Foundations & Frameworks
At First Presbyterian Day School we are firmly committed to a carefully sequenced, directly taught phonics program in the lower grades so that our children learn well how to decode the words that they see. But beyond decoding we must teach them to read with understanding so that they comprehend an author’s message and can evaluate that message according to the Word of God. The program we have selected is the Foundations and Frameworks program, developed after years of research at the Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham.
It is very difficult to quickly explain this multi-faceted program. But, in a nutshell, Foundations and Frameworks is designed to increase the reading comprehension of children by specifically teaching selected reading and thinking skills one at a time and in depth. It is done in the following way:
- Teaching is based on 3 to 4 week units.
- Each unit focuses on one or two reading comprehension skills (i.e. Cause and Effect).
- The vehicle for teaching this skill is the children’s book. These books are chosen from the best in children’s literature and are selected for each unit because they lend themselves to learning a particular reading strategy.
- Teachers model and constantly teach that skill. They also teach a “visual tool” to the students which they will use to clarify their thinking process during reading assignments.
- Children read a portion of their books each day. They then interact with the books in a reading log as they use a visual tool to show their understanding of what they are reading.
- Every day children come to a small group led by the teacher to discuss and interact with the teacher and the other children about their books. Teachers are able to know the children in a very personal way and can evaluate their understanding immediately in order to remedy any misunderstanding on the spot.
- At the end of the unit, students synthesize the content of the book in a group project and present their understanding to the rest of the class.
- They are then formally tested, not merely on the content of their book, but on their use of the thinking skill on which they have been focusing.
The developers of this program have said, “In teaching children to read, we must equip them to think deeply about the meaning of text—to read as miners in search of the diamonds of truth…C.S. Lewis emphasized this need when he wrote the following: ‘Excellence in our response to books, like excellence in other things, cannot be had without experience and discipline.’ Teaching children to read deeply is a serious responsibility.”