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Basal~ Curiousity!
Old 07-29-2006, 06:28 PM
 
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How many of you actually use a basal? I have been going to school to be a reading specialist, and I feel I can be a much better teacher if I use various books instead of limiting myself to the basal. However, since I HAVE one I kind of feel obligated to use it. In the past I followed my basals map for each story, but now I see how ineffective that was for my students. I was thinking of using the basal as homework, that way they take a test on it that will keep used to the kind the state testing has, but use all my assessments and lessons on other books and guided reading/literature circles and response notebooks depending on the level of the children.

So how many of you use a basal? Do not even have one and use your own literature? Or have a basal but do not really use it?

Just curious on what others are doing


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Old 07-29-2006, 06:38 PM
 
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I use a basal for the core lesson or to teach the comprehension skill for the week. I also have leveled readers that I use along with the basal. That way I can give each group help in their specific area of need. I find that this way meets the needs of more of my students.
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Basal
Old 07-29-2006, 06:47 PM
 
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Yes, I use my basal. There is so much in the program that I can pick and chose from to meet the needs of my students. I have a library of books that we purchased with it so I do have other literature to use with it. It saves me from finding multiple copies of books.

In the old days (and I'm not ancient), we used the basal but different groups read different stories, based on their levels. Some kids might be in a different book, one ahead or behind, as needed.
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Basal
Old 07-29-2006, 06:58 PM
 
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My basal is a spring board.. Our basals are good for authentic literature so no need to toss them, just use them to my best of my judgment. I pick and choose what stories we read. I will pick ones that go with a unit of study ect...
I do not do all of the skills or activities, basically like a copy of a book for every student.
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We're using
Old 07-29-2006, 07:27 PM
 
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a basal. It's a new program this year. I'm really looking forward to it because there is so much for us to choose from. Everything is there. I don't have to re-invent the wheel. Plenty of leveled materials and plans to help at each childs level.


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Old 07-29-2006, 07:28 PM
 
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Do not use a basal and would not ever use a basal. I do guided reading.
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:41 PM
 
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I do use the basal because of lack of other materials. There just isn't anything else for me to use. I cannot afford to purchase multiple copies of books to do with my students. However, I do pick and choose stories from our current basal and the previous one. I try to align them with what we are learning in Science or Social Studies. Our basal has great stories in it- Grandfather's Journey(Allen Say) Two Bad Ants(Chris Van Allsburg) Owl Moon (Jane Yolen) Lon Po Po (Ed Young) A Seymour Simon story, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs(Judi Barrett) A chapter from Charlotte's Web called Wilbur's Boast, etc. I really like most of the stories that the basal has to offer plus I have enough copies for each student. The basal also came with crates that had Easy, On-level, and Challenge books to go along with each story. I also use these books.
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Old 07-29-2006, 07:56 PM
 
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Our School has them but we don't actually use them. Well I mean I'll let them listen to the stories and read along on Fridays just because they LOVE to hear the stories and it buys me 15 minutes to pass out friday folders etc. Sometimes I use them for a listening center. We are fully trained in balanced literacy and are expected to follow with those principles. Not all of our school system is trained yet though so we still order basal reading texts for them while we switch over.
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No Basal
Old 07-29-2006, 09:02 PM
 
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We currently have them in our rooms, but they were adopted at the last round of adoptions (6 years ago?) To give each teacher time to wean off their use. We will not be adopting new basals this year we are all expected to fully implementing a balanced literacy plan using guided reading by now.

I have taught 5th and 1st grade and have never used a basal.

I hope I am never required to use one. I love using real books.
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have one...
Old 07-30-2006, 04:15 AM
 
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but don't use it. We have spotlight on literacy by Scholastic. It has sat in the cupboard since I have been here. I use trade books and picture books for Reading Workshop. We also have a leveled book room, with mulitiple copies for guided reading. I may use a story or two from the basal but not very often!

