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Old 02-21-2009, 06:16 PM
 
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Hey there all,

We just got Storytown a few weeks ago. We are supposed to start using it even though we have had NO training in it yet. They are training us next year.
I am looking at the 4th grade TE. The Suggested Lesson Planner is telling me:

Step 1: Whole Group 45-60 min of Oral language, Comprehension, vocab and reading fluency

Step 2: Small Groups 45-60 min

Step 3: Whole Group again 45-60 min. Writing, spelling and grammar

My problem: LA is not the only thing we teach! At minimum this is 135 minutes of LA instruction a DAY! I also need to teach Math, SS and SCI. How is that supposed to happen? I need to teach at least an hour and half of math a day. I can alternate SS and SCI each week or day but 135 minutes of LA a day?? Are they crazy??

Does anyone do this? Can you explain to me how this all ties together? I am looking at this program thinking it looks ridiculous. It seems very prescriptive. I love love love readers workshop and with this program there is going to be no time for it. I am going crazy trying to read this manual. I am not used to dealing with basals like this. I am hoping that once you start teaching it, it gets better? This does not look very teacher friendly.

I would love to hear how you all do this. I am a little nervous to get started and have been procrastinating. I like RW sooooo much better!
In storytown, when is there time for the self selected reading that is indicated in the TE? Also, is Storytown designed for it to be taught in order or can I start anywhere? Should I start with theme one or does it matter?



Last edited by TeacherBB; 02-21-2009 at 06:53 PM..
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Wow!
Old 02-21-2009, 08:08 PM
 
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I cannot believe you are expected to start Storytown in the middle of the year with no training...yikes!

This is our second year...hoping I can help you sort it out a little. I am pretty sure I am not using it perfectly, but maybe I can give you some insight.

First, I do believe you have to start with Theme 1, but is there a Storytown rep you can ask? Each theme has 5 lessons. The first 2 will focus on the same strategy and skills (for example-Character Traits and Motivations) and the next 2 will focus on another (like Plot: Conflict and Resolution) The fifth lesson is always Readers' Theater and reviews everything taught in the first 4 lessons. It seems to me that as the themes progress, the reading levels of the main selections and Leveled Readers increases. And, the skills and strategies of previous Themes come up again, but not formally, so if you skip, say Theme 1, they may not get to learn those concepts again.

As far as the scheduling goes, you are absolutely right - there is no way to fit everything listed there in! You definitely have to pick and choose. I focus on the things marked "Tested" and do the rest as time allows. I tend to spend the first 2 days of a lesson doing whole group (we are interrupted a lot, so it's not that long) and I meet with small groups a minimum of 3 days per lesson (Oh - I have NEVER finished a Lesson in 5 days!) usually meeting with Below-Level (Red) every day and Advanced (Green) once or twice - they work more independently. This year, I have a full time Inclusion teacher, so she has her group in the Strategic Intervention component.

My students do Independent Reading during Small group time. I have kind of slacked off on "centers" and give lots of "activities " and projects for them to do during what I now call "Independent Work" time while I meet with groups. One thing is Independent Reading.

I will admit that this year has been easier to manage as I only have 14 students with my Inclusion Teacher! However, last year I had 24 students alone (Well, the Basic Skills teacher took the Strategic and Below-level groups) but I moved much faster than this year - it was a brighter crowd! I am actually a month behind where I was last year!

As far as training...we did not receive training until August right before school started...BUT, it was ongoing. The consultant came in every other month or so and met with us by grade level, observed us, answered questions, etc. Having that support made the first year much easier.

Well, I hope I shed a smidgen of light on your situation - PM me if you have any questions based on what I wrote - hopefully others willhave insight for you, too!

Good Luck!
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Bits and Pieces
Old 02-21-2009, 08:17 PM
 
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I am a first year teacher so I'm still trying to figure this out.

So the 4th grade at my school doesn't have the official program (yet), but we do have access to all of the resources online and we have the guided readers. That being said we have had some training and this is what I've learned:
  • Storytown is NOT meant to be used in it's entirety. We are the experts when it comes to our students. We know what types of activities and strategies work for them.
  • We were told to think of Storytown as a toolbox. How many days do we use every tool in the toolbox? NEVER. The timeframes given in the teacher's manual are if you used everything.
  • Our school follows these guidelines. 60 Minutes Reading Daily; 45 Minutes Writing Daily; 20-30 minutes general Language Arts (spelling, vocab, grammar, etc) 3 times per week; 90 min math daily, 60 min science or soc. studies daily. We also have 40 min specials 4 times per week.
  • We still follow a model similar to Readers and Writers Workshop we use the scope and sequence from Storytown. My reading block is as follows:
    • 15 min Mini-lesson (using the strategy focus or skill focus from StoryTown)
    • 40 min Guided Reading groups (using StoryTown guided readers and teacher resources provided)
    • 5 min whole group wrap up/sharing
  • I also use the writing piece included in Storytown bc it aligns pretty closely with 6 traits. I usually use the Pencil (theme writing) instead of the weekly writing.
  • I use the Language arts (spelling, vocab, and grammar) as warm up work and will pull intervention groups when necessary.
  • Every other Friday instead of doing our tradition guided reading groups the students participate in Literature Circles.
  • If you have access to the online components those are actually quite convienent. They have a lesson planning tool that lets you pick and choose what you'll use each week.
When I first looked at the program I was incredibly overwhelmed. After our "training" with the Harcourt rep things were much more manageable. Also the students seem to really benefit from the looping aspect of the focus skills and strategies (2 weeks on 1 strategy).

I hope you give Storytown a fair shot. I'm not saying that all of it is fabulous, but there are a lot components that I've found to be very benefitial for my 4th graders.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
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Old 02-21-2009, 11:17 PM
 
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Do you feel that you are covering more with this plan laid out? I often worry that I am leaving crucial pieces of instruction out because we are all grabbing what we do and know.
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thanks
Old 02-22-2009, 06:06 AM
 
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you guys! You definitely shed some light on my situation. I think I will leave the Writing component out b/c I do WW anyway and they are always writing and I am seeing some great work coming from my kids this year with what I am already doing. I am thinking that I might use the Writing Prompts as journal entries. I am also not impressed with the way they model writing. I teach the kids to write a lot more and use better word choice. I am going to keep using WW for now until I am told not to.

I am going to give it a fair shot b/c I firmly believe in trying my best to teach the kids and if this is what the district wants I guess I have to conform. Maybe I can use the Independent reading part of centers to instill some RW which I love so much!

Keep sending me your advice as I am still interested in everyone's suggestions and opinions.


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Old 02-22-2009, 07:20 AM
 
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Just to make you feel good - you are definitely right on with sticking to your already-successful WW approach! Why fix what's not broken??

Last edited by teach8060; 02-22-2009 at 07:20 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 02-23-2009, 03:56 PM
 
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Exactly teach8060! thanks!

I would like to stick to RW too...
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Old 03-11-2009, 02:06 PM
 
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This curriculum is basil but once you follow along for the first couple of weeks you will get the hang of it. There are many times that I unable TO COVER EVERTHING THey want in a day's lesson. I teach kindergarten. I have heard that the other grades have more information to cover and they arent't able to do so.
good luck!!!
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