My district just purchased the new Harcourt series called Storytown. Are there any other 4th grade teachers out there starting this new series. I would love to talk about how they are setting it up. It is very overwhelming
I'm a Title 1 Teacher at a school that is also just starting to implement the Storytown Series. The teachers in my district have not done guided reading groups before and they are finding it very stressful. Most taught one story to the whole class or did novel units with the whole class (Grades 4-6). The district went to the basal because we needed to get some cohesiveness across the grade levels and start to train the teachers more of the up to date reading strategies.
The district only bought a few copies of the below level readers for each grade level which are intended for the students that I would be seeing. Many of the teachers (Grades 2 and up) don't understand the concept of large group and small group guided reading so it has been a struggle explaining. Since the district did not purchase the on-level and above level readers for the small groups, the classroom teachers are not sure what to do in their classrooms during the small group time. I've suggested stories from www.readinga-z.com and using lit circles with "different" books according to the student reading levels, but that hasn't sunk in yet.
Some teachers are switching students so each has a different level...but that still doesn't make it a small enough group for guided reading. Oh well- it's a learning process! Right now the teachers want me to take 12 third graders. (My limit is suppose to be 5-6.) I may try to do it with an aide.
What makes it worse is we don't have all the materials that we ordered.
We'll have to keep each other posted on what works!! Ah yes- action research!
OMG, I am *so* glad to see this thread! Our entire K-6 is supposed to be doing StoryTown this year, and the order is arriving in bits and pieces. We've had no training except a 45-min. introduction to it last Spring; the training is a month away, but we're supposed to start before then and "write down our questions." All of the teachers I've talked to seem to be very overwhelmed by the many parts, and the special ed. teachers (myself included- doing 4th grade resource) have no clear idea of what to use! If you have a student functioning at an instructional level two years below grade level, do you use the Strategic Intervention for their correct grade, the Strategic Intervention for a lower grade, or the Intensive Intervention (which seems to span three possible grade levels, but is only one year long in materials)? I brought home three different sets of materials this weekend, and I intend to spread it all out to try to make some sense of it from a special ed. standpoint. I'm wondering if we'll have enough ProTeacher members to maybe eventually have our own room on here to bounce things off of each other as the year goes on. StoryTown is brand-new, and while in many ways it looks like a good program, it's also bound to be tough to be the first group to use it.
I am happy to see that I am not alone. Every day the classroom teacher, teaches the core curriculum for 30 minutes daily to the whole class. The core curriculum is considered vocabulary, background knowledge, focus strategy, focus skill, listening comprehension. For the next 60 min we then break up into guided reading groups. We were told to take 3 groups per day at 20 min a group. The groups are based on the IRI's we are currently administring. By the end of the week we should have 4 groups, Above level, on level, below level, strategic level. I am lucky and have a special education teacher in my room during guided reading as well as a AIS teacher for 45 minutes. The AIS teacher is only to do the intensive instruction which are the students who are struggling on the strategic level. The other teacher and myself will be able to divided the students among their groups and see them. I also set aside 30 minutes a day to do word study, which consists of proofreading, spelling, grammar. Also I set aside another 30 minutes a day to do writing. Our district did buy every student the writer's companion. That ends up being 2 1/2 hours a day for Harcourt and I can not even come close to teaching what they want you to teach. As the students are in guided reading the rest of the students are suppose to do centers. The centers will need alot of teacher direction for the students to do and obviously I do not have enough time to teach what I am suppose to teach. My plan is to have students practice what I teach during core instruction independently as well as word study, grammar, writing activities. We are start Theme 1 Lesson 1 on Sept 17th and the rest of the year is mapped out for us. This is how I am starting out, I will let you know how it works. Also my principal just told me that I was one of three teachers that the Harcourt presentators will work with in the month of October in my school. Any ideas I get from them I will let you know, also we have a Reading Coach who will be at our school periodically ( 1-2) days a week to help us implement this. So hopefully with all this support as well as ideas from the procommunity we can figure out Storytown.
