Today's topic might scare some of my fellow authors or make a few of our readers hit that X in the top right hand corner. Hear me out, before you hit the X.
Basal has become a bad word in the literacy world. I understand the argument and I fully believe that if kids aren't engaged & interested they aren't really reading, just calling words. However, I'd like to explain why I used a Basal in my Reading Classroom.
First and foremost, I taught in a school that gave me a basal & expected me to use it. We have a library, but for the past 5 years schools in Texas were suffering from a budget crisis and simply didn't put money into buying new books. Luckily, that seems to be changing. Our students are very transient. I looped with my 2nd graders to 3rd grade and out of 60ish kids, 24 of them were new to our school in 3rd grade. So, although I had worked hard with my original 60, now I had a large chunk of kids who were reading below or WAY below grade level. My final reason for using it was simply financial. We didn't have class sets available and I didn't have the money to buy them. Yes, I bought a class library for my students, but I simply couldn't purchase enough books for an entire school year.
Our school adopted Treasures and I liked the program. I made it work for me. I loved their spelling and vocabulary programs. I loved the online component and utilized it for my below readers and ESL students during stations/workshops. The online story would highlight words as it read the story aloud. I fully intended to flip my classroom using this component before I became a GT Specialist.
I liked most of the stories in our basal; however, when I thought a story was boring or lacked engagement based on my student's interests I used the opportunity to include non-fiction, like magazine articles or online articles and a little poetry. Since basal stories are short, you can run through the lesson cycle in one week. Our former Principal was ALL ABOUT the lesson cycle.
Kick up your basal stories by making them meaningful to your students. In the younger grades, teachers do amazing jobs of engaging and entertaining their students! They make crafts, snacks, sing songs and make centers or even games for the stories they read. As kids get older, we (the teachers) shift focus onto state testing and less on engagement ideas. Before I left my Reading classroom, I was committed to re-claiming the engagement and entertainment.
Ideas I came up with to engage students with basal stories:
-Snacks that Correlated to the Story
- STEM Design Challenges
BASAL doesn't have to be a bad word. In fact, you can do some amazing things with basal stories that will have positive effects on your students.