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Considerations Beyond SIPPS Extension Level Instruction

“We cannot assume that children will take on literacy behaviors simply because print is all around them, nor will they learn how stories work by hearing just a few. Our intentional acts of teaching will lead them to new understandings.” 

—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 extend their literacy behaviors and take on new understandings. In order to do this we must consider what it means to support students’ literacy development beyond the instruction provided in SIPPS Extension Level.

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 teachers must plan intentionally to provide additional rich literacy experiences across the day that will support reading development beyond the instruction in SIPPS Extension Level.

SIPPS Extension Level Instruction

SIPPS Extension Level provides foundational skills instruction focused on the spelling-pattern stage of reading development. In this stage, complex-vowel spellings are a major component of instruction. Through fluency practice, the students develop automaticity (the ability to decode most words accurately, quickly, and effortlessly). Automaticity enables students to read silently with higher levels of comprehension.

Fluency practice in the Extension Story Book provides progressively more challenging text that brings students to the point where they are able to transition to easy-to-read trade books at or beyond F&P Level J.

Prepare for the Transition to Easy-to-read Trade Books

When they read independently, students apply their growing knowledge of decoding strategies to tackle the many unfamiliar words they encounter in trade books. The Story Book provides controlled text up to Lesson 22 of Extension Level. In preparation for the transition to “easy reader” trade books in Lesson 23, collect a variety books of good literary quality such as:

  • Little Bear series by Else Holmelund Minarik
  • Frog and Toad series by Arnold Lobel
  • Henry and Mudge series by Cynthia Rylant
  • Nate the Great series by Marjorie Weinman Sharmat
  • Various books by Syd Hoff
  • Fox series by Edward Marshall

Another source of appropriately leveled reading practice material is Center for the Collaborative Classroom Fluency Practice Libraries.

Literacy-rich Experiences Across the Day

In addition to focused skill instruction, teachers must consider the types of literacy-rich experiences they are providing for students across the day. These experiences should extend students’ access to a variety of texts beyond F&P Level J, and should include a variety of genres.

Literacy-rich experiences for students who are automatic and reading silently might include making comprehension the goal of reading. Engage students in activities that will extend their reading such as talking with partners, writing in journals, or talking with you about the texts they are reading independently.

Rich literacy experiences might also include:

  • Encouraging students to think more deeply about story elements (e.g., character change, plot, and theme)
  • Teaching students to self-monitor and self-correct
  • Building students’ word knowledge
  • Providing opportunities for students to read self-selected books at a variety of levels and genres every day
    • During Extension Level instruction, students should have access to books across a range of F&P Levels D–J.
    • After completing the Extension Level, students should have access to books beyond F&P Level J.
  • Asking students to make text-to-text connections

Open-ended questions that might guide a verbal or written conversation about a text include:

  • “Tell me what you’ve just read.”
  • “How did . . . ?” “Why did . . . ?”
  • “Tell me about . . . .”
  • “What happened after . . . ?”
  • “Explain . . .”
  •  “What does that mean?”

Reflect on Practice

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

  1. Are first-grade students participating in SIPPS Extension 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 Extension Teacher’s Manual

  • SIPPS Extension Level Appendix B: Fluency Practice/Individualized Daily Reading
  • “Easy Reader” Trade Books: Lessons 24–40 (see pages 418–410).

Making Meaning Assessment Resource Book

  • “Reading Development,” page xii
  • “Stages of Reading Development” chart, page xiv
    • Stage 3: Early Reader
    • Stage 4: Transitional Reader

Making Meaning Teacher’s Manual

  • IDR Mini-lessons (found in Appendix A)
    • “Selecting ‘Just-right’ Books” (Grades K–2)
    • “Reading with Expression” (Grades 1–5)

Individualized Daily Reading Libraries for Grade 1

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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