Bliss 201 is directed both to those instructors who have completed Bliss 101 and to those who have years of experience in teaching Bliss. A foundation in Blissymbolics is the critical requirement. Upon this underpinning, Bliss 201 provides additional information to further develop the instructors’ understanding and appreciation of Blissymbolics. The primary objective, however, is to provide a practical means for instructors to extend beyond their teaching of Blissymbolics for communication, to the teaching of Blissymbolics for communication AND print literacy. As these two goals are intertwined, the full potential of Blissymbolics for individuals with complex communication needs can be realized. For this to occur, the instructor must have an understanding of the capabilities of the language of Blissymbolics and be comfortable applying them as an individual learns to read. With a strong foundation in Bliss combined with an understanding of reading acquisition, the teaching opportunities for the instructor and the learning opportunities for the student are endless!
The many strands that contribute to becoming a successful reader provide the underlying framework for Bliss 201. The approach presented relies on a theoretical foundation relating to both the cognitive and language underpinnings of literacy acquisition supported by both the reading acquisition and AAC literature. It also applies the findings derived from this author’s doctoral thesis (McNaughton, 1998), integrating this knowledge with experience from over 35 years of teaching children and adults with complex communication needs.
Bliss 201 provides two types of instruction through offering information relating to print literacy in two formats. It also offers a continuation of instruction relating to the language features of Blissymbolics. Bliss 201 differs from Bliss 101 in its style of interaction with participants. Bliss 201 does not provide Quizzes for independent review of lesson content as in Bliss 101. Instead, both the Instructor and Student are invited to join in conversations with the Author or with an assigned Tutor, as they progress in applying their knowledge of Blissymbolics to learning to read Print. Moodle facilitates this communication between Course author and tutors and those taking the course through its messaging capability. This can be enriched with SKYPE and logmein conversations upon arrangement with the Course Author. The direction these tutoring sessions take will determine the reading that will be provided from the Author’s professional library.
Section One, entitled PASS, provides a practical “how-to” GUIDE TO INSTRUCTION
It is directed to the student (or their parent, if the student is a young child) for them to share with their instructor. It is based on the importance of four key factors – Practicing, Analyzing, Sight Words, Sounds of letters. The instruction contains three steps of learning – (1) SIGHT WORDS, (2) ANALYZING the parts in Bliss-words and Print-words, (3) READING and WRITING in Bliss and Print.
Section Two, entitled BAP, provides a supportive GUIDE TO THEORY RESOURCES AND REFERENCES for instructors, parents and students who wish to know more about the reasons for the activities recommended in PASS. The theoretical information is organized through the Blissymbolics and Print (BAP) cube. Within BAP, can be found supportive readings (See Resource Listing in Resource 2.1) and other resources to help in the implementation of PASS. This section will develop and grow according to the need expressed by those participating in Bliss 201. The readings include those written by specialists in reading acquisition that have been well used by this author, papers written by this author over the years and excerpts from Reading acquisition of adults with severe congenital speech and physical impairments: theoretical infrastructure, empirical investigation, educational application (McNaughton, 1998).
Section Three, entitled Blissymbolics - Features of the Language: Epilogue to Bliss 101 provides further information relating to the capabilities of the language of Blissymbolics. It includes information relating to:
- Sentence Order, Negative and Conditional Sentences, Active and Passive Voice
- Display Considerations
- Vocabulary Expansion (extended and related meaning viii)
- Prefixes – generalization
- More strategies: Slang, Metaphor, Bliss Name
Bliss 201 contains three sections:
Section One called “PASS – Practice, Analyze, Sight words, Sounds”
It contains a practical approach to learning to read for persons who use or have used Bliss. It keeps instruction practical and simple!
Section Two called “BAP – Bliss and Print”
It provides a guide to readings regarding the theory underlying the recommendation of PASS - for those who want to know and understand more. It discusses the many factors contributing to the complexity of learning to read.
Section Three called “Blissymbolics – Features of the Language: Epilogue to Bliss 101”
This section can be read independently as a continuation of Bliss 101 or in conjunction with Bliss 201.
