Schoolwide Launches the Schoolwide Shop with Foundational Footsteps Phonics Skill Builders

E-commerce launch brings a new line of products directly to teachers


Schoolwide is excited to share that we’ve officially launched the Schoolwide Shop, our e-commerce website designed to connect educators with a new line of supplemental literacy resources, all at a friendly price point. 


The Shop will create new opportunities for teachers, specialists, coaches, homeschool educators, and parents to have access to Schoolwide products to supplement and enrich their core instruction, provide important family literacy engagement connections, and create more responsive instruction for students who need specific opportunities for practice and skill reinforcement. 


Schoolwide’s first e-commerce offering is a new supplemental phonics resource, Phonics Skill Builders, part of the Foundational Footsteps line. Designed to strengthen K-3 phonics instruction, the Phonics Skill Builders series contains 6 different resources, each focused on a specific skill, including: Consonants & Short Vowels (CVC Words), Digraphs & Blends, Long Vowel Sounds, R-Controlled Vowels & Diphthongs, Multisyllabic Words – Syllable Types, and Multisyllabic Words – Prefixes & Suffixes. 


To celebrate our launch, all first-time customers can use the discount code FFLAUNCH15 to receive a 15% discount on your whole order!



Visit to learn more!


More About Foundational Footsteps Phonics Skill Builders


Foundational Footsteps Phonics Skill Builders are here! This new-to-market supplemental resource is made to enhance phonics instruction in K-3 classrooms (and at home!) by targeting specific skills that young readers must master on their path to learning how to read. 


🎯 Key Features and Benefits:


✅ Your Go-To Supplemental Phonics Resource: experience the ease of having comprehensive, skill-specific introductory lessons, assessments, cumulative reviews, decodable texts, engaging activities, and more in a single supplemental resource. A fantastic addition to your core instruction!


💰 Friendly Price Point: affordable for teachers, coaches, specialists, parents, and homeschool educators, making quality phonics instruction accessible to all.


📚 Connecting Skill Mastery to Reading: give students opportunities to practice specific phonics skills with engaging activities, decodable texts, and skill reviews.


🏫 Classroom or Home Use: perfect for classroom instruction or at-home learning, creating opportunities for family literacy engagement.


🔍 Suitable for Various Learning Styles: accommodate diverse learners with engaging activities that cater to different learning preferences.


📝 Easy-to-Follow Lessons: step-by-step, explicit introductory lessons that make teaching phonics more intuitive.


👉 Check out the link below to visit our shop and buy yours today!


Shop Foundational Footsteps > >

Inquiry-Based Learning & NCSS’ New Definition of ‘Social Studies’

Earlier in November, the National Council for Social Studies approved a new definition of social studies. You might be thinking, “Why is this important?” Well, it is for several reasons. 


Let’s start with the changes to the definition.


The prior definition, as interpreted by different states, led us to understand that social studies is intended to promote civic competence through the integrated study of the social sciences and humanities (NCSS, 2023). 


While the word “promote” was appropriate to use, the verbs have now changed in the newly revised version. Using phrases like “inquiry-based approach” and “examine vast human experiences,” the focus seems to have shifted to a more contemporary lens, depicting issues that impact all citizens, young and old. 


This new definition also reflects a more active role of the student, leading them to consider a myriad of perspectives when generating opinions about what has shaped our world. It has the potential to inspire students to question, think about what is just, and then find ways to resolve challenges for different groups of people. 


An emphasis on equity


It’s also worth noting the change in disciplines referenced as part of the new definition. While some remained, the newly crafted definition includes several areas that represent equity


The specific areas of study mentioned in the revised definition include history, geography, cultural geography, human geography, economics, government, citizenship, civics, psychology, sociology, political science, international relations, anthropology, archaeology, gender studies, LGBTQ+ studies, ethnic studies (African American studies, Asian American and Pacific Islander studies, Indigenous studies, and Latin American studies), human rights and social justice, including human rights education, social justice issues, international organizations, and genocide studies, financial literacy (different from economics), and finally, contemporary issues, including courses in current events and the study of one or more social studies topics in current contexts (NCSS, 2023). 


