variables. Accordingly, the funding agency, the Institute of Education Sciences, approved the discontinuation of the Edmark control group so that those students could transition to the ELSB curriculum lessons.

The Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) Curriculum includes:

  • Implementation Guide
  • 6 Teacher’s Guides
  • 6 Student Response Books
  • 6 Assessment Manuals
  • All About Moe story and Oh My, Apple Pie! storybook
  • Moe the Frog Puppet
  • Videos for staff training
  • Sight word flashcards
  • Magnetic dry-erase board
  • Post-it flags
  • My Book About Me consumable Student Workbook packaged in two storage boxes

The Early Literacy Skills Builder (ELSB) Curriculum Plus complete learning kit includes:

The Curriculum listed above plus:

  • 10 My Book About Me consumable Student Workbooks
  • ELSB software for one device
  • The entire set of workbook pages as accessible GoWorksheets (iPad only), and samples of communication overlays. The GoWorksheets can be used with the free GoWorksheet app or the full GoWorksheet Plus app available on the App Store.
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Supporting Research Articles

Browder, D. M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Courtade, G., Gibbs, S. L., & Flowers, C. (2008). Evaluation of the effectiveness of an early literacy program for students with significant developmental disabilities. Exceptional Children, 75, 33-52.

Randomized Control Trial Research:

Browder, D. M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Flowers, C., & Baker, J. (2012). An Evaluation of a Multicomponent Early Literacy Program for Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 33 (4).

Browder, D. M., Ahlgrim-Delzell, L., Spooner F., Lee, A., & Hicks, C. (2011). Early Literacy Research for Students with Severe Developmental Disabilities University of North Carolina Project RAISE. Verona, Wisconsin: Attainment Company, Inc.

Hunt, P., Kozleski, E., Jaehoon, J., Mortier, K., Fleming, D., Hicks, T., Balasubramanian, L., Leu, G., Bross, L., Munandar, V., Dunlap, K., Stepaniuk, I., Aramburo, C., & Oh, Y. (2019). Implementing comprehensive literacy instruction for students with significant disabilities in general education classrooms. Exceptional Children, 86 (3), 330-347.

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