Teaching Reading with basals

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Pisces_Fish, Sep 22, 2013.

?

How often do you use basals in your Reading instruction?

  1. I teach with basals only

    17.9%
  2. I teach with literature only

    38.5%
  3. I teach mostly with literature but I have basals to use if I want to

    28.2%
  4. I teach about 50/50 basals and literature

    15.4%
  1. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Do you teach with a reading program such as Houghton Mifflin? I do not, my current school doesn't even have sets laying around. We all use picture books, magazines, A to Z printable books, etc.

    At my first school we didn't use basals at all but we had class sets to use occasionally if we wanted. It was discouraged, though. At my second school, we taught 90% basals with a few pieces of literature thrown in.

    Just wondering what it's like at other schools. It's certainly more work to teach without one, but I find it's better for kids because it's more interesting for them and can be really tailored to fit their interests.
     
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  3. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2013

    We have basals but I just use them for my small group instruction. The spectrum of my kids' abilities range from reading at a frustrational level to 110 words per minute. So I personally can't make them all read the same thing at the same time. There are teachers at my school who still use them that way.
     
  4. MrsC

    MrsC Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I've never used basals; none of the schools I've worked in have them.
     
  5. gr3teacher

    gr3teacher Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I worked in a school that had the Houghton-Mifflin kit, with all the book sets, but not the basals. Without ever using a basal, I suspect that going "lit-only" is harder at first, but easier to get kids to buy in. And after you've done it for a year or two, it gets pretty easy.
     
  6. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I find this forum fascinating because it seems other areas of the country are really going away from basals. California is NOT like that, at least the districts I have experience with. My charter allows a lot of freedom in HOW I teach, but I must be teaching the skills and strategies outlined in the curriculum, which is Treasures. I don't find it as constricting as others seem to. I actually generally appreciate having things outlined for me. I definitely bring in other sources, literature, interactive whiteboard activities, etc. when I'm teaching those concepts. It's not scripted. But for example, this week Treasures has me teaching short e and short u (we are still in Kinder review). I will do that in a variety of ways, but I need to do that because it's what is in the curriculum. We do need to teach the stories in the basal, but our curriculum has pretty good stories with a good mix of fiction and nonfiction, so that's fine with me. I bring in other things like Daily 5 and Reading A to Z.

    I'm not so sure it's better for the kids to teach without one. My kids are usually really interested in the stories we read in the Treasures series and in the activities we do (I use a lot of Kagan strategies, etc.) I think there is a lot to be said for the way material is presented. I personally like having things laid out and then being creative and presenting everything with my own spin.

    Of course, I am in California, and I have literally never heard of a district here that does not use a basal in some way. People supplement, yes. But a reading series is always used. Most districts also have a supplementary curriculum for ELD instruction for English Learners, something that wouldn't be necessary in many or even most areas of the country. I don't know if I would agree with teaching ELD only using literature.
     
  7. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I have to use Storytown, but since it really doesn't align with the CCSS, I find myself using more and more trade books. I'm hoping to move completely away from the basal next year (if my P/district will allow). Just praying I have the $$ to purchase at least small group sets of texts.
     
  8. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Sep 22, 2013

    There are no basals at all in my district. We are a workshop school...trade books only. Love it.:thumb:
     
  9. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Sep 22, 2013

    We have Storytown, but I find it boring and worksheet-heavy. If I had to use it every day, I definitely wouldn't enjoy my job as much.
     
  10. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Treasures has workbooks, but I rarely have kids do the worksheets. I'm lucky to be at a school with more flexibility, though. My colleagues told me that even the treasures reps said the program is not meant to be used in its entirety. You pick and choose what resources work for you and supplement as needed.
     
  11. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Sep 22, 2013

    I send the worksheets home for homework, lol - I try to have them do "more rigorous" work than those allow. Instead of simply identifying subjects and predicates, for instance, I have them complete or create sentences.
     
  12. stargirl

    stargirl Companion

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    Sep 22, 2013

    This is the first year we're moving away from basal readers. I personally liked using basal readers. For one, I do like having the skills laid out for me--I came up with my own activities for the most part, but it helped keep me focused and moving along to make sure I covered all the skills in the curriculum. For another, there was enough of a variety of genre in the reader and we moved quickly enough so that the students stayed interested in the stories. I did have the freedom to use trade books every so often as long as I taught the skills laid out in the basal, and we'd always do a poetry and short fable unit--so student interest/engagement was high.

    Also, having the "low" readers, I appreciated having shorter text--now that we're reading a chapter book, it's harder for the kids to see it as just one story so that they can pull out story elements, identify the most important events, etc. Also, just reading through chapters takes so long (we have to either partner read/choral read) as my students' reading fluency is very low, that I don't have as much time to really delve into the skills that they need to improve their comprehension.