An inquiry-based approach


As previously stated, the primary purpose of social studies was to help young people develop the ability to make informed and reasoned decisions for the public good as citizens of a culturally diverse, democratic society in an interdependent world (NCSS, 2023). However, this updated version seems to lead educators and scholars to consider using an inquiry-based approach, one that “helps students examine vast human experiences through the generation of questions, collection, and analysis of evidence from credible sources, consideration of multiple perspectives, and the application of social studies knowledge and disciplinary skills” (NCSS, 2023).  


In asking students to examine the past while participating in the present and learning how to shape the future, the newly defined social studies will prepare learners for a lifelong practice of civil discourse and civic engagement in their communities. Social studies will now center on the knowledge of human rights and local, national, and global responsibilities so that we can work together to create a just world in which we want to live.


What we believe about inquiry-based learning


One of the things that we feel strongly about at Schoolwide is the importance of promoting active learning in the classroom. The role of discourse is crucial, which is why we strategically replace some of our direct instruction with questions that produce thoughtful conversations. This line of inquiry creates opportunities for students to learn more and develop deeper understandings because we incorporate a process that includes student thinking, reflecting, researching, conversing, affirming, and revising. 


Similar to science, true inquiry begins with a question that students explore as they learn. Through the use of a matrix, our Fundamentals units invite students to focus on an enduring understanding while exploring answers to essential questions and sub-questions.


Our goal in Schoolwide’s units is for students to assume the role of researcher. By using open-ended questions, students are not memorizing facts but instead are synthesizing information from multiple sources and determining what is important and relevant. 


Inquiry-based learning and its importance for the support of multilingual learners


When teachers use an inquiry approach, they are honoring the practice of using background knowledge as a launchpad for discussion and affirmation for multilingual learners. 


Inquiry also invites students to think, share, pose questions, and research in a safe climate while feeling supported by the modeling of their classroom teachers. By inviting students to activate and value their curiosity, exploration and discovery quickly follow. Content or interdisciplinary experiences provide natural scaffolds for students to learn through multiple genres, through discourse, and through activating their personal knowledge toolbox or schema. 


Because multilingual learners are learning new content and a new language simultaneously, how information and content are shared is critical (Jana Echevarria, 2022, “Reflections on Teaching Multilingual Learners”, Using Inquiry-Based Learning with Multilingual Learners). That’s why we provide objectives after an introductory exploratory activity. The exploration aspect is preserved, yet the purpose of the lesson and learning outcomes are clarified for students 


When thinking about content literacy, language and vocabulary become a focus. Our units provide the research, the practices, and the support (TPR, list-group-label, semantic gradients, visual representations of words, etc.). Provisions for linguistic and nonlinguistic representation of words are critical for students to develop a stronger understanding of unfamiliar words and phrases. 


How we are thinking about evolving our resources in the lens of inquiry 


So, what does this all mean for how we’re further developing our future resources? We know that we must create a renewed focus on knowledge attainment and inquiry:


  • We want to enhance the experience of building background knowledge 

  • We want to design lessons with the intention for each student to become an expert in an aspect of the content being studied

  • We want to create Inquiry lessons that resonate with students

  • We want to continue to create lessons that include meaningful activities that integrate the lesson’s concepts with opportunities to practice and develop reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills

  • We want to reinforce the notion that good researchers reflect on their outcomes and are open to affirm, revise, or learn from others


A final thought on inquiry and student-led learning 


Inquiry-based lessons that incorporate the use of primary sources, project-based learning, and a compelling question in every lesson will challenge and grow students’ critical thinking skills and abilities and prepare them for future roles in our society. 







National Council for the Social Studies:


Reflections on Teaching Multilingual Learners: Using Inquiry-Based Learning with Multilingual Learners

“Included, Invested, and Treated with Respect” – A View on Successful Professional Learning Partnerships

In an earlier article, Keys to Sustaining a Professional Learning Program that Sticks, we explored the opportunities, methods, and mindsets for building and district leaders to create long-term, sustained impact through professional learning. In a similar theme, we recently checked in with two of our professional learning consultants, Marina Moran and Bridget Nolen, about how to keep educators engaged, motivated, and….even excited (yes, excited!) about professional learning opportunities.


