Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Textbook Adoption for Reading

Our district wants to adopt new textbooks for the switch to Common Core Standards. We (first grade and kindergarten) have already started teaching the CCSS but our district wants to implement new curriculum for math and reading. 

Right now I want to focus on the textbook adoption for reading. So tonight I did a little research on the programs that have bids for our districts core reading program. I got some information but it is hard to really tell how it would be to teach the material just based on a small sample of the materials on their website. Our district gave us usernames and passwords to explore a little more than you can see on their site but it wasn't the full access that you get once you have the curriculum. 

Then I thought to myself who would know these programs better than the teachers out their actually teaching these programs?! 

Sooo please let me know teacher bloggers what are some pros and cons about these reading programs. I know there are pros and cons to every program. I want to know are you generally happy with the reading selections (trade books, interesting, on grade level) , leveled readers, and information taught. Do you feel their is enough support/materials for ELL learners and children with special needs? Is there one thing you LOVE about the program and use all the time? Do you hate the program and want to change?

I know the programs will be slightly different from the ones you are using now since they will be aligned to the CCSS and also geared towards the state Florida. 

Here are the programs our district is considering:

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt- Florida Journeys 
Reading & Language Arts

We currently use Houghton Mifflin and it's okay. I would change a lot of the reading selections and make the advanced leveled readers harder. We just got Houghton Mifflin's new science series this year though and I love using thinkcentral.com their interactive  website. If the reading series were more up to date I might enjoy  teaching it more.


McGraw-Hill Education-Reading Wonders 
This is a new program aligned to CCSS but how do y'all like other McGraw Hill programs?
This one looks pretty neat. It comes with big books and anchor texts that look like literature I would actually choose.

Mondo Publishing
Mondo Publishing-Bookshop
Not sure why our district is considering this program since it doesn't look linked to the Common Core. Any one every use the curriculum before though?

Reading Street Common Core 2013

Pearson Education, Inc.- Reading Street

(I know bloggers out there use this I've seen it on your blogs! Let me know your thoughts!)

Explore On the Road to Writing and Reading
Zaner-Bloser-Strategies for Writers
I'm not sure how this fits in the with the reading core program or if this is a readers/writers workshop model. The district wasn't very clear on this since it's listed with the other reading programs.

If you use one of these please provide some helpful feedback!
Thanks fellow bloggers!


  1. I have mixed feelings about Reading Street. On the pro side the leveled readers are pretty good. The selections are pretty balanced and the advanced leveled sets are just right for my high achievers. I find myself using those more than the weekly selection.
    The phonics progression is adequate but I tend to focus on the short and long vowel combinations a little bit longer than the book suggests.
    On the con side, the story selections...especially the non-fiction selections could be better. I skip the stories that don't hold my students interest.
    There isn't enough for good comprehension instruction. They focus more on the skills...main idea..sequence a little too much. I wish it was more strategy oriented.
    Overall, it's a pretty good program but it's just missing some things that I find important to my teaching and I find myself supplementing. Hope this helps.

    Oceans of First Grade Fun

    1. Thanks for your input! Hopefully with the Common Core standards being put into the program it will improve some of the comprehension and phonics instruction. It's good to hear the leveled readers are spot on because I like to use leveled readers in my guided reading daily. Thanks again for commenting!

  2. I have to disagree about Reading Street. We have used it in our district for over 5 years. We looked at the aligned version and found that the publishers just forced the standards into the existing program. I teach reading so I use the program at all grade levels. There are only 3 levels of differentiated instruction in the core program. As we all know each grade level has atleast 5 different levels of readers. The core selections do not hold the students attention and at the upper levels, offering only excerpts of novels does not support building stamina in reading. Thankfully my district is allowing us to align to the CCSS, by following the spirit of the standards and the new assessment models. Please read the article in the February Reading Teacher for another view of reading programs!

  3. Thank you for the information. I was worried that a lot of publishers would just stick the Common Core into their existing program! We do not want that at all! The text need to be engaging, interesting, and at a higher level than it is now. Also I couldn't imagine just have excerpts of novels/books in the text that seems like a tease and a waste.

    Right now the teacher have aligned to CCSS using our own trade books and we love it. It allows us to be creative and teach what our students need. Our district just wants a program and they're asking teachers to evaluate some of the material.They also have a committee that deeply reviews everything.

    I will read the article in the Reading Teacher. I love getting other view points.
    Thanks for commenting!

  4. Our county already adopted the McGraw-Hill Wonders series. Our grade level was given a sample pack of both Reading Street and Wonders and we voted on Reading Street for a few different reasons. However, many of the older grades preferred Wonders and in the end that's what won. Our VP is giving us (Me and Brittany) the sample with a copy of each unit book, the teacher additions and the workbooks to use to prepare for next year. As soon as I get my hands on it--- I'll let you know more. I do remember one great thing about Wonders, the reading selections. All of our 1st grade team liked the stories they choose for each main selection. Also, the set up as far as "units" in both Reading Street and Wonders are very similar! Wonders also has a writing component. I'll keep you updated Jess!


  5. Thanks for al the info! Hopefully Orange County will choose that will align with Common Core! That's good to hear that Wonders has a good reading selection. I would really just like the more books and a outline of Common Core than an actually "program." I've liked being creative this year in teaching Common Core and I don't want that to go away when we get a program. I hope we can use a lot of what we have already created and just add in from our new curriculum.

