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Throughout every day at school and across the grade levels, reading, writing, listening, and speaking are fully integrated across the subject areas and woven into every child’s day. In the first and second grades, students receive daily instruction in phonics through the Fundations program – an application of the Wilson Reading System designed for classroom use. This highly structured and sequential program introduces students to basic phonemic elements, strategies for decoding, fluency, and the structure of the English language. Through the use of the word wall, on which words are posted and remain in view for easy reference during reading and writing times, students receive instruction in word families, spelling patterns, high-frequency words, and sight words that don’t follow predictable patterns and rules. Instruction is deliberately multi-sensory as students tap out sounds, write letters in the air, and associate letters with pictures and words with colors and shapes.

Because phonics is only a part of how children learn to read, students also receive regular instruction in reading strategies. Drawing on a variety of curriculum materials, teachers help students learn many ways to read the words on a page. Strategies the children learn include using pictures as clues, using an initial letter to make an educated guess, or skipping a word and reading on. Through the use of puppets, shared reading of big books, and games, teachers model and children practice reading strategies. Teachers meet with students individually on a regular basis to conduct detailed assessments of their decoding and comprehension skills and strategies and to prescribe next steps for individual and group instruction.