Read their thoughts below.


Marina Moran, Professional Learning Consultant for Schoolwide:


My best response to your question is that there is not a fixed formula or recipe for promoting adult learners’ engagement. In my experience, it has always been a process that requires a lot of listening and diagnosing on my part to meet learners halfway. Needs can be very diverse within a group due to age, length of experience, and talent, so maintaining flexibility and offering ideas in a variety of ways always helps.  


There are intellectuals who want to know the research behind practices and there are also pragmatics who want to walk away with an applicable strategy the second they leave the session. I strive to provide a balanced diet of both, the strategy (WHAT we do) and the rationale or research base (WHY we do it).  


Giving back the work is also usually effective to maintain engagement during portions of a session. I often find that educators like to put themselves in the role of the students and experience simulations to better understand the impact of some practices. They also like to spend time applying skills with guidance (not different from what we do with kids).


In all cases, being responsive to the needs, personalities, and moods of the participants at a given moment is what contributes to the efficacy of a session. And that can sometimes be a juggling act, but a worthwhile one!” 

Bridget Nolen, Professional Learning Consultant for Schoolwide:

“How do I keep educators engaged in professional learning? I think about it in the same way I’d think about keeping students engaged: by knowing how much information to include in a short amount of time and how to unpack the layers of knowledge they need to be successful. From my perspective, engagement happens when teachers feel motivated to make shifts. And that happens when teachers are included, invested, and treated with respect for the professionals they are.   


Building relationships and developing a culture of support is important at the beginning of a partnership. You build trust with teachers by asking what they need to be successful, and when you follow through and follow up on their questions and requests. Teachers have lots of demands on their time and attention, so empathizing with their circumstances while giving them manageable and efficient tips for delivering new curriculum is important.   


When it comes to getting educators excited about professional learning, I focus on appealing to their beliefs about student learning. If they believe students are capable and brilliant, then they naturally want to help them reach their highest potential. That’s the same with professional learning. It’s the teachers’ opportunity to reflect upon and improve their practice, which is time we all need and deserve. We can set ambitious goals together and then provide ongoing support to get there.”



The mission of the Schoolwide Professional Learning Team is to inspire educators to embrace best practices and deliver innovative and responsive literacy instruction, in collaborative, dynamic learning environments in which teaching and learning are authentic, engaging, and respectful of all learners. 


Meet our educators > > 


Learn more about our professional learning offering Partners for Progress > > 


Read more about our approach to professional learning in our 23-24 Literacy Sampler > >


Interested in speaking with our team? Send us a note any time!

Q&A: Collaborative Planning for Tier 2 Intervention

With this school year in full swing, we’ve been excited to see how Schoolwide’s new resources, including our recently released Decodable Texts Teaching Plans, are coming to life in literacy instruction. We are connecting with educators about how these resources support Tier 2 intervention, and providing strategic professional learning opportunities to educators involved in the process. 


We sat down with Eileen Hodrinsky, a former elementary classroom teacher, reading specialist, and Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, to discuss a critical, yet sometimes overlooked, component of an effective intervention program: collaboration. We hope to highlight opportunities for educators to partner together.


Our conversation with Eileen Hodrinksy follows:


Q: When it comes to Tier 2 intervention, and MTSS frameworks overall, we often talk about the data-driven components. But what about the “people-driven” components to effective implementation of Tier 2 intervention efforts?


Eileen: This is a great place to start this conversation. Yes, data analysis and access to literacy data are crucial components of successful intervention efforts. But in order to source that data, people need to work together effectively. When this happens, data can be more accurately sourced and shared, student progress can be more effectively tracked, and the experience for the students themselves will be far more positive. There should be a feeling of “we’re in this together!”


Q: What kind of collaboration is important for Tier 2 intervention?


Eileen: The ability to develop a plan alongside other key stakeholders is essential. Even if you’re set up with quality research-backed resources, if there aren’t strong lines of communication between the intervention teacher and other educators or influencers involved in the students’ learning, the efforts can easily become disjointed and ineffective. 


