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frazzledtchr frazzledtchr is offline
 
Joined: Oct 2009
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frazzledtchr
 
Joined: Oct 2009
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Anyone use Benchmark Literacy?
Old 07-08-2015, 05:54 AM
 
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We are starting this program this year, and I'm curious if anyone has used it. If you have, any comments, suggestions, ideas would be appreciated. We have two days of training later this month, but at this point, I don't know anything about it.


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SweetTea SweetTea is offline
 
Joined: Aug 2008
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SweetTea
 
Joined: Aug 2008
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Bml
Old 07-10-2015, 05:57 PM
 
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This will be my third year teaching BML. I teach third grade so I am not sure how it looks in K and 1st grade or 5th and 6th, but I do know 2nd and 4th grade materials because I borrow from them as needed. I believe the strategies are aligned across all grades so you can cross-reference has find materials as needed. It has positives and some negatives too. If you have your manual, you will see that it is not a traditional basal. Our school did not buy the writing piece nor the Word Study. We use Words Their Way and have another curriculum for writing. We do use the writing response pieces and writing to sources.

There is a book called the First Thirty Days of School that helps you set up your reading community. I use the beginning of the year assessment to help me create goals for my students. It is a blue book with a spiral binding. I didn't use it my first year because I was trying to "learn" the program. While I use some of their suggestions with others I make them my own. I have only been teaching eight years, but I find that whatever curriculum I use that I have to supplement to reach all students in my classroom. I follow the format of the Daily 5 and use many of the CAFE strategies so I try to mesh them with the framework of BML. Thankfully we are not yet a school that has to teach exactly from a script.

The format of our manuals is for a two hour reading/writing block. 120 minutes

At the beginning of each lesson, they give suggestions for a read alouds from Trade Books that were not provided in our materials...they may be now. Anyway it notes something like this.... Select a favorite fiction read-aloud from your classroom or school library with which to model the metacognitive strategy “Make Connections.” Use the sample read-aloud lessons and suggested titles in the Getting Started Guide. They give you ten minutes for this part of the lesson.

The next 20 minutes is spent teaching the mini-lesson. I find that sometimes it goes much quicker and other times longer depending on the topic and the class. Teaching is done using posters (available online too---I like them better because I can project them and they are larger so the whole class can see them, but the posters are in their CLOSE reading book too. The first two weeks provide instruction with both text dependent comprehension and metacognitive strategies. Week One focuses on the Comprehension strategies while week two continues this focus (sometimes adding more strategies )while tacking on Genre studies.


When the mini-lesson is done, they give you 60 minutes (3 groups for 20 minutes each) for small group instruction, and these come from the Level Readers with Teacher Guides. They provide language about "rotations" - like Read Leveled Texts with students, Independent Reading, and Workstation Activity, but there are no set plans for these Workstation activity. The students' texts come in bags with a teacher's guide which I really like. They have selective questions, ideas for vocabulary and even black line masters to copy for your small reading group. The third week focus is fluency and includes a Reader's Theater script across various levels and tries to tie it all together with metacognitive strategies. This is one area where I have not have huge success with this program. I continue to try, but also use some other fluency materials to make sure the students are experiencing authentic practice for fluency.

Here are some things I like:
Teacher Guides for Leveled Books - Sometimes I spend two weeks on the same book in order to cover the material in small group adequately. My students also read books of choice which I know is not an option at some school. For my "Workstation Activities" I have them completing writing in response to reading or another comprehension activity.
Online books that students can access
Lots of non-fiction to challenge students
Assessments that measure specific strategies

Here are some things I do not like:
In some units have two main strategies, but in the second week they add others which can be overwhelming for some....so I find I have to be selective and focus on what my students need and not overwhelm them trying to cover four or five "strategies".

I have found that the students texts are interesting for the most part, but complex for my lower readers so I borrow from the 2nd grade leveled books.

Sometimes I struggle to make the connection in the CLOSE books with the comprehension strategy that are trying to focus on....so I supplement. I do not have my manual at home or I would give you an example.

Interactive resources are getting better, but the website is not as user-friendly as I'd hoped.

Compared to our previous series Treasures, I see good things coming from this series...but like any curriculum it has to flexible to meet the needs and demands of student learning. I liked parts of the Treasures series too...so I am not criticizing it at al.

If you have any questions, while not an expert by any means, I'd be happy to try to help. Best wishes to you in the upcoming school year.

Last edited by SweetTea; 07-10-2015 at 06:00 PM.. Reason: added text
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frazzledtchr frazzledtchr is offline
 
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frazzledtchr
 
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Thank you!
Old 07-13-2015, 07:14 AM
 
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Thank you for all the detailed information!! I am going to print your response off for reference as I begin looking at the curriculum. I don't have a manual or anything yet, but we do have two days of training coming up soon. Hopefully, BML will be easy to learn!

Thanks again, and best wishes to you as well!
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