Basal Readers

Discussion in 'Elementary Education Archives' started by ohteach, Apr 24, 2006.

  1. ohteach

    ohteach Companion

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    Apr 24, 2006

    I am writing a paper for one of my masters classes of the pros and cons of basal readers. I am interested to hear what you all have to say. I have been using them this year and I don't feel they are as bad as I was always taught.
     
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  3. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 24, 2006

    Some reading series/basals are better than others. I think it's important to use authentic texts, a variety of genres, and for students to be working at their reading level. Basals don't always offer this.
     
  4. lindalou

    lindalou Rookie

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    Apr 24, 2006

    We use basals at our school. The series we have really seems to have it all - different genres, poems, big books, phonemic awareness, curriculum links, trade book suggestions plus leveled readers. (I think I just talked myself into using it again next year! LOL!) I was recently asked what was the most important thing for a teacher to have and I answered patience and flexibility. So, if you have to use a basal, be flexible! You can pick and choose and supplement to your heart's desire!

    I also think if you are a new teacher, it is great to have something like a basal series to follow while you are getting the hang of everything. This applies to all subjects!

    FYI - I teach first and I use the basal and my co-worker who teaches next to me does NOT use the basal and our kids all turn out ok!
     
  5. 2ndTimeArnd

    2ndTimeArnd Companion

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    Apr 25, 2006

    I agree - they have their pros and cons. I'm in my second year of using Open Court, as mandated by my district. It has a lot of pluses - a systematic program of teaching phonics, decent literature, a thorough and orderly way of teaching comprehension strategies. That said, the 2nd grade level I teach is above a majority of my class (and about half of my kids read close to grade-level) ... so I have to slow it down a bit. You can't use every single part of Open Court or your reading block would be 150 minutes every day. I do the OC whole-group (which special ed and ELL kids pulled out to go to their groups) and supplement it with Guided Reading groups using other books. I also don't use the OCourt Writing Program. o pting instead for a Writer's Workshop approach - the OC program is too disjointed and I think it teaches too many concepts all at once and assumes 2nd grade writers know more than my kids, at least, know. I was told to use the spelling words, which I also didn't much like at first, but now have seen the value in the way the weekly lists focus on patterns and sounds (such as this week we're on br and fr words; some weeks the list emphasizes inflectional endings, or another blend).
    I know basals get a bad rap amongst many teachers, but for me, as a newer teacher (3rd year), it brought an orderliness to my reading instruction and by and large the kids like it. It remains to be seen yet in my district whether use of the program will help raise our test scores!
     
  6. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

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    Apr 25, 2006

    I would guess, DinDenver, that the basal gives you some options for modeling how to compare and contrast different genres etc., and make connections among them - the mental flexibility this can encourage in the kids WILL help the test scores. ("I don't know how to do that... wait! I know this that relates to it!")
     
  7. mhirsch

    mhirsch Companion

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    Apr 25, 2006

    It definitely depends on the basal reader that you're using. Have you looked into any specifically? Like Open Court Resources.com?
     
  8. teacherlissa

    teacherlissa Comrade

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    Apr 25, 2006

    One huge thing about basals is reaching all the learners in your classroom. If you teach in guided reading groups, basals do not help with that. Basals might reach one of the possible 4 guided reading groups. I have 3 guided reading groups working on a variety of instructional levels. My basal series does not apply to any of the instructional levels I am working with at this moment.
     
  9. runsw/scissors

    runsw/scissors Phenom

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    The basals we have seem to be pretty good. All the stories are excerpts from actual novels and poems. Problem is that some of the selections are abridged and so some of the flavor is lost. My class's book has "Paul Revere's Ride", but about half of the poem was not included! I love teaching from novels and wish I could do that more often.
     
  10. Miss W

    Miss W Phenom

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    I use the basal readers as supplements to our Guided Reading Program. Students take a book on their level home and read it each night with their parents. The then do suggested activities with each story. Once the entire book has been read and the parents have signed off, then students bring it back to get a new one.
     
  11. maggiedoodle

    maggiedoodle Rookie

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    Apr 25, 2006

    Good starting point...

    I like basals simply because they generally provide a scope and sequence for skills instruction. This makes it much easier to ensure you're including everything. That said, they aren't the end-all. Like most people have said, you can supplement or modify them to reach your individual students. I guess they're really only as good as their user, like most teaching products!
     
  12. ohteach

    ohteach Companion

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    Apr 25, 2006

    Wow thanks for all of the input, this is great. I am also a first year teacher and my basal has helped me "get the hang" of teaching reading. I do wish I could find somehting more leveled though, I think that is my biggest complaint.
     
  13. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Apr 26, 2006

    You don't find something more leveled- you create a library that's leveled. Do you have a lot of independent reading books in your room? Start by dividing them into piles according to dificulty....You can use the leveled book link here on the website to help you. Then put into baskets or bins according to level. I do a running record/miscue analysis on my kiddoes to start them off at the beginning of the year in the 'just right' level for them.,
     
  14. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

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    Apr 26, 2006

    Our district has adopted Harcourt Trophies. The main selection in the text is then accompanied by 3 different levels of additional selections, so these are available for guided reading groups. I generally don't like using the basal, but this option is there.
     
  15. NCP

    NCP Comrade

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    Apr 26, 2006

    I have used a basal for the past three years, and this next year I am going away from it a little bit to incorporate other things. As a fairly new teacher, I was glad we had one. I use mine in addition to the guided reading groups I run. Usually the basal story is what I plan my centers off of. I have been using the workbooks that come along with the readers, but this next year I am not getting them b/c I don't feel they are appropriate for all of my students. So overall, I like the basal, especially when I had three or four curriculums to learn, but now that I am comfortable with my grade and the requirements I am excited to do other activities, such as Author studies and more with literature units.
     
  16. ohteach

    ohteach Companion

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    Apr 26, 2006

    Once again thank you all for the input. I find it interesting that as an undergrad I was taught to stay away from basals but here I am teaching from them. I have also found that as far as my research goes so far many teachers feel the same way, basals are an ok tool to use but should not be the main source of reading curriculm in the classroom.
     
  17. love2teach

    love2teach Enthusiast

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    Apr 26, 2006

    I like having a basal.....I use the stories for shared reading or with my guided reading groups that are on grade level. I also use the phonics for whole class (which forms a lot of my center activities, read the room, poems etc..) I am also albe to get some great writing lesson plan ideas from by basal.....\
    Like others have alredy posted, I think they give a great guide to the order of teaching skills and phonics....it lets me know that I have touched upon everything I needed to.
     

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