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Dobbs Ferry Springhurst School Builds Word Skills With 'Fundations'

The Dobbs Ferry Schools are using a new word study program called Fundations.
The Dobbs Ferry Schools are using a new word study program called Fundations. Photo Credit: Dobbs Ferry Schools

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. -- Springhurst Elementary students in kindergarten and first grade are using a brand new word study program this fall called "Fundations".

This multi sensory, systematic, phonics, spelling and handwriting program will be rolled out to second graders next year and third graders the following school year.

"Fundations" teaches the foundational skills of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) and also supports other standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening and language.

According to the District’s K-8 Literacy Coordinator Michelle Kaczmarek, the District’s Word Study Committee began exploring different word study options two years ago.

“Fundations was the program that most closely matched our school criteria (covering phonics, spelling, vocabulary and grammar)," Kaczmarek said. “There was also real research behind the program that substantiated its effectiveness in increasing students’ abilities to spell and write. Staff development and varied assessment offerings were a part of the program as well.”

The school’s Teacher Leaders oversaw an initial program search and then expanded the Committee to include ELL, AIS, speech and language teachers and staff. The group reviewed 11 distinct programs.

The "Fundations" website notes that the standard lesson is designed as a 30-minute daily lesson with the entire class. In addition, "Fundations" includes supplemental small group activities to reinforce and extend each lesson for students with a wide range of learning abilities or who need more specialized instruction.

Each level of Fundations presents skills in a carefully structured scope and sequence. These “steps” build on previously taught skills and are brought forward from unit to unit, year to year and include:

• Letter Formation • Phonological and Phonemic Awareness • Sound Mastery • Phonics • Vocabulary • Irregular (Trick) Word Instruction • Fluency • Comprehension • Composition

“We are a reading and writing workshop school,” Kaczmarek said. “This program is a great fit with our English Language Arts curriculum and lays the groundwork for life-long literacy. It’s auditory, it’s visual and it’s kinesthetic. The new word study program also incorporates handwriting and sentence conventions, which is an added benefit.”

Other area school districts currently using Fundations include Brewster, Croton-Harmon, Ossining, Somers, Tarrytown, Pleasantville, Port Chester, Byram Hills and Harrison.

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