THE FIVE STEP MODEL
Community College/Community Education program (EPCC/CEP)
An Instructional Model for Adult Education
Step model is built on using learner-generated topics, information-gathering
involving reading and discussion, and a learning process that engages
reading, writing, speaking, listening, and critical thinking resulting
in practical out-of-the-classroom English language use (action activities).
Philosophically, the approach builds on whole language theory while addressing
learner needs for practical instruction that works.
Step model was developed by EPCC/CEP (formerly the Literacy Center) based
on lengthy experience providing literacy instruction in various contexts
in a Mexican-immigrant border culture. The model consists of the following
Discussion: An oral language activity which encourages group discussion,
questioning, and critical thinking.
Activity: Provides the participant information about a topic and
develops language skills.
Activity: Develops writing ability in different contexts and the
particular rules for that context.
Activity: Students use language while interacting with other students.
Activity: An application activity to apply learning outside of the
twelve years ago with the creation of the Community Education Program,
the Five Step model has been applied in a number of contexts, including
workplace literacy, family literacy, health literacy, home ownership literacy,
and community literacy. Model instructional materials using the Five Step
model have been created with funding from the Texas Education Agency,
U. S. Department of Education, U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development,
U. S. Department of Labor, U. S Department of Health and Human Services,
Fannie Mae Foundation, Pfizer Health Foundation, and business and industry.
The Five Step model of language instruction can be used as a catalyst
for students to obtain, learn and use information facilitated by entities
that exist in a community. Representatives from these entities provide
brochures, booklets and pamphlets with information regarding their programs
and services, and make presentations and organize tours of facilities.
Through this process, students improve their language communication skills
while learning how to access community programs, services, and activities.
instructional model is an excellent tool to improve the math and language
communication skills of the students while they engage topics of personal
interest. For example, teachers can develop instructional activities using
health-related information and a GED assessment format. After discussing
and reviewing an article facilitated by a local health representative,
the teacher gives the students an excerpt from the health article with
multiple choice questions similar to what they would find in a GED test.
After discussing statistics about the incidence of heart disease in the
U. S., students may be given a related math activity also similar to one
in the GED test. Through this approach, students learn about a topic that
has direct impact on their lives while they get ready for the GED.
have students of different academic levels. The Five-Step model can be
used successfully with students who have different educational levels.
For example a teacher assigns a health related reading to the students
and divides them into groups of three to five students. A low-level group
is asked to read the first sentence in the reading, identify two words
that they do not know, and look for their meanings in the dictionary.
With this information, the group attempts to infer the meaning of the
complete sentence. Another group is asked to read a paragraph from the
reading and identify vocabulary that they do not understand. A third group
may be asked to paraphrase sentences from the same paragraph. A fourth
group may be asked to summarize the entire reading and a fifth group is
asked to do a math activity related to the reading. The students become
responsible for their own learning and develop metacognitive learning
strategies (i.e., how to collaborate on an assignment, how to divide responsibilities,
and the advantages of group learning). The instructor meets with each
group for a short period and answers relevant questions. This creates
a better opportunity for the instructor to engage all students on a more
personal basis and reduces the amount of lecture time. Research shows
that academically disadvantaged students do not respond well to lecture
time, preferring a more personalized approach. This method is also effective
when students are working on different topics, as may be the case in certain
of steps in the Five Step model
Discussion: The purpose of the critical discussion is:
- for students
to engage freely in conversation about a topic
- for students
to think about a topic in more depth
- to activate
the student's thinking process in relationship to a topic
the student's interest and curiosity regarding a topic
discussions are not controlled pronunciation activities. Students should
speak freely and if they wish to, in their native languages. If students
in a class speak several languages, they should be paired with speakers
of the same language whenever possible.
that promote critical discussion include:
questions to the students
a list of questions on the board for discussion
a movie and asking the students to discuss it
a speaker to present on a topic and having the students discuss the
topic once the guess speaker leaves
Activity: The purpose of this activity is for the students to:
their knowledge of a topic
exposure to a variety of print materials
interest and curiosity of the students about a topic has been activated,
students will desire to obtain more knowledge about it. Therefore, a reading
activity may be appropriate to satisfy the students.
are suggested reading activities:
comprehension activity about a brochure, sign, form, paragraph, prescription,
drug indications, poem, song, article or any other type of text
information from text
dictionaries to search for definitions of terms
and reciting poems
aloud to practice pronunciation
Activity: The purpose of this activity is for students to:
familiar with different types of writing contexts and situations
- To develop
their writing skills in various contexts
and writing activities are intimately related. The more people read, the
better they write and writing always involves reading.
are suggested writing activities:
journal writing, spontaneous and unchecked. Students may write in native
language, draw, and misspell words.
structured journal writing. Students may be asked to read from their
journals or share the journal with their teacher.
notes to co-workers, fellow students, relatives, etc.
instructions on how to do something, i.e., doing laundry, replacing
a tire, cooking, getting to a specific location
grocery lists, recipes, etc
resumes or job letters
letters to relatives
words, sentences, paragraphs, compositions, research papers, or other
and writing activities, students may do some traditional language instruction
activities such as spelling or grammar exercises. Traditional grammar
exercises are appropriate within whole language instruction methods provided
that they emerge from a context and are not given at random.
activity: The purpose of the group activity is to expose
students to a variety of communication contexts.
playing and acting
research and reports
between students and speakers
Activity: The purpose of this activity is for learners to use language
outside the class and home. The classroom is an experimental setting while
the home is a safe place. In order for students to measure their communicative
competence, they need to use language in community contexts.
services from community entities
letters to the newspaper's opinion page
*Note: The steps are presented sequentially, but the order is not important.
The important thing is for students to talk about important topics, read
about them, write about them, go into their communities to get a need
met, and for them to interact with others. For example, a group of students
may be writing collectively. As a result of the collective effort, they
will be talking to each other, and may decide that they need to obtain
and read more information. They may go to the library, procure information,
read it and apply it to their writing. In this case, they engaged all
five steps in the Five Step model in an unspecified sequence. Since they
are writing collectively, they are doing a writing and a group activity.
Since they are talking with each other, they are discussing and still
doing a group activity. They do an action activity by going to the library
to do some research. Finally, they do a reading activity to get more information.