Amy


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basal
Old 07-30-2006, 04:46 AM
 
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We HAVE the basal but I don't use it. To be fair, I did use it purely in its intended manner my first year. I found what you found-- the kids did fine but were capable of so much more.

Remember, there's a lot of things we have that we don't use in our everyday lives. For example, I have a kitchen, but I don't feel obligated to use it. Hee hee.

In my view, basals are what a school district provides because the series boasts a "complete" program. These things are advertised as meeting the national reading panel's goals, etc... Districts typically buy them because it's much much much easier than piecing together a program based on reader's and writer's workshop, and buying the thousands of books you would need for it. (Not to mention the $$$ they would have to invest in teacher training, workshops, and resources) So, even though they purchased this series, if they knew what was good for them, they would be really happy to see that a teacher in their district was following her own heart and providing a individualized program for each child.

Go for it!!!
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Basal
Old 07-30-2006, 05:17 AM
 
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We use the basal, but pick and choose which stories we want to read according to what we are studying in other areas. We also do guided reading and lots of AR. I feel out kids get a very well rounded program, and for us in Texas, the focus for 3rd grade--which I teach--is to pass the reading portion of the TAKS test. If they don't pass, they don't go on to 4th. This year we had 96% passing the 1st try, and of those, 51% were commended which means they didn't miss more than 2 questions on the test. This is quite an accomplishment, but I think it comes from doing lots of different things in reading, not just sticking to the basal or any other one method for that matter.
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Don't use it much
Old 07-30-2006, 05:22 AM
 
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I only use a select few stories from the basal. For the most part, I use booksets and other materials for Guided Reading. My preference would be to have the stories that I use in the basal in booksets so I wouldn't have to use the basals.
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Basal
Old 07-30-2006, 05:28 AM
 
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We have a basal available to us if we want to use it. It is an older version of Scholastic's Literacy Place. I generally the first anthology for shared reading and to model literature discussion and such things as character traits, summarizing, word meaning in context etc. At the same time, I am doing mini-lessons from Fountas and Pinnell's Guiding Readers and Writers 3-6. They set up the first month or so for you, and it sets the stage for the literature groups I do after the first basal anthology, including readers' notebooks. This year, our principal bought us sets of nonfiction guided reading materials, and i am looking forward to adding those in to more clearly do skills lessons by ability. I do key my grammar and study skills lessons into the basal, because the principal wants us to give the anthology tests as one measure of how the kids are doing. We were looking at basals this past year, and they seem to have so much "stuff" in them that I would have a hard time doing the literature groups with the longer novels I do. We were pleasantly surprised that our new superintendent is not pushing for a basal adoption, and will let us use materials such as the guided reading nonfiction sets instead.
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Basal
Old 07-30-2006, 05:40 AM
 
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Yes, we use a basal, but it's not the only thing we use. We use a basal for 2 weeks, then a chapter book for 2 weeks. Our main goal is to make sure we give a variety of reading and cover the benchmarks. Sometimes the stories in the basal are really good! We don't necessarily do everything the basal says - we go by what our students need and what the state says we need to cover.

By the way, we use the Houghton-Mifflin basal - that's what the school adopted.
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Old 07-30-2006, 06:09 AM
 
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Our school also adopted the Houghton-Mifflin basal. I use it as a sort of back bone to my Reading Program. I also do Guided Reading, AR etc. It is great to pick and choose what is best for our individual students needs.
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I only use a few stories from the basal
Old 07-30-2006, 07:34 AM
 
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I only found about 6 stories from the basal that I use. Often as part of a Writing or Social Studies lesson. I find that as a support for another lesson, the basal stories fit the bill nicely. I use novels and other stories from the literacy closet as the main source for my reading classes.
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Basal?
Old 07-30-2006, 07:45 AM
 
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Hello, Everybody!

