A basal?! You use a basal?!? This is one of the most common questions/emails I receive through blogging, and I have to admit it is something I was very nervous about when moving schools. I never student-taught in a classroom with a basal, and when teaching 5th grade I solely relied on the Common Core. There were plenty of times when I *wished* I had something to guide me, but I flew solo.
Moving schools/districts/grades over the summer, I still loosely say "I use a basal." In reality, our administration trusts us [teachers] and our ability to do what is best for students. In 1st grade, we use Reading Street (2013) as our scope and sequence (which has worked out very well). We do use the phonics, must-know words, spelling words, and some of the comprehension from the program but pull from other resources for writing, guided reading, and our Daily 5/small-group times.
I teach in a fairly affluent school, and our students are typically pretty high. With our student population there is a significant portion of Reading Street that does not work for us, as it's not challenging enough. Thankfully, we are blessed with the freedom to supplement. We completely skip the 'R' Unit at the beginning of the year, and we only pull the decodable readers for our lowest groups and ELLs (see them in the picture below). Right now, 2 of my 4 reading groups routinely use RS in small groups (my lowest group uses the yellow material - on grade level and my on-grade level group uses the blue material). In the other groups, I pull chapter books and nonfiction passages.
We are blessed with all of the Reading Street materials to pull from, and our materials take an entire cabinet, plus additional storage for the Readers and Writers Notebooks (which we rarely pull from because it's a book of 300 worksheets that lack rigor or interest. Once a week, I do try to pull the phonics practice page for morning work.) The bottom pull-out drawers hold our class-sets of basal readers: units R - 5...note I only pull 7 copies of each book each unit, as our reading block is structured in small groups and I would NEVER need 25 copies of the basal.
At the beginning of the year I pre-sorted our Leveled Readers by week putting the green, yellow, and blue readers together with a rubber band. Keeping all 3 books together makes them easy to grab and plan with. Over the summer, I want to use binder clips writing the Guided Reading Levels of each book on the binder clips.
Using RS as a scope and sequence, our class Focus Wall highlights our learning targets for the week. It's not fancy, but it works (over the summer I have big plans to revamp this into a hands-on space that students can take ownership in). Our Focus Wall includes our comprehension, phonics, fluency, writing, and high-frequency words for the week. At the top of the board, I include the story sequence cards for the week. The string and clips are for displaying student work!Guided Reading. My top 2 tips for making RS easy to work with in small groups - (1) set out the materials before groups begin, so as soon as students arrive they can begin working. (2) If you are going to use the basal (see below) go ahead and open the book to the right page. That way, you can just pass out the books when your ready and there is no need to waste 1.5 minutes of a 15 minute oration (i.e. 10% of your time) finding Pg. 135.
I do have my students to use a Leveled Reader as a warm-up or a phonics hunt. The problem with the leveled readers is even within the colors (green - below level, yellow - on level, blue - above level) the texts jump reading levels from week-to-week. One week a text will be a Level J, the next week it will be a Level G, and the following week a text will be a Level I. ALLOVERTHEPLACE. Our primary grades are blessed to have access to Reading A-Z, so we can pull just-right reading materials for our groups.
word work, listening to reading, read to self, work on writing, and Lexia.
In Word Work, students pull their Word Ring to work on their phonics skills. I created the word rings using words suggested by Reading Street. The green words (approaching grade-level) are the must-know and intervention words for each week, the yellow words (on-grade level) are the phonic-skills words, and the blue words (above grade level) are the enrichment words. You can read about our Word Work routine here and how we differentiate our centers here.
Throughout our Daily 5 block, our friends are also on the look-out for our grammar or phonics skill for the week to write a spotted word on our Word Collector. It's great to see our skills in action in REAL books, and helps me see student misconceptions about our skills. Read more about our Word Collector here.
Pearson Success Net. These are fabulous videos and songs that coordinate with our week's grammar skill. From nouns to verbs to pronouns, we all love a little ditty to help us learn.
So, friends, this is what works for our 1st grade team from Reading Street. There are several parts we struggle using - fluency, writing, the weekly assessments, the unit assessments (ohmygoodness!), the focus on whole-group, and the stark difference in reading levels from week-to-week in texts. Thankfully, we can tweak and pull for these things. I am glad, though, to have a frame of reference - especially teaching 1st for the first time - and have a printed scope and sequence.
Please tell me, how do you using Reading Street? Are there any treasures in the program that I need to learn about this summer? If so, I'd love to hear what's working for you! :)