Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Let's Start With Chapter... Seven?!?

My daughters' school rolled out their new ELA curriculum, Ready-Gen, yesterday.  By today, my 3rd grader was complaining about it.  And I don't blame her!  She told me that the teacher read aloud a chapter from The Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies, an excellent book.  So far, so good.  The students were required to follow along, pointing with their fingers.  OK, I can see the rationale here, but my daughter hated this.  She said it was hard not to race ahead of the teacher.  Don't we want to encourage readers like her?  I can remember this type of frustration from when I was a kid - but even worse, other kids were reading aloud, much slower than a teacher would.  I always read ahead and then couldn't find my place when I was called on to read! 

The questions following the read-aloud were boring too.  They had to write something they "learned" (it is unclear if this means something they learned about a character or plot point or something factual)  and write down what questions they had.  Not scintillating.  Not inspiring.  Not thought-provoking.

But what really got to me was that the teacher read Chapter 7 - and only Chapter 7 - to the kids.  Really?  Chapter 7?!?  Why not Chapter 1?  Why not the whole book in fact?  This curriculum seems like a step backwards to the days (my days) of what were called basal readers - boring collections of stories and excerpts, rather than actual books.  No one learns to love reading by reading from a basal reader.

What do you think about this type of reading curriculum?  What type does your school or your child's school use?


  1. I would be peeved if anyone read chapter 7 of any book to me. No doubt the teacher must follow the curriculum but the curriculum certainly sounds ill-designed to support a love of reading!

  2. Sounds weird, and not much at all in alignment with expectations of the CCSS. Can the teacher articulate the thinking behind it? A lot of times, the problems are with the implementation of the curriculum because the teacher understands the what and not the why of it.
    Questions I might ask- same as you:
    1.Why Chapter 7? Why have everyone read along with you in this way? You might as well read it aloud...Where is the differentiation for students who want to move ahead in the text (or for students who need a slower pace)? Are the texts available for students who want to read the entire book?
    2. Where is the rigor? Where is the thinking? Often, with the CCSS students are given "text dependent questions" where they need read a small portion of text and look carefully at the language to determine an answer, supported by textual evidence. What we would look for during any excellent instruction is having students "do the heavy lifting" by engaging with a text closely. No evidence of this based on this description.
    3. Where is the student engagement? This would be a huge piece of it. The curriculum can be excellent, but if there aren't structures in place that enable students to TALK with each other about the text, and to actively work together to get ideas down and solve problems, then students don't get much out of it.
    Finally, you are seeing clearly that there is not much that's relaxing about school these days. The thrust is to have students thinking, engaging and as active as possible. Happy to talk more, if you like. SMCG

  3. The teacher has ONE copy of the complete book, which she is putting in their classroom library so that the entire text is available... if having 1 copy for 27 students is "available."

  4. Also, Shira, take a look at my other post about the kindergarten curriculum: The workbook has the kids drawing pictures of past tense verbs - like quacked. How this helps them learn anything is beyond me - except perhaps they will learn that non-educators should not be writing curricula. The curriculum is written by Pearson.

  5. UGH. This sounds awful. I don't think my sons' school is using this system but now I feel the need to verify that!