I've read and studied Guided Readers and Writers by Fountas and Pennell. I've read and studied Stephanie Harvey on Strategies that Work and Nonfiction Matters. I've read Susan Zimmermann's Mosaic of Thought and Lucy Calkins on The Art of Teaching Reading and Nancie Atwell's In the Middle and Stephanie Tovani's I Read It, But I Don't Get It and Do I Really Have to Teach Reading and Make it Real by Linda Hoyt and Regie Routman's Reading Essentials . . . and so on and so on . . .

So what's my point? I regard all these highly qualified authors with respect and consider them experts in the field of literacy. None of them write about or recommend using basals. I think of their books as guides to best practice, and not so long ago I'd have said, "I"ll never use a basal! But guess what? Next year my district is adopting anthologies (We can't call them basals because of the negative connotation, but they ARE basals!) I am hoping to use them the way some of you are using yours along with literature studies, independent reading, etc. But I am afraid our administrators, who say they are looking for continuity and consistency, will mandate their exclusive use.

Now having said all that, I hope no one who uses basals successfully will think I am saying one way is better than the other OR one way is the only way. We are all unique with different personalities and teaching styles. Is it wrong to think we might just prefer to teach in different ways? As long as we are meeting our curriculum objectives and state/national standards, why do can't we choose what works best for us and for our students?
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Just right level
Old 07-30-2006, 08:20 AM
 
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I think the most important thing to consider is whether or not a story is on a child's "just right level." This can be done WITH a basal (depending on child's just right level) or WITHOUT a basal (depending on child's just right level). Just make sure the text you are using fits the CHILD'S NEEDS! A lot of people have posted that they don't use a basal, they do guided reading. Guided reading is a strategy in which you guide a small group through a text varying your focus/text dependent upon that specific group's needs. This can be done with a basal as well. Once again, just make sure the text fits the child's reading needs!
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Rarely Use Basals
Old 07-30-2006, 08:30 AM
 
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I do reading groups so I rarely use the basals. There are a few stories that I do like in our basals that I will use. For the most part, they just sit on a shelf and collect dust.
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Sometimes
Old 07-30-2006, 09:24 AM
 
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I use them, and at other times I use sets of leveled non-fiction books. It depends what we are working on (skills, Standards, etc.), and if there is a great seasonal story to use as a springboard for other activities. I find I have to tailor things differently for each class each year. Almost any material can be useful if you utilize it creatively.
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Old 07-30-2006, 10:30 AM
 
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I think what you are saying is right on. People who use the basal all the time, and do it very well, probably get sick and tired of hearing us say we'd NEVER want to use a basal. You know, I kick and scream when things change, but when the chips are down, I figure out a way to make it work for my students.

You said it best! It is most important to meet THEIR needs. I think I do that very well without basals. BUT . . . I think I've already figured out a way to make it work, and you just confirmed that in your post. I do guided reading right now, I'll just do my guided reading using the basal stories, etc. If I want to meet in small groups to focus on a group of students specific needs, then I can do that using the basal as well.

I always have a self-selected independent reading component going, and I see no reason why that can't continue.
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Old 07-30-2006, 11:24 AM
 
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We don't have a basal -- but instead school-wide use guided reading. However we have a set of basals per grade level -- about 25 kid books and the teacher edition that are available to pull a story out of if you like it, it's on level, etc. However, in my 4 years here, I'm the only one that's looked through our set and used anything. I know that because it lives on my shelf in my room.

At the first school I taught in, I was the reading teacher. We were working as school-based reading teachers with the reading specialist in the county office to move away from a basal and more to a guided reading approach. In our small rural district, teachers had been doing things their way for years and weren't changing much, but after 2 years we got a book room going and had a few teachers teachig some guided reading... So I hope it's continued to move there rather than whole-group-together basal instruction.
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In my district, we have to use
Old 07-30-2006, 05:20 PM
 
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the basal, but can supplement it however we want. I use the basal as an additional resource, and pick and choose stories that go with units I am doing. I also use a lot of trade books for book clubs.