  6. We are going with Benchmark Literacy. We looked at several "basal" reading program but felt Benchmark was more aligned with Common Core.

    1. Yeah our district is getting it and it's not really a choice for us. They just want our input on which one we would like to use. I wish they would just let us teach what we want to the standard. It would be so much more creative and differentiated.

  7. I am currently on a committee to help choose new curriculum also. We have looked at Harcourt's Wonders and HM's Journeys so far. We currently have HM and it needs to go. We also use Wilson Fundations for our phonics and spelling instruction. So we are really focusing on finding a program with a lot more non-fiction, leveled readers, and a strong writing program. Our committee is made up of K-3 teachers and so far, we're split down the middle with K and 2 liking Harcourt better and 1 and 3 liking HM better. We have another session this Friday where we'll look at one or two more programs and then duke it out, I guess. I'll keep you posted.
    Meenal Parikh
    1st/Butternut Primary School
    North Olmsted, Ohio

    1. Thanks for your input! I'm leaning towards Wonders instead of Journeys. It would be nice to HM Journey's because I feel like things would be somewhat similar to how they are know. We are really trying to find more nonfiction, better leveled readers, and a strong writing program. Let me know what you decide! It seems like Wonders has a better literature selection that any other program!

  8. My school is piloting Journeys and I absolutely LOVE it. My kids love the stories, and I love all of the integration it offers. The advanced leveled readers could definitely be more challenging (Im in Kindergarten) but that is my only complaint.

    1. Well thank you for letting me know! I think that if that is your only complaint so far that's great! I mean I can always use other leveled readers and chapter books for my kids.

  9. I absolutely agree with the comments about being able to teach more creatively than according to a series!! I don't use the basal and teach completely skill based incorporating TONS of different types of literature to use as we practice those skills!! I LOVE it!! The kids love it! So I'm opting out of piloting a reading series for next year because I want to be able to teach the way I am for at least one more year before they make me do it differently! My district is looking at Pearson and McGraw Hill. The one thing I will ask the teachers whom are piloting it to use are the cold read assessments, but ONLY if they are actually aligned with the skills! They also said that there are 5 levels for each leveled reader using the same story just written to the different levels. I will be interested to look at those and see how they are. I like to teach the skills in 2 week increments starting out basic and allowing the students to really get a handle on them. Then they come back around later to where I can move into more complex work with the skills, etc. My students have really grown with this way of teaching as a lot of you have said!! With teaching skills as the main attraction, I'm able to expose my students to SO much literature! I love when they go to the library at school or home and come back so excited to tell me they picked a book we have read! I feel like I use my own books way more and now I've collected great books that lend themselves to the specific skills instead of pushing them into a story that doesn't fit them. I never liked how the Scott Foresman set that my district has now only has maybe 1 or 2 questions pertaining to the skill of the week. We're not teaching the story...we're teaching the skills to be able to read stories for meaning!

    I apologize for my soap box!! :) I love all of the information, though, I hear from other places!

  10. OH, side note, I do use the skills from the basal so at least I'm covering what others are that use the basal. Our kindergarten and first grade HAD to use the CCSS this year, but I went ahead and started using them as well since we will have to next year, too. :)

  11. My school is looking into the same thing, a new reading program to go with the Common Core State Standards. We already have our math program that was implemented this school year and now for next school year we are doing the reading program. I must say it is a difficult thing to do to make sure you have all you need to reach students and address all the standards. My school has had a few different companies come in and talk to us. We are leading toward the Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Journeys Common Core, for the sole reason they have a Catholic identity portion (as I teach at a Catholic school) instead of making connections with science of social studies. The other benefits of the reading program are the online resources that are available to use and the interactive Smart Board lessons that are provided for each week mainly for grammar and vocabulary and all can be read aloud to the students as well. Students also have access from at home and it can be limited by the teacher’s digression. Online there is the teacher guide along with pictures, screen shot section, and a notes section. Each reading piece each week has a fiction and a non-fiction component as well as lots of exposure to the vocabulary words. The small guided reading readers are all non-fiction and there are four level readers each week along with an 8 page lesson plan for each reader as well as having them leveled with Fountas and Pinnell. Which I thought was a great aspect of the readers. There is also an awesome consumable that can be ordered to help those students who are tier two or three that work well with the reader. The negatives about Journeys are that it does not seem to build upon student’s prior knowledge of the subject and majority of the reading stories are short and there needs to be length within stories so students can build up their stamina for reading. I agree it is hard to choose a reading series that is new with the Common Core when you do not have time to pilot the program and hope for other’s advice. Hoping this helps with your school’s journey to finding the perfect reading program.

  12. Our district just decided to adopt Wonders. I found a website with the scope and sequence for each grade level. Scroll down to the "Supporting Documentation" and click on the grade level. We had Storytown and it lacked in informational text. Hopefully this one will be better.


  13. As a teacher, you really need to edit before you publish. Having misspelled words and missing commas looks pretty bad on a teacher's blog.

    1. I'm very glad to see everyone ignored your ignorant comment.

  14. We began using Mondo last year and I must say that while some of the practices make sense, the program doesn't have decent materials. The phonics program is quite random and based on the books used rather than a developmental way of teaching new words and the majority of texts, whether books or poetry, are mediocre at best.

  15. We began using Mondo last year and I must say that while some of the practices make sense, the program doesn't have decent materials. The phonics program is quite random and based on the books used rather than a developmental way of teaching new words and the majority of texts, whether books or poetry, are mediocre at best.

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