A First Grade Teacher’s Experience With Foundations A-Z

From Low Motivation to Looking Forward to Reading

“[My students] are excited to learn, they’re excited to read, and that’s one of the reasons I would definitely recommend it.”

First-grade teacher and principal, Jordan Snyder, loves the variety of lesson plans, videos, games, and worksheets that address specific foundational skills, allowing for effective whole-class and small-group instruction. Watch her video to hear about how she uses Foundations A-Z to improve student outcomes. 

Learn more about Foundations A-Z.

Hi. My name is Jordan Snyder, and I am a teacher and principal at Collaboratory Prep, and I've been an educator for 12 years. The Foundations A to Z pilot was something that was different. It was something that I hadn't seen before, and it was something that I knew my students needed. And the characters made it just come alive, and I needed it, my students needed it.

The lesson plan – so that's very easy to get to. And you can go into your Lesson Plans, and you can see that the units are laid out for you. One of the things that I really liked doing was going to the Skills section, and being able to pull up specific skills that my students needed, such as chronological awareness. It not only pulls up video lessons that they watch to introduce the lesson, but it also pulls up lesson plans to go along with them, different videos, games and then worksheets that they can do as well.

We would use Foundations A to Z. We would start off the lesson as a whole group, and we would then break it off into groups based on abilities. So students who needed more help, I would work with them on individual skillsets, and that's when I would go into the Skill section right here, and I would pull up different skills and work with them individually. Now other students who were already finished with their Foundations A to Z lessons, then they could go on to Raz Plus, and then they could continue reading. So I would use Foundations A to Z in just a multiple, variety of ways.

Some of the things that they really liked were the videos. They love the characters. Zam and Grom are their favorite characters. The games, they love to play the games, to click on some of these games. And you can assign the games to different students. The games are really fun. One of the things that they really like to be able to do is, one of their lessons was say a word into the microphone, and then have it repeat back to them. And it took a little bit for them to be able to get used to that, because they hadn't done that before, and that helped them to be able to see what those words sounded like, or the letters, or blends or diagraphs sound like so they could actually hear themselves saying these words or these blends, rather than somebody else saying it. They did like the Drag and Drop game. It was very engaging, and it wasn't just one type of lesson. It hit a lot of different types of learning needs, so they were able to listen to lessons and watch the videos. It was very good for our kinesthetic learners who need to use their hands, so they would use the Drag and Drop, so it was just really good on some multiple varieties.

Some of the students, I have three students specifically who really struggled with diagraphs, such as your S-H and C-H blends. We have a couple of different platforms that we had been using, and they just were not making the connection. And Foundations A to Z really helped them to be able to solidify the lessons that they were learning. And by the end of the lessons with Foundations A to Z, they were able to be able to tell me the sound that S-H makes, and the retention was so much better. But another thing that really meant more to me than even just academic games is, they looked forward to reading. A lot of my students, they like math a lot more than reading, and so they would get excited when they would see that Foundations A to Z was something that we were going to be doing for that day. So for my class to be excited about reading – that made me happy.

There is professional development built in all over the place. It's not just little videos here and there -- there's a lot. I have never seen a reading platform with this much professional development. So if we pull up one of the Lesson Plans, and it tells you about how long the lesson plan is, and it pulls up standards and objectives. It goes through and tells you everything that you'll need; it provides everything that you'll need. I do, we do, you do – those are things that teachers need reteach and enrich, but it also gives you different time limits on the sides as well. So it's kind of a pacing guide as well, so you can kind of plan your lesson. There is an option to assign lessons ahead of time, or just by day, which is what I do, so students are able to work on them by day.

So Foundations A to Z and Raz Plus, which is what we use, they absolutely complement each other. Raz Plus focuses a lot on your fluency and your reading comprehension, and Foundations A to Z focuses more on your foundational skills, and you really can't have one without the other. So bringing those two together really helped my students be able to actually read the words, which increased their fluency. And because they could read the worlds, they were able to understand the questions. So their reading levels increased on Raz Plus because of their foundational skills.

I know a woman who works for a local school, and I've already shared with her about the success that I've seen in my first grade classroom, and I've let her know that if she's looking for just another platform to use, go ahead and try Foundations A to Z. And I've let her know the specific needs that have been addressed in my classroom, and that I've seen just so much success in my classroom, and that the motivation for reading and learning to read has improved so much over the last year. And they're excited to learn, they're excited to read. That's one of the reasons why I would definitely recommend it.

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