The 4 steps are to (1) break the word down letter-by-letter, sound-by-sound, learning to pronounce the word correctly; (2) practice spelling the word out loud and then write the word correctly on paper; (3) give a definition for the word by looking the word up correctly in the dictionary, and (4) write a sentence using the word, making sure the word is used correctly and that the sentence is grammatical. Children too young to write a sentence can give the sentences orally. All children write the words correctly on manuscript writing paper, making sure that they are shaping their letter correctly. Writing is one of the stages in learning to read.
By using the 4 steps, students can learn the word’s meaning and usage instead of just learning the phonemic sounds or pronouncing a word. Learning how to spell a word and learning the meaning of a word is very important. To read effectively and fluently, students need to learn how to read or pronounce words, to spell, to define, and to use words correctly in a sentence or story. Teaching techniques such as the 4-steps help students to achieve these goals. The 4 steps fit perfectly into my overall teaching plan with vowel clustering in a group-centered format.
Note: Chapter 5 of my 2013 book, After-School Prevention Programs for at-Risk Students: Promoting Engagement and Academic Success, explains the relationship between the 4 steps and group communication processes. See p. 75 especially. Click the picture to buy the book or to download an individual chapter. Also available on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. A forthcoming book will give more explanation and examples.