Wednesday, August 14, 2013
Reading Programs in the Upper Elementary Classroom
Today is Wednesday...and that would usually mean that I'd link up with Jivey for Workshop Wednesday. However, my school (and most of NYC it seems) is adopting a new reading program (Pearson's ReadyGen) for September. And when I say "new" I mean NEW. As in, books are not in schools yet-new. Teacher's guides are only available online-new.
In my school, we've use a balanced literacy approach for the last 10 years, so this change feels uncertain to me. For the last 10 years, I've known which supplies I wanted for the kids and how I want their notebooks organized. I understand how guided reading works and I know what centers look like in a fifth grade classroom (FINALLY!) But all of this is going to change with ReadyGen.
On Monday, my partner and I went to a workshop to get a handle on this new program. I learned a lot about how the curriculum will shift under Common Core (although we taught CCSS last year, so I'm already familiar with the standards and what CC aligned questioning looks like on a state test). I also got a feel for how a literacy block might flow in this new program...but there's one catch: no guided reading.
Yes. You read that right. There is no guided reading component in this program. The woman delivering the PD actually mentioned the way I contorted my face when she said there was no guided reading component. And I am *certain* I made a face. Not to be rude, but because I am a big proponent of guided reading. Or more accurately, I am a big proponent of small group instruction, particularly for struggling students. I think small group time is the most valuable part of the day for many students. In this program, all of the materials are at the students' grade level, not their instructional level. So whether your student reads at a level V or level L, he or she will be reading grade level text. Through scaffolding during the reading instruction, students are supposed to gain access to the text.
She went on to explain that there is small group time, but it is more like strategy groups than guided reading groups. And groups are created immediately following the whole group reading instruction based on teacher observations. Whereas with guided reading you would plan to meet with a John, Emma and Anthony on Mondays, with this program these decisions are made in response to the work students do during their independent practice. A fellow participant gave the suggestion that teachers can observe students and then give each student a card with a color or letter to let them know which group they should join for small group work.
I'm sure this post is a jumbled mess and for that I apologize...the workshop left me with a better understanding of the rationale of the program and how a morning will flow, but also with many lingering questions about how I will personalize the instruction and deliver it in my classroom. Unfortunately, some of these questions won't have answers until our in-service begins on September 3rd.
So can anyone assuage my fears? Does anyone follow a scripted literacy program for older kids? Does anyone not do guided reading with their students?
And any fellow NYC teachers out there: are you implementing ReadyGen in September? What did you think of the workshop?