Phonics program

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by bella84, Jun 25, 2019.

  1. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jun 25, 2019

    I’ve been told that I can pilot a phonics program next year - either Wilson Fundations or Lucy Calkin’s Units of Study for Phonics. Thoughts on which to try?
     
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  3. waterfall

    waterfall Maven

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    Jun 26, 2019

    I loved Fundations, but I don't think it would be as effective if not started in K or at least 1st. I can't remember what grade you teach but I'm thinking it's above there? It does run more like an intervention program. I'm in a very low SES school where the vast majority of our kids needed that, so doing it whole class was great. As a specialist it was easy for me to take the language from Fundations (and some of the tools) that the students were familiar with and make it more tier 3. If you're in a building where very few kids need that sort of direct instruction I could see it being too much for whole class.

    I wasn't aware Lucy Calkins had a phonics program, but I'm not a fan of anything else she's done. I'm super surprised because all of her other stuff has such basis in whole language nonsense. I'd be wary.
     
  4. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jun 26, 2019

    I should have mentioned somewhere that I'm moving from teaching looping third/fourth grades to now looping first/second. So, I would be piloting this in first grade and possibly continuing on with it into second grade.

    I believe that the Lucy Calkin's program is relatively new. In fact, I think her kit for second grade is only available for pre-order right now, but K and 1 are already out and available to order. I had similar thoughts about her being more whole language based, and I've always found her teacher guides to be very wordy and not teacher-friendly. I've heard decent things from others about this program though, so I figured I'd at least consider it.

    A few other things to keep in mind:
    - Up to this point, LLI has been the main intervention program used by our reading specialists. However, they were just trained in Fundations this summer and will be trying it out as a possible small group intervention for below level students. I might be able to share materials with them if I go with that program.
    - Another first grade teacher is piloting the Lucy program in the whole-class, gen-ed setting. I would share the materials with her if I go with that program.
    - I am Level I certified in the Wilson Reading System (tier 3) program and do private tutoring outside of school. I have considered investing in my own set of Fundations materials in order to expand the range of ages I could tutor, but I have not yet purchased those materials or sought out the training.
    - My school district uses both of Lucy Calkin's Reading and Writing Units of Study programs as a basis for our gen ed literacy curriculum. We don't follow it explicitly, but her work guides our work. We don't currently have a true phonics program. We just have what I would consider an "old-school" spelling program called Spelling Connections and use Handwriting Without Tears for very limited handwriting instruction.

    Even though I'm switching buildings and principals this year, my principal is very open to allowing me to pilot whichever program I want, however I want. Although she hasn't been my direct supervisor, we've worked together on curriculum committees, and she has observed in my classroom. So, I'm just trying to decide which program would be the best to take on. I'm very pro-Wilson, but Lucy does align to our district curriculum... and I've heard good things about both!
     
  5. 1stGradeRocks

    1stGradeRocks Comrade

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    Jun 28, 2019

    I have done both Fundations and the Lucy Calkin's Units for phonics in 1st grade. What are your demographics? I thought the Lucy Calkins went too quickly for ELL students and had to do a lot of remediation and supplement the units for them. The Lucy Units were great for my higher readers, but they did move very quickly for my lower students. Lucy can be very wordy. Fundations is great in my opinion if you a lot of students below grade level. I'm happy to answer any specific questions.
     
  6. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jun 28, 2019

    Thanks! Our midwestern district is very diverse... In my building, we have about 35% free and reduced lunch. We are probably majority white but only slightly. It's a pretty racially diverse school. We are Title I, but we don't have really high poverty levels. There are some ELL students, enough for 2 full-time teachers K-12, but we don't have a large population of ELL students. We have both high and low levels of parent support. We have a typical percentage of students receiving sped. We have both very high achievers and very low achievers. So, I guess we're about as middle of the road as you can get. It does make it tough to choose a program. I am sure that Lucy would be better for the higher students, but I'm also sure that some will need Fundations.

    I'm really struggling to make a decision. It was easy when I thought that my P was buying me my own Lucy kit. However, now I have been told to share one with another teacher since this is just a piloting opportunity and not a full-blown adoption of one program, and I'm not really sure how feasible it is for two classrooms to share one kit. If I go with Fundations, I will have to purchase the materials myself, but that doesn't bother me because I plan to use them in my private tutoring business anyway. I won't buy all the materials, just the ones that I would use in tutoring, and then I'll adapt that to the classroom setting. I won't buy any part of Lucy out of pocket because there is no way that would ever come in handy with my tutoring. I do think that my district's philosophy leans towards Lucy's methods, but I am such a firm believer in Wilson. I'm just torn...
     
  7. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jun 28, 2019

    It sounds like you are more informed on Lucy Calkins than I am, but in my limited experience with Lucy Calkins materials I've found them to be too wordy and not very user friendly. I do like the theories her curriculum embraces, but I'd rather use a curriculum that tells me what to do Day 1, Day 2, and so on, especially for phonics. However, I have also not used the curricula you noted.
     
  8. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2019

    It sounds like you have a forced choice scenario rather than free response ;), but I'd throw SPIRE into the mix if you have a choice as well. I like the decodable text that's included at large quantities, and the multi-sensory component compares to Wilson. I don't have any experience with the other.

    I'd also throw out the caution, as perhaps someone else did, that I'm not sure Wilson is appropriate for a general education/core instruction purpose - it tends to be more remedial. If you have students that don't have a greater need for phonics, you may find that a more balanced approach works for you. If you're at a school in which a majority of students need a more interventionist approach, it might be a great idea.
     
  9. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2019

    Thanks. I’m familiar with SPIRE, as I used it when I taught sped. It’s definitely more of an intervention program than I am looking for. I know that Wilson is as well. To clarify, I’m not looking at Wilson Reading System but Fundations, which is a program also published by Wilson Language. Fundations can be used as a tier 1 gen ed program in K-3 and can also be used as a tier 2 intervention. You’re correct that the regular Wilson Reading System program would not be appropriate for my gen ed first grade class, and I don’t think that SPIRE would be either.

    I’m actually not in a forced choice situation. I truly don’t have to pilot anything at all (my district doesn’t currently have any sort of structured phonics curriculum outside of an old spelling program), but I’ve been told that I can pilot something if I’d like to. The reason it seems like a forced choice is because I don’t have funding for this. The principal is already purchasing the Lucy Calkin’s program for another teacher who wants to pilot it (because we already use the LC Reading and Writing Units of Study as guides for our literacy curriculum, so it makes sense to try her phonics UofS as well). So, I can share the materials with her at no cost. Our reading specialists just got trained on Fundations and will be implementing it this year. They will have materials that I could use at no cost. In addition, as a certified Wilson tutor, I already have a strong background in how Wilson programs work, and I already own some of the materials. I don’t mind paying out of pocket for a few additional Wilson/Fundations materials because I will use them in my private tutoring. So, it’s not a forced choice as much as a desire to keep costs low and reasonable... Plus, if my district adopts a program, it’s likely to be one of those two, given our current curriculum and interventions.
     
  10. EdEd

    EdEd Aficionado

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    Jul 8, 2019

    That totally makes sense, and your response also reminds me to read posts more clearly as I saw Wilson and immediatey just thought of the Wilson Reading System.

    Free materials are, of course, very good, especially when they're not bad!
     
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