Peters, please do keep us informed about how you're doing with StoryTown and the training. One teacher I know tried doing everything required by the program in one day, and it took about three hours. Needless to say, we don't have that much time available for Reading/LA/Spelling.....the challenge is choosing which areas and activities are most valuable. Does Harcourt realize that you have three teachers in one classroom and still can't quite fit it all? I'm interested in hearing what they say about that.
I was so excited to finally get the district to adopt and purchase a handwriting curriculum. At my own expense I went to 3 workshops and did the certification for the Handwriting without tears program. Then our district adopts the Storytown Series and NOONE wants to hear about the handwriting program saying that it's covered in Storytown!! i reviewed the books and saw minimal "trace and copy" as the method of instruction. Now I'm supposed to provide training to this group!!! Any suggestions, comments, words of wisdom?
Don't Panic! My district also began Storytown this year in PK-6. However, we piloted Macmillan Treasures in grades 3 and 4 last year...I happen to be a 4th grade teacher so the third grade teacher and I have an advantage. Our Storytown Training was minimal, and one thing our trainer did not mention was making your "week" 6 or 7 days as we did with Treasures - and it sure took the pressure off! For example, start a new week on Monday, start the next one on the following Tuesday or Wednesday, the next one the following Wed or Thurs and so on. We did not always give Spelling tests on Friday - the kids got over that habit rather quickly.. That way, you will not be so overwhelmed trying to get everything in. We also focus on the "tested skills" and don't sweat the small stuff. In addition, because the program comes back to skills repeatedly - much like that "spiral" in Everyday Math, etc. you can really teach the lesson and move on. Do not belabor it...it will come back over and over. Let's face it - don't their eyes start to glaze over as soon as you talk about Character traits and motivations for the fourth time that week....?? I have a student who has to go to the nurse every time I say those words...! Not sure if you know this, but there is a sixth week built in to each big theme - use that to play catch up and give the end-of-theme test. Sometimes you can get thru that "week" in less than 5 days and start the next theme early. I don't know about other districts out there, but as far as I know, there are no "Storytown Police" to make sure you are doing the program word-for-word. I am in a VERY tiny district and our administrators don't breathe down our backs, either - hope you are in the same sort of situation! GOOD LUCK!
By the way...to those who did not get Leveled Readers for each level...how can that be??? Insist on them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
We have started our first full week of Storytown. The story is so long. How many times do you read the story in the basal. I read it to them once so far, and we listened to it on CD. I just wanted to see what everyone else is doing.
Why do you think it is important to teach using a 6-7 day cycle? I tried to tell my partner teachers that this may be a good idea after reading your thread, but they voted it down. I was just wondering if you had some enlightening ideas that you could share before we really sink our teeth in. The Storytown rep told us we could cut the last day on the five day week to make it four on short weeks. We are not planning to give every weekly test but will definitely give each Theme test. Can you try your best to fill in the blanks for me a little more?
Hey, I had a great idea today. I was a little overwhelmed with so many books that look the same for first graders so I took the grammar book and tore the pages out to make weekly packets that the students can keep in their desks. I did the same thing with the spelling thin book. If you have an aide, you can have her help with making the packets. I made four weeks in advance. I know this is going to help greatly in keeping the kids organized. Those books would get wrecked in their desks!
Hi there - our district adopted the Storytown curriculum last year and bought us ALL of the resources that come with it. We also received a great deal of training so I feel pretty comfortable with it. One thing I learned pretty quickly is to just pick and choose what I think is important. For example, I skip the daily language review and stick with the daily language review (a separate book) that is more conclusive. I do read the story aloud each week (I skip the CD - they are very dull), and I give the reading test each week (a good indicator of overall comprehension). I also give the spelling list each week and include the "robust" words in along with the rest, so their spelling test is usually 25 words. They have their own spelling workbooks so they are expected to complete a page a night. The rest is stuff I pick and choose, depending upon what we have going on the rest of the week. The grammar component is pretty good too.