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Welcome! I hope to use this blog to share some of the amazing things my class and school does to make learning fun! I have been teaching for 15 years already! I started teaching 3rd grade in a Parochial School, then I was hired to teach 1st grade for three years, was moved to 5th grade for 2 years, and then came back to 1st grade in the district where I attended school. I love that I'm able to give back the the school district that guided me to become the teacher I am today! I have a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, certified 1-8; a Master's Degree in Curriculum and Instruction; and my Administrator License Pre-K-12.

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Thursday, August 1, 2013

New Mandate for Me: *Fun*dations



Last fall our grade level starting hearing that we were going to be told to teach phonics using a program called Fundations.  This program was presented to us as a "scripted program".  I don't know about you, but I am not a scripted teacher at all...so this idea of a script started to freak me out a bit.  Like you, I do everything I can to make learning fun in my room...I couldn't help but think, what is fun about a script?  

I've been doing Ginny Dowd's Phonics Dance for years and have seen huge improvements in my children's reading and writing ability.  I've been immersing my children in literature that they read themselves and that I read to them.  Like you, and the teachers in my building, we try to make our classrooms very language rich environments so that our children have access to everything they need to be a successful learner.

So, when this shook down, I had a hard time jumping on the bandwagon.  Our school district is pretty innovative and has always allowed their teachers to experiment with new methods, try new ideas...pretty much do whatever as long as we were following the standards for our state and it was best for our kids.  We were told, "This is the program you'll be using."  My heart broke...if you use Ginny Dowd's Phonics Dance in your room, you know how fun those chants are for kids and how they just stick with them.  You know that the movements and the chants together are great brain based learning opportunities and that it is research-based.

Now, I'm not saying Fundations isn't going to work...by all means, it will work.  It's a whole program based on reading research and the Wilson Reading System.  The teacher's manual states that Fundations is "a highly structured and intensive program for challenged readers in grades 2-12 and beyond." Whenever someone speaks of the impact Fundations has had in their school, it's always positive.  This past spring we were able to travel to an area school district to observe and talk to teachers who had been using Fundations.  They were very helpful.  I was so grateful that our district let us observe those teachers and those teachers took time to answer all of our questions.  

So what's the big deal?  It's just change.  BIG CHANGE for me.  I consider myself to be a pretty open person and I love to think outside the box...but this scripted program makes me feel kind of like I was just squashed inside a box with the lid closed and duct taped shut.  At the same time, I also consider myself to be someone who just sucks it up and makes the best of things.  I am sucking this up and making the best of it because the data proves that the program works.

So here's a look at the materials we received...
The mascots are Echo the Owl and Baby Echo.
 

These posters...are huge.  Like enormous.  I'm trying to figure out where and how I'm going to display them in my room.

These are the books that were provided.

The children receive a magnetic letter board, magnetic pieces, and a 2-sided dry erase board as well as 3 different workbooks.


There are also large magnetic pieces for the teacher and word cards to use during the lessons.

So...what have I been doing?  I've been trying to wrap my head around all of this and figuring out how I'm going to supplement this program...and fit everything else into my 80-90 minute blocks.  (We departmentalize so I teach 3 blocks of Reading/Language Arts.) The daily lessons from Fundations are supposed to take 30 minutes so I'll have the rest of my block for additional instruction.

Here's a few of the things I've been doing to organize myself.  Feel free to download them if you're in the same boat as me or are just curious as to what Fundations is all about.

Kindergarten Trick Words
These are the words that the children learned in Kindergarten, so I'll be sending this home with my parents at Open House so that they can start reviewing them with their child. 

Fundations Scope and Sequence
With this document, I took all of the skills taught in each unit and kind of mapped out my year.  My next step with this is to try to compare this to the Common Core Standards so that I can map out my assessments.  This might end up being a project to complete as I'm teaching it throughout the year...I'm kind of a learn as I go type of girl.  :)

"Trick Words" by the Week
"Word of the Day" Words by the Week
I mapped out the words as they're taught throughout the year.  Again, I needed to see where and how the words were introduced.  I then decided to make up some family notes to send home as the words were introduced.
Family Notes: Trick Words
Family Notes: Word of the Day
In the past, I've sent home new spelling and sight words all at once.  With this program, they're introduced at various times so I wanted something that was ready to send home with families as we learned new words.

Sorry about the long post today but I've kind of been sitting on this for awhile and started to think that maybe there's someone like me out there who's in the same boat and might appreciate some organizational tools as they embark on the Fundations journey too.  Anyone using Fundations in their classrooms this year?  I would love to collaborate with you...and share your blogs with the teachers in my building.  Last year, Kindergarten started using it, this year is our turn, in First Grade, and next year it will be used in Second Grade.

Take care!
P.S.  Do you ever write a post and then sit on it for a week or so and keep going back to reread it and edit it over and over again?  This was one of those posts for me...

6 comments:

  1. I adore Fundations! It seems almost counter-intuitive to use a scripted program when our guts tell us to be more innovative and interactive, but the scripted part of the program are what make it work. Don't look at the
    "script" as something you need to read from. You will inevitably, be relying on the book for much of the beginning portion of your instruction, at least until you get used to the language and the strategies used. I barely look at my book now, as I have mastered the language.
    I've used Fundations for the past 3 years. It has helped my readers, especially struggling readers tremendously. While you are providing explicit instruction 30 minutes of the day, you are utilizing these strategies with your kiddos throughout every subject, cueing them to use their strategies, and you will see them doing the same.
    I love, love, love this program, and if you ever need any help, advice, or have any questions, please contact me! I'd love to connect with you :)

    Rae
    Mindful Rambles
    mindfulrambles@gmail.com

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    1. Oh my gosh! This is exactly what I needed to hear! Thank you so much! I'll definitely be contacting you!
      Thanks again!
      Jenn

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  2. Oh! I love you! My school is adopting Fundations this year too! It's new to me but I was excited about it...I've read some about WIlson and know that it is a solid program...so I knew Fundations would be great for my kids. I created some things that are specific to Fundations. They are on my blog...please feel free to grab anything that might be helpful. I've come up with a weekly lesson plan template that I'd be happy to share...let me know. I'll keep stalking you to see how you're coming along with it all..we can be each others support system!

    Vera
    thetututeacher@gmail.com

    The Tutu Teacher

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    1. Right back at ya! I'll definitely be stalking you too! So glad you took time to leave a comment...I'll totally be in touch with you too!
      Jenn

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  3. I'm getting ready to start Fundations (I'm moving to first grade from fourth) and I feel the same way: taped up and trapped in a box at the thought of a scripted program. One year later, how do you feel about it?

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    1. Hi Casey!
      I just sent you a long e-mail! :)

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