Just wondering what reading basal (if any) you all use in your classrooms and what are your thoughts on the it. Also, do you go story, by story through the textbook, or are you allowed to skip around? (I've heard "horror" stories of teachers under strict district guidelines as to what to teach and when.)

Tags: basal, elementary, reading

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We have a basal - Junior Great Books - but we don't have to use it if we don't want to. We also have sets of a ton of different novels. Sometimes, I'll use a selection from Junior Great Books to teach a new technique. Mostly, though, the kids are reading the novels that connect with the area themes.
--Lindy
In my school we are not allowed to use the district adopted basal program because we are a Reading First school. We are under strict district guidelines as to what to teach and when, but I believe there are two reasons for that: 1) Our students are very, very, very mobile within the district and 2) It gives teachers who may not be sure of what to do something to fall back on.

My take on it is that I didn't get my master's degree to be told how to do my job.... being told how and what to teach and when to do it is quite honestly an insult to my intelligence. But, I try to do as I am told, but put my own spin on it while of course using practices and materials that are research based.
Thanks for clarifying that "mobility" issue. I guess I hadn't thought of that in light of mandating basal lessons. Now I KIND of understand that reasoning, but agree w/you that I would feel quite "limited" to be held to a prescribed set of guidelines.

BUT, like I said, I can understand need for consistency if many students are mobile.

Speaking of which, the Des Moines Register (newspaper) finally was KIND to public education earlier this month (August '08) and printed an Op Ed piece basically asking how can schools be expected to TEACH when parents are not PARENTING? That might be a whole other discussion right there.

Districts are mandating curriculum around BAD parenting? Hmmm....
Was this the article?
Yep! That's the one.
We purchased a new basal series last year but I choose not to use it. I love to use novels and picture books.
Hi, we do not use a basal in our building/district either. This summer our Reading Team, under the direction of the Curriculum Director created our own Reading Curriculum. It consists of a daily set of minilesson, centers, guided reading, and independent practice. At the end of each week we have checkpoints which are informal assessments of the skills worked on through the week. Each week is differentiated to meet the needs of our various levels of readers. We used pictures books/novels to match the genre of each 6 week cycle. I'd be happy to share more info. if you are interested. It has been a lot of work to put together, but I think it's a great way to teach reading to each child's needs.
Katie, i want more, sounds amazing. anything you want to share i'll look at.
moerickson@cfellowships.org

Hi Katie

I'm not sure if you are still on this site since 2008.  I'm looking for teaching the questioning strategy to a fifth grade ELL student who is reading a little below the 4th grade level.  Do you have any ideas/books or suggestions on what would be a good topic for this?

Jeanie

jeanie3397@hotmail.com

We don't have a basal and do mainly literature circles or whole class novels. This past school year we were able to order some leveled readers, but those are used in conjunction with guided reading groups and do not drive the curriculum. I know of teachers at other schools who are required to march through the basal, but I also know that there are some pretty high quality basals out there. Depending on HOW the teacher uses the stories in the basal (again dependent on both admin and the teacher's own personal beliefs), you can still have incredible thinking and learning going on.
I don't teach reading, I teach in a special ed gifted program but our district uses Open Court, In the last year teachers were told to teach it with fidelity (love that term!) It has its benefits in my opinion---it's great for new teachers and teachers who don't know how to teach reading. It also aligns with the state assessments. (too bad we have those assessments, but we do)

Our district has changed over the years with a shift in demographics from middle/upper class suburban. In the past students would enter school reading with two parents at home to support, help with homework, etc. That is no longer the case--we have many students who change schools often, have little support at home and may not be able to read on grade level in 4th, 5th or 6th grade. Teachers who have not had to teach kids how to read are now having to do so. Test scores are rising with the use of the formulaic reading programs.

The downside is the misfit for bright kids. A teacher has to be very proficient to differentiation for high ability using a structured program. Not to insult anybody, but novel studies do not teach reading. Done well they may teach some critical thinking skills, some vocabulary but they do not teach some basic reading skills. I wonder how many non or low readers sit and stare at the page during "novel studies". That's probably a whole different discussion.

I love Jr Great Books and have had the training twice but it is hard to facilitate well!! But it doesn't teach reading either---better know how to read before you try to discuss some really high level questions. Finished blathering about something you guys know much more about than I do.
i teach at a christian school and developed what we do in reading for 4th and 5th grade.
i had no basals for years and only used novels but needed some short stories to teach from and about. final got the newest macmillian mcgraw hill, called Treasures. They are amazing with a wealth of resources. I only use these to supplement as i mainly use novels. some we read as a class, do projects etc.. others they pick for literature circles. what i really need to know is how other people grade literature circles. haven't mastered that.

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