Paths to Literacy

for students who are blind or visually impaired

Alphaboxes Graphic Organizer

Linda Hoyt

By Karen Palau

The lesson involves the use of the Alphaboxes graphic organizer created by Linda Hoyt while listening to a leisure book of particular interest to the student.  The title of the book is The Outsiders. New vocabulary words are presented prior to each listening task as are discussion questions pertaining to that particular chapter of the book.  The student is then encouraged to fill in the graphic organizer as the listening task is performed.  After the listening task, the student will answer discussion questions and examine the information on the Alphaboxes sheet with the teacher each session.  

The strategy for students with visual impairment is to use the Alphaboxes approach to take notes while listening to a digital book in order to write a summary of the book.

The prerequisite skills required for this listening intervention include:  

  • knowledge of the purpose and function of a flash drive is how it is used with the Digital Talking Book Player from the National Library Service for the Blind or the iPhone or iPad can be used to play such a book from the BARD website and then navigated by the student directly through explicit training of the app,
  • the student should understand the definitions for vocabulary words, book title,  author, characters, the main idea of a story, story sequence, and conclusion in order to complete the Alphaboxes sheet as the story is read.  

Materials: 

  • verbal description or tactile representation of any visual information such as graphs, pictures, or charts

Procedure: 

  1. Make the Alphaboxes sheet available to the student in large print form.
  2. Allow the student to use invented spelling on the sheet with follow-up offered between sessions to make spelling corrections as necessary or use the dictionary to look up definitions for vocabulary words,.
  3. The student should be permitted to listen to the given book in a quiet and separate location that is supervised, or alternatively the student can be assigned the listening tasks for homework. 
  4. The vision teacher will present the final copy of the student’s Alphaboxes sheet to the classroom teacher after the listening activity has been completed. 
  5. The vision teacher will discuss the purpose and function of the Alphaboxes sheet with the classroom teacher and discuss the student’s example.

Variations: 

The following functional skills can be incorporated into the lesson:

  • Time management skills and organizational skills can be worked into the listening lessons.  
  • The time devoted to listening to a book must be factored into each lesson to ensure that a brief summary is addressed at the beginning of each lesson of what occurred in the story, a brief review of vocabulary words per that chapter is addressed secondarily at the beginning of each lesson, discussion questions are then posed to motivate the student to listen again to the story are presented, and then the story is actually played.  
  • After 10-15 minutes of listening has elapsed, discussion questions are then completed aloud by the student and then the teacher and student look over the Alphaboxes sheet to see the additions that were made by the student.  
  • Organizational skills can also be addressed in having the student responsible for storing and retrieving materials that are need for the lesson to be successful such as the Alphaboxes sheet and writing utensil.  
  • The student must also learn to use a large print dictionary, thesaurus, or Speaking Language Master (SE) to correct spelling errors on the Alphaboxes sheet and to access definitions for vocabulary words as needed.
Core Standards

Speaking and Listening: 

SL.7.2  Analyze the main ideas and supporting details presented in diverse media and formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively, orally) and explain how the ideas clarify a topic, text, or issue under study.

Writing: 

W.7.5 With some guidance and support from peers and adults, develop and strengthen writing as needed by planning, revising, editing, rewriting, or trying a new approach, focusing on how well purpose and audience have been addressed.