Just as the Tier 2 reading intervention resources should involve a systematic process, so should the planning. There needs to be a detailed, coordinated plan that clearly identifies the roles and responsibilities of the various parties who are supporting the student. And, intervention teachers should not only have the opportunity to develop the plan collaboratively with other stakeholders but also have time devoted to checking in on that plan’s progress. Rather than being an isolated effort, intervention should lead to progress in the classroom, and even at home!


Q: Who are the key stakeholders when it comes to collaborative planning and communication?


Eileen: It’s important for an intervention teacher or specialist to have opportunities to communicate regularly with the classroom teacher (Tier 1), as well as other support personnel, like speech and language teachers, special education teachers, and any third-party literacy consultants who may have exposure to the students. 


The classroom teacher will be able to share the focus of Tier 1 instruction and will have insight and observations about at-risk students’ attitudes and behaviors. They will know how the student is progressing and applying the strategies practiced during Tier 2 intervention. 


Administrators also have an important role to play, as they often look at literacy instruction holistically, as well as how intervention efforts fit into overall MTSS frameworks. 


Q: What about communication with parents or guardians?


Eileen: This is so important! While students spend a significant time in the classroom, they’re spending far more time at home with parents and guardians. Parents and guardians can help answer questions like: how are at-risk students reading at home? Are they exhibiting signs of disinterest or frustration? Are they attempting to independently problem-solve when they meet with challenging texts, or do they immediately ask for help? But, in order for parents and guardians to play an active, supportive role in students’ progress, they must be brought into the process from the beginning. This goes back to the earlier point about establishing a coordinated effort with all important stakeholders. 


As educators, we really need to give families the tools to be active and engaged participators in helping their children close learning gaps. That feeling of connected support in all environments is so important for young learners. 


Q: So, with all of the clear benefits in mind, what gets in the way of collaboration and communication?


Eileen: The reality is, all of these stakeholders have their own challenges and priorities. For example, intervention teachers often face barriers like limited access to quality materials for their instruction, or sometimes, limited instructional knowledge, which can leave them feeling unprepared to effectively support students. 


Administrators are often looking at their literacy instruction as a whole, including what portion of their students are meeting grade-level literacy expectations and state standards based on multiple assessment measures. They are looking for where there are gaps in the instructional programs. Administrators are also tasked with scheduling and staffing, and ensuring staff is appropriately prepared to lead intervention efforts. Time is often a common challenge shared by all. 


While these stakeholders have different perspectives, collaboration and communication can actually be the key to overcoming many of these challenges. If you feel a lack of connection in your school, my advice would be to proactively open those lines of communication. 

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The Science of Reading Conversation Guide: Untangling the Debate Over Supporting Our Growing Readers

A Science of Reading Conversation Guide

If you’re like many educators today, you’re likely having conversations about the Science of Reading with teachers, other administrators, parents, and even your own family members and communities. We want to serve as your resource and guide as you navigate these conversations. We have created a helpful set of slides – a “Conversation Guide” – to encourage meaningful discussions and sharing of perspectives. Our experts would be happy to come into your schools to help lead this conversation alongside you, with your staff, at board meetings, PTA meetings, or family nights. We are here as your partners!


Please enter your information below to receive access to the slides.

Fundamentals Unlimited: What’s New in 23-24?

Fundamentals Unlimited (FundU) is Schoolwide’s comprehensive, easy-to-use digital learning and educational resources platform. With FundU, educators have online access to Schoolwide’s full suite of literacy curriculum products for Grades K-8, including:


  • 120+ Fundamentals Units
  • 10k+ Lesson Plans, Appendices, & Assessments
  • 1.5k+ eBooks & Digital Short Texts


We’re so excited about all that FundU can offer you.  Watch this quick refresher on what’s available via our awesome digital platform, as well as a brief overview of what’s new in FundU….and what’s coming soon!


Download some FundU overview slides below our video overview. 

Keys to Sustaining a Professional Learning Program That Sticks

Professional Learning is one of the most important responsibilities that Building and District Leaders coordinate and plan. Why? Today, a school’s success relies on its implementation of research-based and current instructional best practices. To improve student achievement and teaching practices, educators must also focus on integrating their own continuous learning in a sustained and measurable way.


