Steps is a research-based literacy software programme for learners of all ages from 6 years of age to adult. It covers all key aspects of literacy and language development and covers the processing skills involved in literacy as well as the ‘knowledge’ aspects.
Steps provides a structured, cumulative approach to literacy, which encompasses and develops the five key elements often referred to as the Five Big Ideas in Beginning Reading (USA National Reading Panel, 2000). These are:
The Five Big Ideas in Beginning Reading
USA National Reading Panel. 2000
Clearly a computer programme cannot replace all of the functions of a knowledgeable and skilled teacher. Nor should it try to. However, a well-designed computer programme can provide or reinforce many of the core foundation skills and knowledge. It is always important to supplement this with ‘real book’ reading, discussion, direct instruction and opportunities for the learner’s own ideas to be expressed (both verbally and in written form).
A well-designed computer programme can be used to free up a teacher, enabling him or her to provide the above elements in a more personalised and effective manner. It also provides the additional, often very considerable amount of reinforcement which learners need to develop true automaticity. This is done in a structured and cumulative fashion, but still in a way which provides variety and enjoyment.
The home edition of Steps can be used to directly reinforce what the learner is doing in school. This is done in a way which is educationally sound and will not conflict with whatever literacy methods and materials are being used in the school.