Foundations & Frameworks equips students to read for deep understanding

You know your students are capable of deeper book discussions, but helping them discover greater meaning on their own is often unsuccessful. Why?

Understanding reading comprehension—the thinking it requires and knowing how to develop that processing—is the key and requires focused, strategic instruction.

Research tells us to start with foundational knowledge of several areas—reading comprehension, visual tools, collaborative comprehension, vocabulary, and assessment—and then establish solid frameworks and strategies for deep thinking and comprehension.

Foundations and Frameworks is an instructional reading program that guides teachers to use best instructional practices within a framework that equips students with deep text comprehension skills.

Here’s what the Foundations & Frameworks program model looks like:


When a teacher models a comprehension skill, students see the process and are ready to engage. Process questions systematically guide student thinking, and visual tools provide a structure for skill application and reading comprehension. Students practice one comprehension skill in depth, understand it well, and transfer it to other texts.


Students prepare for Collaborative Comprehension Session (CCS) discussion by using SPECS Logs to record written responses and develop visual tools that help process and organize ideas. Teachers give students rubrics to clearly define levels of thinking that lead to exemplary achievement.


Students read rich literature at their instructional levels and participate in teacherled, student-dominated small groups. Through collaborative comprehension, students understand skills more deeply. Students explore new vocabulary, share visual tools, discuss the text, and receive instructive feedback almost daily.

There is a cycle at the heart of the instructional framework: Students practice and prepare for CCS interaction, which readies them to practice with another section of text in preparation for CCS interaction.


Rubrics establish clear expectations and teach students that reading for deep understanding is strategic and within reach. Rubrics objectify assessment and simplify grading. 


Carefully-selected, rich text runs through all program components, facilitating skill application and deep comprehension. It is authentic, of high interest, culturally relevant, of redeeming value, and leveled to match student instructional needs.  

Frequently Asked Questions

How does Foundations & Frameworks differ from XYZ reading program?

While it is difficult to make exact comparisons between Foundations & Frameworks and other reading programs, here are the defining characteristics of Foundations & Frameworks.

How does Foundations & Frameworks meet the needs of individual students?

While all students focus on improving their comprehension skill use, each does so with text at an appropriate instructional level. Every unit includes texts at four different levels of readability, enabling flexibility for teachers to provide a text that matches each student’s needs. Skill instruction is scaffolded and levels of achievement are clearly defined. The time devoted to skill development provides space for students to grow as they practice each skill and receive feedback on their efforts. This structure enables maximum ability development in each student. 

How is critical thinking taught?

Comprehension skills are thinking strategies, and critical thinking describes a “toolbox” of specific thinking strategies. Foundations & Frameworks identifies and teaches these strategies directly. The program’s scope guides appropriate grade-to-grade growth in each skill, and specific prompts (process questions) enable students to work at each new level of development. Combined with the teacher’s skill modeling and frequent feedback, student thinking is guided, developed, and challenged. All this thinking produces rich, deep, and meaningful interactions during small group sessions, which further refine student thinking and produce full comprehension of a text.

How is vocabulary taught?

Best practices for vocabulary instruction are woven into each unit so that students add 10-12 new words to their working vocabulary. Students are able to understand these new terms while listening and reading, and incorporate them in speaking and writing. Each new word is taught directly, providing students with definitions, etymologies, sample sentences, and other relevant details. Students practice using each new word orally within a confined context (e.g., Use concentrate in a sentence about a Friday night football game.), in broader contexts, and then in discussion using their texts. Additional practice with word meanings helps students develop conceptual understanding and experience its correct use.

What does comprehension skill instruction look like?

Here’s a video of how a teacher models skill instruction. This video is part of the Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course.

How is literature chosen?

Because matching students to text is paramount in ensuring student growth and enjoyment of reading, an extensive list of recommended, authentic, meaningful, high-interest literature has been developed for the program. Titles connect to specific comprehension skills and readability levels increase incrementally from unit to unit. Teachers select books from the list that are interesting and relevant for their students and that meet their range of readability needs. This Overview shows how the literature component is structured and what is required for each grade level.

What do student materials look like?

SPECS Logs (SPace for Extending Comprehension Skills) are journal-type books in which students record their developing understanding of a text and its comprehension skill. Students track the sequence of a day’s reading, use visual tools to represent their thinking, and summarize their understanding that results from the tool’s development. A tailored vocabulary section in the Log provides an organized place to record new words and their various components.

This Log is an invaluable tool for student growth and for teacher assessment of student understanding. SPECS Logs are avilable for Primary, Elementary, and Advanced levels and are an integral part of the Foundations & Frameworks instuctional reading program.

See the sample SPECS Logs here.

Are standards addressed?