While there is no debating the importance of professional learning, schools sometimes find themselves challenged to effectively deliver programs that “stick” and have long-term impact.


Common questions from our school leadership partners include:


“How do I keep my teachers engaged, motivated, and excited about long-term opportunities and growth through professional learning?”


 “How do I hone my own expertise and instructional practices in order to elevate my leadership and improve the ways I can support my teachers?”


At Schoolwide, we’ve been on a journey with our partners to uncover what impactful, sustainable professional learning programs look like. Designing meaningful plans has played an important role in forming close partnerships with districts we work with across the United States. We have found that when we can build consistent, ongoing programs, our work together meets great success.


Asking leaders to commit to ongoing support has revealed that this support can come in a variety of forms. We have always believed that professional learning is not ‘one and done’ but instead, a series of connected interactions—in person, on the phone, via email, or just a matter of stopping in for a visit at the end of a school day. These connections help to build trust but also reveal to our school leaders that Schoolwide has an invested interest in their educators, in their school community, and in them.


So what are some of the takeaways from the professional learning journeys we have taken with our partners?


Balance “Now” Goals with “Future” Goals


When Schoolwide works with both new and existing partners, terms like vision, action planningsustainable growth, and enhancing culture are often used. These accompany conversations about long-range goals versus immediate, in-the-now, concerns or goals. It is extremely important to distinguish between the two, so that district leaders can allocate resources appropriately and establish a communication plan stating the current goals for professional learning and growth, versus the long-range goals that will be realized over time, with support.


Lead with Positivity 


I have found in my role as Senior Director of Professional Learning and Partnerships that a critical component of this work is to both model and promote a growth mindset. While I have had an array of experiences, the ones that have reaped the most success are when leaders can share a message of, “We can do it rather than “This is going to be hard work, but if we don’t make this change, our scores will never improve.” Professional learning will only be as successful as the positivity that is shown throughout by all stakeholders.


Shift the Tone to Focus on Opportunity


Conveying the message that professional learning inspires administrators and teachers to build proficiency, broaden their knowledge bases, and gain expertise in their fields is imperative. Communicating that professional learning is an opportunity instead of a reactive response to a problem will go a long way.


Schoolwide recently created a new annual professional learning program called Partners for Progress. Read about the ways we collaboratively build custom “pillars for progress” alongside our partners to create professional learning experiences that lead to meaningful growth.

Using Decodables & “Building on the strength of what’s happening in your classroom”

female student writing and drawing on a paper calendar, sitting at a desk with a pencil, eraser, and coloring pencils

A Conversation with literacy expert and Schoolwide literacy consultant, Christine Lagatta


Schoolwide recently released our Grade K–2 Decodable Texts and Teaching Plans, and we’re thrilled to be getting them in our partners’ hands. To understand how teachers are thinking about using decodable texts with their students, we turned to Christine Lagatta, full-time kindergarten teacher and part-time literacy staff development consultant for Schoolwide. Christine brings invaluable expertise and perspective coming from years of experience in classrooms, as a teacher and consultant.


In a recent interview, we heard about Christine’s experience using Schoolwide’s newly launched Decodable Texts and Teaching Plans with her kindergarteners. Read what she had to say!


Q: What is your current role? And what is your teaching background?


A: Currently, I’m a kindergarten teacher at Compass Schoolhouse in Westfield, NJ, and I’m also a literacy staff developer for Schoolwide. So, I’m working alongside teachers to help increase their knowledge to teach more effectively, while also guiding my kindergarten classroom through their earliest experiences as readers.


My background is in reading and literacy instruction, and I’ve always had a very strong foundation in phonics. There is, of course, a big conversation going on in education right now about the importance of phonics in early literacy instruction, and it’s interesting to see how the pendulum is swinging back in this direction. Phonics is something I’ve always emphasized in my classrooms, along with many other important components of early literacy instruction.


Q: Talk to us about what Foundational Skills resources you used in your classroom this year.


A: We use Fundations in my classroom for our core phonics instruction, and I also have Schoolwide’s Foundational Skills resources, specifically, the shared reading lessons and interactive writing lessons. These, along with the decodables, provide a great bridge to real reading and writing experiences.


