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

A school’s most valuable assets are the teachers in its classrooms. Because of this, Foundations & Frameworks invests in teachers. The Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course, available in a variety of delivery methods, provides a thorough understanding of the why’s and how’s of the program. Since teachers understand the research and purpose behind the program’s methods, they can be more intentional in using them, making their instruction more effective.

Foundations & Frameworks is often described as a “thinking program” because its approach to reading comprehension emphasizes deep text understanding through thought. Skills are taught directly and then modeled by the teacher, providing a solid base for student development of the thinking strategies. Teacher materials provide specific thought processes and visual tools for each skill. Watch this video to see skill instruction in action (taken from the F&F Basic Online Course).

Students use visual tools to organize the thinking they do while applying the comprehension skills. (The brain is well equipped for such visual processing with more than 70% of its sensory receptors dedicated to vision.) These visual tools provide a window into the students’ thinking and create a basis for collaborative comprehension.

Researched strategies for word selection, word presentation, and word practice compose the vocabulary component of Foundations & Frameworks. Students develop definitional, contextual, and conceptual understanding of each word through targeted strategies, such as “Confine, Change, Broaden.” Far beyond matching words and definitions, Foundations & Frameworks equips students to use new words confidently in their speaking and writing.

The Collaborative Comprehension Session (CCS) is the heart of Foundations & Frameworks. While meeting with classmates who are reading the same book, students review the factual content of texts, examine deepened understanding through discussion of the comprehension skill and its associated visual tool, explore text elements of further interest (e.g., “My Link,” “Author Chat,” “To Think On”), and receive guidance for the next reading assignment. Every participant, including the teacher, leaves these teacher-guided, student-dominated interactions with a fuller understanding and appreciation of the text that was read.

Full works of literature (i.e., trade books) are selected and used, providing students with sufficient time and space to master each comprehension skill. These works of literature are selected for their readability, connection to the comprehension skill of each unit, and their appropriateness for classroom use. More than 1200 titles have been recommended for use in the program. Let us know if you’d like to peruse the list online, available at

The student materials—SPace for Extending Comprehension Skills—provide structured but simple places for students to record their daily comprehension skill and vocabulary work. See sample SPECS Logs.

Foundations & Frameworks is not a “scripted” reading program. The Foundations & Frameworks Toolbox provides teachers with the essentials for every unit, but daily lesson plans are not included. Instead, teachers make decisions based on the needs of their students. For example, if a group of students needs some additional instruction and practice on a specific comprehension skill, the program has the flexibility to enable it. Foundations & Frameworks also provides sufficient guidance for keeping students challenged and engaged throughout a unit. Units are developed by teachers using the Architecture of Learning instructional design model, which is addressed in the Foundations & Frameworks Basic Course, by sequencing the instructional activities of Foundations & Frameworks. Additional planning tools for comprehension skill instruction, vocabulary lessons, and Collaborative Comprehension Sessions are provided.

Every unit in most grade levels features four methods of skill assessment. Students have the opportunity to show their skill knowledge, their skill development, their skill mastery, and their vocabulary understanding in each unit.

While Foundations & Frameworks does not include a separate phonics program (i.e., teacher guide and student materials), it does emphasize the necessity of thorough phonemic awareness and phonics development. Principles of effective instruction and an outline for lesson preparation enable F&F to work with any reputable phonics program. (F&F encourages the use of programs based on Orton-Gillingham principles and methods.)