Learning Print Reading with Bliss
Those who study and apply the approaches presented in Bliss 201 will discover through their own experience the contribution that can be made by Blissymbolics to Communication + Cognition + Language + Literacy (C2L2). (See Resource 2.6). Within the range of AAC graphics that are available to persons with complex communication needs, Blissymbolics stands alone as a medium with broad language capabilities. It rests, however, with the instructor to provide the links between Bliss and print and the student to ask questions and learn more about the relationships between their first expressive language of Bliss, and print. Bliss 201 needs this partnership for its objective to be achieved. For adult Bliss users, there is a special challenge - to demonstrate to their instructors how much Bliss can help them in learning to read. Bliss users are urged to contribute their insights to the learning process, as comparisons and contrasts are made between Bliss and Print.
In describing the Community and Culture of Blissymbolics in the Overview for Bliss 101, the “privilege of witnessing the development of language in those who learn Blissymbolics” was recognized. In using Bliss 201 as their guide, instructors will witness the impact of this language development in the literacy and communication accomplishments of those they are helping. Both partners derive satisfaction from the experience. The path being recommended has in the past been labeled “Adaptive Instruction” or “Diagnostic Teaching”. It means learning with and through your student’s strengths and weaknesses! In Bliss 201, I would add another descriptor – Collaborative Adaptive instruction – to recognize both partners in the learning process.
To the Instructor:
As you plan your teaching for your special student, remember the following teaching maxims that enable you to learn most profitably together:
- CONFIDENCE BUILDING
Let your student’s strengths guide you to activities that will increase their self-confidence, as you work together on overcoming their weaknesses. You too will gain confidence as you support your student’s learning.
- COMPETENCY –SUPPORT CONTINUUM Let your student’s growing competency guide your progress in providing support, moving along a continuum from total support to your student’s total independence (no direct support from you).
- KNOWN TO UNKNOWN
Use knowledge of the known to introduce, learn and discuss parallel and related concepts and skills in the new knowledge being experienced.
- INTRODUCE, PRACTICE, EXTEND, REVISIT
Follow the accepted teaching methodology of introducing, practicing, extending, and revisiting skill-developing tasks (Adams et al, 1998, p.5).
- EXPLICIT DEMONSTRATION OF ‘WHY’
Always demonstrate with your student the reason and outcome for new skills within real reading activities. They need to know why they are involved in repetitive activities. Drills and games to gain automaticity have an important role to play. They are, however, only a part of the instructional process. Applying the skill being developed within functional communication and connected reading is the reason for developing the skill. Be sure your student understands the reason for the work they are doing.
- WE LEARN TO READ BY READING!
Whatever skills you and your student are working on, be sure your student reads every time you are together (in whatever manner is appropriate along the competency-support continuum. (And support arrangements for them to read as often as possible between your times together!)
- As an instructor, take advantage of the vast amount of research and programming support available to assist in planning the literacy program for a student with complex communication needs. Many of the tasks will need to be adapted, but the skills that are needed for the speaking individual to gain competency in literacy are needed as well by the individual with complex communication needs. The differences must not be used to rationalize that the person who is nonspeaking cannot learn to read. The differences must be understood and then accommodated through the careful planning of their literacy experiences. (See McNaughton & Lindsay, 1995).
To the Student:
- Always give your instructor feedback as to what is working for you and what is not.
- Persist with Bliss 201 only as long as you believe you are benefiting from the instruction provided.
- Do not spend your time on activities that are not providing you with new knowledge and skills.
- Ask questions about the new information you are learning and about how it relates to what you already know. Offer your ideas regarding the relationships between old and new knowledge.
- Tell your instructor what YOU want to learn and how you can best learn it.
Steps ONE-TWO-THREE of PASS and the theoretical discussions in BAP should be explored in parallel. Each time you are together and/or you are involved in planning lessons, as many as possible of the factors related to learning to read should be considered. Learning to read requires the integration of activities and understanding. As with learning to communicate with Bliss, learning to read with Bliss is an adventure in learning that benefits both student and instructor. Do enjoy!
Before embarking upon Bliss 201:
It is recommended that you first read Resource 2.6, [McNaughton, 2000. C2L2, Communicating Together,17 (4)]. This article was written as the Symbol Talk for the last issue of Communicating Together and offers a glimpse into the thinking that underlies Bliss 201. All the Resource readings are offered for reading before, after, or along with the Lessons.
If you would like a quick review of the features of the language of Blissymbolics, click here to view a power point presentation entitled the ABC’s of Blissymbolics.