Least to Most Prompt Hierarchy for Listening Comprehension

I love reading novels with my students. Reading content that is interesting increases their motivation for reading, as well as their comprehension. One of my foundational beliefs is that our students with disabilities deserve access to general education curriculum. Story based literacy is one way that I've provided access. You can read more about what SBL is and how I run it here.

Last year while prepping materials for the book we were reading, I came across an article about using a least to most prompt hierarchy to increase student's listening comprehension. This article, by Melissa E. Hudson, Diane M. Browder, and Bree A. Jimenez, investigates the effect of a system of least to most prompts on correct listening comprehension responses for students with moderate intellectual disabilities. The outcomes indicated that the system was effective for teaching listening comprehension. If you want to read all the details, you can view the article here, but this got me thinking about how to apply the same type of system in my classroom. During story based literacy, I read my students the chapter, and then with their peer tutors or paraprofessionals, they read the chapter again in small groups. During this second read, we work on answering listening comprehension questions. This is where I've implemented a system of least to most prompting.

Before implementing this, we had to explicitly teach the types of WH questions and how to answer them. You can find several free posters to help with this on TeachersPayTeachers. I also had to create chapter boards with pictures that align to the questions that I plan to ask. This is part of what I do for story based literacy anyway so it wasn't an additional step for me, but it could add extra prep time for you.

The prompt hierarchy goes like this:
  • First, we remind the student what type of questions this is. For example, this is a who question. Who questions are answered by people or animals.
  • Next, we re-read the paragraph that contains the answer. If the student is still unable to answer, we move to the next prompt and re-read the sentence that contains the answer. 
  • If the student is still unable to answer, we state the answer and the student repeats. 
  • If the student is still unable to answer, the final prompt is pointing to the visual on the board that aligns and state the answer.
Here's what it looks like in my classroom:
A few of my students require a different set up and more concrete prompting. For those students, we place 2 or 3 visuals on a felt board and ask a question, presenting the board at eye level. If they answer incorrectly, we gesture to the correct answer. If they are still unable to answer correctly, we flip over the distractors so they are blank. If they still are unable to answer correctly, we remove the distractors so only the correct answer remains on the board, essentially making it errorless.

This prompt hierarchy has been so helpful for reading instruction! Instead of just telling the student the answer and them repeating it back, we are teaching students how to use comprehension strategies to find the answer and what kind of response we are expecting from them. 

I have these posters up on the whiteboard, right in the front of my room, as a reminder to staff and peer tutors. You can grab a free copy here and get started implementing today!

Let me know how it goes!

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