The materials for Fountas and Pinnell Classroom Grade 1 do not meet the expectations for Gateway 1. The Interactive Read-Aloud texts in Grade 1 materials are high quality; however, the majority of Shared Reading texts are repetitive, predictable texts with minimal academic vocabulary. The Shared Reading texts reflect a 50-50 balance of informational and literary texts for the year-long plan. However, the Interactive Read-Aloud selections do not reflect a 50-50 balance of informational and literary texts over the course of a school year. When considering quantitative levels, qualitative levels, and associated tasks, Grade 1 texts are mostly accessible or moderate levels. There are few complex texts. There is little variance in overall complexity throughout the year.
The text-based discussion questions come from the sections of the lesson plans Within the Text, Beyond the Text, About the Text. The majority of questions rarely involve the setting or character analysis, and instead, the focus is often a retelling of the sequence of events and character feelings. The questions rarely require readers to produce evidence from texts to support opinions or statements. The instructional materials provide some opportunities and behavioral protocols for students to engage in speaking and listening activities; however, materials do not provide strong protocols for a variety of evidence-based speaking and listening opportunities across the whole year’s scope of instructional materials. Students have opportunities to reflect on their reading through speaking and listening opportunities; however, many speaking and listening opportunities do not require students to utilize, apply, and incorporate evidence from texts and/or sources.
Materials do not provide opportunities for students to learn and apply skills needed for process writing, such as editing and revising. The on-demand writing opportunities are often not standards-aligned or dependent on the texts students listen to during the Read-Aloud and Shared Reading lesson. There are ample opportunities for narrative and informational writing, but there was little evidence found of opinion writing. The materials provide opportunities for students to discuss and dictate for the genres, but lack sufficient opportunities for application of the writing skills and lack opportunities for students to independently write each genre. Students have opportunities across the school year to practice writing, but lack opportunities to learn and apply writing using evidence from the text(s).
The materials include limited explicit instruction in grammar standards. There was no evidence for the explicit instruction in teacher materials for multiple standards. The materials do not provide teacher guidance for outlining a cohesive year-long vocabulary development component. At the First Grade level, the Fountas and Pinnell materials place importance on the vocabulary “behaviors and understandings to notice, teach, and support” students to “recognize and use concept words (e.g. color names, number words, days of the week, months of the year, seasons), recognize and talk about the fact that words can be related in many ways (sound, spelling, category), recognize and use synonyms,....and use antonyms”.
The Fountas and Pinnell materials contain four lessons with explicit instruction for Grade 1 print concepts. The program cites some general research; however, the program does not present a research-based or evidence-based explanation for the teaching of phonological skills or for the hierarchy in which the skills are presented. Although there are a variety of practice activities, there are only 11 phonological awareness lessons. Daily phonological awareness practice opportunities for students are not provided. Materials contain phonological awareness lesson structures that provide teachers with the opportunity to explicitly teach phonological awareness; however, there are missed opportunities for students to receive explicit instruction in distinguishing long from short vowel sounds in spoken single-syllable words. While in Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study Lessons, Grade 1 cites studies supporting explicit teaching of phonics skills, the program does not present a research-based or evidence-based explanation for the sequence of phonics. Materials contain a Master Lesson Guide which explains the order in which phonics lessons should be taught. The Fountas and Pinnell materials include lessons that provide the teachers with instruction and repeated modeling of grade-level phonics standards. However, foundational skills lessons are recommended for 10 minutes a day, which may not provide sufficient time for students to receive daily explicit instruction to work towards mastery of foundational skills. Students decode phonetically based words during 10 Spelling Patterns lessons, 10 Word Structure lessons, and 18 Word-Solving Actions lessons. Letter-Sound Relationships, Spelling Patterns, Word Structure, and Word-Solving Actions lessons do not occur daily, therefore, students do not have daily opportunities to practice decoding sounds and spelling patterns. Lessons provide limited opportunities for students to develop orthographic and phonological processing. The materials contain eight High-Frequency Word Lessons. Since all eight lessons are generative lessons, the materials suggest the teacher repeat the lesson several times with new words selected by the teacher. The program does not specify an exact sequence of high-frequency word instruction. Materials do not include resources for frequent explicit, systematic instruction in fluency elements. The materials contain poems from Sing a Song of Poetry, Grade 1 for students to read during Shared Reading in lessons of the Nine Areas of Learning about Phonics, Spelling, and Word Study. Poems are suggested in each lesson, but the poems are not aligned to the program’s scope and sequence and do not consistently provide practice of the decodable element from the lesson. There are curriculum-based assessment protocols provided in the online resources, which are directly correlated to the nine areas of literacy instruction included in the program. However, there are missed opportunities for assessments to provide the teacher with instructional guidance about the next steps for all students.