Towards the very end of the year, I used Schoolwide’s new Decodable Texts & Teaching Plans with a small group of students, as an intervention method. This was a testing ground for both my students and me since I had been using leveled texts previously. I learned some interesting things about my students, as well as how it would benefit them to introduce decodable texts much earlier in the year, and potentially, integrate them into different parts of my literacy block.


Q: What did you notice most about your students’ experience with the decodables? How did they respond?


A: For the group of students I was working with, this was their first-ever experience with a decodable text. To start, I gave the books to them completely cold. Unsurprisingly, it was very much a “fish out of water” response, since these were totally new books and they were challenging the kids in new ways. Up until this point, these students were used to using their familiar sight words and pictures for clues, and “tapping” in isolation. But with the decodables, there were no patterns and the books were longer, so they were really going to need to use their word power!


I found the Book Introduction in Schoolwide’s Decodable Texts Teaching Plans very helpful in preparing students for some of the word-reading skills they would be using in the decodable text. The During the Read prompts in the plans also got them focused on applying their decoding strategies. With these supportive scaffolds, my students were soon connecting the dots and I could see their confidence building. By the end, I could tell they felt really successful! It was such a unique and exciting experience for me to see my students experience success in this way; in fact, they loved the feeling so much that they almost immediately asked to take the books home with them!


Q: How do you see teachers using decodables in their literacy block? What about alongside their core phonics curriculum?


A: I think a lot of teachers, including myself, are still figuring this out. It’s both a challenge and an opportunity.


What I love about the decodables—and especially the way the Schoolwide collection is carefully curated and sequenced, alongside the detailed, easy-to-follow Teaching Plans—is I think they can go a very long way in supporting different types of teaching styles, as well as different students’ needs. That’s key for differentiation.


For readers who need more time developing the skills, the decodable texts are great for scaffolding and confidence-building opportunities in small-group settings. For stronger readers, the texts can help them build more “reading stamina” and encourage independence faster.


Looking ahead, I’m even starting to think about how I could use one of the decodable texts and/or the additional independent and partner practice Schoolwide decodables (found in the Optional Activities portion of the Teaching Plans) to introduce or reinforce a new phonics skill with my whole class. In this scenario, the process of learning the skills and applying them by reading connected texts becomes that much more interconnected and natural. I can also see more kindergarten teachers, like me, who typically don’t begin with small-group work until later in the year, bring it into the picture earlier because of the ease of use of Schoolwide’s texts and plans.


Q: What did you like most about Schoolwide’s Decodable Texts and Teaching Plans?


A: The collection of books is fantastic, in terms of how they’re organized to promote systematic phonics instruction and ensure students are progressing with their skills. They’re also engaging and very high-quality, which you don’t always see with decodables. There are real stories and characters, which keeps students interested and motivated, especially when they might be struggling at first.


The Teaching Plans are really a standout, for all levels of experience with phonics instruction. They provide extremely detailed before, during, and after the read guidance, including introductions of the books and associated skills, and helpful prompts to use during the read. From my perspective, they’re extremely supportive for teacher success and confidence, as well as for students’.


Schoolwide’s collection is also very flexible and can be used seamlessly with different Foundational Skills curricula.


Q: What advice do you have for teachers who are preparing to bring more phonics into their classrooms, or adopting new resources like decodable texts?


A: As with any change, it’s probably going to feel a little bumpy to start. But, for all the reasons I’ve mentioned, teachers should really embrace what resources like decodable texts can do for their students, in terms of building confidence and independence.


I would also encourage teachers to continue to expose students to many different types of books and reading experiences. We really need to remember that it’s our jobs to support the whole reader; and while decodables are excellent for strengthening the skills and seeing them come to life in books, we should continue to have robust classroom libraries and encourage kids to be curious and connect with different types of stories and texts.


Finally, I would say: build on the strength of what’s happening in your classroom. There isn’t one script or formula for every classroom or every child’s path to reading success, and each child brings unique experiences, knowledge, and life circumstances. Stay tapped into how your students are progressing and what their needs are. You might discover some interesting ways to integrate skills and reading experiences that work well for your students and for you.

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