This is not to be confused with Benchmark Advance which just so happens to be our new Language Arts Curriculum. Nope. This is different.
This is Fountas and Pinnell.
When I shared this on Instagram, everyone asked if it was B.A.S. And I was like um, I don’t know. But now that I’ve read the title on the box, I get it. It is B.A.S.
And, even though we’ve been using the Alpha Kids Readers and Running Record Assessment kit, and assessing our students with it for years, it’s time to move on. Because why not? Why not change everything all the time?
I do it myself in my classroom. I’m constantly reevaluating and reflecting and thinking I can make things better and I’m constantly adjusting. I drive myself crazy, but there you go. It’s true.
I’m going to state an opinion here. Hold onto your hats. And your horses. And whatever else.
In my opinion, teaching reading has NOT changed.
There has been no new invention in which to teach reading.
And I know because I’ve been teaching reading for 22 years. Okay, let me rephrase. I’ve been teaching for 22 years.
Wait. That’s not accurate either.
I’ve been working with children for 22 years. Those first couple of years, I’m not so sure how much teaching or teaching of reading I did because I didn’t know what I was doing except reveling in the fact that I had my own classroom and someone was paying me to show up every day. And I got paid the big bucks in 1997, let me tell you. $27,000, to be exact. I thought I was rich! If only I could go back in time and pat myself on my wee little head.
Those first couple of classes are now young adults and I just hope someone, somewhere along the way taught them to read because I really don’t think I did. Insert shoulder shrug here. I’m just being HONEST.
In all that time, in all of the trainings I’ve gone to, in all of the professional development I’ve been a part of, even when I earned my Master’s, nothing has changed.
We all teach letters and sounds, and then blending, and then throw in some sight words, and we use a student’s name, and BAM! He can read a sentence such as I am Collin. She can read I am Madison. Add some pictures and then Caden can read I see the cat. It’s exciting! It’s rewarding! IT IS THE BEST FEELING IN ALL THE WORLD.
And, of course, there are students who take longer than others to read. And I won’t go into students with visual processing disorders, or special needs, or this or that. That’s a whole ‘nother thing.
I’m just saying that teaching children HOW TO READ has not changed in all these years I’ve been doing it.
The STUFF has changed, but the HOW has not. There are new ideas and fun ways to teach letters and sounds, and blending, but it still boils down to the same thing. We’re still teaching letters and sounds (and those certainly haven’t changed).
This brand new kit that I just received is a BEAST.
I went to the training on Monday. The first hour and a half was ALL ABOUT THE KIT. What is this and what is that, and HOW TO PROPERLY TAKE A RUNNING RECORD.
And I thought to myself don’t be that know-it-all teacher, be humble, listen and learn, and take something away from this that you might not know!
But guess what? The proper way to take a running record hasn’t changed, either.
This kit has its own way of checking for comprehension and this kit is leveled by letters, whereas I’m used to levels by numbers, but other than that, nothing has changed.
By the way, that Literacy Continuum book weighs TEN POUNDS. It is no joke. It could seriously be in a gym in the free weights section.
The second half of the training was all about guided reading.
The power point slide started with what is guided reading?
And then why guided reading?
Followed by how to do guided reading.
Well. Wouldn’t that have been such a great training for me 22 years ago?
All of this has got me thinking. I know. Watch out.
And here’s what I’m thinking.
Are we really and truly completely and utterly concerned that a student substitutes does not for doesn’t, and then we count it as an error every single time it shows up in the book, which is six times, which means he didn’t “pass the book”, even though it didn’t change the meaning of the story, and he could retell the entire story in extreme detail?
I MEAN! Who decided this is what I want to know?
Aren’t I the teacher? Don’t I know this student the best? Don’t I read with him in reading groups every day and can pretty much tell you without hesitation which level he’ll be able to “pass” and what words might trip him up, and that in the end, HE IS A READER, regardless of what this assessment leveled book and Continuum such and such says?
I’m just saying.
I don’t know if I’m making sense.
And don’t worry.
I follow the rules.
I count it as an error every time, but I’m rolling my eyes so hard in my head they’re about to pop out and roll across the floor.
Well, that is all for today.
Just my thoughts.
I went to the training on Monday and this box has been in my car since then because it’s heavy, and I haven’t bothered to figure out a way to get it to my classroom while I’m carrying my purse, my lunch, my coffee, and rolling my big teacher roller bag.
And now, for your viewing pleasure, I took it out of my car and lugged it upstairs to my office so I could take pictures of it.
I have to get it to my classroom on Monday because the district has provided subs for us so that we can use this kit and conduct running records on our students all day. Which is so so so nice. But someone at another school said it took her between 25 and 40 minutes per kid.
And I’m not a numbers girl in any way, but I think that pretty much means I’ll get to six or seven kids and then it will be time to go home.
So wish me luck.