Q. I understand that Fundations is now in its second edition. Can you explain how it differs from the first edition?

A. One major difference is the extensively revised, easy-to-follow teacher manual, one manual for each level: K, 1, 2, 3. Each lesson now begins with that day's learning plan and required teacher and student materials, and includes a detailed description of that day's activities. We added content, such as suggestions about differentiating instruction for advanced and struggling students, expanded explanations of activities in the manuals' introduction, and explicit recommendations for related resources on the web-based Prevention Learning Community (PLC). We also took the opportunity to revise and expand our teacher and student materials. (Click here for more info on materials.)

Q. Does Fundations meet the requirements of the Common Core State Standards, also known as the College and Career-Ready Standards?

A. Yes. Fundations thoroughly teaches the Foundational Skills of the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). It also teaches or significantly supports other CCSS standards in reading, writing, speaking, listening, and language. Please refer to the COMMON CORE tab on the Fundations.com website or the "crosswalk."

Q. How is Fundations implemented?

A. School or District-Wide Implementation:
Wilson Fundations provides schools or districts a means to teach students decoding and writing basics to all K-3 students. It is delivered to the general education classrooms in 25-30 minute lessons per day. This is appropriate when the core language arts program does not present a systematic phonics approach. Fundations is designed to be used with the existing literature-based reading instruction to provide a comprehensive language arts program.

In addition to whole class instruction, students who are in the lowest 30th percentile, those with specific areas of weakness or a diagnosed language disability should work in small groups or 1:1 settings up to 30 additional minutes 3-5 times per week.

Targeted Classroom and Small Group Implementation:
In schools where Fundations is not used in the general education classroom, it is appropriate to select Fundations as an intervention program for students in the lowest 30th percentile. Students should have Fundations for 40-60 minutes each day, completing the 25-30 minute standard daily lesson, plus a double dose lesson up to 30 additional minutes 3-5 times per week. This can be conducted in a whole class, small group or 1:1 setting.

Q. Since the program is sequential from one level to the next, do students have to complete each level?

A. Fundations presents all skills in a systematic and sequential manner in four levels: Level K, Level 1, Level 2, and Level 3. When Fundations is implemented as a prevention program in the general education class, it is best for students to have completed the previous level. However, when districts are first implementing the program, the following guidelines can apply:

  • Level K - There are no prerequisites with Level K.
  • Level 1 – Instruction can begin without having completed Level K since the K skills are covered in the early units of Level 1. Time in the first few units can be extended as needed.
  • Level 2 – General education classrooms are successfully implementing Level 2 without having completed Level 1. However, the first few units of instruction may go slower and it is important to get the foundation skills to mastery.
  • Level 3 - Level 2 must be completed prior to beginning instruction in Level 3.

Q. How long is a Fundations lesson?

A. The standard lesson is designed as a 30-minute daily lesson with the whole class. In addition, Fundations includes supplemental small group activities to reinforce and extend each lesson for students in need. These double dose lessons can provide up to an hour of specialized instruction. The Fundations website provides a recommended double dose lesson plan for each level.

Q. Do teachers need training to implement Fundations?

A. The manual, along with the companion Prevention / Early Intervention Learning Community (PLC), provides the guidance necessary to teach Fundations successfully. The PLC provides extensive, "real-time" lesson and activity demonstrations. Teachers watch Fundations lessons being taught in a classroom or small group setting. Multiple interactive resources allow teachers, for example, to hear the correct pronunciation of sounds, model proper "sound tapping" and straightforward letter formation. These videos provide on-demand support for teachers implementing the program.

Q. Do we have to follow the Fundations sequence?

A. As a comprehensively designed and integrated program, Fundations instructional content has been carefully sequenced to maximize student learning mastery. As an example, Fundations has carefully sequenced sound/symbol instruction to assure that the introduction of commonly confused letter sounds (b,d; e,i; o,u; g,j) is separated by several weeks. Deviating from Fundations’ scope and sequence reduces the program’s fidelity, impacts its integrity and validity, and jeopardizes student outcomes.

Q. We are using Fundations as a Tier 2 intervention and the Fundations scope and sequence is different from the classrooms’ core program; can we map Fundations to our core’s scope and sequence?

A. Fundations program should be taught following the Fundations scope and sequence. Struggling readers are deductive learners and it is critical that their instruction be explicit, systematic, cumulative, and multi-sensory: the principles of Fundations. It is important to follow the Fundations lessons and activities as prescribed as skills are clustered and integrated for greatest impact and effectiveness. Teaching activities out of sequence or in isolation is much less effective. Dr. Joseph Torgesen, Director of the Florida Center for Reading Research, states that intervention programs should be taught with fidelity. See FCRR website www.fcrr.org.

