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Considerations Beyond SIPPS Beginning Level Instruction

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Children are entering kindergarten with more literacy awareness skills, they are responding to literacy-rich kindergarten curricula, they are learning fast and acquiring more experience in reading and writing. 

—Fountas and Pinnell (The F&P Text Level Gradient™ Revision to Recommended Grade-Level Goals)

As educators, we want to provide opportunities for students to maximize their growth. In order to do this we must consider what it means to provide holistic support for students’ literacy development. We must also consider what it means to create a strong literacy environment.

What will it take?

The SIPPS (Systematic Instruction in Phonological Awareness, Phonics, and Sight Words) curriculum empowers teachers to meet the rigorous demands of foundational skills standards. But to maximize growth, teachers must plan intentionally to provide additional rich literacy experiences across the day that support reading development beyond the instruction in SIPPS Beginning Level.

SIPPS Beginning Level Instruction

SIPPS Beginning Level provides the foundational skills instruction needed to meet the standards: phonological awareness, phonics, and 81 sight words (download the scope and sequence here).  Through daily fluency practice, the students develop into fluent readers who read with automaticity and accuracy.

Fluency practice using the Little Blue Books provides progressively more challenging text that brings students to the point where they can read a leveled text beyond F&P Level D. (Factors considered include the number of words per page and the complexity of sentence structure.)

Literacy-Rich Experiences Across the Day

In addition to focused foundational skill instruction, teachers must consider the other types of literacy experiences they are providing for students across the day. These experiences should extend students’ access to a variety of texts that are more challenging than the students can read themselves and should expose students to a variety of genres, including poetry, informational text, and functional text.

Rich literacy experiences might include:

  • Building students’ word knowledge and word-learning strategies
  • Introducing students to story elements
  • Supporting students with using illustrations to determine unknown words
  • Teaching students to self-correct and self-monitor
  • Engaging students in discussing books read aloud
  • Providing opportunities for students to read and reread to further develop fluency
    • During Beginning Level instruction, students should have access to books across a range of F&P Levels B–E.
    • After completing the Beginning Level, students should have access to books beyond F&P Level D.
  • Providing opportunities for students to regularly read self-selected texts for pleasure
  • Providing opportunities for students to write or draw about the texts they read

Reflect on Practice

You might consider these questions as you reflect on your instruction:

  1. Are kindergarten students participating in SIPPS Beginning Level lessons?
  2. Are the routines being taught with fidelity to the language and hand motions specified in the Routines Appendix (and also available on video)?
  3. What opportunities do the students have to support their fluency development?
  4. What experiences are you providing to your students to help them develop as readers and writers across the day?

CCC Resources to Support Planning

Center for the Collaborative Classroom strives to support teachers in creating literacy-rich environments for their students. Some resources teachers might use to support their planning are listed below.

SIPPS Beginning Level Teacher’s Manual

  • Appendix B: Fluency Practice

Making Meaning Assessment Resource Book

  • “Reading Development,” page xii
  • “Stages of Reading Development” chart, page xiv
    • Stage 1: Awareness and Exploration
    • Stage 2: Emergent Reader
    • Stage 3: Early Reader

Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual

  • IDR Mini-lessons (found in Appendix A)
    • Choosing and Handling Books (Grades K–1)
    • Selecting “Just-right” Books (Grades K–2)
    • Self-monitoring (Grades 1–2)

Individualized Daily Reading Libraries for Grade K

Gina Fugnitto, EdD, is the director of consultant development at Center for the Collaborative Classroom. She has experience as a literacy coach, teacher, and professional development provider. She was a Reading Recovery teacher, a Literacy Collaborative coach, and the associate director of literacy for Response to Intervention Teaching Learning Connection. She has a BS in Elementary Education, an MA in Educational Leadership, and a doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction. Follow Gina on Twitter at @gfugnitto.

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