Today, let’s walk through a step by step process of working on letter identification using both Discrete Trial Training and Fluency Instruction. There are a few different types of letter identification you can work on. You can target uppercase letters, lowercase letters, or both intermixed. You can also target receptive or expressive letter identification. You can also target letter sounds for with modality. Here are some option:

  • Receptive Letter Identification (from a field of 8 flashcard cards, adult says B, student finds the letter B)
  • Expressive Letter Identification (adult shows flashcard with letter B, student says B)
  • Receptive Letter Sound Identification (from a field of 8 flashcard cards, adult says “buh”, student finds the letter B)
  • Expressive Letter Sound Identification (adult shows flashcard with letter B, student says “buh”)

1. Pre-Assessment

First up – take a little baseline assessment. Don’t get scared by that assessment word, this is literally the easiest thing ever.  Choose a skill to assess: receptive and expressive identification for either letter identification and letter sound identification. Scroll through the whole alphabet with your student. Put the corrects in one pile and incorrect in another pile. The corrects will go to fluency instruction and the incorrect with go to DTT.

2. Run DTT

Discrete trial training is a one-on-one teaching strategy that teaches a new skill in a structured and controlled setting. Each trial has a defined start and end point (hence discrete). Read more here. To get started:

  • Choose a set of 4-6 letters to work on (from your set of unmastered cards)
  • never choose a stimuli set of 2 (they have a 50% chance of getting the right answer then!)
  • take data on student responding
  • provide reinforcement for correct answers

For error correction, provide correct for an incorrect response, represent until student say the correct answer independently. Consider trying errorless teaching, if your student is not ready for this. Provide the correct answer immediately after presenting the card and have student echo the response; once student is consistent, delay the prompt to evoke independent responding (read more on time delay prompt fading here).

Don’t forget about discrimination sets

After mastery of two stimuli sets, complete a discrimination set. Combine two previously mastered sets to ensure discrimination.

3. Run Fluency Instruction

Work on the mastered cards from baseline in fluency instruction. For more on fluency instruction, read this post. Move mastered sets from DTT to fluency training. The set will keep getting longer and that’s good! This helps make sure that the previously mastered concepts stay fresh and accurate! Continue teaching new sets of skills with discrete trial.

Keep on rolling through this process until you complete all of the letters from that original unmastered set!

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