All second grade teachers at BEW are using a phonics program called Fundations. Students that attended BEW in first grade had exposure to Fundations, but this year they will dig deeper with level two.
Since Fundations is a phonics program and not a spelling program, there will not be traditional spelling tests like we had when we were kids. In other words, do not expect to see a list of words for students to study at home and then be tested on each Friday. Instead, students will spend an average of 10 days on each phonics unit, and have a unit test at the end of each one. Unit tests involve not only spelling theme-based words correctly, but also identifying sounds, spelling "trick words," and sentence dictation.
For some students, Fundations will push them to think carefully about how to spell words using common patterns and structure rules. For others, words from each unit may seem "too easy" on the surface. For those students that already have a pretty good grasp of spelling in general, Fundations forces them to dig deeper and think critically about phonics.
The best analogy I've heard is this--You might know how to drive, but do you know how the car actually works?
That is what Fundations will do for us. It will teach us why we use certain letters here, but not there. It will help us remember to apply learned rules of spelling to longer, more challenging, unknown words. It will force us to think about how and why we spell words the way we do, and to apply that knowledge to new words. It will even help us become better readers.
We will devote a portion of language arts to phonics every day. As with anything else in school, those that pay attention, participate, and give a solid effort during phonics time will have a much better chance to perform well than those that do not.