Can you be effective using a basal? Yes I think you can, however it would be incredibly boring if you covered each component that they suggest. That is very ineffective teaching. We teachers need to be creative in our approach. Basals have some great stories in them (often real books). One problem with this is that the stories often lose illustrations and sometimes parts of the text itself. When this happens, I have my students take the "real" book and compare it to the textbook version. We discuss the differences, and how, or if, it has affected the story.
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not to sound dumb, but
Old 07-30-2006, 11:58 PM
 
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so you all only do guided reading and not shared reading? In our district we do shared reading with the basals and then guided reading with the leveled books that come with the series, books from the book room, or Junior Great Books (which I use). We begin to teach the focus skill/strategy in shared reading with the basal and then reinforce in guided reading. So, I guess my question is: if you all don't use the basal, what do you use for shared reading so that everyone has a copy of the same book to be read aloud and discussed together?
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Old 07-31-2006, 03:50 AM
 
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Some of the posts have sounded like they use guided reading INSTEAD of the basals. I don't think (I hope) they actually mean that. Guided reading is only one small component of a balanced literacy program.

You're right! Shared reading is really, really important! I personally will put out my basal every once in a while for shared reading, but usually, I use charts, poems, songs, and excerpts from stories and non-fiction pieces on the overhead.
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Shared Reading
Old 07-31-2006, 07:31 AM
 
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Hello, Everybody!

In Make it Real: Strategies for Success with Informational Text, Linda Hoyt says she likes to think of shared reading as shared text experience. She also states that shared reading was (at first) considered a primary literacy activity, which may account for the fact that I've not read much about shared reading. Now I'm hearing it everywhere and am certainly planning to use that strategy with my 4th graders this year.

Like BookMuncher, Hoyt uses nonfiction pieces (We used to call it "lifted text.") on the overhead projector. Hoyt also suggests that we consider informational big books. I guess the point is that everyone experiences, sees and hears, the text at the same time.

Are there other things I need to know about shared reading?
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Old 07-31-2006, 11:48 AM
 
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Thank you for your reply...Yes, to me, it did sound like a lot of people were saying that they didn't do shared reading because they did guided reading instead...two totally separate things. I can definitely see not ONLY using the basal for shared reading and using informational texts, etc. Hopefully we'll be getting nonfiction big books that we can use some this year.

I just can't see not using the basal when most of the stories are good and they relate to the skill that needs to be taught. I guess for me, being a young teacher, that it's helpful because I don't have to make up and find materials for what I want to teach in shared reading...I just pick and choose. I don't understand why anyone else wouldn't do that. Maybe I'm missing something??

As I reread the posts, it seems to me that a lot of people do guided reading and independent reading...when do they teach the skills and reinforce them? During a read aloud? Separately in guided reading groups? Shouldn't those groups be to reinforce with different texts that are on their level? And if you work with the children whole group with the basal during shared reading, does it matter if it's on their level? If you're scaffolding instruction and helping them understand then the students understanding of the material should be held up by the teacher. It is in your guided reading groups that you determine whether they need more reinforcement or less...hmmm, just a thought.

I'm probably not making any sense...I tend to be long winded!!
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It depends on what you consider guided
Old 07-31-2006, 04:16 PM
 
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reading - If you are using Guided Reading by Fountas and Pinnell, then you are correct. If you are refering to the Four Blocks method of Guided reading, then shared reading is a component of the guided reading program. I think we are using the same terminology for two different programs.
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hey there, hey there :-)
Old 07-31-2006, 05:23 PM
 
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I teach the skills that reinforce my students independent reading time (to me the most important time of day) during read aloud, shared reading, and guided reading. Read aloud is where I model most of my comprehension strategies during a mini-lesson everyday and shared reading is typically more where I model decoding strategies. I tend to not use the basals too much because I can't control what my first graders are looking at and if they are accurately following what I am trying to teach. I have much more luck with a pointer, highlighter tape, maskers, and a big book. Then, I can explicitly show them the skill or strategy "in action." I would tend to use the basals more for fluency, partner reading, and guided reading (only when it's on level).
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