Q. Which program should be used with struggling students in the primary grades, Fundations or Wilson Reading System®?

A. Fundations is appropriate for students in K-3 who are in the lowest 30th percentile. The Fundations Intervention Inventory, available on the website, can be used to determine the Fundations instructional level for student intervention groups. Students who do not make adequate progress with Fundations small group or 1:1 intervention should be referred for further testing. The Wilson Reading System® (WRS) is specifically designed for students with a language learning disability in need of intensive instruction. Students in grades 2 and 3 that need more intensive 1:1 instruction should be tutored by a certified Wilson teacher with the Wilson Reading System®.

Q. Why does Fundations teach lower case letter formation before upper case letter formation?

A. When teaching students to read and write simultaneously, instruction of lower case letters first works best. Fundations presents lower case letters first because lower case letters occur much more often in text than do upper case letters. Lower case letters also ‘pull together visually’ more easily than upper case letters when students are forming words, and, since lower case letters are rounder, they allow for faster writing once the formations are learned. In addition, children often enter school knowing many upper case letter formations, but few if any lower case letters. (Mann, V.A. and Foy, J.G.; “Phonological Awareness, Speech Development and Letter Knowledge in Preschool Children; Annals of Dyslexia, Volume 53, International Dyslexia Association, 2203).

Q. Why doesn't my child receive weekly spelling lists?

A. Fundations is a comprehensive approach to spelling which provides students with the skills they need to spell both words that are phonetically regular (follow the rules of the English language) and the ten percent of the words in our language that are phonetically irregular (Trick Words).  Students' spelling is assessed at the end of each unit on a Unit Test that covers the spelling rules and concepts and Trick Words taught in that unit.  Words from past units are also included. Teachers can choose to send home lists of new and review trick words for their students to commit to memory.

In each unit the students learn spelling rules and concepts that teach them the structure of the English language.  With this knowledge, they are able to spell many more words than they would if they were exposed to a memorized list of ten or twenty words.  Because they learn why the words are spelled the way they are, they are able to better apply this knowledge to daily written work.   For example, by the end of Unit 3 in Grade 1 students have the skills to spell not ten words, or twenty words, or even thirty words but literally hundreds of words!  Because they have truly learned to spell these words and have not simply memorized them they are more likely to retain the ability to spell them over time.  In Fundations, students are, however, expected to memorize the trick words presented in each unit. 

An analogy can be made to mathematics.  When teaching subtraction with regrouping, the teacher wants to be sure the students learn how to subtract.  In order to be sure students do so, the teacher teaches the process and provides multiple opportunities to practice.  When the students have had sufficient practice, the teacher assesses them on the skill.  She does NOT provide them with ten examples of subtraction with regrouping with the answers provided for them to memorize for Friday.  She wants to be sure that they know how to subtract, not that they can memorize the answers to a limited number of examples.  Likewise, the Fundations teacher wants to be sure her students know how to spell, not just how to memorize!

Q. Can we use the Smart Board?

A. Fundations and the Smart Board:
Teachers frequently ask about using the Just Words Interactive White Board program with Fundations students particularly for the Drill Sounds, Teacher Builds Word, Echo Sounds and Echo Find Words Activities.  Although these activities can be done using an interactive white board, our recommendation for primary age students is that they be implemented using the sound cards as directed in the Fundations manual.

There are several reasons for our recommendation. First, the manipulation of the actual cards enhances the multisensory aspect of the instruction by adding a tactile component. Such "hands-on" activity is more developmentally appropriate for young students. Also, use of the interactive white board is distracting for some students as their focus becomes the technology rather than the skill or concept being presented. Technical glitches can also slow the pace of the instruction making it harder to keep students on task. Working at the interactive white board often increases the distance between the teacher and the group making it harder for the teacher to maintain the attention of the class.

In addition to these practical concerns, there is also concern about the amount of time young children spend in front of various types of screens. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that the amount of screen time (including TV, video and computer screens) for young children "be limited to one to two hours per day, including time spent on a computer for noneducational purposes." As most children exceed this recommendation outside of school hours, adding additional screen time during the school day should be done with great discretion. Fundations is best implemented with the sound cards so adding additional screen time for students for this instruction is neither needed nor recommended.

Note: Wilson Language Training Corporation (WLT) owns the copyright of Wilson Reading System®, Fundations®, and JustWords® materials.  WLT has the exclusive right to reproduce or transmit its copyrighted material by electronic means and to create derivative products.  A scanned image of Wilson copyrighted material made for use with an interactive white board is a derivative work and protected by copyright. 

© 2005, 2011 Wilson Language Training

Included are some of the most frequently asked questions about Fundations.

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Fundations Kit
Click on the box to see teacher and student material specifications.