    I wish we'd stayed with the basals, just gotten a newer edition, as some of the stories were starting to get a bit dated. I have to say that the novel we're reading now is even more dated with lots of pop culture references that I need to explain to my students. Maybe in a year or two my opinion will change, but for now I don't see it as an improvement.
     
  13. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    Sep 22, 2013

    We do have HM, but we are not required to use it. We have a pacing guide that lays out the skills and targets, so you can still know what you are focusing on without having a basal. We primarily use leveled readers and A to Z printables, and trade books. In fact, last year we put in a huge order of trade books.
     
  14. MJH

    MJH Companion

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Yes

    I don't have a choice but to teach the basal. It's our first year with the Journey's series and we must follow it. Once the district realizes that it's not increasing scores because it doesn't fit our students then we can go back to using it only as a resource and add what actually will help our students. For some reason we go through this every time we get a new series. The district thinks it's the be all end all and then is greatly disappointed when it's not.
     
  15. teacherwithlove

    teacherwithlove Comrade

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    Sep 22, 2013

    Surprisingly, my new district is moving away from basals completely. We (actually they since this is my first year with them) are no longer being driven by the curriculum but are now being driven by CCSS. Therefore, we use subject integration to teach reading. We pick and pull from the Reading text and other texts to teach. We are also using a new method of teaching reading called, Close-Reading. This calls for deeper text analysis and discussion without the pre-reading strategies that I am so used to using (picture walk, background scaffolding, etc.)

    My district is ALL ABOUT "upping the rigor." (I've lost count of the number of times I've heard this phrase being used district-wide).

    ...The inside joke is, we (my grade level team) feel that a lot of the higher-ups don't even know how to fully implement a curriculum that "ups the rigor.."
     
  16. Tyler B.

    Tyler B. Groupie

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    Nov 16, 2013

    Our district bought Storytown, a gigantic skill-based basal series. It's pretty bad: kids are only supposed to read one story a week.

    I currently teach in an affluent school and our scores are already so high, our P does not want to mess with success so pretty much no one uses it.
     
  17. ktdclark

    ktdclark Comrade

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    Nov 16, 2013

    I am in California too and we use Treasures as well. We do a story a week and then supplement with trade books and thematic literature and NF articles depending on the theme. I do a couple of the spelling worksheets/week and the vocab. ws as independent work after doing more organic spelling and vocab instruction...
    We are finishing up the unit on Community Heroes and my kids are presenting next week their personal hero poster that they have been working on at home and will start an informational paragraph on a famous hero on Monday. The kids enjoy the weekly stories most of the time, and everything is paired with a NF text as well so it lends itself to CC very well.
     
  18. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Nov 16, 2013

    I find it fascinating that you say "it seems other areas of the country are really going away from basals." In my 20+ years, I have never used a basal nor was it offered. We do have Treasures recently but only for literature. We are required to use the Daily 5 CAFE, Stephanie Harvey's comprehension to the core, and 80% non-fiction.
     
  19. educationalfun

    educationalfun New Member

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    Nov 18, 2013

    I can own up to the fact that none of my kids has done basal and I am quite confident using online resources without purchasing texts that would just prove cumbersome to use. I mean, with just a click I can get all the info that I require for my little one’s learning process without breaking a sweat. That keeps boredom away at the same time discharging lessons to my kids. I can only wonder how long they would remain in their seats bogged down with the texts. So it is off to the wonderful site "easylearnreading.com" that is now my companion in teaching my kids.

    Regards
    Daniele Wren
     
  20. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Nov 18, 2013

    I have a Nelson reader's set in my classroom. I always start the year with the first reader because it's pretty basic and it gives everyone something they can 'read' (a lot memorize). Then I pick and choose stories throughout the year that match our theme. We do very little with the readers after September as we move into literature. I do the Daily 5 structure and teach strategies from the CAFE menu.
     
  21. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Nov 18, 2013

    I'm not currently a teacher in K-12, so I didn't vote. But the local upper grade elementary school that I am familiar with uses a Basal reader with a very specific schedule. The teachers can teach in the way that they want, but students throughout the entire grade read the exact same story, do the exact same worksheets, and take the same pretest and post test. All of this data is recorded and used for tracking student performance. This is (to my knowledge) almost the entire reading curriculum, save for D.E.A.R. time in which the students read what they want silently for 20 minutes a day. It means less planning for the teachers, but is really frustrating for teachers of students who are very far below grade level who are still required to read the story and complete the assignments.
     
  22. yellowdaisies

    yellowdaisies Fanatic

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    Nov 18, 2013

    CA has always used basals. I used them as a student and they are around today. I really don't see them as the "evil" many seem to perceive them as. If the district does not expect them to be taught with "fidelity"/word for word/scripted, however you want to phrase it, they can be a useful tool.
     
  23. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Nov 18, 2013

    Same is true for my state. I didn't know that there were places were basals weren't required.
     

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