Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Language arts bleg

Our district is using a new set of language arts materials this year, called Journeys, published by Houghton-Mifflin, in Kindergarten through sixth grade. Apparently the idea is that these materials are tailor-made for teaching the Common Core curriculum. I had been hearing third- and fourth-hand rumors that the district was no longer going to allow teachers to use outside materials – that is, real novels or non-fiction books – as part of language arts. Both the district’s Director of Curriculum and our school principal have assured me that that is not true, and that there will be no more restriction on outside materials now than there was under the old materials.

My knowledge of how the new materials differ from the old ones is very limited. Thus, a bleg: Does anyone out there have any info or insights? Is there any reason to be concerned?


Karen W said...

Not my cup of tea. I don’t find that kind of brightly colored books attractive and I’m not a fan of the readers workshop method (and good grief, what is with all the pasting in 4th grade?)—but that probably isn’t much different from what they had last year. And you can rest easy—the new Journeys will prep your kids for standardized testing—so it’s all good, right?

“The Journeys digital assessment suite also includes an automatic online scoring and reporting system as well as ExamView®. Looking ahead, the Journeys Common Core assessments will evolve with PARCC and SBAC. When final test formats are released, updated assessments and test prep will ensure your students are prepared to excel on national exams.”

FedUpMom said...

My daughter's public school uses Journeys.

I'm just looking at the workbook she brought home at the end of the year. For a verbal child, the work is tedious and inane. For a child with language delays, it's pointless.

In general, if our goal was to make children hate reading, we couldn't do any better than what schools do today. Reading is presented as a series of disjointed tasks. There's no storytelling.

I think this is turning into a blog post ...

Chris said...

Karen -- Ugh. What a state we're in that that paragraph could be seen as a way to persuade people. I'm speechless.

FedUpMom -- "if our goal was to make children hate reading, we couldn't do any better" -- it's hard to argue its that. I long for the day when they administer the Standardized Assessment of Student Boredom.

Duane Swacker said...


It's here. It's Gates galvanic skin response bracelet supposedly to measure student interest.

Chris said...

Duane -- Ha, touche. Something tells me those bracelets will never be used to actually question the boringness of the required curriculum -- but only to measure the teachers' effectiveness at making a silk purse out of a sow's ear.