We adopted it last year. Before that, we got to do whatever we wanted as far as a reading series went. I spent my entire year teaching authentic literature...read alouds, and literature circles, we do the workshop model in our school...mini-lesson, work time, share time.
My students learned so much, and really learned to love books. Since teaching HM, I have not been able to do as many read alouds...I still do them, but am behind in HM book, or lit circle books.
Every reading conference I go to tells about how statistics have shown that teaching series is NOT a tool for best practices. Yet, why do districts feel like they need to adopt them?
Anyway...I hate HM, and all series for that matter. I feel that you can teach so much better with authentic literature. Fortunately, my principal lets us use it how we see fit. I sometimes use the basal in my guided reading groups to pick out the main idea of paragraphs. Unfortunately, I hate it, and my kids hate it (they probably sense my dislike...can't help it!!) I do everything the district tells me I have to, read the assigned pages, give the silly tests in the workbook...I just don't grade them. I use them as a tool to see where my kids are struggling.
HM gives you tons and tons of materials to go with their program. They SAY they are going to give you a class library...beware...they don't even have 300 titles in their inventory!!! ANYWAY.. The readers for guided reading are supposed to be good. I don't know about your school, but the below level readers were actually a little challenging for my advanced readers YIKES...Yes, I teach in an urban setting.
They also confuse my students. Last year when I taught 4th, I tried to use them when I read titanic in the basal. The guided reading set goes with each selection. WELL, my middle readers (I think) were reading about the Andrea Doria...ANYWAY, they confused it with the basal story of the titanic, and it ended up being a BIG mess! I just gave up and used authentic literature in guided reading like I've always done!! Hopefully you'll have better luck than I did..Sorry for rambling!!!
I heard HM is what we are looking at as a possible selection. We use HM currently, and I am not impressed with the books they gave us 7 years ago. It appeared HM cut deals with certain authors--who had several books to choose from. They picked a Gary Paulsen piece for 456 gr level book, a Gary Soto story for each 456 text, etc. The HM "library" books were the same and not necessary literary masterpieces--just one of "their" selected authors books. I got the distinct impression book inclusion was more about $ than quality literature. I personally prefer stories from novels--top notch quality literature. But we get what we get, and we don't throw a fit. right?
HM is a publishing mafia -- they are just interested in keeping the state moneys rolling in while class sizes go up and teacher pay stagnates. Good teachers know how to teach students to read and love literature. Good teachers know how to teach. HM is not good. It is like a bad buffet where there is too much offered at once and nothing gets properly digested. Not good for anyone.
I'm just responding to your post because I'm a little confused.
We use program as a Reading Workshop model. From what I understand, all the pieces in the anthology are authentic literature, that can all be found in the public library/bookstore etc. At the end, there is an Acknowledgements section that includes all the titles and authors. So if you read a portion of "Because of Winn Dixie" and it really excites your students, then you have them read the whole thing in literature circles. "Basal" refers to created texts, not authentic literature. And everything I've seen is authentic.
My school pulled together the full copies of each book in the anthology to use in our classroom libraries, though I think they all came from different companies.
The guided books are instructional support pieces that are thematically related to the main selection with the same skill, strategy, theme and vocabulary words. They're on a range of about 5-8 alpha levels.
I teach in a needy urban setting too. None of my kids were reading close to the advanced groups - so we sent some of the LR kits back and exchanged them for different levels.
So I have 4 groups - 1 ELL, two below-level and 1 on-level (by the HMH levels)
It's really working for me. I used to always have to hunt for materials and beg, borrow and steal from other teachers. By having all the materials, it has freed me up to spend more time thinking about conferencing, working on big class projects (like debates)
We had a training recently and they also suggested we watch all the training videos at
hmhelearning.com which helped.
I have the same worries as TX. Since our academic director wants to obtain Journeys of HM for next year. As I have understood these books are not good for English language learners. Since they are for English native speakers or who live in an American environment.
Can you give me the pros and cons of using it in Mexico.
We are currently using the Journeys series. I teach fourth graders and we absolutely detest the helter-skelter way the the program is constructed. The graphic organizers are good on covering reading skills, but we don't think this series provides enough comprehension work with the story itself. In Virginia, we use our own Standards of Learning and Journeys does not ask the kinds of questions our students will encounter on the test.
Except for spelling and language, we are making skills work on our own. The school system tried to save money by not purchasing the Write-in readers (which was the only thing I liked about the series) so struggling readers continue to struggle.
I definitely hate it too for many reasons. The main reason is that I find it to be a big scam by HM Harcourt just to get schools to buy several resources just to cover one topic. It is almost the same exact program as Storytown, but with all lessons shuffled around and the activities, exercises etc are all spread out over 5 to 6 different resources that you have to purchase. It's sporadic and disorganized. You have to jump from one resource to another and do loads of photocopying just to cover one topic or lesson.
With Storytown, we had the teacher guide, Language Arts Transparencies and Reading Transparencies which covered everything in the student's book and workbooks. It was up to the school to purchase the additional workbooks for grammar and spelling but the lessons were still covered in the original workbook. The workbook had questions and activities based on the stories in the textbook. With the Journeys, you have a mix of bull#### and to me it's more of a phonics practice book than a reading workbook. In order to cover everything in one lesson, you have to use the projectables, the grab and go kit, the reader's notebook, the writing practice book and the teacher guide. Without all these, you have nothing.