Brainerd Baptist School constantly examines our programs to determine how we can improve.  This process is paramount in maintaining the quality that makes us one of the best schools in the Chattanooga area.  In the spring of 2010, we began the investigating a new reading program called Foundations & Frameworks (F&F) to see if we should incorporate the program at Brainerd Baptist School.  We quickly discovered that the F&F program was unique in its approach, and the research supporting the program supported our desire to make it a part of our community.  All teachers in grades K5 through 5th grade spent two weeks in extensive training and have spent the summer preparing to implement F&F in the fall of 2011.  Brainerd Baptist is one of seven schools in the state, and one of 112 across the nation that has adopted the program.   Specific information that describes the program in more detail is outlined below. You may also click on the links to Briarwood for more information.

Foundations & Frameworks (F&F) is a uniquely designed research-based and research-supported instructional reading program developed at Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, AL. Since its introduction in 2001, an increasing number of schools across the US and Canada have adopted and implemented the program and are witnessing student achievement gains in vocabulary, reading comprehension, total reading, critical thinking, problem solving, and written expression.

Recognizing the need for equipping all students to fully understand ideas conveyed in text, instructional designers studied the latest research in reading, critical thinking, and neuroscience research.  The study of latest findings in reading research revealed the need to address five elements: phonemic awareness, phonics, vocabulary, fluency, and reading comprehension. In 2000, the National Reading Panel produced an extensive report based upon its exhaustive research that identified the same five crucial areas of reading instruction. This report’s publication coincided with the research and development of Foundations & Frameworks, confirming the instructional designers findings to that point.

The study of critical thinking resulted from emerging support for their initial premise: reading comprehension is the result of effective thinking about written text.  If students can learn thought processes that enable them to consider an author's intended message at deepest levels, they will be equipped to understand ideas not only within text addressed in reading but in other content areas as well.  Therefore students exposed to deep learning in the Foundations & Frameworks instructional reading program would be equipped to transfer understanding to mathematics, science, and social studies classes, among others.

Finally, findings in neuroscience revealed the need to tailor instruction to the way learning occurs. Understanding learning would result in more effective teaching. Therefore, Foundations & Frameworks would incorporate brain-friendly methods of instruction to maximize learning.

“Foundations & Frameworks is an instructional reading program that uses a collection of best practices for equipping students to fully understand ideas conveyed in text.”

Thinking skills are explicitly taught and modeled. Because comprehension results from the thoughtful interaction between reader and text, improving student thinking positively impacts student comprehension. When a student fails to think while he is reading, he is not truly reading. By breaking thinking down into its component steps, teaching these steps explicitly, and modeling the use of these steps, teachers can equip students with the cognitive abilities needed to fully understand a text.

Time is dedicated to skill mastery. Learning to use a skill requires extensive guided and independent practice.  Insufficient time to learning results in insufficient learning; students must understand the structures of text and the accompanying thinking skills so that independent application and transfer of thinking skills to other areas of leaning can occur. Developing such understanding, such automaticity, requires time. Foundations & Frameworks units devote adequate time and provide adequate practice for students to master each comprehension skill.

High quality literature is used as a natural conduit for skill instruction. Great literature captures a reader's imagination and motivates further reading. Foundations & Frameworks uses real, complete works of children's literature to engage students and provide adequate material for in-depth comprehension. The literature is clustered according to readability and is used for comprehension skill instruction.  For example, a book with cliff-hanging events may be used to teach and practice understanding plot, whereas a book with great character development may be used to study and practice character comparison/contrast.  Small group interaction is a daily practice. Small groups enable teachers to know their students and adjust instruction to meet the needs of individuals.

Small groups also provide an opportunity for students to further develop their understanding of text through thoughtful discussion with the teacher and with others reading the same text.  The small groups structure also gives teachers the flexibility to group students for re-teaching, reviewing, or for providing additional, individualized guided practice.  While small group sessions take place, other students in the classroom prepare for their small group session by reading, adding entries to their SPECS Logs, and completing practice with vocabulary words.  SPECS Logs (Space for Extending Comprehension Skills) are specially designed notebooks that foster student comprehension of text by providing space for the development of visual tools. 

We are excited to utilize this approach at Brainerd Baptist School.  We are confident that our students are becoming better readers as well as better problem solvers because of our implementation of Foundations and Frameworks. If you have any questions concerning this program, please feel free to discuss these with your teacher.