The depth of skill development within Foundations & Frameworks matches and frequently exceeds all expectations of the CCSS as well as typical state standards. Flexibility within the program’s structure allows for work with any idiosyncratic standards, such as those mandated by a specific school system or addressed on a specific standardized test.

What tools are available for teachers to use in lesson planning?


During the Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course, teachers explore the research-supported best practices for literacy instruction and how these practices work together within a unit. The Foundations & Frameworks Toolbox provides the specifics necessary for developing unit and lesson plans. Each unit, teachers introduce a comprehension skill with a recommended read-aloud, design small group interactions using best practices, select meaningful vocabulary words, and develop assessments of student learning. Unit development is addressed specifically and thoroughly during Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course.

See additional Toolbox details and sample pages here.

Brand new Foundations & Frameworks Posters help teachers and students see at a glance the pattern statement, the visual tool, and process questions for every unit—bright, easy-to-read on a classroom wall and as a smaller reference size for CCS time.

See sample posters here.


What does the program cost to implement?

The total cost depends on course cost, course materials, literature, and student materials (SPECS Logs).

The course cost depends on which course option is chosen. The course materials are $135 which include a required text, a course book, and a Toolbox (a set of two books, one is 500+ pages) that includes skill objectives, process questions, visual tools, rubrics, and assessments for every unit in every grade. The cost for literature depends on the number of students in a class. Literature can be shared between classes. Student materials cost depend on the SPECS Log edition needed for each student.

We have tools to help figure costs when you are ready.

Where can I find a scope and sequence?

We are excited to share this updated scope and sequence. Seasoned Foundations & Frameworks users will notice a streamlined number of units per grade, and a more effective approach to focusing on primary skills with additional skill emphasis when appropriate. While the restructured unit sequence is set, mini-units will be added to the scope soon. 

F&F Comprehension Skill Scope and Sequence (May 2021)

How the Program Works

Attend the Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course

All teachers who plan to implement Foundations & Frameworks in their classrooms attend the Basic Course

Check out all THREE options here

Implement the program in your classroom

Teachers who complete the Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course leave ready to teach their first unit. To most effectively implement this program, teachers will need literature and SPECS Logs.

Attend the Foundations & Frameworks Advanced Course

Each teacher wishing to become a certified trainer for his/her school is required to attend the Foundations & Frameworks Advanced Course. (January 2023) 

A seasoned Foundations & Frameworks teacher-trainer-specialist shares her experience

Visual tools include process questions that are vertically aligned

When my fourth graders came to me with two years of F&F experience, the growth and depth of learning was significantly different than in previous years. They recognized visual tools and were interested in how we would build on them. They had retained their learning, so reteaching was minimal. I noticed critical thinking opportunities were more plentiful. By mid-year, I enjoyed watching my students lead evolving small group conversations. They were passionate about their understandings and ready for discussion!

Visual tools are built-in accountability

The idea of having students ask themselves process questions while reading in order to draw the visual tool is brilliant! The process questions held them accountable to monitor meaning while reading; they had to make sense of the text in order to build their visual tool. When they came to small group, I saw exactly what they were thinking about while they were reading. It takes the guesswork out of trying to figure out what students are understanding and how to best meet their needs.

Books match student interests and abilities and facilitate the comprehension skill being taught

My students got SO EXCITED to hear book talks because they loved all the books I chose for them. I loved all of the books too because they are matched to comprehension skills which made teaching and practicing a specific skill easier. It was great to choose books from a literature list I knew was high quality, rich, and appropriate.

Rubrics provide a journey for learning, growth, and understanding

The rubrics showed me the steps to mastery. This helped me meet students where they were and encourage them to the next level. The learning expected of them was not a mystery and students had freedom to learn at their own pace.

Small group conversation is meaningful and interesting

Since all students used the same process questions and visual tool, they came to small group with a common language. This helped me teach students how to have meaningful conversations about literature. They created the visual tool, so they were invested in the conversation. No more blank stares or spoon-fed discussions! Small group was fun and interesting every day!

I grew as a reader and critical thinker while teaching Foundations & Frameworks

The Toolbox taught me the thinking required for each comprehension skill; it deepened my understanding of teaching reading so I could effectively meet the needs of all my students!

Using the framework for instruction helped me fit everything in. It just makes sense.

I used to struggle to fit everything into my literacy block and felt guilty about the pieces I dropped. Using the F&F structure helped me keep the pieces in balance so that I fit the most important things in daily and juggled the rest. I became more intentional about my time and I knew exactly where all of my students were in their understanding because I met with them daily! My students learned more, thought more deeply, made more connections, and took ownership of their learning. Teaching the way the brain learns works!

Still looking for a little more information not posted here? We’re happy to answer questions by email, phone, or Zoom.